Can CBD replace Benzodiazepines as an anti-anxiety drug?

by | 9 Jul, 2021 | Benefits

One of the most widespread mental illnesses in first world countries is undoubtedly anxiety. More than a third of the adult population suffers from their symptoms and less than half of those suffering from anxiety are being treated by a professional. In all cases of anxiety we always try to heal the patient via therapy without the need to resort to medication. However, in the most acute cases in which therapy is ineffective, very powerful drugs with psychoactive effects called Benzodiazepines are used, which cause severe side effects including addiction and dependence if their use is prolonged. That’s why when science has been linking the cannabinoids with the treatment of some of the symptoms of anxiety has sparked curiosity for research into an alternative CBD-based drug that can deal with anxiety without causing addiction and tolerance in patients. There is no best anxiolytic to combat anxiety, each patient is different and has to be treated differently by a specialist.Can CBD replace Benzodiazepines as an anxiolytic?

What is anxiety? What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of discomfort, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.

It’s normal to feel anxiety at some point in your life. For example, you may feel nervous and anxious about a public presentation, the results of a test, or during a job interview. At such times, feeling anxious is perfectly normal.

The problem comes when some people find it difficult to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and are even capable of affecting their daily lives.

Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions, including

  • Panic
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Social anxiety (social phobia)

Generalized anxiety disorder is a long-term mental illness that causes you to feel anxious about various situations and problems constantly in your day-to-day life.

tag causes

What causes generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?

The exact causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder are not known at the moment and it is very likely that a combination of several factors influences the diagnosis. Scientific studies suggest that these may include

  • Hyperactivity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behavior
  • An imbalance of brain chemicals (serotonin and noradrenaline), which are involved in the control and regulation of mood.
  • Genetics itself: it is estimated that you are 5 times more likely to develop a generalized Anxiety Disorder if you have a close relative with the disease.
  • Having suffered stress or trauma, such as experiences of domestic violence, child abuse or bullying.
  • Suffering from a painful condition for a long time, such as arthritis.
  • Having abused drugs or alcohol.

However, a large number of people develop Pervasive Anxiety Disorder without addressing any of these reasons.

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are a group of drugs synthesized in the laboratory that include

  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax, Trankimazin)

These drugs are prescribed to relieve symptoms of various diseases such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Convulsions
  • Muscle spasms

They are sometimes used for sedation during surgery, to treat premenstrual syndrome and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Benzodiazepines have a high risk of producing unwanted and serious side effects and can even cause death if mixed with drugs such as alcohol or opioids.

Like opioids, benzodiazepines are mainly intended for short-term use because they act quickly and effectively. This means that they are prescribed for acute, one-off situations, such as calming a patient before a surgical procedure or relieving the anxiety of a traveler who is afraid of flying before a flight. Sometimes, however, like opioids, they are prescribed for long periods of time. This often leads to a number of serious side effects and addiction in many patients.

benzodiazepine overdose

Benzodiazepine overdose

Benzodiazepines alone are rarely responsible for overdose deaths. But because they depress the central nervous system, which controls breathing, heart rate and other autonomic functions, they can contribute to death by overdose when administered with other types of central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol or opioids.

Mild side effects of benzodiazepines include

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Loss of balance
  • Fatigue

But they can also cause serious effects, such as:

  • Jaundice
  • Very low blood pressure
  • High heart rate
  • Bone and muscle problems
  • Cognitive impairment and dementia (especially in older people who take them for long periods of time)
how benzodiazepines work

How do benzodiazepines work?

Science has not yet clearly established the exact reasons why benzodiazepines work, but recent research points to their ability to affect a network of receptors in the brain related to the production and use of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), an amino acid that inhibits the transmission of nerve impulses in the central nervous system. Because GABA slows neuronal activity and benzodiazepines have been shown to enhance the effects of GABA, this relationship appears to explain the calming effects of benzodiazepines that reduce anxiety and promote sleep and muscle relaxation.

GABA receptor system failures appear to play a role in a number of psychological and neurological conditions such as anxiety, panic, insomnia and epilepsy.

Some research suggests that schizophrenia and other psychoses may be related to GABA deficiency. Although GABA receptors are found in many areas of the brain, they are especially prevalent in the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and amygdala, areas related to emotions, cognition and coordination.

Benzodiazepines may bind to GABA receptors to increase their inhibitory activity. But so can cannabis, and the relationship between the GABA receptor system and the large network of endocannabinoid receptors of the body (the endocannabinoid system) reveals why Cannabis products can be safe and effective alternatives to benzodiazepines for almost all conditions for which these medicines are used.

Can CBD act as an anxiolytic?

The Cannabis – GABA connection

Endocannabinoid receptors are found in organs and tissues throughout the body, joining both internally produced cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) and those from external sources found mainly in the cannabis plant. The CB1 cannabinoid receptor is found largely in the brain, especially in the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and amygdala, areas that are also rich in GABA receptors.

