According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), at least one in thirteen people around the world live with an anxiety disorder, making this the most common mental health disorder worldwide.
Those living with anxiety are plagued with a myriad of symptoms, including sweaty palms, blushing, an upset stomach and a pounding heartbeat.
Finding a safe method for managing these symptoms is a critical concern as, if left untreated, the conditions associated with anxiety can lead to depression and significantly reduce quality of life.
So called ‘fast acting’ anti-anxiety medications may poport themselves to be a ‘quick fix’, but can also become addictive, while longer term treatments may help to reduce symptoms over time but don’t necessarily work for everyone.
Enter a rather magical little compound called cannabidiol, better known as CBD. Non addictive and non pyscho-active (in other words, it doesn’t give you a ‘high’), CBD is rapidly capturing worldwide attention as an alternative or complementary treatment for anxiety.
Clinical research on CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders has proliferated in recent years, with accumulating evidence pointing to its therapeutic potential.
If you’re thinking about using CBD to help manage your own anxiety, or perhaps about to recommend CBD to a loved one, education is vitally important. Things to consider are:
Do the products come from a reputable supplier? At the time of writing there are reportedly over 12 million CBD products available, either online or in health and food supplement stores. A reputable supplier will always put the consumer first, understand the laws relating to the sale of CBD in their own country and ensure the products they are selling are of the highest quality and have been rigorously lab tested.
Where was the hemp grown? Because of its ‘miracle qualities,’ Hemp is often used to clean soil and was even used to suck contaminants out of the ground at Chernobyl. To avoid buying CBD derived from hemp that may have been grown in poor quality soil, look for products that are made from organically grown hemp and that are free from any pesticides or herbicides.
Inspect the label and ask for third party test results: Most reputable suppliers will display their third-party test results, either on their website or as a downloadable PDF. Some products even include QR codes that direct you to the tests. If a company won’t provide you with lab results, move on to another that will.
The price: Good quality, organically grown hemp isn’t cheap to produce. If the CBD product you’re thinking of buying has a low price point, then it most probably will have been derived from poor quality hemp and may contain little or no CBD.
How should I consume CBD for anxiety?
Understanding the pros and cons of the various ways of ingesting CBD can help you determine which form of consumption best suits your needs.
Tinctures and oils
CBD tinctures and oils represent a quick, easy, and accurate way to consume CBD. Most tinctures contain CBD in an alcohol base. CBD oils contain CBD extracts infused into a carrier oil, such as hemp seed oil.
Tinctures and oils are taken using a dropper, which allows you to easily measure intake. The cannabinoid rapidly enters the bloodstream when taken sublingually. Results can kick in as quickly as ten minutes and last up to three to four hours.
CBD vape oils
CBD can be vaped using a special pen that vaporises the oil. But be careful, the safety of vaping has come under intense scrutiny recently, with a number of lung related illnesses (and some fatalities) linked to illicitly marketed vape pens containing Vitamin E oil laced with THC (the part of the plant that produces the ‘high’ in cannabis).
CBD can be added to almost every food under the sun. While super easy to consume in this form – and often delicious, particularly as gummies – it may take an hour or more before results are felt.
What’s more, the oral bioavailability of CBD can hinder CBD absorption. When you consume CBD orally, it has to pass through your gastrointestinal tract before it is metabolised by the liver. As a result, a limited quantity of CBD makes it into the circulatory system.
Smoking provides an almost instantaneous method for enjoying the effects of CBD. Smoking sends the cannabinoid directly to the alveoli of the lungs, and from there, CBD molecules enter the bloodstream for rapid absorption. However, measuring your CBD intake can be tricky when you smoke, and the act of smoking itself can cause lung inflammation.
CBD dosage for anxiety
As most scientists and clinicians will readily admit, there is no universally recommended dosage for CBD, and, to date, there haven’t been any large-scale clinical trials to inform dosage guidelines.
This doesn’t necessarily mean CBD is unsafe. Existing research already suggests that it appears to be a safe, well-tolerated treatment. If you’re interested in experimenting with CBD to manage your anxiety symptoms, aim for an informed, cautious approach to dosing (which is always a good idea). Below are some dosing considerations.
Some basic factors that you should consider when devising a CBD dose include:
• Body weight
• Concentration of CBD
• Severity of your anxiety
The concentration of CBD varies between products, and is generally expressed as milligrams (mg) per container.
Start low, go slow
CBD has been shown to be safe even when taken in high doses (300-600 mg). Nonetheless, it’s advisable and more cost-effective to start with a low dose and increase it incrementally, observing how you feel as you go.
This method forces you to pay attention to subtle changes in your body as it responds to the medication. Everyone’s optimal dosage and tolerance is unique, and this process allows you to get acquainted with yours.
Please note, the information contained in this article is not a substitute for, or alternative to information from a qualified healthcare practitioner. Please consult a healthcare professional before using any CBD product.