Racing thoughts, sweaty palms and a pounding heart are some of the symptoms people suffering from anxiety disorders have to deal with, and frequent episodes of such anxiety can make daily life rather debilitating. Statistics have it that at least one in four people in England has a psychiatric disorder, and anxiety disorders are the most common of those psychiatric disorders afflicting millions in the UK.
For people living with anxiety, finding safe ways to manage their symptoms is a major concern. Many use anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals like Vallium and Xanax. However, these medications aren’t effective for everyone, and they often come with a list of unpleasant side effects, such as addiction. This is where cannabidiol, or CBD oil for anxiety comes in. The cannabis compound has recently captured the imagination as a complementary or alternative treatment for anxiety. If you are wondering whether CBD oil is a viable treatment option for anxiety, or whether there is any scientific research to support its use, and how much you should take in order to enjoy any anti-anxiety effects CBD oil may have, read on and get the answers to these and other related questions.
CBD Oil for Anxiety: The Scientific Information Available
You may have come across glowing testimonies of people who assert that CBD oil helped them to deal with a variety of health conditions and you may be wondering whether that anecdotal evidence is all there is to support CBD use, or some scientific studies back up those claims.
The cannabis plant has been a heavily controlled substance in many jurisdictions around the world, and this is why there is still limited research about the benefits or effects in general of the different substances found in the plant.
However, there is a growing body of scientific evidence strongly suggesting that CBD can help to manage anxiety and depression.
For example, a small human study done in 2010 found that people who suffered from social anxiety disorder (SAD) exhibited reduced symptoms after being given 400mg of CBD 90 minutes before the subjects were due to participate in a simulated public speaking event.
What’s more, the neuroimaging technology used to track the study subjects showed that the brains of the participants changed regarding the way anxiety-inducing information was processed, thereby highlighting how CBD alters not just the function but also structure of the brain of people with anxiety disorders. It helps in neurogenesis, or the formation of new brain cells and connections between existing cells.
A 2015 analysis of earlier research came to the conclusion that cannabidiol is a potential treatment for various forms of anxiety, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorders, PTSD, generalised anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder.
Many more studies on cannabinoids, especially CBD, have been done around the world and while most use animal models, the findings make a strong case for the possible usefulness of cannabidiol in treating anxiety.
That notwithstanding, there is a lot that is still unknown about the way in which CBD oil for anxiety works, and the consensus in the scientific community is that more clinical research needs to be done on this subject.
How Does CBD Work to Manage Anxiety?
The exact mechanisms through which CBD interacts with the body and brain to treat anxiety disorders are yet to be fully documented, but understanding how anxiety affects the body can shed some light on why CBD seems to be best placed to help the body to cope with anxiety.
The body has an endocannabinoid system that ensures that we have internal homeostasis, or balance, in terms of our mood, sleep, temperature, immune function and many other functions. This balance is mediated by cannabinoids made in our bodies, hence their name “endocannabinoids.” Cannabinoid receptors are the points at which these endocannabinoids exert their influence.
When we become anxious for whatever reason, the body is put in a fight or flight state, a state characterised by halting nearly all other bodily systems in order to keep the mind and body primed to fight a real or perceived threat, or to flee from it.
Prolonged stress or anxiety therefore has a profound adverse effect on the way our body and brain functions, which is why we exhibit the telltale signs of anxiety, including;
- Constant fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Weight gain or loss
- Hormonal imbalances
Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, play a critical role in the way the body responds to external and internal stimuli, and a defect in the way these neurotransmitters work has been linked to a number of mental health disorders, such as anxiety. CBD works by interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptors so that neurotransmitters like serotonin can do their work.
As the studies referenced earlier indicate, people respond less anxiously if they take CBD prior to having a stressful experience. The studies also show that the beneficial effects of CBD last long after the cannabinoid was taken, and this could suggest that cannabidiol may work on its own as a treatment for anxiety disorders.
Consuming CBD for Anxiety
Are you curious about how you can use CBD to manage your anxiety? Education is critical if you are to get the results you desire. The starting point of that education is to familiarise yourself with the pros and cons of the different CBD consumption methods. They include;
Tinctures and oils. CBD oils and tinctures offer you a good way to consume CBD oil for anxiety because you can easily measure how much CBD you are consuming. A dropper in the CBD bottle makes such measurement possible. The CBD in the tincture or oil gets rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream and you can feel the effects in as few as ten minutes and for a duration lasting up to 3-4 hours.
CBD vape oils. CBD can also be specially formulated to be vaped using a vapouriser. Recently, vaping came under intense scrutiny after scores of people died and hundreds were hospitalised after consuming tainted vape oil in the U.S. However, there is consensus that the tainted vape oil was bought on the black market and that vape oils sold in licensed outlets were safe.
Edibles. CBD edibles have to run the gauntlet of the “first pass metabolism,” a reference to the process through which CBD edibles go through the gastrointestinal tract and only a tiny fraction finds its way into the bloodstream. You therefore have to consume more CBD in your edibles in order to get enough of the compound in your bloodstream. On the plus side, the effects of CBD edibles last a lot longer than the other consumption methods, such as vaping.
Smoking. You can also smoke CBD and get a nearly instantaneous dose of cannabidiol into your system. The downside to this method of administration is that it is nearly impossible to control the dosage of CBD since you cannot tell how much cannabidiol is in each puff that you take.
Dosing Tips When Taking CBD Oil for Anxiety
It is worth repeating that research into how CBD treats various conditions, such as anxiety disorders, is still in its infancy. It is therefore difficult to access any reliable information about how to use cannabidiol oil for anxiety.
However, several factors are known to impact how much CBD you can take for anxiety. These include how severe your symptoms are, your body weight, how quickly your body metabolises medicine, as well as the concentration of the CBD oil you are using.
Bidirectional Effects of CBD
To complicate matters even further, the existing research shows that people can have differing responses to CBD depending on how much of the compound they have taken. For example, one person who takes a smaller dose of CBD may experience a heightened sense of alertness while someone who takes a higher dose of CBD, such as 400mg, may feel relaxed and drowsy.
The best way to stay clear of these bidirectional effects is by taking a cautious approach when selecting dosage levels. Start small, increase the dosage gradually. This is what is referred to as CBD titration.
Possible Risks of CBD
Some people say that they develop dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, fatigue and diarrhea when they consume cannabidiol. Additionally, CBD may interact with some of the medication that you may be taking, so you need to be extra cautious when using hemp oil for sleep or any other purpose..
You also need to know that CBD is largely unregulated since the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) is still trying to understand the cannabinoid in order to formulate the necessary regulations. The absence of a regulatory framework in the UK means that some of the CBD products on the market may not be what their labels say they are. It is helpful to select products from a trusted source, preferably those that avail third-party laboratory test results.
Talk to a Healthcare Professional in the UK
We have seen that the way CBD affects people differs from one person to another and we have also indicated that there are no reliable guidelines either from the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) or any other science-backed authorities regarding CBD dosage for anxiety. It is therefore advisable for you to talk to your doctor or any other qualified professional who understands how CBD may interact with your body and with the other drugs that you are taking. The professional will advise you about how much CBD oil to take to get the desired results. This cautious approach will enable you to enjoy the benefits of the CBD without suffering any adverse effects brought on by the interaction of that supplement with the other drugs.
So, have you tried CBD for anxiety? What has been your experience with using different ways to consume CBD for this purpose? Share your experiences in the comments below!