Natural Remedies for Anxiety Sufferers: Amino Acids Reduce Symptoms

There are many alternative choices for anxiety relief.  In future articles we will discuss various herbal and homeopathic modalities.  Here, we will be focusing on what some studies have discovered about amino acid therapy for anxiety.  You can keep reading, or scroll to the the bottom for the TAKE ACTION points.

Anxiety disorders affect approximately 40 million American adults aged 18 and over, and one in every eight American children are diagnosed with anxiety.  It is likely that these numbers are actually higher if we consider that anxiety coexists with so many other mental health conditions such as behavior problems like ADHD or mood imbalance such as depression.  Of course, we should also consider the many people who suffer from anxiety and never seek help. Are you one of them? Or, perhaps you did seek help and have tried many prescription drugs to no avail. This article is for you.  

There are many alternative choices for anxiety relief.  In future articles we will discuss various herbal and homeopathic modalities.  Here, we will be focusing what some studies discovered about amino acid therapy for anxiety.

L-Theanine

There are many studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of L-Theanine for reduction or relief of anxiety symptoms.  One study of the electrical activity of the brain (via EEG) after giving participants only 50 mg of L-theanine and found:

“L-theanine significantly increases activity in the alpha frequency band which indicates that it relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness.”


 Nobre, Rao, and Owen, 2008

Another study in which participants were given 250 mg L-theanine per day concluded “L-theanine administration is safe and has multiple beneficial effects on depressive symptoms, anxiety, sleep disturbance and cognitive impairments in patients with major depressive disorder” – Hidese et al., Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 2017

My husband takes L-theanine with magnesium glycinate.  He no longer has trouble with night time anxiety. The addition of L-theanine has enabled him to fall asleep at night and prevents his mind from racing if he wakes up in the middle of the night, enabling him to fall back asleep with ease.  It also helps him cope calmly with daily stressors.

We use this L-theanine by Sports Research and the magnesium glycinate from Pure Encapsulations:

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)

GABA is a primary inhibitory (calming) neurotransmitter in the brain.  Although the evidence is conflicted regarding whether or not GABA supplements cross the blood brain barrier, Alkemade et al (2015) postulate ingested GABA may be acting on the brain indirectly via the enteric nervous system (our gut).  Alkemade et al (2015) also discuss the possibility that the reason we are not able to establish GABA crossing the blood brain barrier is due to how quickly it is sent back out once it goes in. This idea is based on studies of mice. Mice do have a GABA transporter in their blood brain barrier, and in mice GABA has been shown to “go out” 17 times faster than it “goes in” (Alkemade et al., 2015).  Both ideas seem very logical, especially considering all we now know about the gut-brain connection.

“Dietary GABA supplement in clinical studies relieves anxiety and increases alpha brain waves, which are associated with relaxation” – Alramadhan et al., Medical Science Monitor: International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research, 2012

“GABA could work effectively as a natural relaxant and its effects could be seen within 1 hour of its administration to induce relaxation and diminish anxiety.”


Abdou, A. et al., BioFactors, 2006

In a study which focused on GABA for insomnia, Byun et al (2018) demonstrated that GABA at 300 mg daily produced an anxiolytic (relaxing) effect which resulted in improvement of sleep quality and anxiety/insomnia symptoms as reported by participants.

Dr. Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure, recommends the following dosage:

GABA 100 mg to 500 mg 1 to 3 times per day at or before high stress times.  She also recommends avoiding high dose GABA (750 mg) as this may actually worsen anxiety (Ross, 2011).

We love this sublingual lozenge by Source Naturals for quick anxiety relief.

And we have also used this one:

Also, there are some really great choices that combine these relaxing aminos, like this one by Jarrow that combines theanine, GABA, and ashwaganda (a powerful adaptogen herb that also reduces anxiety and helps regulate hormones systemically).:

Anxiety can be truly debilitating.  I have cared for many people who needed to take prescribed anxiety medication three to four times per day just to function somewhat normally.  Such medications are not without unwanted side effects including drowsiness and poor sleep quality. These studies we have discussed demonstrate a good safety profile for both L-Theanine and GABA.  Perhaps many people with anxiety simply have deficiency of these amino acids.

