CBD vs. Xanax: CBD As An Alternative to Xanax for Anxiety
It’s commonly known that Xanax is not an effective or healthy long term solution for anxiety…, but is CBD a legitimate alternative to the popular Benzodiazepine known as Alprazolam or Xanax?
YES!….Not only does CBD naturally ease anxiety, it’s also been proven to curb addiction tendencies which can ease the withdraw symptoms make quitting Xanax difficult for so many.
Alprazolam is a drug commonly known by the brand name Xanax…. Xanax abuse has been climbing in numbers since the 90’s but yet it is still prescribed to more than 50 million people each year to treat anxiety.
The problem is that “anxiety” is such a broad spectrum symptom that doctors are handing out Xanax prescriptions like skittles.
The is becoming an issue because doctors are now finding out that Xanax is much more addicting that it was previously thought to be……
In this article we’ll take an in depth look into the science behind how CBD works & why so many are using CBD as a natural alternative to Xanax.
What Exactly is Cannabidiol (CBD)
You may have head of CBD, but why is there so much hype surrounding this particular cannabis compound?…And is CBD really a legitimate alternative to Xanax?
The cannabis plant has been used in civilizations in Egypt & China dating back thousands of years….
But in today’s age, we’re just starting to re-discover the natural medical benefits…The federal legalization of CBD throughout the United States in 2018 appears to just be the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
So what is CBD?
CBD is short for Cannabidiol and is 1 of over 100 organic compounds, naturally produced by the Cannabis plant….(Learn the difference between CBD, Marijuana & Cannabis)
CBD was made federally legal in 2018 & Nope, it doesn’t get you ‘high’ , ‘stoned’ or ‘couch locked’.
CBD & these other 100+ naturally-produced organic compounds that come from the cannabis plant are called ‘Phyto-Cannabinoids‘…(THC & CBD are the most well-known Phyto-Cannabinoids)
Cannabinoids are not only produced by the cannabis plant…, but all mammals, including humans, naturally produce our own cannabinoids within our bodies….These naturally produces cannabinoids with-in the human body are called ‘Endo-Cannabinoids’.
Our naturally produced ‘endo-cannabinoids’ interact with a part of the Central Nervous System that contains cannabinoid receptors. This is a specific network of interconnected receptors known as the ‘Endo-Cannabinoid System‘…. All mammals have an endo-cannabinoid system.
So our natural ‘Endo-Cannabinoids’ interacts with ‘Endo-Cannabinoid Receptors’ which is all part of the ‘Endo-Cannabinoid System’.
The ‘Endo-cannabinoid System’ has the main job & responsibility for maintaining homeostasis in the body….
We like to visualize the ‘Endo-Cannabinoid System‘ like a ‘counter-active elastic rubber band’
Sounds obscure? We know, so let us explain…..For example, when the rubber band is pulled in one direction by anxiety…, then the endo-cannabinoid system counteracts the imbalance by pulling the stretched rubber band back to equilibrium.
There are 2 main types of ‘Cannabinoid Receptors’ with-in our ‘Endo-Cannabinoid System’…
Cannabinoid Receptors Type 1 (CB1) – CB1 receptors are a critical piece to regulating our central nervous system and are most heavily concentrated in our brain and spinal cord.
Cannabinoid Receptors Type 2 (CB2) – CB2 receptors are mainly concentrated in the various parts of the immune system, the skin cells and most internal organs.
So when we take CBD…, the CBD ‘phyto-cannabinoid’ compound fits into our naturally occurring ‘Endo-Cannabinoid Receptors’ .
Basically, the CBD cannabinoid fits like a key into a lock when it interacts with the CB1 & CB2 receptors. (Sort of like Cinderella’s foot fitting into the glass slipper at midnight.)
Again, the ‘Endo-cannabinoid System’ is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body….
This includes regulation of pain, inflammation, anxiety, immune system, addiction response & many other bodily system responses.
This action makes CBD a great candidate for an alternative to anxiety medications such as Xanax or Valium.
Why Many Americans Have Such High Anxiety?
With Xanax prescriptions on the rise, that begs the question…, why are anxiety levels so high in the US?
Everyone has anxiety for different reasons so that makes it tough for researchers to find a definitive answer.
But there are some fascinating in depth studies that do a great job narrowing down the likely sources of rising anxiety.
There may be a shift in society that’s driving up anxiety levels?
Some scientists have observed that humans in the Western World (US & Europe) are becoming more psychologically sensitive because we no longer have to worry about ‘food & shelter’ for survival.
Most of us have roofs over our head & easy access to food….. So scientists believe that our gaze has moved away from survival instinct and shifted inward towards materialism.
Many argue that we now focus on superficial desires, such as a new car and a bigger house, rather than deep-rooted desires like the joy of family and friends, and a sense of community.
To support this theory, a study looking at changes in college freshman attitudes over 40-years, found that the number of students who place importance on ‘financial gains’ has almost doubled since the 1960s…
Also, “developing a meaningful philosophy for life” has dropped off dramatically.
