CBD vs. Xanax for the Treatment of Anxiety
Up to now, our Nature’s Breakthrough posts have focused primarily on the therapeutic effects of CBD and other cannabinoids and how they can be used to treat numerous conditions. In today’s post, we’re going to get more specific! We’ll be comparing CBD (cannabidiol) to Xanax for the treatment of anxiety and discuss how to find a quality CBD product.
Why An Alternative to Xanax?
No doubt, Xanax and other benzodiazepines have had some success at treating anxiety. But at what costs? Opioids have had success in treating pain, and our country is currently experiencing the blowback from that trend. As with using opioids, people taking benzodiazepines can build tolerances, dependencies, and become addicted. As of March 2018, more than 115 Americans die each day from opioid overdose, and 30 percent of those involve benzodiazepines.
And yet, while opioids are a schedule II substance, and Xanax is a schedule IV substance, marijuana is still a schedule I substance, which classifies it as one of the most harmful drugs “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” And what are the statistics on marijuana overdoses? That’s right … there are none. And how many states now have some form of medical marijuana program? More than 30.
However, the CBD we are going to discuss today is industrial hemp-derived CBD. Industrial hemp is not marijuana. That is not up for debate. It is simply not marijuana. The 2014 Farm Bill and many states have now clarified the difference in legislation. The CBD that the DEA classifies as illegal—as a schedule I substance, although it recently reclassified some CBD as schedule IV—is marijuana extract. Again, the CBD that we are comparing with Xanax today is not extracted from marijuana.
This is one of the reasons why we will later discuss the importance of knowing the CBD product in which you are investing.
What Exactly is Xanax?
Xanax (alprazolam) is a triazolobenzodiazepine compound with antianxiety and sedative-hypnotic effects. It slows down the excitability and neuronal activation of the central nervous system by binding to benzodiazepine sites on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, increasing the binding affinity of GABA.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a phytocannabinoid (plant-derived cannabinoid) that, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is not psychoactive. It is believed that CBD activates serotonin receptors. It also plays a role in the perception of pain and the reduction of inflammation. CBD degrades one of the brain chemicals responsible for mental function and mood.
CBD works with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is through this system that it exerts its effects on the human body. The ECS is present in all mammals and is involved in the regulation of a number of body functions such as sleep, mood, and appetite, production of hormones, and regulation of immune and nervous system responses. By regulating these functions, it helps to maintain the body’s homeostasis.
A Comparison of Side Effects
Common side effects of Xanax include:
- Slower than normal brain function
- Slurred speech
- Shallow breathing
- Lack of coordination
- Dilated pupils
Side effects of Xanax at higher doses may include:
- Impaired memory, judgment, and coordination
- Thoughts of suicide
- Agitation and aggressiveness
Combined with other substances (alcohol, opioids, etc.), Xanax could cause:
- Slow breathing
- Slowing of both heart and respiration
- Possible death
Xanax can have serious withdrawal effects, including seizures. This may cause a physical dependence. People can also develop a tolerance for Xanax, which can lead to a risk of overdose. Because of these factors, it may become addictive for some users.
Known side effects of CBD include:
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Drowsiness when taken in high doses
- Inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism and decreased activity of p-glycoprotein. (Similar to eating grapefruit when on certain liver medications.)
CBD is non-psychoactive (can’t get you high), non-toxic, well-tolerated, does not cause dependence and does not cause withdrawal symptoms. A 2018 World Health Organization Report found that naturally occurring CBD:
- is safe and well tolerated in humans (and animals).
- is not associated with any adverse public health effects.
- does not cause physical dependence.
- is not associated with abuse potential.
How CBD Works for Anxiety
Many people who use CBD for anxiety describe its effect as a “calm confidence.” Whereas Xanax made them tired and gave them the feeling of being too useless to work, many find that CBD brought a focus to their often thought-ridden mind.
But you don’t have to take the word of the chorus of people who are praising CBD’s anti-anxiety effects. Several preclinical animal studies have been performed regarding CBD and anxiety. And now, more and more human studies are being conducted.
A study done on animal models in 2014 concluded that CBD oil had not only anti-anxiety but also antidepressant effects.
A 2015 analysis of previous studies determined that CBD oil may provide relief for numerous forms of anxiety, including:
- social anxiety disorder
- panic disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- generalized anxiety disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder
How to Choose a High-Quality CBD Product?
For several reasons, it is very important to select a high-quality CBD product. First of all, the establishment from which you purchase your CBD should be knowledgeable about cannabinoids in general. Secondly, they should be able to tell you exactly what ingredients are in the product and where they were cultivated and produced. They should be able to provide testing data for their products, which should be pure and contaminant free.
This transparency is not only important so that you can get the optimal health effects from CBD, but also so that you do not buy a product that may not be what it claims to be. The CBD industry is growing quickly, and there are, unfortunately, some retailers taking advantage of the boom by providing substandard products.
Nature’s Breakthrough, an educational resource for The Hemp Haus, recommends full spectrum CBD. The Hemp Haus currently carries Ananda Hemp full spectrum products. Full spectrum CBD refers to the pure hemp oil extracted from a hemp plant, containing unmodified cannabinoids and compounds. Unlike isolated or synthetic cannabinoids, full spectrum hemp oil contains an array of cannabinoids, as well as many essential vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, flavonoids, and terpenes. These compounds have been proven to work more effectively together in a specifically designed, synergistic manner known as the “entourage effect.” Ananda Hemp’s stands behind the motto “seed-to-shelf,” meaning that their products have one ingredient, and one ingredient only—hemp. They don’t add all the unnecessary ingredients that other CBD manufacturers add (e.g. vegetable glycerine, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.).
It is also important to be selective about CBD because, in states where medicinal marijuana is not legal, only industrial hemp-derived CBD is legal. Industrial hemp is not marijuana and contains less than .3% THC—not enough to be psychoactive.
The Cost of Treating Anxiety with High-Quality CBD
To treat anxiety regularly with a product such as Ananda’s full spectrum CBD, it would cost around $120 a month. This is comparable to the cost of Xanax for someone who does not have insurance. However, with the added health benefits of taking CBD, especially the full spectrum, one may experience better health and have fewer doctor visits, which are often required for regular prescription refills. So, what you invest in is up to you. Do you want to risk becoming dependent on a drug that has severe side effects (like Xanax), or do you want to take a product that comes straight from nature (CBD)?
I know what I’m investing in! #CBD