TAKE ACTION points

L-Theanine: In the studies discussed, dosages for participants were:L-Theanine: 50 mg to 250 mg per day

GABA: 100 mg to 500 mg 1 to 3 times per day at or before high stress times or to help with sleep (Ross, 2011).  

Make sure that you are getting enough vitamin B6 because vitamin B6 is essential for proper neurotransmitter function in the brain. We like this one because it is the fully active form of B6 called P5P.

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read here, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You just might change their life.

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Abdou, A., Hatta, H., Horie, K., Higashiguchi, S., Yokogoshi, H. (2006). Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16971751

Alkemade, A., Boonstra, E., Colzato, L., Forstmann, B., Kleijn, R., Nieuwenhuis, S. (2015). Neurotransmitters as food supplements: the effects of GABA on brain and behavior. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4594160/

Alramadhan, E., Avila, S., Goldstein, T., Hanna, M., Hanna, M., Weeks, B. (2012). Dietary and botanical anxiolytics. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3560823/

Byun, J., Chung, S., Shin, W., Shin, Y. (2018). Safety and efficacy of gamma-aminobutyric acid from fermented rice germ in patients with insomnia symptoms: A randomized, double-blind trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6031986/

Hidese, S., Kunugi, H., Noda, T., Okubo, T., Ota, M., Ozawa, H., & Wakabayashi, C. (2017). Effects of chronic l-theanine administration in patients with major depressive disorder: an open-label study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27396868

Nobra, A., Owen, G., & Rao, A. (2008). L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328

Ross, J. (2011). Eliminating the top causes of insomnia. Retrieved from https://www.juliarosscures.com/eliminating-the-top-causes-of-insomnia/

Chronic Stress? Reverse the Damage with NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine)

Stress is a part of life.  Everyone experiences “routine” stress related to regular aspects of life.  For example, school, family, and daily responsibilities can all be a source of “routine” stress, which comes and goes.  Stress can be good or bad. For instance, graduating, getting married, or having a new baby are all “good,” but they still cause stress.  Our bodies do not know the difference between good stress and bad stress. The hormones that are released and the other physiologic responses to stress are the same no matter what the cause of the stress.  So, if we all experience stress, when does stress become a problem?

“Health problems can occur if the stress response goes on for too long or becomes chronic, such as when the source of stress is constant, or if the response continues after the danger has subsided [such as with PTSD]. With chronic stress, those same life-saving responses in your body can suppress immune, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems, which may cause them to stop working normally.”  National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], (2018)

If stress is never relieved, and the body never gets the message that it is safe to return to normal functioning, health will deteriorate.  Serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, and other illnesses (including cancer), as well as mental disorders like depression or anxiety will eventually come to visit (NIMH, 2018).  If major life changes are not made, these unwelcome visitors may never leave, or they may take you with them when they do.

I am not going into detail on the stress response here, but if you are interested in learning more about it, I highly recommend the book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, by Robert M. Sapolsky.  Sapolsky discusses stress and the impact it has on human health delivered in a fun and understandable way.  Here, what we are focusing on is that the majority of illnesses and disease caused by stress are actually due to oxidative damage; and chronic stress exposure promotes oxidative damage (Aschbacher et al., 2013).  

Psychological stress causes oxidative stress; oxidative stress causes oxidative damage; oxidative damage causes disease, illness, and death.  Chronic stress is not the only way we suffer oxidative damage. To name a few, oxidative damage can also result from:

  • Exposures to toxic chemicals
  • Exposures to environmental pollutants (like pesticides and herbicides)
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking tobacco
  • High carbohydrate diet
  • Drug abuse
  • Chronic pain
  • Excessive exercise / overtraining
  • Consistent exposure to blue light at night
  • Sleep disruption or deprivation

Often, people turn to carbohydrates (sugars), tobacco, drugs, or alcohol to cope with their chronic stress.  Needless to say, the health effects are compounding.

