CBD has shown promise in treatment for anxiety disorders. A 2015 review of CBD studies, published in the journal Neurotherapeutics, led reviewers to conclude that CBD demonstrates potent anxiolytic (anxiety-relieving) properties. CBD’s anxiolytic effects make it a strong candidate in the treatment of anxiety and depression. It works indirectly with the brain’s serotonin receptors to influence how synapses respond to available serotonin.
Derived from tryptophan, serotonin is a biochemical neurotransmitter that regulates mood and other functions. CBD simulates the effects of serotonin, which helps to increase the body’s receptivity.
CBD acts quickly, and its effects are sustained. Compared to traditional medications, CBD also has fewer side effects. Low doses of CBD (10 mg/kg or less) treated anxiety symptoms better. CBD works as an agonist, triggering the opposite response when it binds to a receptor. It is possible that small doses can give rise to a positive response, while higher doses evoke a compensatory effect that counteracts CBD’s effects.
Other early studies conducted with animals have shown that CBD may help:
- Reduce stress
- Decrease physiological responses, e.g., elevated heart rate
- Improve PTSD symptoms
- Induce sleep
Some CBD users take it for depression because its benefits seem to be superior compared to traditional antidepressants. It can take up to 6 weeks for SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) to begin working. CBD, on the other hand, takes effect more quickly for sustained benefits. While traditional antidepressants can have adverse side effects, CBD’s side effects are minor.
A review of multiple animal studies in 2018 demonstrated the antidepressant effects. In another study from 2018, researchers found that CBD appears to be a fast-acting antidepressant because it works to amplify serotonin’s neurotransmission in the brain’s hippocampus.
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