Travelling can be stressful – the long days, the waiting in departure lounges and then the flight. And if you get anxious while flying, that only compounds matters. But now, there are cannabis-derived products available that help you stay anxiety-free in the air.
While cannabis has historically been associated with anxiety, the typically second-most abundant compound in the plant, a cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD), actually boasts anti-anxiety properties – and even better, it won’t make you high! The high that traditionally comes from cannabis comes from another cannabinoid, known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
In the last few years, scientists have recognized that CBD has huge therapeutic value and no abuse potential (as confirmed by the World Health Organization recently). Growers have responded by cultivating strains that are high in CBD and low in THC. The cannabis around today is completely different from that which memorably permeated Western society in the 1960s.
How CBD helps to reduce anxiety
So, just how does CBD help to reduce anxiety in the body, and do so more effectively and without the side effects of conventional treatments? Firstly, CBD works in the endocannabinoid system, a crucial regulatory network of neurotransmitters and receptors. Multiple physical and mental functions, including stress, are modulated by the endocannabinoid system.
Fascinatingly, cannabinoids, which are almost unique to the cannabis plant, are chemically akin to the endocannabinoids made by the body that generally interact in the endocannabinoid system. Therefore, phytocannabinoids from cannabis can mimic the effects of these endocannabinoids, thereby regulating the system.
CBD is responsible for multiple interactions in the brain, which perhaps all have a role in remedying anxiety. Unfortunately, most of the scientific research done so far on CBD and anxiety has been done on animals, but couple that with the wealth of anecdotal stories and a smattering of human trials, and a very strong case can be made for CBD as an anxiety treatment.
Preclinical studies have determined that CBD is a 5-HT1A agonist. A subtype of the serotonin receptor, 5-HT1A looks like it may have a direct influence on anxiety and depression – after all, many existing medicines for these conditions zone in on the serotonin receptors. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac have been developed by pharmaceutical companies since the late 20th century. These drugs stop the brain from reabsorbing serotonin, increasing serotonin availability in the synaptic space. More serotonin signals can then be sent out by brain cells, which can help to improve mood and ease anxiety in select situations. However, researchers are yet to gain a complete understanding in this area.
CBD may also facilitate an increase in serotonin signals, if a Spanish study on animals is accurate. The researchers found that CBD may have a quicker impact on serotonin than SSRIs, by boosting 5-HT1A transmission more efficiently.
The anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects of CBD occurred simultaneously on the animals, according to the researchers, who mused that this combination could be an improvement on the current antidepressant therapies on offer.
Understanding the brain and how neurogenesis can reduce anxiety
The hippocampus is one of the most important parts of the brains and has an important job to do in multiple brain functions. It helps with cognitive function and memory formation primarily. Intriguingly, brain scans on patients with anxiety and depression tend to have a smaller hippocampus than those who do not. Therefore, it is possible to treat depression through neurogenesis in the hippocampus – however, that are very few compounds that can help with the creation of new neurons.
But CBD may be one. A study using mice showed that consistent CBD treatment could restore the hippocampus to health through neuron regeneration. SSRIs and CBD can both help with neurogenesis, another explanation as to why both can help with anxiety and depression management. With research showing that suicidal behavior could be brought on by neuronal plasticity impairment, these findings on CBD and SSRIs are even more timely. The next step for scientists is to find out how CBD and SSRIs can be used most effectively to treat depression.
Which CBD products are best for flying with?
So, you want to try CBD, but aren’t sure what products are most suitable for flying with. Obviously, you cannot start smoking a joint or drawing on your vaporizer while on the runway or 30,000 feet in the air. You need something discreet and hassle-free.
A CBD hemp oil tincture which you can consume sublingually under the tongue is a great option. These oils do not have a pungent aroma (unless they are also infused with terpenes), and typically come with a pipette which allows for precise dosing. A high-quality product will have a detailed label, with a full ingredient list and dosage recommendations.
CBD edibles are also popular, however the onset of effects with this method is much slower, meaning that you’d have to take them an hour or so before you need them. The unique advantage with edibles, however, is the slower release of CBD into the system, making the effects last longer than from sublingual consumption or vaping.
Keep in mind that because edibles take a while to kick in, you may feel like nothing is happening for an hour or more. Resist the temptation to increase your dose – while taking too much CBD is not the concern that taking too much THC is, a double-dose of cannabidiol may leave you feeling overly sedated.
Is it legal to fly with CBD?
Because of the wide variety and differences between CBD oil products, there’s no simple answer. However, in the United States, CBD oils that have been derived from the hemp plant and have no THC are legal at federal level and can therefore be transported all over America.
But the law is a little murkier for CBD oils that are extracted from cannabis. While you won’t find these oils in states without cannabis legislation, they are often more popular in states that have legalized, mainly because they are more cost-effective.
Even if you are travelling from one legal state to another – say Colorado to California – airports are subject to federal law, not state law. While a cannabis-derived CBD oil isn’t likely to arouse any suspicion, especially with the newly-relaxed attitude toward cannabis, it’s best to play it safe.
CBD is a useful and healthy way of taking the edge off when flying. Some people choose alcohol to settle their nerves, but surely it’s better to take something that will not cause temporary cognitive impairment or potentially give you a headache, but instead, help regulate one of the body’s most essential regulatory systems.