In the UK, a huge 1 in 6 people report experiencing mental health problems, like anxiety or depression. So it came as no real surprise when a 2021 study revealed the top reason for using CBD (given by 42.6% of participants) is self-perceived anxiety.
But does CBD work for anxiety? It’s certainly talked about a lot and anecdotally, millions of people swear by it. However, cannabis, which CBD oil is derived from, is sometimes known for causing anxiety. So which is it? Here, we take a look at the facts surrounding:
- Does CBD help anxiety?
- The best dose when taking CBD for anxiety
- How to use CBD for anxiety
Does CBD help anxiety?
The CBD molecule has many different mechanisms within the body, including unique interactions with the endocannabinoid system (our ‘full-body-balancer’), serotonin and dopamine. All of these components of the human body play important roles in anxiety.
SSRI antidepressants are commonly prescribed for Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and these work (in simplistic terms) by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Unlike SSRIs, CBD does not block the reabsorption of serotonin, instead, it directly activates serotonin receptors, which in turn naturally raises levels of serotonin in the body and brain.
Another part of the body that helps keep anxiety and stress in check, is the sprawling Endocannabinoid System: a complex network of receptors and neurotransmitters, called Endocannabinoids (specifically, Anandamide and 2-AG). Endocannabinoids, also known as bliss molecules, need to be present at appropriate levels in the brain to act like a sort of gatekeeper for the ‘fight or flight’ response, only triggering that process when entirely necessary. CBD helps to keep these levels up but inhibits the enzyme that ordinarily breaks Endocannabinoids down.
Dopamine also plays a modulatory role in anxiety, meaning that healthy levels of dopamine are needed to keep the brain calm and happy. As well as serotonin receptors, the CBD molecule also partially activates dopamine receptors and brings these levels up too.
Best dose when taking CBD for anxiety
CBD has been found to be very dose-dependent and, interestingly, unlike many other supplements ‘more’ doesn’t equate to better or stronger results. It’s a matter of getting the dose just right.
As with everything in life, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to CBD dose. How much works for you might be different to someone else, depending on your body’s present endocannabinoid levels, weight, age, the reason for use and more. However, anxiety is one condition that CBD has been fairly well studied for, and as such, we can look at the amount of CBD used in successful trials.
According to one 2015 review published in the Neurotherapeutics journal, evidence from human studies ‘strongly supports the potential for CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders at oral doses ranging from 300 to 600 mg.’ This may come as a surprise, as the daily recommended limit often found on the labels of CBD products is 70mg - a regulation set by the Food Standards Agency. However, if you were to have CBD prescribed for anxiety, as you can get in several private health clinics in the UK, the suggested dose would likely be much higher.
The best way to find the right dose for your unique needs is to start low, with just 3-4 drops under the tongue a few times a day and build up slowly, adding a drop each time once a week. You may wish to journal your progress to keep track of changes you notice if things improve, any side effects, or if progress plateaus. This can help you use the right amount for you while using the minimum possible, to reduce waste and make your oil last longer.
How to use CBD for anxiety
There are many great ways you can enjoy the benefits of CBD, including CBD vapes, CBD capsules, CBD oil and CBD patches. But which type of CBD is best for anxiety and how are you supposed to use it?
Many people find a two-pronged approach can work very well when using CBD for anxiety - an oil, capsule or patch to tackle the ongoing issue over time, and a vape for times of extremis. This is because different forms of CBD stay in the body for different periods, and get to work at different speeds too.
If you’re a forgetful sort, a CBD patch could be a great way to get a constant flow of cannabinoids in your body without having to remember to top up. You can apply a CBD patch and leave it to do its thing for a day or two. The release is slow and perhaps less noticeable immediately, but will still accumulate cannabinoids in your body over time and keep the CBD active for longer. To get the effects of CBD, fast, you can combine a slower-releasing form of CBD with a fast-acting vape, which allows the CBD to become active almost instantly, but only stays in your system for an hour or two.
It may also be worth considering capsules, as this form of CBD allows the cannabinoids to travel through the digestive system and reach receptors in your gut first. The gut is where our neurotransmitters like serotonin are produced and gut health influences mood tremendously, so this could be very valuable.
Want to try CBD for anxiety? Lady A has a fantastic range to choose from…