Aneu Doctor Perspective

Hemp and the endocannabinoid system

Hemp and the endocannabinoid system

Hemp and the endocannabinoid system

The new powerhouse of the herbal medicinal world. Its ancient lore and modern scientific accomplishments make it one, if not the most prominent resources used by mankind.

 

Common Name: Hemp/Cannabis/Marijuana 

Scientific Name: Cannabis Sativa 

Family: Cannabaceae

 

DISTINGUISHING FEATURES

Identified by groups of 5 to 9 leaves with serrated edges and an overall oval shape. The upper leaves grow in an alternating palmate pattern, meaning that they originate from the end of a leafstalk.

 

Hemp today

Hemp has gained acclaim as of late. Its vast healing potential makes it the highest selling herbal product in the United States. Although it has preliminary evidence that it may treat a number of different diseases, its true potential lies in its ability to affect the human body’s endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS)’s main function is to maintain balance through our nervous system, optimizing the metabolic, physical, and emotional aspects of our bodies.

 The ECS consists of our own naturally occurring endocannabinoids, the enzymes that help produce and degrade them, and most importantly, the cannabinoid receptors.

Cannabinoids act much like an adaptogen, allowing the body to properly harmonize with changes and stressors in our environment. The cannabinoid system achieves this by binding to most cells in the body and monitoring multiple organ systems, with effects ranging from controlling inflammation, preventing the sensation of pain, providing protection of our tissues, and so much more.

There are at least 100 naturally occurring Cannabinoids in the Cannabis sativa plant, with many more cannabinoid like compounds being discovered in other plants such as pepper, lemon balm, and echinacea.

It’s not surprising we find these structures in other plants as they are made from the same parent molecules that produce terpenes, the element responsible for flowers’ and herbs’ prominent scents and beneficial effects. Cannabis plants are extremely effective when it comes to producing terpenes and cannabinoids, and their ability to secrete cannabinoid rich oils through their glands gives form to trichomes, or crystals, on its flowers, which are the main contributing factor to their rich medicinal potential. 

 

"Cannabinoids act much like an adaptogen, allowing the
body to properly harmonize with changes and stressors
in our environment"

Studies have shown that our bodies actually produce their own cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), and also have receptors to interact directly with them as well. So far there have been 2 main endogenously synthesized (made in our bodies) cannabinoids discovered and are known as Anandamide, the bliss molecule, and 2-AG (arachidonoylglycerol). 

 

The two most important receptors in the body are also the densest receptor type within our brain and spinal cord. CB1 receptors are associated with pain & sensory perception, memory, cognition, emotion, hormones, appetite and metabolism. CB2 receptors are mostly found in the immune system, but are also found in muscles and bones.

 

So how do the endo-cannabinoid system and cannabinoids actually affect illnesses such as epilepsy, anxiety, and pain, while increasing recovery? 

The ECS first acts as an inhibitory signal to the release of further chemical messengers, literally blocking signals of pain and inflammation from being transmitted to the brain or central nervous system that cause further tissue damage. 

 

Then, further endocannabinoids are released to calm our overactive nervous system, while also acting directly on organ systems with active sites within cells such as the mitochondria. The ECS also acts as a detoxifying agent, clearing old bi-products of our inflammatory and disease processes.

 

The combined effect of the ECS with cannabinoids is a harm reducing, self regulating internal mechanism that beneficially exerts its effects on an enormous amount of systems, cells, and machinery in the body. It is within this complex and beautiful system so many people are waking up to the healing power that exists within plants when used as a potent medicine.

 

Important insight on mental health

Important insight on mental health

Important insight on Mental Health

Mental Health, Medical Shortcomings, & Effective Tools in Mental Health Care

Before reading the article I would encourage you to make a conscious effort to honestly reflect on mental health in your life. If you are experiencing thoughts or symptoms that are out of the norm, consider reaching out to someone you can trust & talk openly with or seek professional care. If you notice that someone has been withdrawn or absent for some time, try reaching out to them to make sure they are okay or see if they need anything. Sometimes a little support can be a world of difference to individuals suffering from mental illness. 


