How To Use CBD For Anxiety
CBD products are legal across the United States and provide many of the same therapeutic benefits as full spectrum cannabis, without the intoxicating effects of THC. Clinical evidence strongly supports the potential of CBD, or cannabidiol, to help patients manage symptoms of general anxiety.
There has been promising research into more targeted anti-anxiety uses for CBD such as social anxiety related to public speaking, post traumatic stress disorder, and other serious depressive and psychotic disorders. While the FDA has yet to explicitly approve using CBD for anxiety, research findings thus far show that the cannabinoid may present anxiolytic benefits through a number of different mechanisms.
CBD has Been Found to Help with:
Clinical studies and firsthand testimony from patients who use CBD suggest that taking cannabidiol as part of a health regimen can help with anxiety and related conditions in the following ways:
- General calming effect
- Mood-boosting and stabilization properties (probably linked to CBD’s effect on serotonin production)
- Effects mimicking the mechanism of the antidepressant drug imipramine (observed in mice and not yet validated in human trials)
- Treatment of insomnia (and, subsequently, better sleep leading to better overall wellness including mental health)
- Reduction of social anxiety symptoms (at certain doses)
- Has been shown to complement traditional forms of therapy and counseling
- Reduction of PTSD symptoms, including anxiety
- Antioxidant properties to promote overall mental health
In addition to the emerging findings listed above, CBD has also found to aid:
Chronic pain often leads to mental health issues, and stress can manifest as physical pain, creating a dangerous spiral of exacerbating physical pain and mental anguish. CBD’s impressive anti-inflammatory properties can help disrupt this cycle by addressing pain that hasn’t been effectively managed by other medications.
Treatment of Epileptic Seizures
While not immediately related to anxiety, CBD’s ability to soothe the neurological disruptions that lead to seizures speak to its ability to calm the brain in a more general sense.
The shame and guilt associated with substance abuse can put a great deal of pressure on a person already struggling to recover, sometimes manifesting as extreme anxiety. Early clinical data suggests CBD could be a useful part of addiction treatment.
To put it simply, CBD assists in the treatment of anxiety through a combination of calming the user mentally and relaxing the body physically. This is achieved through a combination of anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant, and serotonin-boosting mechanisms.
Non-Anxiety Applications for CBD
Overall wellness is inextricably linked to a person’s anxiety and stress levels.
CBD can help manage a broad swath of other health issues in addition to managing anxiety directly, which indirectly improves the patient’s mental health in the process:
- Arthritis pain
- Alzheimer’s and neurodegenerative diseases
- Poor appetite
- Multiple sclerosis
Using CBD for Anxiety
There is no one-size-fits-all set of step-by-step instructions for implementing CBD as part of your anxiety treatment. Just like anxiety itself, effectively treating anxiety is a deeply personal, individualized experience that will not be the same for any two people. You may need to experiment with different dosages and different products before you dial in what works for you.
When you consume CBD orally, such as in oils, edibles, or capsules, the effects are felt within 30 minutes to 2 hours. When smoked or vaped, CBD oil or flower produce more immediate effects.
CBD products can be taken by people to relieve anxiety on an ongoing basis, we suggest taking these products with food as part of a morning routine. Whereas, smoking or vaping CBD oil can help people relax in stressful situations, such as giving a public speech.
Experienced staff at your dispensary can help you choose the best products for your needs and desired results. Start with a small dose and take your time until you find the product and dose that helps your anxiety.
Some of the different forms of CBD product available include:
CBD flower can be purchased and smoked in a pipe, bong, or joint for the classic cannabis experience without the THC or vaporized with a dry herb vape.
Edibles include soft chew gummies, lozenges, brownies and other baked goods, and CBD drinks. Consuming cannabinoids via digestion means the effects will take longer to set in, but will last longer and hit a bit differently than smoking or vaping due to the different methods of absorption.
Capsules and Softgels
With capsules or softgels, you can take CBD in convenient pill form, along with the rest of your daily supplements. Each capsule will be precisely dosed for ease of managing your mg.
An emerging favorite in recent years, using a vape to consume CBD is convenient and simple. Vape cartridges can also be easily swapped out if you choose to move on to experimenting with THC products.
Be sure that the vape you purchase is at least 1:1 THC/CBD. CBD on its own is a solid at room temperature, and CBD-only or ratios higher than 1:1 may crystallize or contain undesirable cutting agents.
Massaging sore muscles with CBD creams and ointments can help with pain relief. However, most won’t absorb into your body in a way that will offer the full range of anti-anxiety effects.
Oils and Tinctures
These are super convenient concentrated forms of CBD that can be easily added to foods and beverages or dosed orally on their own. Oils and water-soluble tinctures are particularly ideal for first-time users.
CBD Dosage For Anxiety
It’s well known that THC products may increase anxiety in some after consuming a too-large dose, but there is thankfully very little risk of this happening with CBD products. Nevertheless, start small and work your way up, in case you don’t like the results or experience any rare adverse reactions.
Some clinical trials have identified modest doses from 25 to 75 mg for the treatment of general anxiety, trouble sleeping, PTSD, and as part of comprehensive psychiatric treatment. It’s recommended that new users start with no more than a 25 mg dose and wait around an hour before increasing their dose if needed.
However, if doses from 25 to 75 mg simply aren’t doing anything for you, even after waiting a while for full absorption, it’s safe to work your way up to a significantly larger dose until you experience beneficial effects.
In the previously referenced study into anxiety surrounding public speaking, the most effective CBD dose was identified as 300 mg. In that particular study, the 300 mg dose very interestingly outperformed both a 150 mg dose and a 600 mg dose. Other studies have demonstrated beneficial anti-anxiety effects at 600 mg and more.
