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CBD and Anxiety: The Complete Guide (2019)

Can CBD oil help with anxiety?

Over the past few years, CBD oil has gone from relative obscurity to a health-store staple, promising a range of benefits from pain relief, to curing skin conditions, and even easing with the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Given the relative newness of CBD oil as an anti-anxiety supplement, there is a lot of medical research still to be done before a full assessment can be given. However, the anecdotal evidence suggests that it may be an effective – and natural – cure for chronic anxiety.

How does CBD work? 

CBD stands for ‘cannabidiol’, which is one of more than a hundred ‘cannabinoids’ which are found naturally in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds which can be extracted from the cannabis plant. When these enter the body (via ingestion, vaping, smoking, or applying to the skin), they can have a range of different effects on the body and mind. The most famous effect comes from THC – or tetrahydrocannabinol – the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis. This is the chemical which gets users ‘stoned’, and can sometimes cause long-term damage to the mental health of the user.

CBD is a different kind of cannabinoid altogether. It is not psychoactive, yet it mimics some of the best-known side effects of getting stoned – namely, a sense of relaxation. This is because the CBD cannabinoid binds directly to the cannabinoid receptors that already exist in our brains, giving CBD oil direct access to the body’s nervous system. 

Numerous clinical studies have shown that CBD has a beneficial effect on the nervous system, by reducing anxiety and helping to combat depression. However, scientists have cautioned that not enough is known about the drug to draw any absolute conclusions.

Nevertheless, the existing evidence is compelling. One small study found that after participants took CBD oil, their brain scans revealed changes in blood flow to the regions of the brain linked to feelings of anxiety. Studies like this have helped popularize the oil as a holistic remedy and sales of CBD have grown by 99% this year alone. 

While long-term medical research is required before any conclusions are drawn, CBD oil appears to be one of the UK’s most popular natural anti-anxiety solutions at the moment. And even if this turns out to be a placebo effect: if it works, it works.

Now we know that CBD may be used for treating anxiety let’s look if:

Can CBD make you anxious?

A lot of the research that has been conducted on cannabis products has focused on the use of marijuana as a standalone product, rather than CBD. Some studies have found that anxiety might be helped by cannabis, while others have indicated that having anxiety is actually a risk factor for the recreational use of marijuana. Some even suggest that marijuana can cause anxiety in a person. 

Further Studies on CBD and anxiety 

Anyone considering using CBD to manage anxiety should look only at the research on cannabidiol, rather than more general studies that include medical marijuana. There are fewer studies on this area, but preliminary research shows great promise. For example, a small study in 2010 found that CBD may reduce the symptoms of social anxiety for people who suffer from social anxiety disorder (SAD). Scans of the brains of participants indicated that there were changes in blood flow to the areas of the brain that are linked to feelings of anxiety. The findings were that CBD made participants feel better and changed how their brains responded to anxiety.

Another study in 2011 produced similar findings about CBD and social anxiety, aimed specifically at treating feelings of anxiety associated with speaking publicly. A research paper in 2014 utilised an animal model to demonstrate that CBD had both anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects, while a 2015 analysis of studies found that there was evidence that CBD shows promise as a treatment for a range of anxiety disorders. However, this analysis cautioned that there is limited data on the long-term use of CBD, and any evidence of it being helpful with anxiety can only be attributed to the short-term at this point. 

The Outlook

The role CBD plays in treating anxiety disorders remains an area for further research, and more long-term studies are needed to assess the risks and benefits. The existing research does suggest that anyone who has been unable to get any relief from other treatments could try CBD as a potential alternative solution. Anyone considering CBD to treat anxiety should consult a doctor to help determine what will be best for them, and research their local laws regarding the use of cannabis products. 

How can CBD treat Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are more common than you might think and it’s estimated that 1 in 10 people will have a ‘disabling anxiety disorder’ at one point in their lives. Anxiety can really interfere with daily life, affecting our physical health and social wellbeing if it is not kept under control. Therapy and anti-anxiety medications are traditionally used to treat anxiety disorders. Everyone reacts to the Cannabidiol differently and claim it has made their anxiety worse; however, a lot of research has been conducted into CBD and shown it to be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders. Here are some anxiety-busting health benefits associated with using CBD so you can decide if it’s an ideal treatment for you. 

1. It promotes a better night’s sleep

For some people, their anxiety symptoms get worse at night, causing them to get a restless night’s sleep. This can impact so many other aspects of life and become so vicious that will only cause anxiety to progress and worsen. A recent study has found CBD to be an effective treatment for anxiety-related sleep disorders; results found that anxiety levels decreased by 79% of participants which was attributed to an improved sleep pattern after CBD treatment. 

2. It can treat a spectrum of anxiety disorders

Anxiety exists on a spectrum, which can make it notoriously difficult to treat with traditional therapy and medications; what works for one person might do nothing for the next. However, this is where CBD oil differs, as studies have found it to be an effective treatment for a variety of disorders, from generalised anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder.

3. You can still function normally on CBD

Some people are reluctant to try CBD because they think it’s the same as marijuana which produces a hallucinatory effect. However, a 2018 report from the World Health Organisation states that no public health issues, such as impaired functioning or hallucinations, have been associated with CBD. This makes it a particularly effective treatment for anxiety as it can combat the negative effects of the disorder while still allowing you to function normally. 

4. It does more than just treat the symptoms of anxiety

More than just a mask for the symptoms of anxiety, studies have shown CBD to effectively target the cause of anxiety. CBD can prevent the consolidation of “fear memories”, altering how we view anxiety-inducing scenarios in the first place. 

CBD dosage guide for anxiety

Are there set guidelines on dosage?

One of the reasons that it’s hard to be prescriptive on dosage levels, is that the strength and therefore potency of CBD products can vary between suppliers.

There is also another variable that affects CBD dosage for anxiety – YOU!

Everyone’s level of mental health imbalance is different. Also, everyone responds to the natural benefits of CBD in their own way. Particularly as this natural substance can be absorbed differently due to your weight, height and normal rate of metabolism.

The best dose of CBD, for you

You could read up on the dosage recommendations based on research, experience and recommendations, though these are not “set in tablets of stone”.

As a general rule of thumb:

On a bottle of CBD oil, you will see measurements in milligrams or millilitres. For example, you can buy bottles that are 15ml or 30ml in size.

Measuring out your dosage from this bottle will be easier if you always use a dropper with a millilitre guide on it. 

The starting point for you, when using CBD to tackle anxiety, is to create a “baseline” that makes sense. Extract a small amount from the bottle, take note, then monitor the level of relief it provides.

If you have severe problems, or you have a large build, you may need more than one drop right from the start. If you have a small frame and simply want to restore your mental health balance, one drop may well be enough.

From this initial starting point, you can then adjust your CBD dosage to manage anxiety as appropriate to you.

Only you can tell how well it works, and the optimum amount to benefit from the desired effect.

Can you accidentally overdose on CBD?

Building gradually is the best way to find the right level and to make your CBD product last as long as possible.

However, even if you accidentally consume more than you need the side effects will be minimal (possibly feeling a little drowsy.

In the words of the global authority WHO (the World Health Organisation): “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”

WHO also said: “To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

Making sure you buy CBD for anxiety consistently from the same quality provider is essential though. This ensures you always get a pure product, with a carefully monitored potency.

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