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How To Use CBD For Anxiety (According To Science)

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Plant-based and non-addictive, CBD for anxiety is a popular conversation topic. Wellness communities and research labs across the world are all buzzing about CBD and how the cannabis compound may tame anxiety-related symptoms. 

Those joining the conversation for the first time may be interested to know about the latest scientific findings on CBD and anxiety. 

What is CBD oil?

CBD (cannabidiol) oil is a non-intoxicating compound found in both Cannabis sativa and hemp plants. Without the “high” sensation, CBD is an appealing alternative to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) because it doesn’t cause the “stoney” effects typical of marijuana. 

Instead, people describe mild euphoria and boosted relaxation from CBD. Cannabis has over 100 phytocannabinoids (aka therapeutic compounds), although scientists know that CBD is the second most abundant after THC. 

So, how does all of this hold up legally? Hemp-derived CBD contains less than 0.3% THC. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, as long as CBD products comply with this amount, they’re considered federally legal. This ruling helped clear up confusion about the legality of CBD, which up until that point had a lot of people scratching their heads. 

With support from the federal government secured, dozens of businesses have since jumped at the opportunity to sell legal CBD. States have the authority to set their own laws, but for the most part, you can buy CBD online and in retail stores nationwide. 


Does CBD oil for anxiety work?

In light of the 2018 Farm Bill, the number of published CBD studies has steadily risen. The current findings suggest a positive relationship between CBD use and anxiety-related disorders. 

For example, people managing PTSD, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and generalized anxiety disorder may be able to supplement with CBD to cope with stress and anxiety. 

Researchers know this has to do with the way CBD influences stress-related brain receptors. In terms of anecdotal evidence, CBD users find the cannabis compound helps quell anxiety and pain. People also report improvements in sleep quality from CBD. 

The effects of CBD are variable and influenced by factors such as weight, age, metabolism, dose, and individual body chemistry. 


The science behind CBD and anxiety

The effects of CBD are brought on by the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This complex network of receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids governs processes such as sleep, mood, reproduction, pain, and more. 

We naturally produce endocannabinoids in the brain and throughout our body’s organs, tissues, and cells. The primary goal of the ECS is to keep the body in homeostasis, or internal balance. 

What’s so fascinating about cannabis/hemp is how phytocannabinoids (like CBD) work with endocannabinoids (CB1 and CB2 receptors) in the ECS to restore feelings of calm and relaxation in the face of stress. 

Scientists believe that CBD has an indirect influence on the ECS. Although researchers can only speculate (as they await funding for more clinical trials), initial findings suggest that CBD lowers anxiety because of the ECS. 

Other explanations point to CBD’s influence on neurotransmitters, namely through interactions with feel-good hormones like serotonin. High anxiety is tied to low levels of serotonin, which makes CBD a promising supplement for mood enhancement. 


How to use CBD oil for anxiety

Now that you have a basic idea of how CBD works, you probably want to know how to use it for anxiety. While there’s no exact formula to follow, you can start by microdosing CBD incrementally throughout the day to stay ahead of stress and anxiety.

This looks different for everyone, but microdosing refers to taking small amounts of CBD over an extended amount of time. For example, if you wake up and feel particularly anxious about a work engagement or family commitment, consider microdosing your morning coffee/tea (decaf works best) with a CBD tincture. Starting at 5mg, this little boost could help dreadful thoughts and panicky behavior from ruining your morning. 

From late afternoon to early evening, try another 5mg dose in your favorite beverage. The goal of this exercise is to slowly become accustomed to the effects of CBD, but feel free to up the dose whenever you’re comfortable. 

Tinctures aren’t the only CBD products to choose from. You can try gummies or mints to discreetly dose CBD, or smoke CBD vaporizers and flower for fast activation (great for unpredictable anxiety attacks). CBD-infused beverages, sweet treats, and lotions are also viable options for people with sensitive lungs. 

With so many choices, you’ll want to keep an eye out for published third-party lab results to verify quality and potency. Just so you know: ethical CBD brands include this information so you can view it before purchasing their products. 


To sum it up

In life, things tend to happen unexpectedly, causing anxiety and stress (two perfectly valid and even normal responses!). We can’t control everything that comes up, but CBD can fill the role of being your little helper during anxious moments. Next time you feel overwhelmed, remember to breathe, then try dosing CBD to find a happy balance.