Here are some free mental health resources that can be utilized: 


NAMI Help LineNational Alliance of Mental Illness 

Phone: 800-950-NAMI 

Info@nami.org 


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline & Veterans Crisis Line 

Phone: 1-800-273-8255 

Live Online Chat: Chat Here 


SAMHSA HotlineSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 

Phone: 1-877-726-4727 


Free Online Counseling Services 

Better Help 

7 Cups

MentalHealth.gov 

Mental health/Prevalence/Common disorders

By taking an honest and objective look around, it becomes extremely clear that humanity's overall state of mental health, or wellbeing, has been on the decline. This trend has been fueled by imbalanced circadian rhythms, societal expectations of success, technological advancement, and environmental pollution. There also lacks any indication of an upturn in overall mental health in the near future. 


 Even though there has been increased awareness and communication around mental illness at a global level and in pop culture, there is still a lack of support and awareness within individuals and daily life, which may allow a disruption in the cycle of mental illness development.

What is Mental Health? 

Mental health is made up of the emotional, psychological, and social processes that human beings experience everyday and throughout their lifetime. 

 Mental health affects the way think, feel, act, relate, react to stressors, and the choices we make. How we show up and proceed through each day is largely dependent on the vibration of the thoughts and feelings that hold the majority of our unconscious attention. And most importantlyAs many things that mental health affects, there are exponentially more factors that affect and influence our mental health. 

 Things like a family history of mental illness has consistently been considered to be a strong indicator of individual mental illness risk over a lifetime. Biological factors such as chronic inflammation, unbalanced metabolism, hormonal imbalance, neurotransmitter imbalance, toxin accumulation, nutrient deficiencies, and sleep deprivation can all contribute to mental illness as well. 

 Trauma, be it psychological or emotional, seems to have the most profound effect on our mental health. Adverse childhood events, extremely stressful events, and emotional or mental strain can al create long lasting and debilitating negative effects on mental health. 

 When negative mental health factors pile up and start to affect our mental health, a variety of signs and symptoms will bubble to the surface. Early warning signs can help prevent problems from developing for many individuals. Mental illness signs and symptoms to be aware of include the following:

  • Excessive or minimal eating and sleeping. 
  • Absence from normal social events, social circles, and activities. 
  • Chronic fatigue, apathy, and melancholy. 
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual. 
  • Mood swings that cause problems in relationships. 
  • Having persistent thoughts or memories that seem to be stuck in one’s head. 
  • Thoughts of self harm or violence against others. 
  • Inability to perform the normal activities of daily life.

Who is affected? 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness recently released a new set of statistics in September 2019. The numbers are quite eye opening and shed light on the increasing burden of mental illness in the United States. 


Here are a few of the most eye opening statistics:

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34.
  • 1 in 5 U.S. Adults experience mental illness each year.
  • 1 in 25 U.S. Adults experience severe mental illness each year.
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.

Annual prevalence of mental illness:

  • 19.1% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2018 (47.6 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults. 
  • 4.6% of U.S. adults experienced serious mental illness in 2018 (11.4 million people). This represents 1 in 25 adults.
  • 16.5% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder in 2016 (7.7 million people).
  • 3.7% of U.S. adults experienced a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness in 2018 (9.2 million people).

Prevalence of treatment for mental illness in U.S. Populations:

  • 43.3% of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2018. 
  • 64.1% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness received treatment in 2018. 
  • 50.6% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 with a mental health disorder received treatment in 2016.
  • The average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years.
  • 11.3% of U.S. adults with mental illness had no insurance coverage in 2018. 
  • 13.4% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness had no insurance coverage in 2018.
  • 60% of U.S. counties do not have a single practicing psychiatrist.

Annual prevalence among U.S. adults, by condition:

  • Anxiety Disorders: 19.1% (estimated 48 million people)
  • Major Depressive Episode: 7.2% (17.7 million people) 
  • 50.6% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 with a mental health disorder received treatment in 2016.
  • Post traumatic Stress Disorder: 3.6% (estimated 9 million people) 
  • Bipolar Disorder: 2.8% (estimated 7 million people) 
  • Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.4% (estimated 3.5 million people) 
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: 1.2% (estimated 3 million people) 
  • Schizophrenia: <1% (estimated 1.5 million people) 

These statistics bring some concerning points. Only about half of people with mental illness ever get treatment, and the time it takes them to get treatment for their mental illness is often 11 years after the onset of said illness. That leaves a lot of time for many aspects of their overall health to be negatively impacted.


