by Laura Geftman, LCSW
There are so many claims about CBD and anxiety everywhere you look. With anecdotal and scientific evidence mounting that cannabidiol (CBD) enhances well-being and relaxation with an intensification of ordinary sensory experiences- Answering whether or not CBD is a good treatment for anxiety is not that simple. The complexities of anxiety and the unregulated CBD market require more of consumers than ever before.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to regulate homeostasis. CBD empowers our regulatory system maintain balance. The body naturally produces endocannabinoids like any other nutrient. Cannabis and hemp produce phytocannabinoids that also interact with the ECS.
CBD is largely believed to be “non-psychoactive.” However this is the biggest misconception about the cannabinoid. While CBD does not produce intoxicating effects, it interacts with receptors throughout the brain and body to achieve its effects.
Originally CBD was thought to bind to receptors in our bodies like other cannabinoids. However we’ve come to know that CBD modulates other cannabinoids to ensure that our bodies use more of the other chemical compounds it needs. CBD effects cannabinoid receptors as well as serotonin and pain receptors to decrease anxiety. Other cannabis or hemp chemical compounds including cannabinoids (THC, CBG, CBC, CBN, etc…) terpenes, and flavonoids maybe required to achieve the desired effect.
Dosing CBD for Anxiety
CBD is biphasic- that means too high or too low doses can produce opposite effects. Therefore each individual should “start low and go slow” to find their optimal dose of CBD. If overused, you could experience nausea, fatigue, and/or irritability. The use of tinctures are thought to be best for anxiety as they are easiest to dose.
Shopping for CBD to Treat Anxiety
As the hemp CBD market is as of yet unregulated, it requires a savvy consumer to identify the best products. The best CBD products are those that are fully transparent about their products. CBD retailers should disclose all the information about the contains of their products including the use of batch testing and QR code labeling. Consumers should be sure to buy products from a trusted retailed and review the Certificate of Analysis (COA) to help ensure the quality of a CBD product. COAs provide scientific analysis of the cannabinoid, terpene, and contaminant profile. A good rule of thumb- if it seems too expensive or too cheap, there’s probably a good reason.
Knowing all this about CBD is anxiety producing alone. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your CBD product of choice prior to public speaking or going to a party. It’s best to consult your doctor if you are taking any mediations to ensure there aren’t any drug interaction complications.
Effects of CBD to Treat Anxiety
It’s also important to note that CBD also be derived from cannabis/marijuana plants. With higher levels of other cannabinoids, there may be more risks involved for those living with anxiety. The most important acute adverse effects caused by cannabis are anxiety and panic attacks, and with regard to somatic effects increased heart rate and changes in blood pressure.
Whether you choose to treat anxiety with CBD or not, changing your habits can change your experience of anxiety. Mental health therapy and natural remedies including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and relaxation practices (meditation & yoga) are important to decreasing anxiety.
Laura Geftman, LCSW is the Founder of The Calm, Cool & Collected and a practicing therapist. Beyond all things cannabis and mental health, Laura is passionate about developing greater understanding for kindness and acceptance. In her free time, Laura can be found on her yoga mat, in a kayak or singing karaoke.
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