The Definitive Guide to CBD for Anxiety

Although anxiety is a normal emotion, it can take over your mind and body. When you’re experiencing intense feelings that range from stress and nervousness to uncontrollable worry, you may be unable to think about anything else. When it’s mild, anxiety can be irritating. Full-blown anxiety disorders can be debilitating.

Some pharmaceuticals, including SSRIs, antidepressants, benzodiazepines and MAOIs, can reduce the symptoms of anxiety, but their usefulness is limited. Many are associated with serious side effects, such as confusion, dizziness, hallucinations, insomnia, weight loss, sexual dysfunction and gastrointestinal problems. Those are only a few of the many possible adverse reactions. Some of these medications list anxiety as a side effect. This makes their practicality questionable at best.

Whether you have mild anxiety from time to time or have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you might benefit from using a quality pure CBD oil. Scientific research into the uses of CBD has changed the conversation about using cannabis to treat different diseases. CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is one of more than 80 cannabinoids found in marijuana.

Doesn’t Cannabis Make You Paranoid?

You may be surprised to hear that CBD oil can help treat anxiety. CBD comes from the cannabis plant, and many people are familiar with marijuana’s potential to cause paranoia, which is similar to anxiety.

Marijuana’s primary active component is THC, which is a cannabinoid that has psychoactive effects. When THC acts on the part of your brain that’s responsible for managing emotions such as fear and stress, it changes the way that your neurons communicate.

In small doses, THC tends to relieve stress. Higher doses of THC tend to generate more negative emotions. Researchers aren’t sure why this happens, but they do know that everyone reacts to THC differently. An individual’s mood may even be responsible for the way that THC affects him or her.

CBD is different. It doesn’t make you high. In fact, it can counteract the psychotic effects of THC. It won’t make you paranoid, and it has a wide range of therapeutic effects. People who experience anxiety can use CBD oil to unwind and reduce stress.

CBD is not always extracted from the marijuana plant. It is often derived from hemp, which contains minimal, if any, THC. Most hemp oil is legal throughout the U.S. as long as its THC content is below a certain threshold.

CBD Enhances Your Body’s Ability to Control Anxiety

Medical experts are becoming increasingly interested in the body’s endogenous cannabinoid system. It’s made up of signaling chemicals and receptors that help your body stay balanced regardless of what’s going on in your environment. It may be the most important bodily system involved in maintaining good mental and physical health.

Your body produces endocannabinoids. These chemicals influence a number of physical and mental processes, including many that are related to mood. Exogenous cannabinoids are those that come from external sources, such as CBD. They can affect the receptors in your body that are meant to work with your natural cannabinoids.

CBD and Anandamide

Many studies dating as far back as 1974 show that CBD produces anti-anxiety effects, but researchers are still looking into the mechanisms of action. Some think that CBD works on the endocannabinoid system, but CBD doesn’t seem to bind to the primary CB1 and CB2 receptors. It may work in conjunction with them by blocking the reuptake of anandamide.

Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that has been referred to as the “bliss molecule.” It’s also an endocannabinoid.

Anandamide binds to the CB1 receptors, making you feel happy. It’s produced in the areas of the brain that are associated with motivation. Its action also stimulates the growth of new neurons. This has been implicated in the reduction of depression and anxiety.

As CBD inhibits the reabsorption of anandamide, you end up with higher levels of that endocannabinoid in your system. This may lead to increased feelings of happiness.

CBD and Serotonin

Research also shows that CBD interacts directly with serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter with an extensive receptor system. It’s a feel-good chemical that’s linked with emotional states as well as a variety of physiological functions. CBD binds to some of these receptors, mimicking the effects of serotonin.

This is not the first time that serotonin has been targeted for its role in regulating mood. Many drugs that are prescribed for anxiety, such as Prozac, work by prohibiting the reuptake of serotonin, leaving it active for longer than usual. They may not work immediately, though. Also, many of them cause undesirable side effects.

Although researchers still have a lot to learn about the way that CBD regulates the release of serotonin, they do have a few explanations.

CBD is particularly attracted to the 5-HT1A receptors. These are located throughout the brain, including in one area that produces high levels of serotonin. This receptor works as a feedback module. When it’s activated by high levels of serotonin, it tells the body to produce less of the neurotransmitter.

This may counteract the effects of an anti-anxiety agent, such as CBD oil or antidepressants, for a little while. Eventually, however, the 5-HT1A receptor becomes desensitized and doesn’t provide precise feedback. At that point, the body makes normal amounts of serotonin. Therefore, if you’re using CBD for anxiety, it might be best to use it consistently so that desensitization occurs more quickly.

CBD also influences the 5-HT2A receptor, but the cannabinoid doesn’t activate it. Instead, CBD inhibits its activity. This also enhances its ability to quell anxiety.

That’s because activating the 5-HT2A receptors can cause anxiety as well as OCD, fatigue and sleep disturbances. It has been shown that stress hormones may also increase the number of these receptors.

