CBD (Cannabidiol) is a natural chemical compound found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. The Cannabis plant contains hundreds of these compounds, the most famous being CBD and THC, tetrahydrocannabinol which creates the ‘high’ associated with weed. CBD and THC attach to specialized receptors in the brain to stimulate the natural endocannabinoid system, which helps maintain homeostasis in the body and provides a plethora of health benefits.
CBD provides positive pharmacological benefits without any unwanted psychogenic effects, making it a great choice to treat chronic illness, anxiety, and other health conditions. CBD reduces the inflammatory response by acting on enzymes which trigger inflammation in the body. Additionally, CBD attaches to serotonin specific receptors which regulate behaviors associated with anxiety and fear. There is strong clinical evidence that CBD can help prevent and treat generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.Anxiety is one of the most relevant mental conditions today, with over 30% of American adults being diagnosed with anxiety or anxiety disorders.
As Cannabis is being legalized in many states, many scientific studies are being done to discover the efficacy of CBD and cannabis in treating a wide variety of conditions.A 2020 literature review confirmed CBD to decrease seizures in individuals with Dravet’s syndrome, a form of epilepsy that is largely resistant to drug treatments. A group of New Zealand patients given CBD for cancer related symptoms, neurological and mental health disorders reported significant improvements in their quality of life, pain levels and ability to perform day to day activities within just three weeks of trying CBD. 70% of participants felt satisfied to some degree with their treatment regimen and less than 10% experienced side effects like sedation or dreams.
Another study evaluated effects of CBD treatment in a group of adults with anxiety and sleep problems. Most participants were given a single 25 mg capsule of CBD per day, with a minority receiving higher doses. Within two months of treatment, almost 80% noticed improvements in their symptoms with the remaining 15-20% experiencing negative side effects or worsening of the condition.
How do we know what dosage to take? Researchers suggest anywhere between 300-600 mg of CBD is effective to reduce anxiety, depending on individual factors, the specific product used and its method of administration. In extreme cases, up to 1500 mg/day could be tolerated but there is not enough data on the long term safety of CBD, especially when received at high concentrations. The significant variation in the dosage of CBD administered to participants in these studies highlights the need for larger scale, controlled clinical trials to determine better guidelines and standardized dosing for use of CBD as a complementary or stand-alone treatment. The most pronounced side effects caused by CBD include appetite changes, weight loss, drowsiness and diarrhea.
CBD is available in various formats such as oil, capsules, gummies or edible cannabis flowers, oral spray and vape. How quickly the CBD enters the bloodstream and takes effect will depend on the method of administration. CBD taken orally begins to work within 30 minutes to two hours. It takes time to pass through the digestive system but typically lasts longer. Vaping or edible buds provide immediate but shorter lasting effects. Oral products are best taken daily at a set time such as in the morning, with food but can be taken throughout the day to relieve symptoms of anxiety. Smoking or vaping is fast acting and can provide quick relief prior to high stress situations like public speaking or travel.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not currently regulate CBD as a treatment for anxiety mental health disorders. It is imperative to speak with your healthcare provider prior to using CBD and discuss any other medications and supplements you are currently taking. Buy products from well known distributors, learn how to read product labels and opt for brands who undergo clinical laboratory testing. A plethora of research indicates that with supervision, CBD can be used alone or as part of a broader treatment plan to manage, prevent and alleviate anxiety.