You may have heard about CBD’s anti-anxiety effects and wondered if there is science behind the claims. Good news: amid the countless examples of anecdotal evidence, more scientific studies are emerging that demonstrate how CBD may help anxiety.
How CBD May Help Anxiety
Although more studies are needed on human subjects, preclinical studies on animals are beginning to demonstrate why CBD helps anxiety.
CBD and Serotonin
CBD may play a role in enhancing your serotonin system. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that can affect mood and social behavior, as well as sleep and memory. Traditional antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac and Zoloft, target the serotonin system by blocking reabsorption in the brain. By blocking reabsorption, the brain can transmit more serotonin signals, reducing anxiety.
CBD also targets the serotonin system, and preclinical studies show promise for its potential in treating anxiety and depression. In one study, CBD significantly enhanced serotonin levels in the brains of mice. The CBD proved to be fast acting, producing positive changes more quickly than SSRIs. Researchers believe this could help fill in the gaps of traditional antidepressants, which take longer to have an effect.
CBD has both acute and long-term effects on the serotonin systems of mice. When taking CBD regularly, researchers noted positive changes in the functionality of 5-HT1A, which is a subtype serotonin receptor.
CBD and the Hippocampus
The hippocampus is the region of your brain responsible for emotions, memory and the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is responsible for both fight or flight responses, as well as calming the body down after a stressful experience (1). A study on mice showed that CBD has anti-anxiety effects on the hippocampus, showing promise that it could do the same for human subjects. CBD helps the hippocampus regenerate neurons, which is associated with the successful treatment of depression. SSRIs are believed to promote neuron regeneration (neurogenesis) as well.
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