Cannabis sativa, a species of cannabis plant, is well known to humankind. With its earliest use in ancient Chinese culture dating as far back as 2700 B.C. The use of medical cannabis in China was reported in the world’s oldest pharmacopoeia. However, interest in the role of cannabis flourished in the late twentieth century after the recognition of an endogenous cannabinoid system in the brain.

More recently, research has centered in the description and cloning of specific receptors and the therapeutic effects of medical cannabis and different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant have gained interest. Recent studies have focused on the therapeutic role of medical cannabis in different disorders. As a result, there is a growing need to summarize and review the evidence for its therapeutic and adverse effects as an aid to public health policy development, and to provide direction and motivation to pharmaceutical research in this field.

CBD for mental health

A systematic review was conducted in the Journal of Cannabis Research including case reports, case series, open-label trials and non-randomized and randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The search resulted in 23 relevant studies on CBD and nabiximols in the treatment of a wide range of psychiatric disorders. The quality of evidence was judged by using the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine 2011 Levels of Evidence that ranges from Level 1 to Level 5 based on the quality and study design. These levels of evidence help in grading recommendations, including Grade A (strong), Grade B (moderate), Grade C (weak), and Grade D (weakest).

Results found that CBD and CBD-containing compounds such as nabiximols were helpful in alleviating psychotic symptoms and cognitive impairment in patients with a variety of conditions. Several studies provided evidence of effectiveness in the treatment of cannabis withdrawal and moderate to severe cannabis use disorder with Grade B recommendation. There is Grade B recommendation supporting the use of CBD for treatment of schizophrenia, social anxiety disorder and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Grade C recommendation exists for insomnia, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Tourette syndrome. These recommendations should be considered in the context of limited number of available studies. As a conclusion, it was determined that CBD and CBD-containing compounds such as nabiximols were helpful in alleviating symptoms of cannabis-related disorders, schizophrenia, social anxiety disorder, and comorbidities of ASD, and AHDS with moderate recommendation. However, there is weaker evidence for insomnia, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD and Tourette syndrome.

In 2017, 3.8% of the global population was reported to suffer from anxiety disorders by Our World in Data. One out of ten people get diagnosed with a mental health disorder globally. Anxiety outpaced depression, making it the most common mental health disorder. Rather than commonly prescribed treatments, most people are turning to CBD products in order to treat themselves.

People with anxiety disorders are more likely to visit a healthcare provider and even more likely to get hospitalized for psychiatric disorders, than those who are not suffering from them. 41% of cannabis users were reported to swap their anti-anxiety medication for cannabis, according to a survey conducted in 2017, with 40% attesting to the fact that CBD was more effective in relieving medical conditions like anxiety.

Most people in the US with anxiety issues fail to seek the right treatment, because it’s too expensive. Low-cost treatments like cognitive behavioral therapies cost roughly $100 – $120 or more, per hour. An average citizen with minimum wage suffering from anxiety may have to work several jobs just to afford one session. To make things worse, not all healthcare insurers provide coverage for specific medications, which makes it even more difficult for those suffering from anxiety to manage the symptoms. This is another reason why many people suffering from anxiety prefer to turn down medical treatment and cognitive therapies and turn toward Cannabidiol or CBD to manage and help treat their anxiety.

Many countries have already adopted CBD-based medications, to treat several medical conditions. This makes the compound highly versatile as a treatment option at a cheaper cost compared to traditional methods of treatment. But you still need to get your medical cannabis license to buy CBD products from an authorized vendor.

CBD for the treatment of mental health

Research shows that CBD can help treat severe medical conditions like multiple sclerosis, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s anxiety and depression. Hence, CBD products like tinctures, patches and topicals have seen a rise in popularity, because they do not need direct consumption, as all you need to do is apply the oil, patch or cream on your body.

CBD products have been products of interest in treating social anxiety and anxiety disorders. FDA even approved the use of cannabidiol in treating epilepsy. A recent clinical trial has shown that CBD can effectively reduce anxiety. The Permanente Journal published a study reporting that 79% of participants experienced a reduction in anxiety. Hence these preliminary results on the positive effects of CBD have made mental health advocates consider CBD for its anti-anxiety effects.

Even though the way CBD works to treat anxiety isn’t fully understood, it hasn’t stopped millions of people in need of symptom relief from using CBD. It is reported in a 2019 Gallup Poll that 14% of Americans use CBD. In another poll, 37% of CBD users use it for anxiety, with participants reporting that it is highly effective.

Hence, for many Americans struggling with social anxiety and anxiety disorders, CBD helps provide a way for them to use a holistic approach to manage anxiety by utilizing the natural interaction of CBD with the body.

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