“Oxidative stress is a known feature of numerous central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Thus, clear evidence of the involvement of increased brain oxidative damage in the development of CNS pathologies has been reported for neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), cerebrovascular disorders, demyelinating diseases, and psychiatric disorders” – Jaquet et al., 2013

“Oxidative stress consists of an imbalance between the amount of [reactive oxidants] and the capacity of antioxidant systems to neutralize them.” Jaquet et al., 2013

Do you have chronic stress?

Some people are at higher risk for chronic stress.  Those with financial problems that don’t seem to ever find resolution, people in high stress professions, people who are exposed to traumatic, unpredictable stress on the regular basis; and people who experience sleep deprivation are some examples of people at high risk for chronic stress.  Antioxidant capacity is strongly decreased in the sleep-deprived (Jaquet et al., 2013).

Stress management techniques (e.g. deep breathing, meditation, yoga) are certainly beneficial, and undoubtedly essential to a balanced, healthy lifestyle, but many people find it very challenging to incorporate them into their lives.  Further, some people simply cannot eliminate or reduce their stressors. My husband, for instance, is a firefighter/paramedic. Stress, exposure to traumatic events, and sleep deprivation are part of his life; and unless he quits his job, those chronic stress contributors are not going anywhere.  So what can we do?

There is something you can easily do today that will increase your body’s ability to cope with chronic stress.

Studies show a supplement called NAC (N-Acetylcysteine) can reduce and reverse the damaging effects of chronic stress.

Oxidative stress and damage occurs when there is an imbalance between the amount of reactive oxidants (the bad guys) and the capacity of antioxidant systems to neutralize them (the good guys).  I am sure you have heard the term “antioxidant” before. Maybe you have heard about antioxidants being in red wine, some fruits and veggies, and even dark chocolate. And you are right, those things do have some antioxidative properties.  The antioxidants found in those items are called “non-enzymatic” and they interrupt the processes involved in making free radicals in the body. They are good, but they are not our body’s primary defense against free radical oxidation.

The most powerful antioxidant in the human body is made in the liver, and used everywhere else (including your brain).  It is found in every single cell of the human body. It is our primary antioxidant and it is required for the balance of oxidation within each and every cell of our body  That antioxidant is called glutathione.  

Key point: Chronic stress drastically depletes your glutathione levels!  Your body is working very hard to prevent the oxidation that chronic stress causes, and it is using up all of your precious glutathione.  By taking NAC you provide your body with what it needs to make more glutathione, and helping your body cope with chronic stress levels.

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is a precursor to glutathione, which is made out of three amino acids: L-Cysteine, L-glutamate, and L-Glycine.

Glutathione is an “enzymatic antioxidant” and free radical scavenger.  It hunts down free radicals, then it breaks them down and eliminates them.  It also “recycles” all of the other antioxidants including vitamins C, E, CoQ10, alpha-lipoic acid, and various others from your diet.  

“It is hard to overstate the importance of glutathione.” Pizzorno, Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, 2014

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) at a dosage of 1000 mg per day is effective at substantially raising levels of glutathione at in virtually all people (Pizzorno, 2014).  

NAC has been proven beneficial in treating many diseases that are associated with or caused by oxidative stress and/or inflammation.  Take a look at some of those results:

“The current data provide encouraging preliminary support for combining NAC and cognitive-behavioral therapy to reduce PTSD symptoms, craving, and depression over 8 weeks.”  -Back et al., Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2017 (People in this study were given 1200 mg twice per day or a placebo).

