Does Taking CBD Oil for Anxiety Work?
Taking CBD for anxiety is a relatively “new” avenue that sufferers of panic attacks, overthinking, worry, and anxiety are now turning to. But, the truth is that individuals have been turning to alternative or supplemental forms of therapy for years.
When we look at the rise in mental illness, it’s a wonder that we haven’t turned to CBD oil for anxiety sooner or more consistently.
In fact, the numbers on anxiety are enough to make you, well, anxious: the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the U.S. — and though these disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
And what do these 40 million adults do when they experience anxiety? They’re three to five times more likely to go to the doctor but six times more likely to be immediately hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who don’t suffer from anxiety disorders.
But do all the hospitalizations and the doctors’ prescriptions really do anything to actually address the experience and issue of anxiety? In plain terms: is it getting us anywhere?
The sharp upward tick in those seeking alternative, natural and holistic solutions answers this question pretty firmly: not entirely, no.
A survey by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reported that 38% of adults and 12% of children are using complementary and alternative medicine.
Source: Pew Research Center, “Americans use of conventional and alternative medicine varies“
The responses from real Americans tells us that, while 50% of the population has yet to try or consider “alternative medicine”, the percentage of those who have used this alternative medicine, either in addition to or instead of traditional medicine is comparable, at a close 49%.
The consensus seems to be clear: the time is ripe to explore alternative forms of medicine.
Couple this “trend” (fast turning into a new paradigm) with the legalization of marijuana sweeping the country, there’s a new spotlight illuminating cannabis products — including the shrouded-in-mystery but highly-effective CBD oil.
So let’s enlighten you on how you can harness CBD oil to treat the effects of anxiety.
The Anxiety-Inflammation Connection
Research performed on the cytokine model of cognitive function has already shown us how the gut and brain are intricately linked. But, as it turns out, this also inextricably connects anxiety and inflammation.
At a base level, nervousness impacts our guts. We even have words in the English language to describe those flitting sensations like “butterflies” or “knots” in one’s stomach. Since our immune systems are housed in our guts, the connection between the gut and the brain is an important conduit to healing.
In the body, an imbalance, interruption or release of inflammatory cytokines (from factors like stress, pathogens, sugar and chemicals), can cause oxidating stress.
And in the brain, inflammation serves to redirect the use of tryptophan toward the production of anxiety-provoking chemicals like quinolinate, instead of toward serotonin and melatonin.
These “anxiety-provoking” chemicals cause a collection of symptoms such as lethargy, anxiety, insomnia, decreased social activity, mobility and libido, and more.
In fact, psychiatric researchers have often seen that when patients with anxiety also have high levels of inflammatory markers like CRP, they’re more likely to respond to anti-inflammatories than antidepressants.
Suddenly, it’s easy to see how sufferers of mental health issues like depression and anxiety or behavioral, learning and cognitive disorders like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or even autism can be linked, in a surreptitious way, to inflammation.
A Therapeutic Molecule
Cue, the therapeutic molecule, CBD, aka, “Cannabidiol”, an adaptogen, a regulator and a modulator. Why therapeutic? Because CBD is all about the promotion of healing.
- It situationally addresses and reduces inflammation
- It promotes balance or “homeostasis” in the body
- It has been used to treat auto-immune diseases like MS, as well as colitis, liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even inhibits the function of cancer cells through various anti-angiogenic mechanisms
It’s basically like the “Clark Kent” of molecules — an absolute boy scout, capable of doing no wrong. Unlike Clark Kent, though, it’s used as a natural anxiolytic or an anxiety calmer, while also used as a “multi-target” therapeutic molecule.
There is a close relationship between CBD, the nervous system, various neurotransmitters and the endocannabinoid system.
Now CBD is a cannabinoid compound much like THC, another cannabinoid compound present in both hemp and marijuana, and is frequently associated with the psychoactive high that comes from smoking it.
However, CBD is not intoxicating in the same way but it can positively affect one’s mood, not least because it brings the body back to a balanced state.