In one such extensive study completed in 2019, research data showed that more than 50% of men benefited from 300-600 mg of CBD. It’s important to again note the dose an individual needs for their own anxiety depends on more than their gender – other variables include administration method, strain, and body chemistry.
Remember that not all CBD products are created equal. If you’re on a high dose of CBD tinctures and switch to edibles, for example, it would be wise to roll back your dose the first time you try the new product. Each person and each product is unique, so 300 mg of one oil could potentially hit you very differently than 300 mg of another product or different brand.
What Are The Negative Side Effects To CBD Use?
There have been very few negative side effects associated with CBD use, and there is essentially no physiological possibility of overdosing on the substance. Typically, any serious adverse reactions to CBD have been associated with combining CBD with other medications or substances. If you’re taking prescription drugs and concerned about potential interactions, have a discussion with your healthcare provider before adding CBD to your anxiety management regimen.
Other side effects are similar to those of full spectrum cannabis use and are not serious.
- Dry mouth
- Changes in appetite
How To Take CBD
A high-quality CBD product can come in various forms to accommodate your needs. For those looking for pain relief, a topical gel or lotion might make the most sense, whereas someone who is looking for relief for mental health needs, such as relief from stress and anxiety, might benefit most from a tincture you can take orally or even a daily capsule or gummy that makes dosing a no-brainer.
An oil based product can be great to add to your favorite snack or meal if you prefer dosing with food. CBD oil typically comes in a discreet dropper bottle that can be carried in a purse or pocket, and it doesn’t give off any cannabis odors or scents when you use it.
Here is how to use some of the most common types of CBD products:
Concentrated oil can be found in vape cartridges, which use a rechargeable battery to power a heating element that vaporizes the extract without burning it. Simply press the designated button on the outside of the device and inhale.
Onset time: ~5-10 minutes
Duration of effects: ~2-4 hours
CBD balms, lotions and creams can be rubbed directly on the skin to target problem areas, such as sore muscles and joints. Try applying fresh out of the bath or shower, while your pores are open wide to absorb the topical benefits.
Onset time: ~30-60 minutes
Duration of effects: ~4-6 hours
Oils and tinctures can be taken sublingually. Using a dropper to place your dose of CBD oil under your tongue allows it to absorb quickly, which, in turn, offers fast-acting relief.
Onset time: ~15-30 minutes
Duration of effects: ~2-4 hours
If you dislike the taste of your CBD oil, it’s easy to add to a favorite food. Salad dressings, smoothies, baked goods, and your morning coffee are all good candidates for masking the flavor. Or, simply purchase a ready-made edible product.
Onset time: ~30-90 minutes
Duration of effects: ~4-6 hours
Finding The Best CBD Products
For starters, to ensure you’re consuming quality plant therapies, don’t buy CBD from dubious sources. These sorts of products are often lacking in quality, potency, and testing standards. Additionally, someone outside of a trusted dispensary is likely not equipped to answer questions about CBD products. Anyone selling you CBD should be willing and able to answer questions about its source, quality, and testing.
While CBD use is now legal across the country, there are unfortunately not robust standards or legal frameworks in place for testing and regulating the quality of homemade CBD products. For this reason, it is critical to purchase from trustworthy shops and dispensaries that offer high-quality products with testing and potency information included clearly on the product’s label. Most importantly, it should tell you exactly how much CBD is in the product, as well as the amounts of other cannabinoids if any are present.
If the information you want is not readily available on the product packaging, you can ask dispensary staff for a Certificate of Analysis that will show you a detailed rundown of the product’s testing results.
Vaping or orally consuming a low-quality CBD oil is a waste of money at best. In the worst-case scenario, the low-quality, untested, and poorly regulated ingredients could even make you sick. When you’re taking any supplement with the intention of improving your health, it’s worth your time and investment to find a quality supplier that will stand behind their products and answer any questions you may have.
- Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 12(4), 825-836. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
- Bergamaschi, M. M., Queiroz, R. H. C., Chagas, M. H. N., De Oliveira, D. C. G., De Martinis, B. S., Kapczinski, F., … & Crippa, J. A. S. (2011). Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naive social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology, 36(6), 1219-1226. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2011.6
- García-Gutiérrez, M. S., Navarrete, F., Gasparyan, A., Austrich-Olivares, A., Sala, F., & Manzanares, J. (2020). Cannabidiol: a potential new alternative for the treatment of anxiety, depression, and psychotic disorders. Biomolecules, 10(11), 1575. https://doi.org/10.3390/biom10111575
- Hurd, Y. L., Yoon, M., Manini, A. F., Hernandez, S., Olmedo, R., Ostman, M., & Jutras-Aswad, D. (2015). Early Phase in the Development of Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Addiction: Opioid Relapse Takes Initial Center Stage. Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, 12(4), 807–815. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0373-7
- Linares, I. M., et al. (2018). Cannabidiol presents an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve in a simulated public speaking test. https://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1516-44462019000100009&tlng=en
Digital Content Manager for MÜV Florida and Zen Leaf Dispensaries. A cannabis connoisseur with a passion for explaining the miraculous possibility of the plant, Swan began her journey with cannabis as a recreational user and quickly realized its positive impact on her depression and severe anxiety. She joined the cannabis industry as Receptionist and MedTender and witnessed first-hand the immense potential of the plant for a wide variety of ailments, deepening her passion for alternative medicine. Swan is dedicated to self-education on the plant and sharing its potential with all. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Iowa.
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