Not only is a large portion of the U.S. population affected by mental illness, but it appears to affect younger populations more severely. Sadly, suicide is now the second leading cause of death in people between the ages of 10 to 34 years old, regardless of the awareness and communication around the issue.

Why is it Important?

Mental illness, as mentioned in the intro to mental health, can be debilitating and severely interfere with people's ability to live their life normally. When mental health suffers and individuals are no longer able to take care of themselves properly, other health conditions may begin to develop.


This occurs due to the fact that mental health has profound effects on processes throughout all our major organs. Specifically digestive health, cognitive performance, and physical performance. Long standing mental illness can often lead to serious health consequences such as cancer development, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.


There is no denying that our mental health and processes affect affect our metabolism and biochemical reactions throughout the entirety of the body.


Ironically (or unironically), the aspects of our body affected by our mental health, also contribute a great deal of influence on mental health. We can plainly see this when we recognize that the body functions as a unified whole, not as isolated parts of a machine. This means that if we can take care of our body or our mind, then our minds and our bodies will thank each other in kind with vibrant health.


It may seem so simple when you get to the root of the issue, yet, for most individuals it is hard to establish the practices and habits in ones life that creates a continually healthy state. Eating a balanced diet to protect our digestive system, getting adequate amounts of exercise, ample time in nature with fresh air, and releasing trauma or stressor will do wonders for mental health. 


This can be a tall order, especially when we take a look at typical treatment options in the psychiatric world.

Prescriptions/Common Treatments for Mental Illness

Mental illness is not just hard to diagnose and categorize, based on ever changing diagnostic criteria, but it is extremely difficult to treat effectively. 


The symptoms, origin, and development of mental illness varies greatly between individuals. There is not only childhood trauma, genetics, and biochemical imbalances that contribute to it but also social, economic, and environmental stressors that contribute and affect our overall mental health.


Clinically, this makes mental illness difficult to treat for many practitioners. More often than not it is difficult to effectively implement drastic changes in one's physical activity, diet, and social/emotional triggers. The fallback for most clinical cases of mental illness is, of course, prescription drugs in combination with psychotherapy or counseling.


Unfortunately, there is literally no magic pill for treatment of mental illness. Many of the prescription drugs used clinically lack proper information on how they affect mental health and their long term effects on health as most of the guiding clinical trials only last about 8 weeks. 


Here are some of the most common prescription drugs used for mental illness, with all information sourced from FDA guidance papers used for the official registration of these substances and a pharmaceutical substance: 


The 5 most common drugs for depression used are as follows :

Antidepressants are primarily selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), with the exception of Wellbutrin, which is an aminoketone antidepressant used to quit smoking. SSRI’s affects the amount of serotonin floating around in our central nervous system, science is not exactly sure how it affected depression. Side effects are often harsh and leave their clinical use questionable in younger population, especially as a first line treatment options.


Unfortunately they all share the same label warning of increasing suicidality along with other impacts on heart health, eye health, sleep, and interference with cognitive and mental performance. Most clinical trials only study these substances for up to 8 weeks leaving the long term effects of antidepressants understudied and misunderstood. Combined with the fact that antidepressants are hard to stop using, requiring tapered dosing, it creates a problematic yet dependent relationship with antidepressants that is hard to break for most individuals.


The 3 most common Anxiety medications :

Xanax and Ativan are both benzodiazepines (“benzos”), while Desyrel is an SSRI with much of the same characteristics of the drugs discussed above. The mechanism of action of benzodiazepines is not well understood and can lead to severe nervous system depression possibly causing respiratory depression, and death, especially with opioids. 


The 5 most common ADHD medications:

ADHD medications are typically stimulants that are well known and widely used. Amphetamines and centrally acting nervous system stimulants often breed dependence and will have long term ramifications for most individuals who being them at a young age. Stimulants are burdensome for the bodily systems and may cause cardiovascular disease, stroke, and even sudden death.


These relatively misunderstood prescriptions but vastly prescribed medications don't inspire much confidence. The trade off between treatment efficacy and serious side effects becomes a difficult choice for many physicians who may not be able to offer alternative forms of treatment approaches.


The fact that most antidepressant and anxiety medications come with explicit warning of increasing the risk of suicide make the use of these medication even more controversial. Suicidality is already the second leading cause of death among populations between 10 and 34 years old as mentioned earlier. Subjecting them to primary treatment that involves substances that may increase that risk, seems rather counter intuitive. 