Besides this, it acts on the serotonin receptor 5HT1A and regulates GABA, which is involved in anxiety, as well as glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter.
So the short answer so far seems to say that CBD oil is not only suitable for treating anxiety, but is poised to be the compound at the heart of treating multiple health and wellness issues.
How CBD Oil Differs from Marijuana
CBD oil is one of around 60 – 100 cannabinoids that — like THC — can be found in both hemp andmarijuana.
The difference between these two plants is the level of THC, which is known to bring the psychoactive effects known as a “high” for those who use marijuana or weed as a substance specifically for that “high”.
There are other differentiators, of course, and even the term “marijuana” is itself slang that refers to the Cannabis Sativa plant. Essentially, cannabis plants grown with a less than 0.3% concentration of THC are basically hemp. And, even in cannabis with high levels of THC, they can still be bred to have high levels of CBD.
In addition to THC, the cannabis plant can produce over 100 unique chemicals called cannabinoids, one of which is CBD. While marijuana causes intoxication, CBD by itself does not.
Any type of cannabis, whether high-THC or low-THC, can be bred to produce high levels of CBD — and this means that CBD oil, which is a concentrated version of the cannabidiol compound, can be extracted from marijuana as well, though, more commonly, it’s extracted from hemp.
CBD oil products may have absolutely no amounts of THC or it may have some — it all depends, again, on the manufacturers.
One of the major misgivings that those who experience anxiety have about taking CBD oil to ease their experience is that, often, they were past dabblers in marijuana.
Their experience of ingesting and smoking weed — which, remember, can have varyingly high levels of the THC cannabinoid, the “psychoactive” component of weed — was contentious at best.
It’s interesting to see that that when medical marijuana is prescribed to patients with a tendency for seizures or with history of epilepsy, or those with chronic pain, patients report the ingesting and smoking of weed as an important part of their therapy and usually one of the only solutions that eases and soothes their conditions, often mitigating the effects of the experience of seizures or pain entirely.
But that’s not often the case with sufferers of depression and anxiety.
Those with anxiety who have smoked weed previously, at some point in their lives, cite similar experiences and reasoning for their hesitation: When they ended up smoking, they felt as though the “high” produced made them more anxious, not less, amplifying those feelings of anxiety, fear, worry and panic, rather than relaxing them at all.
But, of course, you now know that CBD oil is not only not the same thing as THC oil or marijuana, it usually comes from a different strain of the Cannabis Sativa plant (hemp) and either contains no THC whatsoever or very low amounts.
So let’s take a look at the experience of two individuals who tried CBD oil for anxiety. Did it calm them or did it mirror their experience with marijuana?
Relaxing and unwinding but not leaving one’s mind
On the lifestyle blog My Domaine, Kelsey Clark outlines all the research her usually-anxious mind forced her to do before actually feeling comfortable enough to try CBD oil for anxiety.
She calls herself a “person who’s already predisposed to overthinking” and noted that her experience with marijuana to address her anxiety “typically put my mind into overdrive and resulted in a common yet dreaded side effect: paranoia.”
Her observations, of course, are backed by science so it’s not a mistake: When comparing the effects of THC and CBD, researchers found that THC increased anxiety by activating neurotransmitters that are involved in that instinctual “fight or flight” response of our early brains.
In comparison, CBD actually represses autonomic arousal, which is the nervous system response that involves sharp and sudden spikes in heart rate and respiration.
Ms. Clark concludes that this makes CBD oil perfect for “people looking to relax and unwind — not get out of their minds”.
And what about her own experience? Ms. Clark took CBD oil every day for seven days and found that, within 30 minutes, the oil relaxed her body and her mind “ever so slightly”.
“My heart stopped pounding against my chest, my legs stopped kicking beneath my sheets, my mind stopped racing…eventually, physical relaxation gave way to mental relaxation, and I drifted off to sleep.”
