Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. An estimated 30 percent of adults in the United States (that’s 66 million people) and an estimated 25 percent of teenagers and preteens are affected by anxiety. As a functional medicine practitioner, I see many people who struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, and from these statistics, it should be no surprise. But just because something is common doesn’t make it normal. Fortunately, new insights into the cause of anxiety may help with the development of more effective treatment options.
Most people do not associate cognitive health issues like anxiety, depression, brain fog, ADD, ADHD, and autism with inflammation, but it turns out that is exactly what the research is finding. There is actually a whole field of research known as the cytokine model of cognitive function studying how inflammation messes with our brains and may cause anxiety disorders. One finding is that elevated levels of NF kappa B (NFkB), an inflammatory bad guy, is associated with anxiety while people with lower levels of NFkB often have lower rates of anxiety.
Enter CBD oil: an anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety compound. I have seen in my own life, and many of my patients’ lives, the positive impact CBD oil can have on anxiety. Studies have found that CBD oil is a natural anxiolytic (anxiety calmer) and is effective in treating social anxiety. CBD calms anxiety naturally without the potential side effects of pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medications.
In addition to fighting inflammation in the body, CBD oil may reduce anxiety by directly affecting the brain. Studies have found that CBD actually lowers activity in the amygdala and increases prefrontal cortex activation, two parts of the brain involved in anxiety. There is also evidence that CBD is able to activate hippocampus neurogenesis, aka regenerate new neurons! This activates CB1 receptors, which has a positive balancing impact on GABA and glutamate levels, associated with reducing anxiety.