CBD Softgels for Anxiety: Can CBD Help Your Mental Health?
Here at PP Health, we've come to realise a few things about anxiety that they don't teach you in school.
One of those things is that anxiety isn't just something that happens to a few people. We've all experienced anxiety in some form or another- in fact, there's no human being out there that hasn't felt irrationally worried, stressed, or panicked over something they know they shouldn't obsess over. We can guarantee that most people have made themselves unintentionally ill or sick with stress. Recent studies show that 3.6% of the world has an anxiety disorder of some sort; that's 264 million individuals with a diagnosed disorder alone, with many who are undiagnosed falling through the cracks.
Additionally, while it's not always crippling (though, let's face it, it usually is), anxiety tends to sneak up on us at the worst moments, making us second-guess, gaslight, and even emotionally cripple ourselves, in insidious ways. However, we're here to tell you that there's a way to help combat anxiety, possibly curbing stress symptoms with ease, efficiency, and very few notable side effects.
You guessed it- here comes CBD to save the day.
In particular, our version of premium CBD capsules- CBD softgels- which promote the slow release of CBD throughout your day, with great potential benefits to combat anxieties, lift the mood, and potentially relax the mind. A CBD softgel a day might just be the ideal solution to keeping your worries at bay.
Imagine that: a day without worry, stress, panic, intrusive thoughts, or obsessive compulsions.
Why CBD Softgel Capsules?
Not only do CBD softgel capsules have the highest half-life out of all the methods of consumption, staying in your system for longer, but the 'slow-burn' release of a CBD capsule can be really effective when you want your CBD to last all day.
However, a softgel is a softgel for a reason. Unlike tablets, a softgel typically carries the CBD oil, in a predetermined dosage- so that you don't have to spend your mornings trying to determine how many drops of CBD oil to place under your tongue, while juggling the rest of your errands. Not only this, but softgel capsules can be absorbed more quickly by the body, taking effect a lot faster, and tend to be more powerful than a normal CBD capsule. So, if you're worried about the efficiency of your CBD softgel, don't be- it'll take effect before you know it, without overwhelming your system or wearing off within the hour.
Because we know how hectic life can get, we understand you want your CBD to last longer, absorb quickly and effectively, and promote health in every possible way. CBD capsules may do just that- giving you what you need to embark on your day with all the confidence you could ever ask for.
What Is Anxiety Disorder?
CBD has been known to help with symptoms of many varieties of anxiety disorder. These tend to include:
- Social anxiety disorders
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Phobia disorders (agoraphobia, claustrophobia etc.)
While any anxiety disorder typically tends to branch out and encompass a wide range of subsections, a person with anxiety can be classed as someone who feels 'unease' or 'worry', which can be mild, moderate, or severe. According to the NHS website, anxiety becomes a 'disorder' when it becomes uncontrollable- essentially, this is when feelings of worry, fear, or paranoia bleed into our day to day life, obstructing daily rituals and enjoyments. However, it is essential to remember that anxiety symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people experience anxiety on a physical level, with shaking, nausea, and others, through emotional distress.
An anxiety disorder might also be triggered by small, seemingly inconsequential events, either born from past trauma or genetic proclivity. These traumas can be triggered by something seemingly small (such as going out to see friends) or might occur from tiredness, overstimulation, or large crowds and noises.
Anxiety disorders vary in how intense they can be- and treatments for anxiety can also vary. Often, a combination of medication and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is used to help patients suffering from anxiety disorder, while less intensive supplements and lifestyle changes may be used for those with less severe stress symptoms.
What Causes Anxiety?
This might sound unfair (because it is), but, according to a wealth of research, those who tend to suffer from higher levels of anxiety do so because their brains simply produce fewer 'feel good neurotransmitters' (chemical messengers that help regulate emotion in the brain)- in particular, GABA and serotonin.
A while back, scientists discovered that this is due to some people having a genetic variation - meaning that those with certain genes tend to suffer from anxiety at higher levels than others- experiencing chronic anxiety symptoms on a more severe plane. The link itself is relatively simple- those with anxiety tend to have lower levels of these neurotransmitters than others.