Anandamide and 2-AG, the body’s known natural cannabinoids, also promote feelings of calm and relaxation, and recent research indicates that they may affect processes that reduce GABA release, just as benzodiazepines do. Since cannabis cannabinoids, in particular cannabidiol (CBD), connect to the same receptors as the endocannabinoids that our bodies produce, we can be sure that CBD also supports these processes.

Cannabis may offer the benefits of benzodiazepines without the risks

Cannabis products of all kinds, especially those with high CBD content, can be effective, and much safer, alternatives to benzodiazepines. CBD does not cause addiction or tolerance. It is a substance declared harmless by the World Health Organization so all danger of benzodiazepines in terms of addiction is eliminated. But can CBD be as effective and fast acting as benzodiazepines?

benzodiazepine addiction

Cannabinoids (CBD) for Trankimazin and other benzodiazepine addiction

Trankimazin (Alprazolam) is a drug from the benzodiazepine group of anti-anxiety drugs. It is mainly used to force the nervous system into a relaxed state, suppressing anxiety. Its use is so widespread that there is even Trankimazin for dogs and other pets to calm their anxiety attacks.Trankimazin (Alprazolam) is a drug from the group of benzodiazepines against anxiety. It is mainly used to force the nervous system into a relaxed state, suppressing anxiety. Its use is so widespread that there is even Trankimazin for dogs and other pets to calm their anxiety attacks.

The problem with benzodiazepines, in general, is that they are very addictive. After a few weeks of use, it is quite common for patients who use them to become dependent on them both physically and psychologically. As soon as the effects wear off and the patient stops taking them, the brain goes into a state of hyperactivity, resulting in severe anxiety attacks.

side effects benzodiazepines

Side effects of benzodiazepines

Because of the serious side effects, a large number of people who have been treated with benzodiazepines try to quit, but find it difficult because of their highly addictive nature. There is a growing trend for these patients to turn to CBD as a way to alleviate withdrawal symptoms while reducing their benzodiazepine dosage. The goal is to stop using them completely without suffering those mental spikes and imbalances produced by benzodiazepine withdrawal.

The desired effects that CBD offers to those who are trying to quit benzodiazepines are

  • Anticonvulsant: CBD is able to relieve tremors and muscle tension which helps reduce one of the most uncomfortable effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal
  • Anxiolytic: One of the most important benefits of CBD is its ability to reduce some of the symptoms caused by anxiety disorders, also one of the main symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal
  • Sedative: CBD in general acts as a sedative in our body and improves sleep in most patients which can replace some of the desired effects of benzodiazepines such as insomnia.

How do I stop taking benzodiazepines by replacing them with CBD?

 

Although after reading this article it seems reasonable to you and an easy task is not and has to be supervised by your doctor. Most treatments start by trying a small dose of CBD alongside the usual dose of benzodiazepines. Gradually, the dose of CBD is increased and the dose of benzodiazepines is reduced until they are completely eliminated. This would be half the treatment, since once the benzodiazepines have been stopped, the next step is to reduce the dose of CBD until it is completely eliminated.

Inform your doctor

Again, we urge you not to make any changes to your treatment without first telling the prescribing physician. Inform him of your desire to give up benzodiazepines and how you think CBD might help you in the process. Your doctor will make a drug dosage and CBD plan that you will have to follow closely. In addition, you will need to keep a close eye on your symptoms with a professional.

Combine your treatment with alternative therapies and natural medicine

Anyone suffering from anxiety disorders knows the severity of their symptoms. Although drugs are able to relieve some of them quickly and effectively when they appear there is no medicine that solves the root problems for which patients often suffer from anxiety disorders.

Any drug treatment has to be combined with psychotherapy sessions that help you to know better the causes of your illness in order to treat them. He goes to a psychologist and undergoes psychotherapy. Other alternative therapies include meditation exercises, regular exercise to help your brain produce certain beneficial chemicals such as dopamine, and even including natural herbal teas such as valerian in your diet to help relax your nerves.

side effects cbd benzodiazepines

What are the side effects of CBD?

In general, at the doses that are usually administered, CBD does not have serious side effects in our body. At very high doses over a prolonged period of time(1360mg daily for 14 days for adults weighing about 75kg, much more than a whole bottle normally contains) the following adverse effects have been described:

  • Fatigue
  • Anorexia
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Altered liver enzymes

For most patients these effects occurred in the first stage of treatment while they were increasing their dose. Once the dose was stabilized the side effects tended to stop in all patients. In addition, those who lowered their dose were also able to eliminate the above-mentioned side effects.

On the other hand, the World Health Organization declares CBD as a non-harmful substance: it is not addictive and does not create tolerances in our organism.

In any case, from Higea CBD we reiterate that before starting or stopping any treatment prescribed by a professional you must consult your doctor. All changes in your dosage can have very serious consequences on your health if not supervised by a specialist.

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