Anxiety is the body's natural response to fear, and is therefore necessary for our survival. However, anxiety can become a problem when it is experienced frequently for no good reason, or when it begins to interfere with a person’s normal life . Pioneering research into CBD and the neural correlates of anxiety found that, at high concentrations, CBD directly activates the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor . This receptor is partly responsible for many human processes, including anxiety. This may mean that using CBD can help to regulate our anxiety response.
It is thought that CBD delays the body’s reuptake of the neurotransmitter adenosine . As a result, this boosts the levels of adenosine in the brain, which regulates adenosine receptor activity. These receptors play important roles in regulating many things, including anxiety. This further suggests that CBD can have anti-anxiety effects.
As mentioned previously, CBD interacts with GABA-A receptors in the body which enhances the receptor’s ability to bind with GABA neurotransmitters . Drugs like valium and benzodiazepines also have this impact, which causes sedating and relaxing effects. CBD may help to reduce anxiety by changing the shape of GABA-A receptor in a way that amplifies the natural calming effect of GABA, but without any of the negative risks associated with pharmaceuticals like valium.
CBD also interacts with the human endocannabinoid system which plays a large role in regulating our stress response, and our mood. These factors may both play a role in anxiety.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that CBD has been shown to reduce stress in animals . It induced lower behavioural signs of anxiety, and physiological signs of anxiety (such as the heart rate).
It is thought that CBD may help with both general anxiety, and specific anxiety disorders. A 2011 study found that people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) experienced lower levels of anxiety when they were given CBD . Multiple studies have shown that CBD can help people to cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms, such as nightmares or replaying negative memories .
Reduced anxiety can lead to a better quality of sleep, better mood, fewer headaches, and reduced chronic pain.