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that tends to relax and calm the system. It's inhibitory because it prevents the overstimulation of the nervous system. Serotonin is also an inhibitory neurotransmitter, as it inhibits pain, (often irrational) impulses, and keeps us feeling happier overall.
Norepinephrine is another neurotransmitter that can be responsible for people suffering from high levels of anxiety. It is the neurotransmitter released in response to stress, triggering the 'fight or flight' response. Those who typically suffer from panic disorder tend to have higher levels of norepinephrine in their system- although very low levels of this neurotransmitter have been linked to depression and low mood. It's hard to keep this neurotransmitter modulated, as it tends to rise and fall unpredictably.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a complex system present within us all, which modulates most of our major biological processes- from regulating temperature and mood, to keeping our neurotransmitters running smoothly- and even ensuring our immune system is working properly. Think of any bodily process, and( more often than not) your ECS will have some part in regulating it!
The ECS is built up of three major molecules: ECS receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids (molecules produced by the body which bind to ECS receptors). The system will also accommodate a fourth kind of molecule: cannabinoids (molecules that interact with the ECS, produced by the cannabis Sativa plant- such as THC and CBD). ECS receptors are typically split into two main types: CB1 and CB2. Where CB1 is located in our central nervous system and brain, and is responsible for mood, appetite, cognition, memory, and perception (all of the things associated with mood, mentality, and mental health), CB2 receptors tend to be situated in the white blood cells and our gut, responsible for our peripheral ('rest and digest') nervous system. CB2 receptors are thought to regulate immunity, gut health, our inflammatory response, and even some neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's.
So, what might CBD do to interact with the ECS and potentially ease the symptoms of anxiety?
According to recent studies, CBD may raise the levels of therapeutic endocannabinoids within our system. There are two main endocannabinoids that are thought to increase with the presence of CBD: anandamide and 2-AG.
As shown by an increasing amount of preliminary research, higher levels of both anandamide and 2-AG have shown to have significant effects on the system- from curbing depression to easing anxiety, and, in general, centring the body and mind.
This is because anandamide and 2-AG are responsible for binding to CB1 receptors- which can prove beneficial in dealing with anxiety, fear, depression, and paranoia. Studies tell us that anxiety and fear tend to stem from 'perturbed cognition’ and (a lack of) ‘emotional regulation’, leading to maladaptive responses to ‘benign conditions’.
In a nutshell, what these studies tell us is that anxiety is psychological- while this information alone doesn’t stop anxiety from physically manifesting with heart palpitations, sweating, shaking, gastrointestinal problems, and nausea, it does tell us that stabilising our mental health can directly impact how we physically feel.
Anxiety and CBD: Potentially Inhibiting Enzymes
In potentially increasing the amount of 2-AG and anandamide in the system, CBD may have direct therapeutic effects. For both endocannabinoids, CBD is thought to inhibit the actions of enzymes which are responsible for destroying the ‘feel good’ molecules. In the case of anandamide, CBD may help to inhibit the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). In the case of 2-AG, CBD has been shown to possibly inhibit the enzyme, monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), responsible for the hydrolysis, or deactivation, of 2-AG.
So, why might this help with anxiety?
Well, many studies have looked at how inhibiting the actions of these two enzymes, FAAH and MAGL, has significantly reduced fear, stress, depression and anxiety.
For example, with FAAH, these studies have shown that exposure to stress (or any anxiety trigger, really) tends to mobilise the enzyme- lowering levels of anandamide and stimulating the basolateral amygdala (BLA). With this combination of events comes anxiety-like behaviour. Not only are lower levels of anandamide terrible for the mood, but the activation, or ‘neuronal excitability, of the BLA can also cause higher levels of stress and anxiety.
Similarly, studies have shown that reducing levels of MAGL in the system has significant benefits when it comes to improving symptoms of anxiety. The inhibition of MAGL has been shown to help 2-AG connect to CB1 receptors in the brain at a higher frequency. The inhibition of this enzyme has a direct link to limiting trauma and stress-related disorders.