As CBD diminishes the activity of 5-HT2A receptors, it can also prevent more from being produced. This is especially significant if you deal with chronic stress.

What Does This Mean for You?

Now that you know the science behind using CBD oil for anxiety, you might wonder how taking CBD will make you feel. Heart rate and fear behaviors are often used to measure anxiety. If you have suffered from any type of nervousness or anxiety disorder, you can probably relate to this.

When you’re in panic mode, your heart rate goes up, your palms sweat and your breathing quickens. These signals alone can tell your brain that you’re uneasy. If you can slow down these vital signs, as many people learn to do with mindful breathing practices and other techniques, you can often abate the anxiety attack. Many researchers have linked CBD with reduced heart rate in panic situations.

Sometimes anxiety doesn’t produce obvious physiological symptoms, but the turmoil going through your mind is debilitating. Feelings of concern or dread can prevent you from doing activities that you love. You may even avoid leaving the house because you can’t shake the intrusive thoughts.

Most of the time, these are responses that are deeply conditioned in you. You may know exactly what triggers your anxiety. It’s common for your subconscious to drive these feelings. In either case, CBD oil can make you feel calm. It may also give you the urge to break free of worry and live your life again.

Research on CBD and Anxiety

There are many studies to back this up. In some, subjects are conditioned to experience fear from a neutral situation. They might be shocked whenever they touch a box, for example.

Even after the shock has been eliminated, the subjects continue to exhibit signs of anxiety, such as an elevated heart rate. After taking CBD, they seem to lose the memory of the conditioned fear more quickly, exerting normal responses after the negative stimulus has been disassociated from the box.

Many studies use the elevated plus maze to measure anxiety in animals. The maze is shaped like a plus sign. Two of the arms are enclosed by walls, while the others are open on the sides. Rodents are often afraid of open spaces and naturally spend more time in the enclosed arms. However, those that have been dosed with CBD are more likely to explore the open arms, demonstrating that their anxiety is reduced.

Many human anxieties are also caused by fear. Although some degree of fear protects you from threats to your survival, extreme dread or worry can be disabling. Post-traumatic stress disorder is one example of this.

Distressing experiences can be lodged in the psyche and expressed as anxiety. This apprehension can stick around long after the danger has passed. CBD has been studied in models that mimic PTSD. Results show that the product can reduce the anxiety that persists after a threat.

CBD has even been studied for its ability to help individuals overcome social anxiety. In a scenario in which participants were asked to take part in a public speaking activity, using CBD before they had to perform helped them feel less panic and maintain mental clarity.

Another study found that users with social anxiety reported feeling better after taking CBD. Brain imaging also revealed that blood flowed differently to certain parts of the brain after the participants were given CBD.

What Types of Anxiety Can CBD Treat?

Preclinical evidence backs the use of CBD for the following types of anxiety:

• Generalized anxiety disorder

• Panic disorder

• Social anxiety disorder

• Obsessive-compulsive disorder

• Post-traumatic stress disorder

• Stress-induced anxiety

Most of these studies have looked into acute administration of the substance. In other words, research shows that dosing with CBD can provide fast results. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you may find that CBD helps you relax during a busy, overwhelming day.

User Experiences With CBD for Anxiety

Anecdotal evidence backs up many of these scientific findings. People who have tried using CBD for anxiety report positive results.

A volunteer mentor at Mayo Clinic Connect said that CBD helped reduce anxiety that was caused by painkiller withdrawal. She mentioned that drinking CBD water produced almost immediate results. However, the feeling was so subtle that she questioned whether it was a placebo effect. After using various CBD products regularly, she determined that they helped improve her symptoms.

Healthline has also reported on people who use CBD oil for anxiety. One registered nurse started using it for pain. Now, she says that it’s the first thing that she turns to when she’s feeling anxious. She takes between 50 and 100 milligrams of CBD oil every day.

A Medium author said that taking CBD oil relieved her continual anxiety, which was making it hard for her to sleep. CBD worked better than herbal remedies and melatonin.

Another story on Refinery29 reflects one user’s experience with CBD. She was hesitant to try it at first because of its association with cannabis. When she learned that CBD oil doesn’t produce the same effects as THC, she gave it a try.

After taking the initial 0.6 milliliters of CBD oil, she felt calmer but attributed it to a placebo effect. On the second day, she had a stressful morning and found that drinking CBD oil in her coffee slowed down her thoughts and made her feel more peaceful. By the end of the week, she admitted that she was more composed after dealing with the general stress of her daily routine when she took CBD oil.

How to Take CBD for Anxiety

Everyone responds differently to CBD. Therefore, you might need to experiment with the method of administration and dosage to get the most therapeutic effects.

CBD oil is common and can be used topically or orally. Concentrated oil can be vaped. Some edible CBD products come as lozenges, gel caps and candies. You can even find the cannabinoid in some types of coffee and other food products.

Sublingual Administration

You can use most liquid CBD products sublingually. This may deliver faster results than oral administration because it is absorbed by the capillaries in the mucous membranes before it is swallowed. It takes about 5 to 15 minutes to absorb the product into your bloodstream after you place it under your tongue. The effects last for 2 to 7 hours.

