Has Science Finally Found a Cure for Anxiety?

Seeing something published on the Internet has a bizarre way of making us think it's FACT. Maybe there are subliminal messages in stock photos and Helvetica font? Who knows. But the latest online rumor to seed into our subconscious has to do with an "easy" cure for anxiety.

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Because, you know, maybe anxiety doesn't need years of research, meds, and therapy to find a cure. Maybe we all just need -- drum roll, please! -- cannabis.

Or, to be more specific, cannabidiol (CBD).

If you're not familiar, CBD is a compound in weed that doesn't get you stoned like weed's other popular property, THC. CBD-rich cannabis has been used for longer than you think to treat a variety of health ailments. Allegedly, even Queen Victoria used it to get rid of her cramps.

Which honestly sounds like a hilarious movie starring Charlize Theron.

If you suffer from anxiety, chances are you've googled natural remedies and CBD popped right up. But does it really work?

Alas, the verdict is still out.

So far, the studies on CBD that have gauged its effectiveness in treating anxiety "have been small and not in humans," explains Jerry L. Halverson, MD, DFAPA, Oconomowoc Campus medical director and medical director of the FOCUS Program at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

And while the study results so far are promising, Dr. Halverson acknowledges, doctors tend to be conservative and use what has been approved by the FDA. "Stuff like this is not FDA-approved for anything and does not have safety data other than that guy down the road that sells it and tells you that his family has used it for years and it works great without side effects."

Or, of course, enthusiastic reassurances from the companies that want to sell CBD to you.

More from CafeMom: How to Cope When Your Partner Suffers From Anxiety

Admittedly, CBD may indeed offer relief for your churning brain, but when you purchase it, "you have no idea what you're getting," Dr. Halverson says. When the FDA recently tested different CBD products, "the amount of CBD was unpredictable and there was more THC found than was desired," he notes.

So where does that leave you, if you're biting your nails when your kid eats a grape (possible choking!), or you feel your heart flutter (not in a good way) when someone bumps against you in the grocery store (potential pickpocket!).

It means that you are anxious and there is likely no easy fix you can buy off the Internet to make all that anxiety go away.

No judgments, though, because 40 million people suffer from anxiety disorders -- and that's just in the US -- so no need to be ashamed. Anxiety isn't due to a personality flaw, but a rich stew of genetics, life events, and brain chemistry.

But when left untreated, anxiety can spiral into depression, substance abuse, and self-harming behaviors, not to mention an ugh quality of life, so you need to do something.

Your choices?

Go traditional. Therapy can gently start to expose you to your fears and make you aware of your negative thought patterns. You can also try medication like antidepressants. Even ketamine, the one-time party drug, is now being touted as a super-fast, extremely effective way to treat severe anxiety and depression.

Or go natural. Yoga, acupuncture, meditation, and prayer have all been shown to improve anxiety. So do the traditional Chinese exercises of tai chi and qigong.

But as for CBD? No one's saying it doesn't work. But your safest best is to hold off -- for now at least.

 

Image via iStock.com/Oduvanchik21

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