Let’s take a look (in more detail) at how CBD’s help in inhibiting these two enzymes may lead to higher levels of anandamide and 2-AG- which, in turn, can provide some serious therapeutic benefits against anxiety, stress and fear symptoms.
Anandamide is known as the ‘bliss molecule’ for a reason- it is typically found in higher amounts in ‘happier people’, and it promotes pleasure, better mood and wellness in individuals. With CBD in the system, higher levels of this ‘bliss molecule’ can lead to lower levels of anxiety, fear, and stress.
Essentially, anandamide binds to two different types of receptors in the brain. CB1 receptors, part of the endocannabinoid system we’ve talked about, are one type. TRPV1 (vanilloid) receptors are another. Anandamide’s affinity for TRPV1 and CB1 receptors can enrich the system in more ways than one. Where CB1 allows for the regulation of fear, stress, and worry, TRPV1 can regulate pain perception- helping to manage the physical symptoms of anxiety, modulate any chronic pain disorders, control the temperature of the body, and, as a consequence, make the body feel restored and ‘well’ once more.
If you’re unaware of the synchronicity between mental and physical health, look no further than the effects of activating TRPV1 for soothing and comforting the mind. When the correct interaction occurs, TRPV1 can seriously limit inflammation and neuropathic pain. This is fantastic news for those who experience anxiety from living with chronic pain or daily discomfort. Many findings (and personal experiences) show that a healthy body equals a healthy mind. There’s no denying that TRPV1’s potential to ease physical pain and inflammation may seriously improve mental wellbeing.
As current evidence indicates, TRPV1 doesn’t just work on a physical level. These receptors also sit in the parts of the brain responsible for controlling stress and emotion (such as the medial prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, and the grey areas of the brain)- and these parts of the brain tend to operate much more intensely when TRPV1 receptors are interacted with. Studies also show us that, when activated, TRPV1 can, in turn, interact and interfere with other receptor pathways, which are responsible for modulating our stress response. Essentially, what we mean by this is that TRPV1 can actually help us respond to stress with more ease and efficiency.
However, one thing to note is that the over-activation of TRPV1 receptors can lead to increased levels of anxiety. Studies tell us that there needs to be a regulated amount of anandamide in the system, so that the TRPV1 receptors aren’t stimulated to a high enough degree. However, there’s no cause for concern here, as most CBD products out there aren’t potent enough to promote anxiety. Indeed, commercial CBD dosages are typically low to moderate, which is enough to potentially ease symptoms of fear, stress, and paranoia without overstimulating TRPV1 receptors.
Neuroprotection, as well as synaptic plasticity, are relatively new discoveries in the field of mental health. However, with new research comes new discoveries: one of which shows evidence that stronger neurons, and stronger synapses, can help to improve mental health, lower the chances of depression, and improve anxiety symptoms.
Neuroprotection has also been shown to prevent the chances of severe mental health disorders, from schizophrenia to neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, etc). This is because stronger neurons and synapses can improve cognition and perception, mental clarity, and even activate certain areas of the brain which modulate anxiety, fear, and stress responses- maintaining our mental wellbeing by way of clearheadedness and perception.
This research accompanies new knowledge- that severe mood disorders, including anxiety and paranoia, can be caused by a series of factors, one of which is the ‘atrophy or loss of neurons’.
Anandamide can prove useful in preventing this from happening. Not only do higher levels of anandamide protect the neurons by attaching to CB1 receptors, but anandamide also helps to produce more neurons- promoting something known as neurogenesis in the hippocampus. This allows for stronger memory, learning, and perception, which can, in turn, lead to better mental health. Findings from a study that used a synthetic cannabinoid, HU210, suggest that this may seriously improve depression and anxiety. The promotion of more undifferentiated nerves in the hippocampus region of the brain via the activation of the CB1 receptors has direct links to improved mental health and wellbeing.
In the presence of CBD, 2-AG is also purported to increase. This endocannabinoid has a high affinity (higher than anandamide) for ECS receptors- in particular CB1. This can prove essential in easing symptoms of anxiety, lifting the mood, and helping us perceive the world around us with more clarity and contentment.