“A review on NAC literature shows that this agent is a safe and well-tolerated supplementary drug without any considerable side effects.” Afsharian et al., Cell Journal, 2017

“NAC plays a role in the regulation of the glutamatergic system (i.e., the regulation of reward, reinforcement, and relapse) … NAC may be a useful monotherapy or augmentation strategy for psychiatric disorders related to oxidative stress (e.g., schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) and/or psychiatric syndromes characterized by impulsive/compulsive symptoms (e.g., trichotillomania, nail biting, pathological hair pulling, substance misuse, and gambling).” Sansone & Sansone, Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 2011

“NAC has a broad spectrum of actions and possible applications across multiple conditions and systems.” Brain and Behavior, 2014

Some other supplements that support your antioxidant capacity include vitamin C (buffered), vitamin E (as mixed tocopherols or Vitamin E succinate), alpha-lipoic acid, and selenium.  The brands we use in our home are below. Jarrow brand does make a sustained release version, but we don’t use it. Some people seem to like it, but none of the studies mentioned here have used a sustained release version, and it just isn’t necessary to pay more for it.  Lastly, this article focuses on how NAC can help people suffering from chronic stress, but the beneficial uses of NAC are very broad. If you do not suffer from chronic stress, but you are suffering from anything else, look into whether or not NAC may help you.

Supplements mentioned:

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read here, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You could change their life.

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Afsharian, P., Kalantar, S., Mokhtari, V., Moini, A., & Shahhoseini, M. (2017). A Review on Various Uses of N-Acetyl Cysteine. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241507/

Alexandrov, A., Harrigan, M., & Shahripour, R. (2014). N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in neurological disorders: mechanisms of action and therapeutic opportunities. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967529/

Aschbacher, K., Dhabhar, F., Epel, E., O’Donovan, A., & Wolkowitz, O. (2013). Good stress, bad stress and oxidative stress: insights from anticipatory cortisol reactivity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23490070

Back, S., Brady, K., DeSantis, S., Gray, K., Gros, D., Hamner, M., … McCauley, J. (2017). A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of N-Acetylcysteine in Veterans with PTSD and Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5226873/

Pizzorno, J. (2014). Glutathione! Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684116/#b2-8-12

Jaquet, V., Krause, K., Schiavone, S., & Trabace, L. (2013). Severe Life Stress and Oxidative Stress in the Brain: From Animal Models to Human Pathology. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3603496/

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). 5 Things You Should Know About Stress. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml

Sansone, L & Sansone, R. (2011). Getting a Knack for NAC. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3036554/

CBD Oil for PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is far more common than people realize. Approximately 8% of American adults have PTSD during any given year, and about 4% of children under age 18 develop PTSD (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 2018) (Stanford Children’s Health, 2018). That’s about 25 million Americans, but it is most likely underestimated because many people live with PTSD symptoms without ever seeking help or being diagnosed. When people work in high risk professions, the prevalence of PTSD is much higher, and symptoms are often much worse. We are going to briefly review current treatments, and then discuss the evidence for cannabidiol (CBD) and how scientists think it works to treat and even prevent PTSD.

Current treatments: Are PTSD patients getting the care they really need?

Current treatments for PTSD include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT, also called talk therapy) and/or anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, and high blood pressure medications (Mayo Clinic, 2018). It is worth noting that most of the drugs used for PTSD are used off-label, only two antidepressants are approved by the FDA for PTSD, and even when medications are prescribed, only about 20% of patients achieve remission. That’s not very effective. If I had PTSD, I wouldn’t be very happy with those odds when swallowing a pill riddled with side effects that might actually make matters worse.

For most pharmacological therapies, there is inadequate evidence regarding efficacy for PTSD. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a widely accepted method of treatment for PTSD, but there is clearly an urgent need to identify more effective pharmacological approaches for the management of symptoms. – Reisman, M., Pharmacy and Therapeutics Journal, 2016.

Will cognitive therapy work for you? Maybe–but its a coin toss. According to Kar (2011), nonresponse to CBT by PTSD patients is as high as 50%. Further, according to Holmes and Maron (2015) the stress symptoms of PTSD actually reduce the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy, and ultimately, a more effective approach might be the targeted erasure of traumatic memories. Is talking about the traumatic experience really the best way to heal from the trauma? I don’t believe so. I believe it is better to help people find a way to forget about it, and move on with their lives.

