How To Use CBD for Anxiety [UPDATED December 2020]

December 21, 2020

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Written by Jen Keehn

Updated December 21, 2020

Dr. El-Hajj

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sandra El-Hajj

Cannabidiol, CBD, is deemed to be beneficial for many health conditions including anxiety. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America explains that anxiety is a serious and very common mental condition that can affect people’s lives, on a daily basis1. Whether it is an occasional feeling or a psychiatric disorder, research is finding very promising results when administering CBD to individuals affected by anxiety.  

Most of those using CBD oil for their anxiety find it to be very subtle in treating their condition. They do pinpoint that it can be a good alternative to prescription medications, having no to minimal side effects that are usually tolerable.

what are the benefits of using cbd for anxiety?

The potential benefits of CBD, for all types of anxiety, are observed in multiple pieces of research. The NIDA(National Institute on Drug Abuse) links CBD to decreased stress levels while other studies showed minimized behavioral and physiological-anxiety related symptoms when administered CBD2.

Additional benefits include:

Calming and Relaxing

CBD plays an important role in the activity of specific brain and central nervous system receptors (CB1 receptors) that control the release of neurotransmitters. As a result, the body feels calmer and more at ease. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine explains how CBD activates CB1 receptors and thus improves memory, cognitive functions, and sensory perception3, 4.

Improved mood

CBD can affect your serotonin levels, which can lead to a happier and less depressive state of mind.

Improved sleep

CBD can help improve the quality of your sleep, reduce insomnia, and regulate your sleep-wake cycle. As a result, you will wake up more energetic5.

Less distracting thoughts

CBD does have anti-depressive properties in addition to its benefits for anxiety.

Improved sense of wellbeing

CBD is involved in many different pathways that can boost a person’s sense of wellness. By sleeping well, feeling more at ease mentally, and functioning properly during the day, you eventually can improve the quality of your life.

Reduced reliance on Medications

Less need (or complete cessation) of using Rx antianxiety medications that can have unwanted side effects. 

what are the side effects of using cbd oil for anxiety?

CBD is considered to be a safe supplement. Some people may experience some minor side effects like diarrhea, fatigue, some changes in appetite, or fluctuations in weight with no apparent reason. If you are feeling sleepy after taking CBD, you may want to only use it at night.

CBD can have certain drug interactions. Please consult with your doctor before starting on CBD, if you use any medications. For example, CBD just like grapefruit may interact with blood thinners. If you wish to start on CBD, do not take the decision yourself to stop any medication you may be on.

 While CBD can be very beneficial for most experiencing anxiety, it may not work for everyone. Anxiety is a multifaced symptom with several root causes and there is never a “one-size-fits-all” drug to treat it.

Many Americans share their positive feedbacks about CBD oil for anxiety: they feel much better. While some prefer to resort to conventional medications or supplements, others stay steer from the side effects accompanying such drugs: that’s when CBD becomes a possible natural solution with the least possible side effects. 

How does CBD work for anxiety?

Illustration Of How Does CBD Works On Anxiety

The exact mechanism by which CBD helps with anxiety and depression is still under investigation. Several studies are exploring the different ways this simple chemical, derived from hemp and marijuana plants, acts in the body.

Based on the current evidence available, researchers believe that CBD's antianxiety effects are a result of its action on the 5-HT1A receptors of the serotonergic system. These receptors modulate the activity of serotonin in your body; and thus, affect your mood, mental wellbeing, blood pressure, heart rate, and appetite.

As mentioned earlier, CBD can indirectly stimulate CB1 and CB2, two major neurotransmitters. But, unlike the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana that can directly bind to CB1 causing the person to feel high, CBD does not have such a binding affinity to the same keyhole on the CB1; but, rather has a binding action to a different receptor on the CB1 than THC.

So, the result is healing without feeling high. 

CBD's positive effect on anxiety may also be due to its impact on a poorly functioning endocannabinoid system. By supplementing with CBD, users may be helping the proper functioning of their endocannabinoid system by boosting the production of endocannabinoids.

how can i use cbd oil for anxiety?

Most people like to use CBD tinctures or candies for their anxiety. These are the most common ways of taking CBD.

For tinctures, it is always recommended to start with a low dose and work your way up slowly. “Start low and go slow” is a good phrase to remember. Listen to your body and notice any sign that your body may be telling you. 

Some prefer to start with as little as 5 mg of CBD as an initial dose, while others begin with a daily dose of 20 – 25 mg of CBD to start noticing changes in their anxiety symptoms. Severe and persistent forms of anxiety may require higher doses.

You can use CBD capsules as well. Just make sure you check the bottle for the CBD mg content of each capsule before you take it for the first time. If you have any health condition or concern, it is recommended to check with your doctor before adopting CBD oil as your anxiety natural solution.

In some instances, using terpenes can work synergistically with CBD for anxiety. Such chemicals, like limonene and linalool, can accentuate the effect of CBD for treating anxiety.

In conclusion, CBD is a natural component that is proving its benefits on mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. While it is considered to be a safe chemical, some may experience very minor side effects like fatigue or diarrhea. If you are taking any medication or have a medical condition, consult with your doctor before starting on CBD. Whether you take it as a tincture or as a candy, CBD may help improve your wellbeing and boost your mental health.

Resources

1Understanding the Facts of Anxiety Disorders and  Depression is the First Step. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety 

2Volkow, N.D. (2015, June). Cannabidiol: Barriers to Research and Potential Medical Benefits. Drug Caucus Hearing on Barriers to Cannabidiol Research. Conference conducted at the meeting of  National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

3Linge R, Jiménez-Sánchez L, Campa L, Pilar-Cuéllar F, Vidal R, Pazos A, Adell A, Díaz Á. Cannabidiol induces rapid-acting antidepressant-like effects and enhances cortical 5-HT/glutamate neurotransmission: role of 5-HT1A receptors. Neuropharmacology. 2016 Apr;103:16-26. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2015.12.017. Epub 2015 Dec 19. PMID: 26711860.

4Elms, L., University, R., Shannon, S., Shannon, A., Hughes, S., Work, S., . . . Elizabeth Stuyt and Richard L. Hilderbrand. (2019, April 09). Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series. Retrieved December 17, 2020, from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/acm.2018.0437

5Understanding CBD: The calming and sleep-promoting benefits of cannabidiol – Your Guide to Better Sleep (thesleepdoctor.com)

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