To use this approach, place the desired dosage of liquid CBD under your tongue. Hold it there for 60 seconds before swallowing it.

Oral Administration

Taking CBD in a capsule form doesn’t allow it to be absorbed before it goes through your gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, it has to make it to your intestines and be metabolized before you feel anything. This can take some time, but the results may be worth it because you’ll experience a longer active period. On the other hand, your stomach acid could destroy some of the CBD before it reaches your gut.

Many edibles combine the benefits of sublingual and oral administration. Sucking on a lozenge can bring on subtle effects that last a long time.

Some people don’t like the taste of CBD oil. These individuals can look for oils with flavorings, such as peppermint, which mask the flavor. Many edibles, such as gummies, taste better than sublingual CBD oils. Pre-dosed edibles also make it easy for you to use the right amount.

The consistent dosing is one benefit of CBD candies and gummies. Eating your CBD may also be less obvious than vaping or dropping it under your tongue. Some users turn to these products because they’re so discreet. If you need to take regular doses of CBD to diminish your anxiety while you’re at work, for instance, you might prefer CBD candy or coffee.

Inhaling CBD

Inhaling CBD with a vape pen is probably the fastest way to experience effects. The relaxation should hit you within a few minutes and last for a few hours.

It’s important to use high-quality CBD as well as a reliable vape pen if you’re inhaling the substance. Pure CBD oil is not linked with harmful health effects. Synthetic CBD could be dangerous, however.

Topical CBD

You can apply CBD oil to your skin. Many topical creams and lotions are made with CBD for this purpose. However, those are better suited for treating skin conditions and physical pain. Using CBD topically may not help with your anxiety unless muscle aches, joint pain or skin problems are stressing you out.

How Much CBD Should You Take?

Because CBD is not officially a dietary supplement, there is no recommended daily allowance. Most doctors learn about patented pharmaceuticals and may not know how to properly recommend cannabidiol to patients.

The effectiveness of CBD depends on your weight, metabolism and genes. Your environment and mood can also alter the results. Some believe that women are more sensitive to the effects of CBD than men and can therefore use smaller doses.

There seems to be an optimal dose for everyone, and more is not always better. In most initial studies of CBD’s effects on anxiety, lower doses seemed to be the most effective. This bell-shaped dose-response curve indicates that higher doses may hinder the anti-anxiety actions of the compound.

A 2011 study found that participants’ anxiety was relieved when they took 400 milligrams of oral CBD every day. Taking up to 1,500 milligrams per day of CBD is usually well tolerated. Using CBD regularly has not been shown to have any negative effects.

Most experts recommend that you start with a small dose of CBD. Liquid oil, tinctures and extracts as well as edibles should have a suggested serving size on the label. You can use this as a guideline. Because CBD comes from a living plant, however, the amount in each bottle may vary.

It can be harder to gauge how much CBD to use if you’re inhaling it. Start with one breath. If you don’t feel effects within a few minutes, try another one and see how you feel.

Keeping a journal can be helpful when you’re experimenting with CBD for anxiety. Track your mood as well as the foods that you eat, stressful situations that may occur and daily events. Record the type of CBD product that you used as well as the dosage and frequency. You’ll probably notice certain patterns, and you can use your observations to adjust your CBD usage as necessary.

Are There Any CBD Side Effects?

When taking CBD for anxiety, you might wonder if you’ll feel any side effects. CBD is not usually associated with psychomotor or psychological changes. Using it doesn’t give you the munchies, and it doesn’t usually change your heart rate, blood pressure or body temperature.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that it is not associated with any significant side effects regardless of its administration method or dosage.

Some data shows that CBD can cause fatigue, diarrhea and changes in appetite and weight. However, most adverse effects were discovered in animal and in vitro studies.

Could CBD Interfere With Anxiety Medication?

If you take any pharmaceuticals, you might want to research whether there could be negative interactions between them and CBD oil.

Medications are metabolized by liver enzymes. CBD inhibits some of these enzymes, making pharmaceuticals that are processed via similar pathways less effective. Some medicines also inhibit enzymes that are necessary to process CBD, leaving higher levels of the cannabinoid in your system.

Drugs that can increase CBD concentrations in the blood include:

• Some antifungals

• Ritonavir – Treats HIV infections

• Clarithromycin – Treats bacterial infections

Other medications do the opposite. Some drugs that reduce the bioavailability of CBD include:

• Phenobarbital – Treats anxiety, seizures and insomnia

• Rifampicin – Treats tuberculosis

• Carbamazepine – Treats bipolar disorder, seizures and nerve pain

• Phenytoin – Treats seizures

This list is not exhaustive. If you take pharmaceuticals, you may want to consult with your physician before taking CBD oil.

Still, CBD oil is generally regarded as safe by health experts. If your life is hampered by anxiety, you might want to add CBD to your treatment options. The low incidence of side effects and wide variety of administration methods make it convenient for regular use.