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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Find Safe Stress Relief with Plant-Based Alternatives to Pharmaceuticals

by Heather Kreider

We’ve all been dealing with added amounts of “bad” stress lately that wreak havoc on our mental state, causing high levels of anxiety. Prior to COVID-19, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 19 percent of Americans experienced the symptoms of an anxiety disorder at some point over the past 12 months, making it the most common form of mental illness in the U.S. It stands to reason that percentage is much higher right now and will continue to be as we deal with the pandemic’s many collateral effects.

For many people, hemp-based cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a plant-based anxiety relief option that offers similar benefits to medical marijuana, but without the “high”.

How CBD Works

Cannabinoids, like cannabidiol (CBD), are compounds unique to the genus cannabis, and botanists have identified more than 100 different cannabinoids so far. Our bodies contain cannabinoid receptors that sit on the surface of cells and “listen” to conditions outside the cell. They transmit information about changing conditions and kick-start the appropriate cellular response. When something brings a cell out of its “comfort zone”, these receptors compel our endocannabinoid system (ECS) to bring things back to an individual’s normal state, maintaining homeostasis.

CBD does not affect cells already functioning normally. The ECS system can be thought of as traffic control: it keeps us in balance by directing the communication traffic in the body; the outcome is fewer problems and more balance.

Each cannabinoid creates a unique response in the body. Unlike other cannabinoids like delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), recent research shows that CBD binds very little to CB1 and CB2 receptors; instead, it changes receptor site shapes and controls several non-cannabinoid receptors and ion channels that mediate pain perception, inflammation, body temperature and more.

CBD For Anxiety

Preclinical and clinical studies by the Endocannabinoid Research Group, in Italy, and others, show CBD possesses a wide range of therapeutic analgesic, neuroprotective, anticonvulsant, antiemetic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiarthritic and antineoplastic properties. In regard to mental health, evidence conclusively demonstrates CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors relevant to multiple disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). CBD has been shown to interact with several receptors known to regulate fear and anxiety-related behaviors, including CB1R, serotonin and other receptors.

Clinical studies on humans have proliferated in recent years due to evolving knowledge and regulations surrounding different strains of the cannabis plant. In a double-blind study from 2019 published by Switzerland’s Springer Nature, 37 Japanese teenagers with SAD received 300 milligrams of CBD oil or a placebo every day for four weeks. The teens were assessed with surveys used to diagnose and measure SAD symptoms. The anti-anxiety properties of CBD reduced symptoms aligned with the disorder, providing relief comparable to Paroxetine, a drug commonly used to treat the condition.

A number of studies continue to demonstrate the positive effect that CBD and other cannabinoids have on mental health, and many more positives related to cannabis will likely come to light.

Heather Kreider, LE, RN, is the co-owner of the Makes Scents Natural Spa Line and Hempfield Botanicals. For more information, visit