Alternative Approaches to Mental Health

Just like there is no magic pill for treating depression, there is of course, no magic treatment protocol or alternative therapy that will help every individual affected by mental illness. Multidisciplinary therapies are consistently being regarded as the most effective approach, as the complex and dynamic nature of mental health gains more scientific evidence. 


This means that most effective treatment plans will include counseling, medication, dietary, and lifestyle changes. Even more important are the little changes we can make in our daily lives that instill healthy habits, positive affirmations, and situations which allow the expression of oneself freely while feeling seen and heard.


So, how do we get to a place where we can make the little changes necessary in our life while refocusing our mindset about life and the day to day struggles?


More often than not, naturally occurring substances can provide a powerful tool in reducing the severity of symptoms associated with mental illness. Herbs have been used for thousands of years as potent medicinal substances. Scientific evidence continues to support their uses in human clinical trials, with efficacy comparable to many prescription drugs, while consistently showing less overall and severe side effects. The most common side effect seen with many of the following herbs, digestive upset, which is very mild when compared to many pharmaceuticals.


By giving the body ingredients necessary for healing itself, providing the mental clarity necessary, and supporting our natural rhythms herbs allow individuals to shift mental process from a negative to a positive wavelength. This may allow for windows of opportunity for individuals to break their cycle, giving them the ability to implement these small changes on a day to day basis.


LION'S MANE is a revered fungus, with a long history of use in Chinese medicine, known for its ability to help regrow nerves and combat age related cognitive decline(7). There is research indicating its activity as an anti-inflammatory agent can help reduce symptoms of anxiety in mice. The most exciting evidence regarding Lion’s mane comes from its ability to help regrow nerve cells via the stimulation and release of a nerve growth factor. This means that new neural pathways and connections can be made in the brain to keep it healthy and happy (6). 


RHODIOLA is An energizing adaptogenic root that is often taken to help boost mood and energy. It has been shown to be effective against both anxiety and depression. Science now shows that it affects mood by regulating serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine (9). All of these neurotransmitters are intimately involved with our day to day mental health and wellbeing. It has also been shown to effectively treat anxiety (8,10)


SkullcapThe leaves of American skullcap has been used in traditional herbal medicine as a sedative and to treat conditions like anxiety and convulsions. The plant was prized by Native Americans for its powerful medicinal properties. Now science shows its ability to act as a mood booster while decreasing anxiety severity (11,12). Skullcap has also been used to treat viral infections, quell inflammation, and act as a neuro-protectant. This mild and gentle herb deserve to be taken seriously in clinical settings. 


Some herbs and ingredients that may have comparable efficacy to common pharmaceuticals prescribed for mental illness.

BACOPA has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat memory, anxiety, and epilepsy. It is a powerful nootropic adaptogen that has been clinically studied to increase nerve cell communication and increase the capacity to learn new things. Its clinical applications have been studied in children with ADHD, general anxiety disorder, and cognitive function (3,4,5). It is theorized that Bacopa increases neurotransmitter release to help working memory and learning capacity. It helps relieve anxiety by activity our GABA receptors, much like alcohol, and helps regulate our body’s reaction to stressors via it adaptogenic effects.


LION'S MANE is a revered fungus, with a long history of use in Chinese medicine, known for its ability to help regrow nerves and combat age related cognitive decline(7). There is research indicating its activity as an anti-inflammatory agent can help reduce symptoms of anxiety in mice. The most exciting evidence regarding Lion’s mane comes from its ability to help regrow nerve cells via the stimulation and release of a nerve growth factor. This means that new neural pathways and connections can be made in the brain to keep it healthy and happy (6). 


RHODIOLA is an energizing adaptogenic root that is often taken to help boost mood and energy. It has been shown to be effective against both anxiety and depression. Science now shows that it affects mood by regulating serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine (9). All of these neurotransmitters are intimately involved with our day to day mental health and wellbeing. It has also been shown to effectively treat anxiety (8,10)


SKULLCAP leaves have been used in traditional herbal medicine as a sedative and to treat conditions like anxiety and convulsions. The plant was prized by Native Americans for its powerful medicinal properties. Now science shows its ability to act as a mood booster while decreasing anxiety severity (11,12). Skullcap has also been used to treat viral infections, quell inflammation, and act as a neuro-protectant. This mild and gentle herb deserve to be taken seriously in clinical settings. 