So Do We Blame Social Media?
Researchers have been looking at the impact of social media on the rise in anxiety.
Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter & Instagram have flooded into our society so rapidly that, it’s highly unlikely to have no impact.
Facebook was founded in 2004 & today has over 2 billion users. (whoa!)
Studies looking at the link between social media and anxiety are not a new concept & are relatively easy to find.
One study that investigated social media in over 400 adolescents found that those who used social media the most, had lower self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Another investigation, spanning 1,700 young U.S. adults, compared the number of social media platforms used with levels of anxiety & depression.
The results were not surprising & found that people who had a higher number of social media platforms reported higher levels of depression and anxiety.
Another study conducted on 18–22-year-olds came to similar conclusions.
So there is obviously a connection between social media & anxiety, but is it a classic ‘chicken & egg’ scenario?…..
Is social media causing people anxiety? Or is anxiety causing people to use social media?
Not an easy question to answer…
Is life in the US Just Getting More Stressful?
Is Anxiety more prevalent because the society we live in is more stressful than it was 5, 10, or 50 years ago?…Well, doubtful…
Determining how stressful our society is today, compared with how stressful society was at any other point in time, is not something we can really measure.
What we know for sure, is that technology is changing how we live faster than ever before….
With change comes anxiety, but it’s up to us as individuals to talk with our families, friends & neighbors about these changes to strengthen our sense of belonging & community.
It’s this strength in personal dialogue & relationships that give us a sense of belonging & drives less focus on materialistic possessions.
Are Xanax Really The Best Solution for Anxiety ?
Xanax was designed in the 1970’s to suppress the body’s ‘GABA neurotransmitters’ which in-turn dulls the body’s natural responses including anxiety response.
Today Xanax is most commonly used for “short term’ management of anxiety”.
Unfortunately, Xanax is addictive & ‘short term’ rapidly becomes long term.
So why are 50 million prescriptions of a schedule IV drug with known addictive qualities being written each year? ….
Big Profits for Big Companies!
(According to Forbes, over $5 billion in sales in 2013)
Everyone gets anxiety. It’s one of many emotions that make us Human.
The severity of anxiety is perceived differently by everyone and here are no tests required to receive a prescription…..
This makes writing a prescription to treat anxiety w. Xanax very easy for doctors everywhere.
Many people rely on Xanax as a way to deal or cope with or even mask personal issues.
Xanax is not supposed to be a long-term medication, but prescriptions are frequently re-new’d by doctors time and time again.
According to Dr. Joanna Starrels, professor at the Department of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine
“Generally speaking, primary care physicians have not received the training that they need to prescribe medications that have such high risk for addiction or overdose,”
“I don’t think people realize that benzodiazepines share many of the same characteristics of opioids,”
says Dr. Sumit Agarwal, “They are addictive,” he says.
“They cause you to have slower breathing; they cause you to be altered in terms of mental status. And then, eventually, [they] can cause overdose and deaths.”
How Xanax Interacts With The Body
Xanax does reduce symptoms of anxiety, but what exactly does Xanax do to reduce anxiety?
When your body has anxiety, it naturally produces a chemical known as GABA… GABA reduces brain signaling which would otherwise excite the brain & cause anxiety ….. GABA receptors interact to calm the anxiety response.
Xanax works by increasing the levels of GABA & increasing the effectiveness of GABA receptors.
However, this can be dangerous because in as little as 6 weeks the body will start to depend on Xanax & naturally produce less & less GABA….In the long run this will only result in increases anxiety & withdrawal symptoms.
Increases in GABA are typically associated with an increase in sleepiness & a decrease in alertness, memory, muscle tension & anxiety.
How Does CBD Work For Anxiety?
Unlike Xanax, which treats anxiety by increasing sleepiness & decreases alertness through its interaction with the GABA receptor….CBD targets a different receptor…The serotonin 5-HT1a receptor which is responsible for emotional balance & happiness.
In a 2015 analysis of previous studies, researchers concluded that CBD is a promising treatment for numerous forms of anxiety.
The analysis of the studies found that CBD’s anxiety reducing effects depend on the 5-HT1A receptor which is located in several brain regions.
According to another study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, CBD has a multi-pronged approach in its effect on anxiety.
CBD increases the natural human ‘Endo-Cannabinoid’ called “anandamide”.
Just like CBD, “anandamide” also activates the 5-HT1a serotonin receptor.
These findings are extremely positive for the future of CBD in treating mental disorders thought to involve impairment of stress-coping mechanisms.
Fr example, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD).
These findings also support the use of CBD as a safe & natural alternative to Xanax.
According to a study by NYU School of Medicine, human studies support findings in early research, and also suggest that
“CBD has anxiety reducing effects and an excellent safety profile”.
See chart below for CBD compared to Xanax for anxiety relief.
What Are The Long Term Side Effects of Xanax?
According to Dr. Marc Fishman an Addiction Psychiatrist.
