Medical Cannabis and AnxietyElisa Blasi
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia at the present moment. It’s estimated that up to 30% of women and 20% of men will experience anxiety at some point in their lives.
The condition is defined by a range of common symptoms as:
- Panic attacks
- Racing heart
- Quick Breathing
- Feeling tense
- Excessive fear and worry
- Obsessive thinking
- Sweaty palms, shaky hands and dry mouth
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Avoiding Social Situations
When talking about Anxiety, it’s important to highlight that there are different types of Anxiety:
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Social phobia
- Specific phobia
- Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Situational anxiety
Living with Anxiety is challenging, and the stigma around it still exists. Finding the right treatment can take a long time, and the currently available pharmacological treatments can cause unwanted side effects and dependency.
For this reason, after trying many options, anxious people find that CBD significantly relieves their symptoms and can a life-changing treatment choice.
But, how can CBD potentially help some people with their anxiety?
Cannabis has been used to treat anxiety dating back to around to 2000 BCE (G.A. Grieson, “The Hemp Plant in Sanskrit and Hindi Literature” Indian Antiquary ( September 1894): 260-262). Cannabinoids (cannabis compounds) interact with diverse receptors that regulate fear and anxiety in our body. Whilst THC can increase anxiety and some and decrease in others, CBD in higher doses has been shown to consistently decrease anxiety. This interaction is related to the activity in both the limbic and paralimbic areas of the brain, augmenting the Endocannabinoid system mitigating behavioural consequences of stress.
CBD works by interreacting with the Endocannabinoid system. The Endocannabinoid System (ECS), is a central regulatory system that affects a wide range of biological processes. The human body produces endocannabinoids and, believe it or not, the highest concentration of cannabinoids is in a mother’s breast milk. Endocannabinoids play a role in many of the body’s biological responses, including balance in our body’s immune system, communication between cells, appetite, metabolism, memory, sleep and more. The cannabinoids that we can get from plants (phyto-cannabinoids) augment our endocannabinoids system and can also help to stimulate the production of endocannabinoids). For more on the Endocannabinoid system check out our other blog post here.
CBD can be consumed in different forms:
- CBD Oil (taken orally)
- CBD Edibles
- CBD Vaping juices and oils
- CBD Capsules
- CBD Crystal Isolate (which can be vaped or compounded into topical treatments)
- CBD Dried flower bud
During your consultation, the doctor will consider relevant factors as your metabolism, body weight and the severity of your anxiety in order to come up with the perfect product and dosage for you.
What does the clinical evidence say?
In 2015, the NCBI conducted a review on CBD as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. They assessed evidence from preclinical, human experimental, clinical, and epidemiological studies.
They found that existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely; however, few studies have investigated chronic CBD dosing. Likewise, evidence from human studies supports an anxiolytic role of CBD, but is currently limited to acute dosing, also with few studies in clinical populations. Overall, current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders, with the need for further study of chronic and therapeutic effects in relevant clinical populations.
CBD doesn’t work for everyone and does have potential side effects just like any other medicine. Side effects from CBD are very uncommon but they might include dry mouth, nausea or even allergy to the carrier oil in the CBD. We also look for other interactions with other medications, most commonly the P450 metabolism medications.
Case Studies/ Real Results
Cannabis Doctors Australia has found many exciting results when prescribing CBD oil for anxiety.
Anxiety Case Study: Oprah
Background and Patient Condition:
Oprah has suffered Anxiety since her early 20yrs. She is a highly functioning person, but her quality of life is severely compromised.
Oprah was unable to socialise with her friends and family, her sleep quality was poor, and her “nerves were frazzled.” The anxiety was leading her to overeat in order to cope and have some joy in her life. Oprah works in a high-stress corporate role and her career is extremely important to her. However, her anxiety was starting to impact her career where previously the anxiety was manageable in her work life. She sensed that she was losing respect from her colleagues and employees. She was suffering from debilitating panic attacks to the point where she was avoiding meetings and even holidays with her family that she had already purchased. She hid her anxiety from everyone, but cracks were starting to show. Oprah wanted to try CBD as well as therapy but had been avoiding therapy as the thought of opening up to a therapist was too scary. Oprah had heard of reports of anxiety being treated successfully with Medicinal Marijuana so she had sourced some of her own and found it works well for her. She used illegally sourced “CBD” oil and vapourised flower bud as required.
Oprah’s previous medications have included Paroxetine, Mirtazepine, Cymbalta, Fluoxetine, and Sertraline. Her current medication is Venlafaxine. She also gets expensive massages each week to try to relax her neck and shoulder muscles.
Medical Cannabis Treatment and results
Prescription for CDA CBD 240-Oil – starting at 5mg per day with titration
At the 6 week review, Oprah reported that the CBD oil was working better than illegally sourced CBD, and she is using 4 to 6 drops per day. She requested flower bud for her anxiety attacks and sleep. A SAS application was completed for this.
At Oprah’s 3-month review Oprah reported that her CBD dose was stable at 4-6 drops per day and is working well. She also reports that her sleep is going well with the added THC. She is now slowly titrating off Venlafaxine and she was provided with a plan for this.
6-month review – Oprah is off Venlafaxine, her mood is stable. She is using THC every 3rd night on average.
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Disclaimer: This is not an inducement to use Medicinal Cannabis. Medical Cannabis doesn’t work for everyone, and it may not work for you. How Cannabis affects a person depends on many things, including their size, weight, age and health, dosage and tolerance and the results can vary. Some people may experience side effects when taking Cannabinoid medication.The information provided by CDA Clinics is for educational and informational purposes only. For medical advice, please check with your doctor and request a referral.
Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015 Oct;12(4):825-36. doi: 10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1. PMID: 26341731; PMCID: PMC4604171.