CHAMOMILE is well known and long revered for its relaxing effects, chamomile is probably one of the most well known herbs today. It relaxes and calms the nervous system, relieving anxiety, by binding GABA receptors in much the same way as benzodiazepines do without any of the addictive and harmful effects (14,15). A warm cup of chamomile tea is sure to get most people feeling cozy and cheery, but with a powerful nanotechnology extract, those effects become exponentially compounded.  


L-THEANINE is an amino acid found most commonly in tea leaves and has often been heralded for its ability to alleviate jitters associated with caffeine intake all while increasing focus and productivity. It provides relief from ADHD symptoms, depression, and anxiety all through increasing alpha wave activity in the brain. (16,17,18). This powerful, naturally occurring compound provides a great non-toxic way to approach a number of mental health issues.


In formulating Aneu’s rhythm product lines, Day and Night, we kept the multidisciplinary approach to heart. We rooted our formulation practices in the belief that allowing people to feel better while optimizing their neurological health and natural bodily cycles. 


By combining powerful concentrated herbal extracts, including the ones mentioned above, with cutting edge nanotechnology to produce highly bioavailable and effective formulas that can provide individuals the tools to help their central nervous system function optimally. By combining our proprietary herbal blends with cutting edge nanotechnology production methods, the Day + Night regiment can assist in balancing our circadian rhythm, neurotransmitters, metabolism, mood, sleep, and energy throughout each day. 


Here are a few extra simple tools we wanted to leave you with. Use them to help boost your mental health everyday, and find the little things that work for you!


BREATHE
Take 5 deep breaths - Inhale for 2 counts, hold for 1 count, and exhale for 4 counts. Continue this pattern until you reach your desired state of calm.


NATURE

Walk outside for 10 minutes with no phone, music, or distractions. Simply enjoy the walk and contemplate the environment around you. 


JOURNAL
If you find that you have repetitive and cyclical thoughts that you cannot shake, write with purpose and honesty to yourself & what you are experiencing.


HYDRATION
Drink ample amounts of clean & purified water. Often headaches, hunger, lack of focus, and lethargy are associated with poor hydration status. 


DIET
Help your liver help yourself: Increase your intake of liver supportive and protective foods, including beets, artichokes, onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, mustard greens, collard kale, chard, sprouts, sea veggies, and turnips. 


We hope that you have a better understanding of mental health, who is affected, how common treatments fall short, and why herbs are a healthy and effective alternative that should be considered prior to starting any prescription medications.


Alway consult a health professional with any questions about supplements and herbs before using them, if you are already on medication many herbs can interact with the medication you are currently taking. This information in this article does not establish a doctor-patient relationship, and is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any diseases.


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  6. Mori, K., Obara, Y., Hirota, M., Azumi, Y., Kinugasa, S., Inatomi, S., & Nakahata, N. (2008). Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 31(9), 1727-1732.
  7. Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., & Tuchida, T. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double‐blind placebo‐controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, 23(3), 367-372.
  8. Cropley, M., Banks, A. P., & Boyle, J. (2015). The effects of Rhodiola rosea L. extract on anxiety, stress, cognition and other mood symptoms. Phytotherapy research, 29(12), 1934-1939.
  9. Darbinyan, V., Aslanyan, G., Amroyan, E., Gabrielyan, E., Malmström, C., & Panossian, A. (2007). Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Nordic journal of psychiatry, 61(5), 343-348.
  10. Bystritsky, A., Kerwin, L., & Feusner, J. D. (2008). A pilot study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax®) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 14(2), 175-180.
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  13. Wolfson, P., & Hoffmann, D. L. (2003). An investigation into the efficacy of Scutellaria lateriflora in healthy volunteers. Alternative therapies in health & medicine, 9(2).
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The Connection Between Cannabis and Anxiety

The Connection Between Cannabis and Anxiety

The Connection Between Cannabis and Anxiety: The Role of CBD

WHAT IS ANXIETY?

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. Anxiety feels different depending on the person experiencing it. Feelings can range from butterflies in your stomach to a racing heart. You might feel out of control, like there’s a disconnect between your mind and body.This energy stimulated from anxiety can have long lasting negative effects on your mind and body.Research has revealed that anxiety is caused by the release of neurotransmitters and hormones as a reaction to an event or situation perceived by the brain as stressful. Some of the biological signaling chemicals involved in anxiety include serotonin, adrenaline, endorphins, and dopamine. The physical manifestations of anxiety may include elevated heart rate, nausea, dizziness, perspiration, and a numb or tingling sensation in the extremities.