“For a lot of patients, anxiety actually gets worse over time but not better,”
“[Xanax] resets sensitivity so that the new normal becomes the intoxicated, benzo-addled state, and then you need more, and then you need more.”
According to the FDA –
“XANAX is a prescription medicine used: for the short-term relief of the symptoms of anxiety”
The FDA literature goes on to say “XANAX is a federal controlled substance because it can be abused or lead to dependence.”
According to the American Addiction Center, when people abuse Xanax for a long stretch of time, your brain starts to forget how to operate normally with-out Xanax.
Clearly an anxiety alternative to Xanax is needed
Long term side effects Include:
· Difficulty concentrating
· Dry mouth
· Changes in sex drive
· Increased salivation.
· Slurred speech.
· Appetite changes
· Memory problems
· Decreased coordination
· Urinary retention
· Changes in menstrual cycle
· Low blood pressure
· Liver damage
· Dependency on Xanax
What Are People w. Anxiety Saying About CBD Instead of Xanax
“They are totally different. CBD is not as strong. It is of course much safer. CBD use is very helpful for my anxiety and for keeping me benzo free. Benzos ruined my life, CBD has improved it.” – Anonymous Reddit Review
“My path was extremely rocky, I abused the benzos. CBD didn’t help getting off benzos, but for sure CBD helps me from going back…18 months benzo free & CBD is helping me get better over time and not just as a ‘Band-Aid’.” – Anonymous Reddit Review
“CBD has helped so many of us 🙂 Choosing natural remedies over the mind numbing chemicals doctors want to prescribe us is so beneficial.. I’m so glad I found CBD.” – Anonymous Reddit Review
“You know CBD is making an impact when you can read about total strangers and feel connected. Hopefully it gets approved by medical insurance in the very near future. It would change America for the better.” – Anonymous Reddit Review
What’s The Best CBD Product for Anxiety?
There are 4 basic ways to ‘ingest’ CBD….And each method of taking CBD has its own unique benefits.
For anxiety you’d get the greatest benefit by taking CBD oil & a likely a CBD vape pen as well (depending on the severity of your anxiety) .
CBD topical creams will not help much with anxiety.
Why CBD Oil & a CBD Vape Pen for Anxiety?
CBD Oil is the most common method of CBD consumption…. CBD Oil has an average absorption rate into the bloodstream of 35% & effects typically last 8 hours…. However it can take CBD oil 30-60 min to take effect.
Vaping CBD has a high “bio-availability” & takes effect almost instantly with an absorption rate of 45-60%…. However, effects from vaping CBD only last 1-2 hours.
The CBD oil will have lasting effects for 6-8 hours but the vape will work well for managing ‘spirts’ of anxiety that may pop up during the day.
What You Should Know Before Shopping For Any CBD Products
You can buy CBD pretty much everywhere, but you want to be wary & make sure that you’re buying quality brands with proven lab results & a proven customer record.
Many consumers are being sold ‘knock-off’ CBD products & complaining that the products aren’t working…. When in fact they just bought a poor quality product which may not even contain any CBD at all.
Here’s what you need to know!
- CBD is not the same as THC & won’t get you high (no, not even a little)
- CBD is 100% legal in the United States & available for sale online (yes, including texas)
- Full Spectrum CBD is Better Than CBD Isolate, but it could show up on a drug test
- There are different ways to ingest CBD
- CBD has little to no side effects
- Don’t buy CBD on Amazon & expect it to work
- Always look for 3rd party independent lab test results for each product
(Here’s our detailed guide that fully breaks down what to look for when shopping for CBD)
CBD Oil vs. Xanax:
CBD is a natural occurring & organic compound that is derived from a plant…..Xanax was formulated in a lab in 1971….CBD was declassified as a drug & made available to the public in 2018 & is widely praised for it’s high safety profile & lack of serious side effects….Xanax is a schedule IV drug with a high dependency profile & high probability of addiction even in short term use.
Both CBD & Xanax are used to combat anxiety, but CBD & Xanax have 2 different approaches on how they treat anxiety.
Xanax targets the GABA receptors which reduce anxiety by increasing sleepiness & decreasing alertness…. This eventually leads to reduced GABA production & dependence on Xanax to activate the GABA receptor.
CBD on the other hand, targets the 5-HT1a serotonin receptor which reduces anxiety by promoting natural absorption of serotonin which promotes balanced emotion & ‘happiness’….. There is no evidence of CBD dependence.
In today’s changing world anxiety seems to be an increasing way of life for many & it’s not likely to go away anytime soon….
Medicating ourselves with Xanax does not seem to be a sustainable solution for dealing with anxiety in the long run.
CBD on the other hand comes with a myriad of benefits.
This including anxiety reduction, and instead of masking the anxiety, CBD appears to do a better job dealing with the underlying cause or at least managing the anxiety allowing you to deal with the underlying cause…..
After reviewing all of the evidence it’s clear to us that CBD is absolutely a safer & healthier alternative to Xanax for anxiety.
We hope you enjoyed this article or at least for it somewhat informative…Let us know your thoughts in the comments below & feel free to share on social media.