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How does CBD reduce anxiety levels?

Extracting the benefits of hemp is not a new concept, with historians estimating that the plant has been cultivated for medicinal purposes since 500 BC. While hemp has endured a reputation, over the past decade a cannabinoid called CBD has won the attention of medical researchers around the world. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant with known anxiolytic properties.

“CBD has shown therapeutic efficacy in a range of animal models of anxiety and stress. Reducing both behavioural and psychological and physiological measures of stress and anxiety,” asserts the National Institute on Drug Abuse, USA.

How does CBD reduce anxiety levels? Scientists suspect the compound interacts with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system to promote relaxation.

The body’s endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating key bodily functions. The endocannabinoid system is a complex network that supports neuronal activity, as well as the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. It regulates a wide range of functions, including memory, appetite, sleep, fertility and mood. The last is particularly important, with studies suggesting CBD interacts with the 5-HT1a receptor, a serotonin-subtype.

Known as the “feel-good” hormone, serotonin stabilises the mood, increases feelings of happiness and promotes a sense of wellbeing. As well as causing depression, serotonin is linked to anxiety. For this reason, many anti-depressant anti-anxiety medications actively increase serotonin levels.

The benefits of CBD for treating Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) have been explored. With a study carried out by the Kyoto University in 2019 indicating the cannabinoid can reduce anxiety levels over a four-week period.

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