What’s the relationship between cannabis and anxiety?

Although widely discussed, the relationship between cannabis and anxiety is poorly understood.While we don’t normally think of anxiety as desirable, it’s actually a critical adaptive response that can help us cope with threats to our (or a loved one’s) safety and welfare. These responses help us recognize and avert potential threats; they can also help motivate us to take action to better our situation. However, when we don’t manage these natural responses effectively, they can become maladaptive and impact our work and relationships. This can lead to clinically diagnosable anxiety-related disorders. We’ve all heard the saying, “stress kills.” It’s true!.

Anxiety-related disorders affect a huge segment of our population—40 million adults (18%) in the United States age 18 and older. In response, Big Pharma has developed numerous drugs to treat anxiety-related disorders, from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac and Zoloft to tranquilizers (the most popular class being benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax). 

What Are the Best Cannabis Strains for Anxiety?

In recent years, CBD has generated a tremendous amount of interest among consumers, clinicians, and scientists. Why? Not only does evidence suggest CBD counteracts many of THC’s adverse effects, but numerous animal studies and accumulating evidence from human experimental, clinical, and epidemiological studies suggest CBD has powerful anti-anxiety properties. Administered acutely (“as needed”), it appears safe, well-tolerated, and may be beneficial to treat a number of anxiety-related disorders, including:

  • Panic disorder 
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 
  • Social phobia 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) 
  • Mild to moderate depression

CBD exerts several actions in the brain that explain why it could be effective in treating anxiety. Before we dive in, it’s important to note that most research describing how CBD works is preclinical and based on animal studies. As the saying goes, “mice are not men” — and, results from animal studies don’t always neatly transfer to human therapies. However, preclinical studies provide insights that move us in the right direction:


5-HT1A agonist: 5-HT1A is a subtype of the serotonin receptor, which is important because anxiety and depression can sometimes be treated with medications that target the serotonin system. This is why drug companies developed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac and Zoloft. SSRIs work by blocking reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, which increases availability of serotonin in the synaptic space. This helps brain cells transmit more serotonin signals, which can reduce anxiety and boost mood in certain cases (although the full biological basis for this is more complicated and not fully understood).


Similar to SSRIs, CBD may boost signaling through serotonin receptors. In an animal study, Spanish researchers found that CBD enhances 5-HT1A transmission and may affect serotonin faster than SSRIs. Researchers noted:


“The fast onset of antidepressant action of CBD and the simultaneous anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect would solve some of the main limitations of current antidepressant therapies." - Cannabis and Depression 


Hippocampal neurogenesis: The hippocampus is a major brain area, and plays a critical role in a variety of brain functions. It’s most famous for its role in memory formation and cognition. Brain scans of patients suffering from depression or anxiety often show a smaller hippocampus, and successful treatment of depression is associated with the birth of new neurons (neurogenesis) in the hippocampus.


An animal study using mice found repeated administration of CBD may help the hippocampus regenerate neurons, which could be useful for treating anxiety or depression. Research shows both SSRIs and CBD may promote neurogenesis. This is significant, because evidence suggests that severely impaired neuronal plasticity may influence suicidal behavior. Future research comparing CBD and SSRIs effect on neurogenesis could open up promising new avenues in how we understand depression and how to most effectively treat it.

How Can CBD Help Anxiety?

Building on the foundation of animal studies, human studies are starting to provide evidence to demonstrate that CBD can improve many commonly reported anxiety-disorder symptoms, including acute stress and anxiety.

Human Studies Show How CBD Reduces Anxiety

Brazilian researchers conducted a small double-blind study of patients afflicted with generalized social anxiety. After consuming CBD, participants reported a significant decrease in anxiety. Researchers validated patients’ subjective reports by performing brain scans showing cerebral blood flow patterns consistent with an anti-anxiety effect.


In another small study, researchers had patients suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder perform a simulated public speaking test. Participants reported significantly less anxiety, findings supported by objective anxiety indicators like heart rate and blood pressure.


Researchers concluded, “[CBD] significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance,” whereas the placebo group experienced “higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, [and] discomfort.”