Fear and anxiety are two of the brain’s natural responses to dangerous and threatening situations. Both can be lifesavers as they prepare the body to deal with crises that pose a danger to survival. Unfortunately, when fear and anxiety become persistent they can damage a person’s ability to cope with life and even become debilitating. Excessive amounts of both can lead to symptoms of serious mental and emotional problems including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), abnormally high levels of constant paralytic fear, panic attacks, and a variety of sleep disorders. [This article, “Peaceful easy feelings: 5 ways CBD products may help reduce stress, minimize anxiety, and promote restful sleep” was originally published in NewsHealthWatch]
Researchers have come up with numerous medications that can help with each of these disorders, but even those remedies may bring about negative side effects. As a result, natural treatments have become more popular as people have sought alternative remedies for their anxiety-related disorders and poor sleep quality.
Some of the most promising work has involved the use of cannabidiol (CBD), a derivative of cannabis, which is considered a broad-spectrum drug. A review of 49 clinical trials, studies and research projects by a branch of the National Institute of Health concluded that the evidence “strongly supports” CBD products as a possible treatment for these disorders and possibly other mental health problems. The review also says that more research is needed to verify CBD’s “considerable potential” as a treatment.
The impetus for further trials and studies comes in part from the widespread prevalence of the disorders it may be used to treat. Anxiety-related disorders affect about one-third of the American population, which is the largest number for any mental health disorder.
More information about the studies can be found here:
National Institute of Health’s PubMed
The growing field of CBD-based products
Cannabis, or marijuana, has been known for centuries as a recreational drug that causes various mental and physical effects, including euphoria, altered states of mind and sense of time, and relaxation. It can also cause difficulty concentrating, compromised short-term memory, impaired body movement, and an increase in appetite. For more than a century, it has been outlawed in many countries, and it is now the most commonly used illegal drug in the world.
Scientists have identified 483 component chemicals in cannabis, and the percentage of each one differs significantly depending on the marijuana plant being studied. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive component and is responsible for many of the plant’s more pronounced mind-altering effects. When the drug is taken in large amounts, it can cause anxiety, delusions, hallucinations, panic, paranoia, and psychosis.
In 1940, scientists isolated CBD from among the 65 cannabinoids found in cannabis and began studying how to use it while avoiding the negative effects of general marijuana usage. As of 2019, clinical research on CBD included studies related to anxiety, cognition, movement disorders, and pain; these are among the trials cited in the NIH report. This has led to a major consumer market in CBD-based products, which is expected to reach the $47 billion mark in the next few years. These products can be taken internally in multiple ways, including by inhaling smoke or vapor, by mouth, and as an aerosol spray into the cheek.
Researchers have high hopes for CBD treatments in five different disorders
So far, the FDA has approved one CBD-based medicine for use against specific diseases. The drug Epidiolex was approved in 2018 for the treatment of two epilepsy disorders. Meanwhile, other formulations of CBD have shown promise as possible future treatments for five serious mental disorders.
CBD has a broad pharmacological profile, including interactions with several chemical receptors in the nervous system known to regulate anxiety-related behaviors.
Stress is an important contributor to many mental disorders, and traumatic stress exposure is essential to the development of PTSD. Systemically administered CBD has been shown to reduce acute increases in heart rate and blood pressure caused by stress.
CBD has been shown to help remove fear memories in healthy volunteers, especially if it is inhaled just before or after a clinical trial.
Animal studies have demonstrated CBD’s potential use in decreasing the number and severity of panic attacks under certain controlled circumstances.
Preliminary research suggests that CBD can help in a number of sleep disorders, including insomnia, abnormal sleep behavior, and narcolepsy.
In all of these cases, the NIH report says more study is needed to determine what the proper formulations and dosage amounts of CBD-based products will do the most good for patients. “Overall, this review emphasizes the potential value and need for further study of CBD in the treatment of anxiety disorders,” the report concludes.