The endocannabinoid system in PTSD: an overview

There is good news here. There is a lot of evidence that taking CBD oil provides an effective way to manage it.

The endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in PTSD for two major reasons: memory consolidation and emotional regulation (especially in response to stress). The two endocannabinoids (the ones we produce on our own) are anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG). Cannabinoids bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found in the brain and central nervous system; whereas CB2 receptors are found primarily in the peripheral nervous system and immune cells.

Memory consolidation is the process that takes place in our brain after something happens (such as a traumatic event), and a stable memory “trace” is made. The effectiveness of this process during a stressful event relies heavily on the presence of cannabinoids that can bind to CB1 receptors.  This image explains how we remember a traumatic event within different parts of our brain. You can click here to enlarge it.

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CB1 receptors are densely located in almost every single part of the brain that plays a role in short and long term memory (Alger, 2013). The process of extinguishing (forgetting) an aversive memory (like the memory of a trauma) requires the participation of CB1 receptors and therefore it is not at all surprising that CBD can facilitate the extinction of aversive memories. CBD helps you forget traumatic or noxious memories.

Additionally, studies have also shown that [long term] CBD treatment may facilitate neurogenesis in the hippocampus of the brain, a structure well known for its important role in processing memories, and that is found to be smaller in patients with PTSD – Bitencourt & Takahashi, Frontiers in Neuroscience, 2018

In animal studies, cannabinoids administered shortly after exposure to a traumatic event were found to prevent the development of PTSD (Akirav et al, 2016), and therefore a state of endocannabinoid deficiency could potentially predispose a person to the development of PTSD (Campolongo, et al., 2018). These are immensely promising findings. It is possible that in the future, cannabidiol can be given to people immediately after a trauma to prevent the development of PTSD and help them to appropriately process the memory of the experience. Additional studies in humans are necessary, because obviously we aren’t rats, and animal studies only go so far. Still, so far it seems that on the topic of CBD, the results from animal studies lead to new hypothesis for humans which are later tested and proven in human studies. Of course that is not always the case for many other substances.

Fear extinction: Putting out the fight or flight response fire

The endocannabinoid system helps us deal with traumatic life experiences as a part of a normal coping mechanism—to forget it and leave the past behind . . . Failure to extinguish learned fearful responses may underlie posttraumatic stress syndrome. -Alger, Cerebrum: The Dana Forum on Brain Science, 2013

CBD stimulates the endocannabinoid system and decreases the fear response (Bitencourt & Takahashi, 2018). Click here for a longer explanation of fear extinction if you want to look into it further. For our purposes, just know that impaired fear extinction is implicated in PTSD, and it is likely that anandamide deficiency is what impairs it.

Why do PTSD patients have more CB1 receptors than people without PTSD?

Research has consistently demonstrated that the human endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in PTSD. People with PTSD have greater availability of cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors. – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2017

Research indicates that PTSD afflicted brains compensate for low anandamide levels by upregulating the CB1 receptors (Bailey et al., 2013). Essentially, the PTSD brain is seeking anandamide by increasing the number of receptors to which anandamide can bind. So where is the anandamide? Why are they deficient? Chronic stress depletes the endocannabinoid system. Not surprisingly, people who are exposed to chronic life stressors prior to the traumatic event have substantially increased risk for PTSD (Sareen, 2016). Life stressors can be anything from financial problems to marital issues… the standard adult stressors. And who is more chronically stressed than our military, police, firefighters, paramedics, and nurses–all of which have a substantially increased risk for PTSD than the average population.