Ms. Clark also cites the following experience:
- “It made me less anxious and on edge”
- “I’m more focused at work”
- “I’m falling asleep faster”
So what’s her “final verdict”?
Ms. Clark is quick to remind readers that an overall change in her life didn’t happen overnight — as with any all-natural treatment or supplement. It took time for the relaxation and “effects” to build.
On the other hand, this is precisely why she picked it and continues to use it — because it’s an “all-natural treatment for anxiety”.
“Something that’s safe, legal, requires no prescription, and makes me less anxious, less scatterbrained, and more focused? I’m definitely on board.”
Subtle effects without side-effects
While her experience of anxiety is not a “chronic, day-to-day” experience, Nicole Richter still wanted to find a way to quell her “random flare-ups” of anxiety or panic attacks.
But there was a caveat for Ms. Richter:
“I have always been extremely wary of using drugs to treat my condition – no matter how bad it is. I have been prescribed Xanax once, but I have never actually used a prescription medication to treat my condition”
Like Ms. Clark, Ms. Richter also says that on the different occasions she ended up smoking weed, it seemed to heighten anxiety — which made sense since that is par for the course with strains that have high THC.
Just like Ms. Clark, Ms. Richter notes that there was a gradual “melting away” of the anxiety and that it’s barely noticeable because there was “zero bodily or cerebral effects”.
The best part for Ms. Richter is that it killed several proverbial birds with one stone: it had no side effects, lasted long, simply eased its way into her daily experience and didn’t carry the risk of dependency — unlike her one-time prescription for Xanax.
Taking CBD Oil for Anxiety: Quality, Dosage and Effects
Like any supplement, dosage depends on concentration and this will depend on the brand that you purchase, the other oils present in the tincture and your own “tolerance” or your body’s physiological experience of the compound.
To keep things under your control, start out with a low dosage, around 10 milligrams, and slowly increase this by increments of five to 10 over the next few weeks or months. As with any all-natural supplements, consistency is the key to building in the effects.
Some people also end up breaking up the overall dosage amount into smaller chunks through the day, instead of taking the full 30 or 40 milligrams at once.
In general and across the board, CBD oil is very safe but you want to make sure that no other medication is interacting negatively with it. So make sure to inform your family or prescribing doctor, if you’re taking it.
In terms of quality, you want to make sure that the CBD oil you’re purchasing is third-party tested for potency and that the original hemp batch was organically grown or sourced by the company.
Looking at Ms. Clark and Ms. Richter’s experiences, it’s easy to see that the effects, while they’ll undoubtedly vary from person to person, are pretty similar. The onset and “slow” experience of the CBD oil are things that both women reported having enjoyed.
It also depends on the oil itself and whether it has small or no levels of THC in it. While some people say they have their more visible and severe symptoms like seizures soothed, others simply report better sleep, more focus and an overall feeling of wellness.
Botanical supplements are not inconsistent but their experiences are very personal and vary across the board. This means each person may have their own unique response to it. The most important thing for you to do, at first, is simply to observe how you’re reacting to and experiencing the oil.
Keep a journal or implement a tracking system, including dosage and time, to see if the effects vary based on dosage, day, time and your own personal emotions that day. You can even “rate” your levels of anxiety as part of this tracking experiment. The more information you have on your personal experience of CBD oil, the better you can assess how much works for you.
Often, people also find that CBD oil is particularly useful when it’s blended with complementary oils and supplements like Lemon Balm, Ashwagandha (a very popular and notable oil for stress relief), Lavender (used for sleep) or other essential oils.
It’s why Tonic tinctures and oil blends are so popular. We harness the power of a well-considered blend of essential oils meant to target specific issues like pain, inflammation, insomnia or anxiety. Each blend has its own specific use. While CBD oil for anxiety is certainly the star in each blend, the essential oils are the supporting cast that enhances our users’ experience of CBD oil.
Learn more about how our oils, topicals and treats are crafted in small batches, sourced from organic, sun-grown hemp and lovingly blended with complementary oils to promote healing and wellness in a holistic and effective way.