Anxiety is a common condition — and it is a natural reaction that exists to help protect you from harm. It’s a response to fear, danger, or the unknown: when your body’s stress hormones rise, your anxiety might also rise as a way to prepare you for fight or flight.
Unfortunately, in modern life this preparation can sometimes lead us astray, causing us to freeze up or shut down more often than necessary. In the United States, around 31% of all adults deal with some type of anxiety disorder at least once in their lives, and almost 20% of us deal with anxiety in a given year.
It’s not surprising then, that so many of us are looking for a more natural alternative to support better mental health and help stave off anxiety. Here, we explore if CBD oil for anxiety might be a good addition to your mental health care regimen.
Can CBD Oil Be Used for Anxiety?
CBD comes from a family of special compounds found in cannabis (both marijuana and hemp) called cannabinoids. Unlike most varieties of marijuana, CBD-rich hemp does not get you high. That is because Hemp is naturally low in THC (and most CBD oil products are processed in a way that removes almost all traces of it), the compound responsible for marijuana’s intoxicating effect.
CBD appears to have a variety of antianxiety effects in the body — this is backed by both scientific studies and anecdotal reports. In fact, one of the most common reasons people buy CBD is to reduce anxiety. Let’s explore how it works.
How Does CBD Oil for Anxiety Work?
Researchers have discovered that CBD oil activates the 5HT1-A serotonin receptor in our brains, which helps control mood and anxiety. Spanish researchers found that premium CBD oil might be superior to antidepressants such as SSRIs that interact with serotonin production.
In addition to appearing to activate serotonin receptors in our brains, CBD is thought to promote the creation of new brain cells in the hippocampus of the brain. Studies show that the hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for memory, emotion, and the autonomic nervous system — tends to shrink in subjects with long-term anxiety and depression. Creating new brain cells and neural pathways is key to recovery. Meditation can also have a similar effect on the hippocampus, which means that using CBD oil for anxiety might provide some of the benefits that practiced meditation does.
Another fascinating antianxiety property CBD may have is its ability to reduce cortisol production. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and its overproduction can cause everything from sleep disorders and low libido to depression and irritability.
CBD also affects the tone of the body’s master regulating system: the endocannabinoid system. It does this by blocking the enzyme responsible for breaking down a key neurotransmitter called anandamide. It’s thought that the more anandamide that’s in your body, the less anxious you feel.
What’s The Evidence?
Much of the research so far into the antianxiety effects of CBD oil has been on animal models like mice or rats. This is due in part to the restrictions placed on studying compounds in marijuana and hemp.
However, there have been a couple of small pilot studies focused on CBD for social anxiety. In one such study, subjects were given CBD prior to performing a simulated public speaking test. According to the trial, CBD “significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance and significantly decreased alertness in anticipatory speech. The placebo group presented higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, discomfort, and alert levels when compared with the control group.”
Two clinical trials are currently recruiting or in planning stages. The goals of each related to finding out whether CBD oil for anxiety really is an effective treatment. One phase 2 trial in the US will be testing whole plant CBD oil taken under the tongue in subjects with various anxiety disorders. A Canadian pilot study plans to evaluate the efficacy of CBD capsules for anxiety symptoms.
CBD Oil Dosage
How Many Milligrams of CBD Oil Should You Take for Anxiety?
If you’re considering using CBD oil to help combat anxiety, finding the dosage that works for you is crucial. Unfortunately, there are no clear answers here. Just as your experience of anxiety is unique, how much CBD oil is needed is unique to each individual. A general rule of thumb is to start low and gradually build up until you feel your symptoms have been reduced. Choosing a CBD oil is a great way to have precise control over your dose, as you can scale up/down the number of drops you take slowly to test what works best for you
Can You Take Too Much CBD Oil?
If you’re following package instructions and using common sense, it’s fairly unlikely that you will take enough CBD oil to endanger yourself.. To get to toxic levels, you would need to ingest a lot of CBD oil (think entire bottles of CBD product at once).
However, if your goal is to use CBD oil for a calming effect or to treat anxiety, then you want to find the right level for you. Overindulging in the oil could make you feel jittery or even give you uncomfortable temporary symptoms such as diarrhea. This is another reason why slow and low is the best approach if you’re new to CBD.
What’s the Best Way to Take CBD for Anxiety?
The product that’s right for you depends on your needs. For example, if you suffer from panic attacks that come on suddenly, you might be concerned with how fast CBD works to help with anxiety. If you’re looking for more daily support, you may instead be concerned with consistent and lasting results.Thinking about the effect you hope to achieve by taking CBD is the best way to hone in on what form of CBD will work best for you. Here, we break down a few of the most common forms.
CBD oil drops are absorbed directly into the bloodstream under the tongue, so the effects are felt in about 15 minutes. If you suffer from situational anxiety (think feeling extremely anxious before a big presentation) or anxiety attacks that come on quickly, this may be the best solution for you.
If your anxiety is more of a daily occurrence, CBD softgels are a good choice. Their effects are longer-lasting and can help provide a general buffer against stress and anxiety.
Another long-lasting form of CBD can be found in edibles. That’s because these products must break down in your digestive system, and the active ingredients are released over time as that process occurs. Edibles such as gummies can be used in a similar way as CBD soft gels.
Whether you deal with it every day or only experience it occasionally, anxiety can affect our mental and physical health in profound ways. Here at SHEbd, we’re dedicated to finding a model of health that focuses on bringing the mind and the body into balance, and have discovered that CBD is crucial to unlocking supporting a healthy life.
Interested in discovering if CBD is right for you? Take our quiz to discover how far the power of the plant can go in your life.