Under conditions of chronic stress, the endocannabinoid system appears to “collapse.”     . . . [Cannabinoids] are a critical component of stress resilience and impairments in this system may result in an increased vulnerability to the adverse effects of stress and, potentially, may be a biological substrate related to the development of stress-related psychiatric illnesses. – Hill and Lee, Biological Psychiatry, 2016

Why medical marijuana / self medicating with marijuana is not the answer

Medical cannabis and the form that is smoked or found in edibles contains another cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is psychoactive, and provides the “high” from cannabis. THC has various medicinal properties as well, but perhaps not the kind that will help PTSD patients long term. I think the problem lies in the fact that THC can actually reduce the number of CB1 receptors that are available. This is why PTSD patients may find relief from their symptoms when the smoke marijuana. However, I mentioned before, they need those CB1 receptors so that cannabinoids can aid in the processing and extinction of unpleasant trauma memories. Indeed it is well known that many PTSD patients resort to cannabis use for relief of symptoms. But the relief is temporary and the symptoms seem to return soon after it wears off. This leads me to believe that the THC may actually interfering with beneficial actions of CBD. You can develop tolerance to THC, but CBD dosing does not cause tolerance. Smoking marijuana–in my opinion–is simply a crude way to reap its medicinal benefits, not to mention that it remains illegal in most states. Why take that risk at this time?

Indeed administering THC on a chronic basis reduces the number of available cannabinoid receptors by 20%–60%, which effectively leaves the body’s natural endocannabinoids with fewer sites to activate, which may reduce their overall impact. Yarell, The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, 2015

To me, it is glaringly clear that supplementing with cannabidiol (CBD) is the most logical, evidence based treatment choice for PTSD sufferers. Fortunately, CBD oil is quite easy to obtain.

One brand that I personally trust is MedTerra as their CBD oil is CO2 extracted and has zero THC.  If you buy from them, be sure to use my code to get 15% off:

ELENASDAILYDOSE15

Oh, and just a heads up: Amazon does not sell any CBD oil whatsoever. The hemp oil being sold by many companies on Amazon is not CBD oil. For more information on CBD oil and what to consider before you make your first CBD oil purchase, click here.

I will be posting in the future about the enzymes that degrade our endocannabinoids, and what we can do to inhibit them. I will also be posting about amino acid supplementation which may also help with PTSD symptoms.

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read in my blog, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You might change their life.

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Alger, B. (2013). Getting high on the endocannabinoid system. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997295/

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2018). Post traumatic stress disorder. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd

Bailey, C., Carson, R., Corsi-Travali, S., Gujarro-Anton, A., Henry, S., Lin, S., . . . Zheng, M. (2013). Elevated brain cannabinoid CB1 receptor availability in post-traumatic stress disorder: a positron emission tomography study. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/mp201361

Bitencourt, R. & Takahashi, R. (2018). Cannabidiol as a therapeutic alternative for post-traumatic stress disorder: From bench research to confirmation in human trials. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6066583/

Campolongo, P., Hill, M., Patel, S., & Yehuda R. (2018). Integrating endocannabinoid signaling and cannabinoids into the biology and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28745306

Hill, M. & Lee, F. (2016). Endocannabinoids and stress resilience: Is deficiency sufficient to promote vulnerability? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5086031/

Holmes, A. & Maren, S. (2015). Stress and fear extinction. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4677122/

Kar, N. (2011). Cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder: a review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3083990/

Reisman, M. (2016). PTSD treatment for veterans: What’s working, what’s new, and what’s next. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5047000/

Sareen, J. (2016). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Adults: Impact, Comorbidity, Risk Factors, and Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4168808/

Stanford Children’s Health. (2018). Post-traumatic stress disorder in children. Retrieved from https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=post-traumatic-stress-disorder-in-children-90-P02579

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2017). Marijuana use and PTSD among veterans. Retrieved from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/co-occurring/marijuana_use_ptsd_veterans.asp

Yarnell, S. (2015). The use of medicinal marijuana for posttraumatic stress disorder: A review of the current literature. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4578915/

CBD Oil for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders afflict 40 million people in the United States with 8% of them being children and teens (Anxiety and Depression Association of America [ADAA], 2018). If you are one of them, you are clearly not alone; and there are a variety of natural ways to manage it. It is worth noting that anxiety is a normal experience for most people, but having an anxiety disorder means that your stress response is abnormally high or that you are experiencing anxiousness about unsubstantiated worries. If you are not sure about what you are experiencing, here is a cool infographic from ADAA to clarify:

If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, or think you may have one, or have a loved one who suffers with anxiety, this post is for you. Here we will be reviewing one of the most effective natural therapies available–cannabidiol (CBD) oil. Rather than defining CBD oil, we will be focusing on how it helps anxiety disorders. You may want to also read What is CBD Oil?.

