Many people who use CBD oil claim that it helps them relax. I agree with this but in my experience, it’s not just a question of chilling out. I believe vaping CBD oil helps me manage my anxiety. As I’ve mentioned before, I survived a heart attack a few years ago which prompted me to do a lot of soul-searching and make a few lifestyle changes. It also led me to discover the benefits CBD oil and immediately I felt a reduction in the level of anxiety I’ve suffered with since childhood. It’s true that being brought up in a Rock ‘n’ Roll family did have its perks, but it was also a chaotic, angst-inducing lifestyle for me as a young child (which is why I’ve kept my own kids separate from it as much as possible!) In my teens, I began having full-blown panic attacks and carried on suffering from anxiety all through my 20s and 30s…until I hit my 40s and started vaping CBD oil…and I’ve never looked back! So, if vaping CBD oil helps with MY anxiety, can it help with YOURS?
FIRSTLY, WHAT IS CBD?
CBD oil (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the two main cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and have been used around the world for many years as a remedy for numerous ailments. Because cannabis can also get you high, the UK government made it illegal in 1928 (although doctors were still allowed to prescribe it for medical use until 1971). We now know that THC, not CBD, is responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects - and CBD has been legal since 2016. Since its legalisation, a growing body of research into cannabidiol’s interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system is indicating that this cannabinoid has the potential to help treat many symptoms and illnesses, including anxiety.
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
We only need to go online or read the newspapers to be reminded of what’s going on in our world - threats of war, terrorism, global warming and economic uncertainty – and feel stressed out. Add to this the pressures of daily life and it’s no wonder we feel anxious at times. According to the Mental Health Foundation’s 2018 survey of 4,619 adults, 74% had felt overwhelmed or unable to cope at some point during the past the year due to stress.
Anxiety is our physiological and emotional response to stress. When we feel threatened, our brain triggers a process called the fight-or-flight response, an innate survival instinct passed down through generations over millions of years. Our body’s alarm system is activated and a surge of stress hormones - including adrenaline and cortisol - are released, causing a racing heart, shortness of breath, trembling, flutters in the stomach, nausea and sweating. We feel fearful and nervous and can exhibit hypervigilant and avoidant behaviours.
In the past, the fight-or-flight mechanism enabled our ancestors to react swiftly to avoid imminent death, prompting them either to confront and overcome the danger or flee to a place of safety. Put simply, it helped them to survive.
Although most of us no longer face potential death on a daily basis, this same process is still kick-started by comparatively harmless situations such as sitting exams, job interviews and public speaking. This is natural, as a certain amount of anxiety is actually productive and helps us to prepare for and accomplish tough but necessary tasks and strengthens our resilience, so we learn to cope in similar circumstances in the future. When the stressful situation passes, our anxiety subsides.
EXCEPT THAT THIS ISN’T THE CASE FOR EVERYONE
Some of us may continue to suffer from anxiety once the stress-provoking situation is over. We may feel anxious much of the time and, much like my teenage panic attacks, our anxiety may seem disproportionate to the circumstances. This type of anxiety is very debilitating and can affect our ability to function on a daily basis, interfering with relationships, social life, school or work - and could mean we are one of the 3 million people in the UK currently suffering from an anxiety disorder (although many more of us may suffer from mixed anxiety and depression). Also, if we are continually anxious, our body is thrown out of balance and various health problems can occur, such as heart disease and inflammatory conditions. In fact, according to a 2018 study, £94bn is lost from the UK economy each year due to anxiety-related illness.
WHAT CAN HELP WITH ANXIETY?
There are various things we can do to help with anxiety, including relaxation, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, walking and other forms of exercise. A GP may prescribe one of several types of medication to treat the symptoms of anxiety and/or write a referral for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or another kind of therapy. Numerous apps such as Calm, Headspace, Stop Panic & Anxiety Self-Help and Rootd are also on hand providing cognitive behavioural therapy strategies and meditation techniques to help deal with anxiety.
CAN CBD HELP?
Although there is little research on whether CBD alone can help with anxiety, according to a 2015 review of previous studies, it could be an effective short-term treatment for social anxiety disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Recently, a retrospective case series studying the use of CBD for anxiety and sleep confirmed this potential to help with anxiety-related disorders. To date, the research looks promising and suggests that taking CBD could help with anxiety, without many of the adverse effects associated with conventional medicine.
IS VAPING THE BEST WAY TO TAKE CBD OIL TO HELP WITH ANXIETY?
One study, conducted in 2011, found that CBD helped to reduce the anxiety experienced by people with social anxiety disorder during public speaking tasks. This could potentially (certainly in my experience) indicate that vaping CBD is the best way to help overcome anxiety in situations such as public speaking, job interviews and exams which are over quickly, because the effects are both rapid and time limited. However, there are many other ways to take CBD - such as oils, edibles and topicals – it’s all down to personal choice.
If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from anxiety, please seek professional help from your GP (please don’t self-diagnose or self-medicate) or contact one of the following charities:
If you’ve found this helpful, please share. And if you have any further questions, please let me know below and I or one of my team will do our best to provide you with answers.
Jamie Wood, Founder & CEO