Treating Panic and Anxiety with CBD

Research on CBD, or cannabidiol, is still in the first phases of discovery, but as studies start to accumulate there are definitely some findings that suggest CDB can provide relief for some people who suffer from panic and anxiety disorders.

The reason the CBD is most worth considering as a viable way to help treat panic and anxiety, is because if it works for you— it’s one of the few treatments available that have next to zero negative side effects. In fact, upon conducting some initial trials, the World Health Organization released this official statement about CBD: “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of CBD.”

No, You Won’t “Get High.”

Cannabinoids have a chemical structure that allows them to bind with specialized receptors in our brains. The two most widely known types of cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD), and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the chemical that provides the psychoactive effect of “getting high,” and for this reason most cannabis plants are bred to have higher levels of THC than CBD. The cannabis plant’s close cousin, the hemp plant, which is farmed for its industrial uses such as making paper and clothing, is where the majority of CBD oil on the market is derived. Hemp has a THC level that is lower than the federal level for being considered illegal in states where the sale of marijuana is still prohibited.

“Okay, so what does CBD do? How does it work?”

When THC molecules bind with the receptors in our brains, it will produce a psychoactive effect. When CBD molecules bind with those same receptors instead, they may produce a variety of beneficial effects. Studies done in the last ten years using updated brain scan technology observed changes in blood flow to the regions of the brain linked with anxiety. This discovery was among the first, and it confirmed that CBD could produce a calming effect, by slowing the flow of stress hormones to the brain. Harvard Health studies have also concluded that CBD can bind to receptors that typically inhibit the release of serotonin, and potentially stimulate increased amounts of serotonin in the system. Serotonin is what is known as a “feel-good hormone,” and it is necessary for inducing a state of calm.

Is it legal?

CBD oil has less than the 0.03% THC required to be considered illegal at a federal level, however some states that haven’t legalized marijuana, may have certain restrictions for CBD. CBD products are mainly acquired online, and because it isn’t a mind-altering substance, most states don’t bother preventing people from obtaining CBD products.

woman administering cbd oil tincture below tongue

How Much Should I Take?

One of the reasons that clinical trials on CBD is so slow going, and inconclusive is because there are just a whole lot of variables that determine whether or not CBD will be effective, and dosages can vary between 25mg a day to 900mg a day, just depending on the individual. And there are some studies that found in certain people, particularly those who suffer from paranoia as a symptom of their anxiety, CBD can increase feelings of anxiety. Overall, most studies have shown that CBD holds much promise as a non-addictive, little to no side effect treatment for many people who are looking to alleviate symptoms of anxiety.

Other symptoms that CBD has chosen promise for helping to treat include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Epilepsy

Perhaps most publicized, has been the remarkable effect that CBD has on childhood epilepsy. Children as young as 2-3 years old, plagued daily by violent seizures, and unable to live normal lives have used CBD to reduce instances of seizures from several times a day to one a month. Some kids stopped having seizures all together. Youtube has several beautiful testimonies documenting the lives now possible for many children with epilepsy thanks to CBD. There are even videos of CBD being administered to children mid-seizure, and recovering right before your eyes within minutes.

For treating anxiety and panic, administering CBD is a bit more nuanced. CBD isn’t like taking an aspirin that kicks in and provides instant relief within the hour, although some people do notice a shift in their mood after the first dose. Based on clinical studies, most people need to accumulate it in their system over several days to achieve optimal benefits.

According to several studies done with test groups specifically for anxiety, revealed that when treating anxiety with CBD the dosage effects have what is called a bell curve. This means that CBD will likely be ineffective at a very low dosage (25mg or less), optimally effective at a mid-range dosage (50mg-300mg), and then ineffective again at a higher dosage (600-900mg). The variation comes from the amount of receptors in our brains, and it can be effective by any of the following factors:

  • Body Weight
  • Rate of Metabolism
  • Severity of Anxiety
  • Concentration of CBD in your product

When it’s too low, not enough receptors are being influenced by the CBD. When it’s too high, the amount of CBD overwhelms the receptors and the body begins to attack and nullify the CBD molecules as foreign bodies. The mid-range dosage is between 50mg-300mg, which is quite a range. The optimal dosage for treating a person’s anxiety is often as individual as the person themselves.

The general rule for finding your correct dose is to start low, and go slow. And also keep in mind that it may take up to a week to really begin to experience the benefits in their entirety. It’s also important to remember that while non-addictive, you can build a tolerance for CBD. If you find a dose that works for you, and then it suddenly stops working, you may just need to take a few days off to allow your tolerance levels to drop.

Another very important thing to take into account when considering CBD, is that it can interact with certain medications in an adverse way. Medications for regulating blood pressure for instance, and medications that prohibit eating grapefruit because the compounds will lessen the body’s response to the medication. CBD oil should also be avoided when pregnant or while nursing. Some example of medications that may interact with CBD include:

  • Antiarrhythmic drugs
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antifungal drugs
  • Benzodiazepine sedatives
  • Immune-suppressive drugs
  • Migraine medications

While many of these interactions are mild, and require no treatment, it’s still important to consult your physician before introducing CBD into your lifestyle especially if you are taking other medications.

There’s so many options online. Are they legitimate? How do I choose?

The way CBD is administered varies greatly, and because it’s become somewhat of a trend, it can be found in products ranging from bubble gum to bath bombs. For the purpose of treating anxiety, it’s found the best way to take CBD is with an edible or a liquid tincture that is held under the tongue for 60 seconds before swallowing. There are also options for smoking CBD, but that does include the health risks associated with breathing smoke into the lungs.

CBD is not FDA regulated, and since its become a trend, many companies have launched CBD products that do not have the dosages they advertise. According to a 2017 study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association, roughly 70% of CBD products marketed online contained less CBD than advertised.

Your best line of defense when deciding what products are as advertised, is to read reviews, go organic, and buy American. American produced CBD oils tend to be more pure because of better growing and refining policies.

Visit for comprehensive lists and reviews of the most reliable, high-quality products. Dosing will be far more comprehensive when you can trust the amounts labeled.

Above all, if you have any doubts or concerns about taking CBD, consult your physician. What is most important is that you keep reaching out, connecting with a community who understands, and trying different techniques until you build your own personalized formula for alleviating your symptoms. Be patient with yourself. You’re worth the effort, and you aren’t alone.




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