Anxiety is a common mental disorder that causes excessive worry and fear. It can be debilitating, but there are many treatment options available to help people cope with it.
One of the most popular treatments among consumers in recent years is CBD oil, which has been shown to have anti-anxiety effects in some patients.
This article will explore what CBD is, how to use CBD for anxiety, and why you may want to choose CBD over alternate treatments.
We'll also discuss some of the side effects of using CBD compared to traditional anxiety medications and potential drug interactions.
What is CBD?
Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high when consumed. Instead, it interacts with many cannabinoid receptors throughout the body and brain through the Endocannabinoid System.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a complex network of receptors located throughout the body. It's responsible for various functions such as mood, sleep, immune response and inflammation response.
Backed by scientific studies, CBD increases levels of anandamide in the brain – known as 'the bliss molecule.' This naturally occurring neurotransmitter plays a key role in regulating your emotional state and overall well-being.
It may also increase serotonin production in certain brain regions while simultaneously suppressing glutamate activity to reduce anxiety further.
Research indicates that CBD may help manage psychological disorders like anxiety, depression and psychosis, among other mental health concerns.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a mental health condition that makes you feel anxious, uneasy and panicky for no apparent reason; it can range from mild to severe cases.
The symptoms of anxiety are difficult to deal with alone. But, left untreated, it can lead to adverse effects on your health and quality of life.
There are five main types of anxiety:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
This is the most common type of anxiety. People with GAD are often plagued by persistent and excessive worry about everyday things, such as making a presentation or going to work.
People with this condition often experience recurring panic attacks that range from mild to severe. These attacks are often unexpected and can result in physical symptoms like chest pain, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties and nausea. Panic disorder is a serious medical condition that requires immediate treatment.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD affects an estimated one in 52 Americans each year. It's characterized by distressing thoughts – such as persistent fears of germs or contamination – which cause repetitive behaviours intended to reduce the anxiety associated with them, such as excessive washing or checking things over and over again.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
The hallmark symptom of SAD is extreme fear in social situations due to an intense fear of being judged, embarrassed or humiliated by others.
Social phobia is often described as the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting approximately 15 million Americans per year.
People with SAD experience extreme anxiety when speaking to groups, dating and travelling. They may also be afraid of eating or drinking in public for fear they will do something embarrassing or humiliating.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD develops after a traumatic event involving serious physical harm or trauma occurs to them.
It's normal to feel distressed after such events, but people with PTSD usually have symptoms that continue long beyond the initial trauma and are much more severe than those who don't develop it.
How does CBD help anxiety?
Research in both animals and humans indicates that CBD has powerful anti-anxiety properties.
The Endocannabinoid System helps mediate the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and glutamate to regulate emotional responses such as fear or aggression.
When CBD interacts with receptors along the ECS, it has been shown to produce anti-anxiety effects.
In fact, studies suggest the effectiveness of CBD is comparable to various prescription medications used in anxiety treatments.
This study found that CBD interacts with CB1 receptors, the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A, and other receptors in the brain that regulate anxiety and fear.
Researchers found evidence that CBD is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders through preclinical and clinical studies.
What are SSRI's?
Serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are medications that are commonly prescribed for depression disorders. However, many are also prescribed for anxiety.
They work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, which helps to reduce feelings of worry and panic.
How does CBD compare to SSRIs?
Research shows that CBD oil is effective at treating short-term symptoms of anxiety, with minimal side effects.
By contrast, SSRIs have been linked with weight gain, sexual dysfunction, gastrointestinal discomfort and insomnia.
CBD oil does not cause any noticeable psychoactive side effects. It is also considered non-addictive or habit-forming and will not cause withdrawal symptoms.
SSRIs can lead to withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include a lack of concentration, nausea, vomiting, irritability and anxiety.
How to use CBD for anxiety
CBD can be taken in several ways, including capsules, edibles, and oils used under the tongue.
Some methods may be more effective than others. Therefore, it is important to try out different methods to find what works best for you personally.
Taking CBD oil for anxiety involves placing drops under your tongue (sublingually). These oils typically come in bottles with dropper caps attached to make dosing easier.
The best way to take these is by placing drops directly under your tongue and holding them there for 30 seconds to 2 minutes – this allows the CBD to bypass the digestive system, maximizing absorption rates.
Sublingual CBD is fast-acting and typically starts to take effect within 15 minutes.
There are three main types of CBD oils:
Full Spectrum CBD contains all cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, along with traces of THC. Broad Spectrum retains the majority of what is in Full Spectrum, but no THC. CBD Isolate is just the CBD compound, nothing more.
CBD gummies or capsules
CBD capsules are a convenient way to take CBD, as they can be taken simply by swallowing them with water.
CBD gummies are another great way to use CBD for anxiety and come in many different flavours and strengths. Using them is as easy as chewing and swallowing them.
Keep in mind that edible CBD will take some time to take effect. This is because it must first pass through your digestive system, then to your liver, to be processed before entering your bloodstream.
All CBD edibles come with a pre-set CBD dose (5mg, 10mg, 20mg, etc.) This makes them incredibly convenient and easy to use compared to CBD oils or tinctures.
These products generally take 30 minutes and up to 2 hours to take effect. However, they may not be the best option for someone looking for fast relief.
Vaping is one of the fastest ways to take CBD as it enters your bloodstream directly through the lungs. This method can also be very effective for combating anxiety.
Unfortunately, vaping is also considered quite controversial, as there are many unknowns about the long-term side effects of vaping any substance.
Can CBD increase anxiety?
While numerous studies and research show that CBD exhibits anti-anxiety effects, there have been some reports of it actually increasing anxiety.
This hasn't been narrowed down to any one specific reason, but there can potentially be a few causes for it.
One of them is the THC content in your CBD product. Most Full Spectrum CBD oils and edibles contain less than 0.3% of THC.
This is the psychoactive compound in cannabis responsible for the high in users; one of the most common side effects of THC is anxiety.
Some people are extremely sensitive to THC in even these minimal amounts, which can be triggered when taking their CBD.
Another cause could be taking too much of your CBD at one time. It is best to take a low and slow approach with CBD dosing to determine how your body will react to the substance.
Taking too much can increase the risk of negative, unwanted side effects and potentially cause even more anxiety.
Side effects of CBD
As with any medication or supplement, CBD can potentially cause side effects in some people. Fortunately, they are generally mild and rarely cause serious problems.
However, it is important to keep an eye out for the following common side effects:
These side effects usually disappear after you have developed a tolerance to CBD.
- Low blood pressure
- Changes in appetite
Some medications can have their effects increased or reduced when taken with CBD, and it is recommended to speak with a doctor beforehand if you are taking any medications.
Many medications come with a "grapefruit warning" on them; CBD acts much in the same way as grapefruit when it comes to these medications.
Grapefruit can increase the levels of certain medications in your system because it contains the enzyme CYP3A4.
The CYP3A4 enzyme is responsible for metabolizing many types of drugs. Therefore, when you take a medication that interacts with this enzyme, it can result in it staying in your system for longer than it is supposed to.
This can cause serious adverse effects, so it is important to always consult a physician before taking these medications.
Final thoughts on using CBD for anxiety
CBD is a potential effective anti-anxiety treatment that, in addition, offers numerous benefits. While it isn't for everyone, many people find that it helps them significantly reduce their anxiety.
If you are looking to try a new way of treating your anxiety, CBD oil may be the solution you've been looking for.
We recommend using Full Spectrum CBD products, but if you are sensitive to THC, it may be advisable to go with a Broad Spectrum or CBD Isolate oil - both of which have non-detectable levels of THC in them.