“We found that existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder” – American Society for Experimental Neurotherapeutics (ASENT), 2015.

The most commonly prescribed medications for anxiety disorders are anti-anxiety drugs (benzodiazepines), antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and beta-blockers (off label use as beta blockers are normally for high blood pressure and heart problems). These have many undesirable side effects, some of which can be life-threatening adverse events. Benzodiazepines (benzos) can lead to dependence and addiction, while both antidepressants and benzos often lead to tolerance and the need to increase the dosage to achieve the desired effect. Benzos and SSRIs are known to have a negative impact on the normal sleep cycle resulting in poor quality sleep that is not restorative. Even worse is long term use of benzos can lead to cognitive dysfunction even after they are discontinued. That all sounds pretty terrifying, but for some people anxiety is so debilitating that they are willing to take the hit because they just need to function. Fortunately, CBD oil provides a viable alternative.

How does CBD oil measure up in comparison to commonly prescribed drugs?

“CBD oil is safe and well-tolerated via the oral route (up to 1,500 mg/day). Moreover, because this compound does not induce dependence, tolerance and abstinence symptoms, it can be, in the future, a good alternative as a substitute for high potency benzodiazepines and antidepressant drugs” – Campos & Soares, Current Neuropharmacology, 2017

But how does CBD work? The mechanisms are not fully known and the ones we know about are not fully understood, but here is what we know it does do (and this is not an all inclusive list):

  • It is neuroprotective, which means it reduces damage to your brain and nervous system (Blessing et al., 2015).
  • It stimulates neurogenesis, which means it encourages new nerve growth and development (Campos & Soares, 2017)
  • It is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger–even more powerful than vitamins C and E (Grotenherman & Iffland, 2017).
  • It activates 5HT1A (serotonin) receptors which is believed to be a major part of why it alleviates anxiety (Blessing et al., 2015).
  • It increases anandamide levels in the brain (Campos & Soares, 2017). Anandamide is an endogenous cannabinoid that our body produces on its own, and is also known as the “bliss molecule.”

And here is what we know it doesn’t do:

  • It does not have any psychotropic effects (no “high”)
  • It does not have any residual effect on cognitive or psychomotor functions (for example it does not cause drowsiness that makes it dangerous to drive) (Crippa et al., 2018).
  • It does not interfere with the normal sleep cycle (Crippa et al., 2018)
  • It does not have any known negative side effects even at doses as high as 1500 mg per day (Grotenherman & Iffland, 2017).

Most likely, there are a plethora of other ways CBD oil relieves anxiety, scientists just haven’t been able to identify them yet. Is it risky to take CBD oil when we aren’t exactly sure how it alleviates anxiety? Well, consider this: we have cannabinoid receptors which are biologically designed to bind to cannabinoids, we make our own cannabinoids even when we aren’t taking any, CBD oil has been proven safe and effective as a treatment for anxiety in many human and animal studies, and it is essentially devoid of any negative side effects.

If I were choosing between CBD oil and what pharmaceuticals had to offer for anxiety disorders, I think I’d take my chances.

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read in my blog, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You might change their life.

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References

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2018). Understanding the facts of anxiety disorders. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety

Blessing, E., Steenkamp, M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. (2015). Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6066583/

Campos, V. & Soares, A. (2017). Evidences for the anti-panic actions of cannabidiol. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5412699/

Crippa, A., Crippa, J., Eckeli, A., Guimaraes, F., Hallack, J., Linares,… Zuardi, A. (2018). No acute effects of cannabidiol on the sleep-wake cycle of healthy subjects: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5895650/

Groterherman, F. & Iffland, K. (2017) An update on safety and side effects of cannabidiol: A review of clinical data and relevant animal studies. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/