5 ways CBD helps anxiety

As an NYC-based acupuncturist and herbalist, I’ve seen my fair share of patients struggling with anxiety. I often explain to patients that their anxiety is the appropriate response to today’s modern world – our nervous system was created for us to go into fight-or-flight every now and then when a bear strolled near, but in today’s world we are under constant alarm. This stress causes a myriad of health ailments and can be progressive, and dangerous. CBD has become incredibly popular to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and research is beginning to explain how. 

Below are the top 5 ways CBD oil can help ease your anxiety:

  1. Ancient wisdom states that anxiety thrives when you worry about the future.

CBD helps control fear and alleviate anxiety, by reducing learned fear in different ways: 
(1) cannabidiol decreases fear expression acutely (2) cannabidiol disrupts memory reconsolidation, leading to sustained fear attenuation upon memory retrieval(3) cannabidiol enhances extinction, the psychological process by which exposure therapy inhibits learned fear
Long story short: the research indicates that CBD may help us process fear in a way that allows us to have less negative triggers and fear-based anxiety.

  1.  The Endocannabinoid system is a relatively new discovery in the body. A recent study exploring the Endocannabinoid System explains “The endocannabinoid system is a neuroactive lipid signaling system in the brain which acts to control neurotransmitter release. A growing body of evidence unequivocally demonstrates that deficits in endocannabinoid signaling may result in depressive and anxiogenic behavioral responses”.  In an attempt to understand the effectiveness of using CBD for anxiety, researchers have found that the endocannabinoid system not only reduces inflammation but has a regulatory effect on the brain.
  2.  Neurogenesis: It is estimated that one in six Americans are on antidepressants or other psychotropic drugs.  For example, Prozac, Celexa, and Zoloft are commonly used SSRI inhibitors that are often prescribed for depression and anxiety. CBD and SSRIs both increase neurogenesis (the growth and development of nervous tissue) in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is responsible for memory and emotions. This may help stress, anxiety and trauma through the creation of new neural connections. 
  3.  Studies show that CBD acts as a 5-HT1A agonist.  As a subtype of the serotonin receptor, 5-HT1A is important because this is the pathways that many pharmaceuticals use in order to alleviate anxiety and boost mood. Prozac and Zoloft are both commonly used SSRI inhibitors that are prescribed for anxiety. These medications work by inhibiting the amount of serotonin that is reabsorbed so that there is more serotonin available.  One Spanish study on animals even stated: “Our findings indicate that CBD could represent a novel fast antidepressant drug, via enhancing both serotonergic and glutamate cortical signaling through a 5-HT1A receptor-dependent mechanism.”
  4. Sleep! CBD is often used to help with insomnia and can help people get better quality sleep. Improving sleep quality helps you manage your stress and emotions in a more positive way, enabling you to keep out of the fight or flight response cycle.

I am incredibly proud of our RADICAL ROOTS product line and know how much they can help people find balance in their lives. In addition to the inclusion of our CBD-based tinctures to your daily routine, here are some tactics that you can try to include to help minimize your stress, and reduce your anxiety:

  1. Eat Real Food. The number one tip I can give you. The toxins and chemicals in todays foods are alarming. I’ll follow up on it in another post, but we say a lot about what we think and feel about ourselves in the way we choose to feed ourselves. Food should make you feel nourished and energized. Also, drink good clean water, and drink enough of it – in addition to our food system, dehydration is also a national crisis!
  2. Meditate. Whatever your version of this looks like. It could be for 2 minutes while you let your French press brew, or take a little personal time in the bathroom… just take two minutes every day and breath. No one expects you to be a zen master, and that’s probably unrealistic when your kids are on the other side of the bathroom door. But when your mind wanders, just bring it back to your breath. You’ll know what to do.
  3. Dial in Your Digestion. It is estimated at around 90% of your serotonin is made in your gut. How’s your digestion?  Do you feel good after eating? Gas? Bloating? Acupuncturists, functional medicine doctors and GI specialists can help you find out what’s going on in your gut.
  4. Be in Community. Do you feel seen, heard, and supported?  Do you have space for yourself? Do you have healthy boundaries with those in your life, work included? If you don’t, then it’s a good place to put some time and energy into developing – we all need a little help from time-to-time, and
  5. Find out about your Genes! The MTHFR genetic mutation reduces your methylation pathways (inhibiting your body’s ability to utilize B vitamins and detoxify) can predispose you to anxiety.  For many this can be helped with simple supplementation, which a qualified practitioner is able to recommend.
  6. Get Gratitude. We live in a very challenging time and maybe people are struggling in so many ways. There is always something to be grateful for, and taking time to slow down and appreciate the things that you do have in your life has been shown to also help increase neurogenesis in areas of the brain that form emotions and respond to stress, helping to build your resilience. If anxiety is worry about the future, then feeling confident and capable of handling the things that come your direction goes a long way!  
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