Speaking of contentment, 2-AG is also known to increase levels of feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin (more on this in a bit), GABA, dopamine, and oxytocin. In fact, 2-AG is what is widely thought to cause that contented, happy feeling after orgasm. Studies tell us that plasma levels, post-orgasm, of male and female test subjects had significantly high levels of 2-AG (plus anandamide, in some tests).
Aside from making us feel that post-orgasmic bliss, 2-AG is also incredibly important in curbing fear. One study, conducted on mice, hypothesised that 2-AG is an endocannabinoid specifically responsible for lowering anxiety, depressive behaviour, and impacting our emotional learning. In this study, the genetic deletion of the enzyme responsible for synthesising 2-AG, diacylglycerol lipase (DAGla), led to significant levels of fear, anxiety, and other impairments to manifest in the mice subjects.
The study concludes by telling us that 2-AG operates in the amygdala region of the brain- which is incredibly useful when we’re considering how 2-AG may help us to manage stress and anxiety. The amygdala is the part of the brain that tends to modulate our anxiety, stress, and arousal. When 2-AG binds to CB1 receptors in the amygdala, this helps to release neurotransmitters (at faster, more frequent rates- especially in those with naturally low levels of feel-good neurotransmitters). This helps to manage stress symptoms and modulates the anxiety response.
In particular, activation of 2-AG in the amygdala regions of the brain may promote the release of GABA, glutamate, serotonin, and noradrenaline.
In many people who suffer from anxiety, it is the neurotransmitter GABA which is released less frequently by the amygdala- hence why anxiety and stress cannot be appropriately modulated. 2-AG’s potential to assist the brain to release more GABA can be incredibly vital for those who are weighed down by stress, fear, and anxiety.
CBD and Serotonin
In more scientific terms, it’s been hypothesised that one of the root causes of an anxiety disorder manifesting is down to the ‘dysfunction in the modulation of brain circuits that regulate the emotional response to potentially threatening stimuli’. These brain circuits include feel-good neurotransmitters, typically released by the amygdala in the brain. One of these neurotransmitters is GABA. The other is serotonin.
And yes, serotonin is pretty vital in helping us keep depression and anxiety at bay- which is why it’s so unfair that some people’s brains can’t produce enough on their own. Thankfully, more and more studies show that CBD capsules, with their capacity to promote higher levels of serotonin, can help to keep anxiety and depression at bay.
It’s been shown to us that higher levels of anandamide and 2-AG can help to increase serotonin levels in the brain. This is thought to be because CBD’s presence in the body may promote activity of the 5-HT pathway. In particular, serotonin (which binds to 5-HT1C and 5-HT2 receptors), can significantly curb anxiety levels. This, paired with more GABA, can be therapeutic for a person suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Typically, serotonin binds to 5-HT receptors, which are present in the central and peripheral nervous systems. With anandamide and 2-AG at higher levels, those who tend to have lower levels of serotonin may experience higher levels of the neurotransmitter. This is by anandamide and 2-AG activating CB1 receptors in the brain. While further testing is needed before we can be sure about the specific science of this, one thing we do know is that anandamide and 2-AG are particularly good for mental health and wellness.
CBD may also allow the body to respond positively to already existing serotonin in the system- essentially, making us more ‘aware’ of already existing levels of the neurotransmitter. It does this by binding to 5-HT receptors, which can ‘trick’ the brain into thinking there’s more serotonin present than there is.
It can be challenging to stick to your daily ritual with anxiety riding on your shoulders. If you find yourself wanting to try a holistic, natural, and plant-based remedy with few side effects and consistent evidence backing it up, try our CBD capsules. They’re easy to use, hassle-free, and can absorb a lot faster than a standard capsule.
Anxiety can be hard to live with- occasionally causing bouts of paranoia, unnecessary stress, and can be tied in very closely with depression. With more people now, suffering from anxiety disorders more than ever before, you can be assured that you’re not alone; and you don’t have to suffer in silence. There are solutions out there for you.
And, with CBD’s popularity, strong scientific background, and rising potential, a natural supplement for anxiety might be right under your nose.