CBD oil for anxiety: can cannabidiol treat anxiety?

Cannabinoid specialist Dr Julie Moltke looks at the relationship between CBD oil and anxiety.

CBD oil for anxiety: research, benefits and dosage suggestions
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Cannabidiol – more commonly known as CBD – has a number of health benefits. Along with treating pain, epilepsy and acne, several studies have found that CBD oil is helpful for easing symptoms of anxiety. But is CBD oil something anxiety sufferers should consider over traditional treatment methods?

Cannabinoid specialist Dr Julie Moltke looks at the relationship between cannabidiol and generalised anxiety disorder:

What is CBD oil?

CBD oil contains a carrier oil with a CBD extract in one form or the other. Examples of typical carrier oils are MCT oil (coconut oil) or virgin olive. The CBD is added to the oil, either an isolate of pure 99.9 per cent CBD or as a full or broad-spectrum extract.

The broad-spectrum is often made from industrial hemp and contains CBD, along with all the other components of the plant. This includes terpenes (the essential oils giving cannabis its distinct smell) and other cannabinoids like CBG, CBN and THC. The broad-spectrum extract is a full spectrum, where all traces of THC has been removed.

Millions of people use CBD oil to deal with anxiety and stress due to our high-paced lifestyles.

In the UK THC is considered an illegal substance and therefore full-spectrum CBD oils are technically not allowed. Retailers that follow regulation will therefore only sell CBD oils based on either isolate or broad-spectrum. Some people will testify that full-spectrum oils work better because of what we call the entourage effect. This is the effects gained by all the cannabinoids and terpenes working together.

We still do not have enough clinical research to fully understand and support the entourage effect, and at the end of the day, it is down to the consumer to decide which product they feel most comfortable with.



How does CBD oil work?

Millions of people use CBD oil to deal with anxiety and stress due to our high-paced lifestyles. Researchers have investigated this association between CBD and anxiety reduction in a well-known study from 2011. In a gold standard double-blinded placebo-controlled randomised clinical trial patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD) were either given a dose of CBD or a placebo. They then had to do a social speaking simulation and their anxiety levels measured by different parameters were assessed.

People who had received CBD showed significantly lower anxiety levels than participants who had been given a placebo. The ways CBD work in the brain are complicated and still to be further investigated but there is evidence to suggest that CBD might even work against depression and addictive disorders.



How does CBD oil ease anxiety?

CBD works by interacting with one of the body's own regulatory system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). We have endocannabinoid receptors almost everywhere in the body and it is part of our nervous system. We find them most abundantly in the brain but also in the gut, reproductive system, bones and immune cells.

CBD works by interacting with one of the body's own regulatory system called the endocannabinoid system.

The ECS plays an essential role in keeping the body within a narrow range of operating conditions and controls important functions like mood, memory, stress, sleep, behaviour, appetite, pain, immune function and reproductive health. In the body we naturally produce chemical substances called endocannabinoids which binds to the endocannabinoid receptors and regulate all the above functions - the endocannabinoid system holds an important role in keeping us healthy and happy.

CBD can also bind to these receptors and active the ECS, thereby regulating the same functions. If this seems a bit too geeky all you need to remember is that CBD works a bit like social media. It acts everywhere and controls everything.



How does CBD oil ease anxiety?

As described above CBD works with the endocannabinoid system to produce some of the effects that people report, but CBD is also binding to other receptors in the brain like the serotonin (5HT)1a receptor. Serotonin deficiency is associated with depression and other psychiatric disorders and it is likely that the effects CBD has on mood and anxiety are related to this interaction.

The ways CBD work in the brain are complicated and still need to be further investigated, but there is evidence to suggest that CBD might even work against depression and addictive disorders.



What is the best CBD oil dosage for anxiety?

In the study mentioned above the participants were given a one-time dose of 600 mg CBD. This is a very high dose which I would not recommend outside a clinical setting. If you haven’t tried CBD before I would start low and then slowly increase the dose.

Starting with 5 mg twice a day and eventually, you might end at 50 mg twice a day. As everyone reacts different to CBD, one person might feel symptom relief with a dose of 10 mg per day and others will need 200 mg.

Many people like to use a vape for acute anxiety as it works very quickly and this might be useful if you suddenly feel anxious in a crowded space or other acute situations.



Does CBD oil have any risks?

The World Health Organisation has stated that CBD is safe and with no addictive potential. In a 1000 mg CBD, 30 ml bottle, a full 1 ml pipette contains 33 mg CBD. This means that 1 drop contains a bit more than 1,5 mg CBD.

Most people take between 10-100 mg CBD per day which is thought to be completely safe. One study showed that when you take doses of CBD above 1000 mg you might see a small effect on liver enzymes but this dose is uncommon and not recommendable. If you have any doubts, consult your doctor.

⚠️ If you’re taking other medication for anxiety or any other condition, it is important that you consult with your GP before trying CBD oil.



What’s the safest way to purchase CBD oil?

It is definitely of the highest importance to purchase your CBD oil from a trusted source. My advice to a new consumer is to ask a lot of questions. Ask about the labelling, the labelling is not always clear, and sometimes even I get confused. If it says, 200 mg on the label is it then 200 mg of pure CBD or is it CBD a mixture?

It is definitely of the highest importance to purchase your CBD oil from a trusted source.

As brands cannot suggest serving size, it is good to know what you are looking for and do your background research when you want to find the right product. Ask questions like do they quality test their products and what are the quality standards. All brands should use third-party testing.

Personally, I use different products throughout the day. At the moment I use a calming oil before going to sleep. I always liked to drink chamomile tea while reading a few pages in a book, as it makes me really calm before going to bed. I also have no phones on the bedside table and no computers one hour before bedtime. I recently added this oil by Yuyo Botanics to my evening routine and I take 1 full pipette which is approx. 30 mg cannabinoids one hour before going to bed.

Serrurierclermontferrand top pick: we love Grass & Co's Ease CBD Hemp Oil, a citrusy blend of CBD, ginger, turmeric and orange.

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