For further reading, check out these sites:
The grass is greener in natural gardens
While researchers continue to answer questions about CBD products in their laboratories, over-the-counter products containing the chemical are becoming more and more popular with the general public. Businesses ranging from tiny to huge have entered the marketplace in hopes of building their customer bases, To stand out from the burgeoning number of CBD product sellers, some companies have decided to emphasize their natural roots and organic practices. One such company is Ned, founded in 2018 in Boulder, Colorado, by two men dedicated to following nature’s path.
Helping people find a deeper connection with the natural world is one of the main goals of Ned, according to the company’s co-founder and co-CEO, Ret Taylor. All of Ned’s CBD comes from a single organic hemp farm in Colorado, where the company is based. Ned’s devotion to natural processes extends from the farm all the way to the facility where CBD is extracted from the hemp. Ned offers nature-based formulations which promote relaxation and restful sleep and incorporate CBD as well as other synergistic ingredients.
“We really leave the product in its closest biological form, the way mother nature intended it,” says Taylor “Instead of hitting it with high heat and high pressure, we do a cold-pressed, organic ethanol extraction.”
This artesian approach to production leads to higher prices for products when compared to those sold by larger companies that rely on factory farms and large-scale extraction and manufacturing, but consumers are willing to pay a slight premium in order to get products they know are made organically by companies that take a very personal approach to their customers.
Laws are changing, but many legal issues remain
The legal landscape is shifting for CBD products in particular, and for cannabis in general. In the U.S. Congress, the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp (defined as ‘cannabis and its derivatives with extremely low concentrations of THC’) from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. The same bill explicitly preserved the Food and Drug Administration’s authority over hemp products. That means hemp products must meet FDA requirements and standards, just like any other FDA-regulated product. These safeguards help ensure that Americans have access to safe and accurately labeled hemp products, and, in the case of drugs, that patients can depend on the effectiveness of these products.
On its website, the FDA says it recognizes the “significant interest” in the development of therapies and other consumer products derived from cannabis and its components, including CBD. However, the FDA also says it is aware that some companies are marketing products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Adding to the legal tangle are the laws of the various states. Some have legalized marijuana altogether, while some others ban it outright, and still others restrict its use to the medicinal application of certain compounds such as CBD. In states where the growing of hemp has been legalized, a new cash crop has quickly grown up to meet the needs of producers of CBD-based products.
Growing like weeds
While large corporations have turned to industrial farming operations to produce hemp for their products, smaller niche companies have found numerous family-owned organic farms that produce hemp with methods dating back decades. The Ned company buys all of its hemp from a single farm in Paonia, a farming community nestled in the North Fork Valley on Colorado’s Western Slope.
“We kept looking for the right supplier, and finally I found a farmer who was more interested in quality than quantity,” Taylor says. “They grow everything organically, and they do everything by hand the natural way. That’s why it remains the company’s only hemp supplier.”
When Ned first began buying its raw material, the farm was one acre; the success of the product over the last four years has now allowed the operation to cover 11 acres and still grow its crop with an exclusively all-organic process.
Globally, the industrial hemp market size was estimated at $4.13 billion in 2021. The rapid growth of the business slowed a bit from the previous year because of the economic strains brought about by the COVID pandemic, but experts now believe it will soon regain the lost ground and continue to expand as the demand for CBD-based products rebounds.
Another factor working in favor of CBD-based companies is the continuing shift in state-by-state marijuana and hemp laws. So far, 19 states, along with the District of Columbia and two territories, have legalized the non-medical use of cannabis. An additional 12 states and one territory have decriminalized that usage, which means that most people face just a fine if convicted. Federal law has remained unchanged since the Farm Bill, but the push for more experimentation into CBD may lead to a reconsideration if public pressure mounts.
More information about CBD products and their potential health benefits can be found on these sites:
Medical News Today
Important Note: The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or medical advice, nor is it intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease or health condition. Before embarking on any diet or program of nutritional supplementation, it is advisable to consult your healthcare professional in order to determine its safety and probable efficacy in terms of your individual state of health.