3 February 2021

Time to consider the facts: could CBD be the answer to a ‘covanxiety’ epidemic?


by Mark Johnson

There is little doubt, the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic has gone well beyond the physical effects of the disease itself. One of the most serious concerns has been the effects on our mental health – specifically, anxiety. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), anxiety caused by COVID, or ‘covanxiety’, is affecting millions of people around the world.

While the UK’s vast vaccine programme offers hope for combatting the disease, the question over how we will tackle the covanxiety epidemic remains unanswered. Could a natural remedy, known as CBD and available in UK supermarkets, be at least part of the answer?

CBD – a therapy for anxiety?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is an essential component of medical marijuana. This has caused controversy. The controversy, however, is based on a misconception.

While CBD is just one component among hundreds in marijuana, it does not by itself cause a ‘high’. In fact, the WHO found in a 2017 report that there is ‘no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.’  

This is just one reason why, as recently as July 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol) for the treatment of seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex.

So, CBD is already used in several therapeutic areas; but could it be the answer to the growing covanxiety epidemic?

Scientific research into CBD is beginning to show that it might.

Harvard Medical School cites strong scientific evidence that not only is CBD effective in treating some cruel childhood epilepsy syndromes but also that it is a common treatment for insomnia and anxiety.

A more categorical answer to the question may soon be available.

In October 2020, Cannabis Health News reported on the launch of a landmark US study by the University of California to investigate CBD’s potential as an anxiety treatment. With 14 per cent of Americans reporting in 2019 they had used CBD products – 20 per cent of whom had used it for the relief of anxiety – the study will gather real world data into the use, dosage, timing, and frequency of use to understand how it might relieve covanxiety for sufferers.

A health trend set to grow

The UK’s CBD product market was established well before the pandemic.

Elderflower and lime-flavoured soft drinks infused with CBD or CBD-infused body lotions are available at supermarkets while health food chains, including Holland and Barrett, sell CBD as capsules, oral sprays, gummies, and other tempting forms.

The market is now set to grow even further. One of the world’s biggest brewers, Molson Coors (purveyors of Coors Light, Carling, Grolsch and Aspall), recently announced the launch of a CBD drink in the USA.

Anxiety is more than simply feeling worried. It is more like a fear or tiredness that will not go away.

As the NHS strains every sinew to deliver the biggest vaccination programme in its history, it is comforting to know that once its front-line staff have helped relieve the COVID-19 pandemic, the covanxiety epidemic may not be yet another responsibility to shoulder. For that, the public could find therapeutic relief on supermarket shelves. 

Photo by Elsa Olofsson on Unsplash