Heart palpitations. shortness of breath. Churning stomach. Racing thoughts. If you have ever suffered from an anxiety disorder or had an anxiety attack, these symptoms are very very familiar. And, if you do suffer from anxiety, you also know that it is debilitating to the point of being physically crippling. It can, and will, stop life in its tracks. However, using CBD for anxiety can change everything.
Anxiety is not uncommon. In fact, it is estimated that 18% of America’s population, that’s 40 million adults age 18 and over, suffer from anxiety-related disorders. To combat these growing numbers, Big Pharma has come out with a plethora of drugs to battle anxiety (and depression). Medications such as Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac are often prescribed to anxiety sufferers. This class of drugs, known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), can be effective for some people, but many people do not respond as favorably.
Many times, treating mental disorders consists of throwing a bunch of things against the wall and seeing what sticks. Unfortunately this is not necessarily the best way to find relief, and “trial and error” with these types of drugs can have catastrophic, if not deadly, results.
These aren’t the only medications that are prescribed to anxiety sufferers. Many times they are put on mood stabilizers such as Abilify or benzodiazepines including Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. then there are also SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) like Effexor. Oftentimes they are put on several of these and even a few more. There has to be a better answer.
I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression for 30 years. I have been on all the medications I mentioned above and even a few more. Sometimes they worked. And sometimes they didn’t. I was tired of trying this “new drug that has promising results.” I didn’t want to be a guinea pig… I wanted to be normal.
CBD for Anxiety
About a year ago a friend introduced me to CBD, thinking that it may help with my anxiety issues. Little did I know just how much that little bottle would change my life. I took a dose the next morning and I waited. I waited 34 minutes before I noticed something. I noticed that I was calm… mentally and physically. I knew it… it was the placebo effect. I wanted it to work so badly that, of course, it worked. So I tried again the next morning and about a half hour later I noticed the same results as the day before. Could the placebo effect happen two days in a row? I took it the third day and guess what happened? I felt great and I mean really great. this was no placebo.
Prior to CBD my mornings were the worst part of my day. Within ten minutes of opening my eyes, the anxiety would hit – and it would hit hard both mentally and physically. My life became reminiscent of the movie, Groundhog Day. That’s the movie where Bill Murray wakes up and every day is Groundhog Day. He knows exactly what’s going to happen, almost down to the minute … and nothing ever changed. That’s how I felt. Everyday I would wake up dreading the day, knowing that it was going to be just as difficult as the day before. And tomorrow will be the same. You get stuck in a loop like a broken record.
“What if” thoughts would enter my mind. You know the ones I’m talking about. “What if this doesn’t work?” “What if that doesn’t world” “What if… what if … what if…” My brain would be filled with negative thoughts about everything that could possibly (but would never) go wrong. And while my brain was concocting catastrophes my body would happily join in. Breathing became difficult and my stomach would do flip flops. Now, when this is happening, you tend to lose all sense of reason. You truly feel like this is it. This is the end. This is how you go out. And nothing stops that feeling. Nothing. So when I tell you that CBD is life changing, I speak from experience.
Once I finally realized that the CBD was indeed working, I wanted to know why it worked. What was it doing to my brain that all those other drugs couldn’t do?
Here comes the science...
As you already know, we have an endocannabinoid system that regulates certain functions in our bodies, with one of those functions being mood. You also know that we have lots of receptors within the endocannabinoid system and certain receptors are directly affected by cannabinoids such as THC or CBD.
CBD directly activates the 5-HTIA (hydroxytryptamine) serotonin receptor, which causes a reduction of anxiety. This particular receptor is involved in a range of functions, including anxiety, addiction, appetite, sleep, pain perception, nausea, and vomiting. CBD does what the SSRls try to do, but it does it effectively for most people without any side effects.
Dosing, Onset, and Frequency
When dosing CBD, we want to find the “sweet spot,” meaning the least amount of CBD that yields the best results. When dealing with anxiety, I have found about I 5mg to be a suitable starting point for most people. (‘!hat’s one dropperful of a 500mg, one ounce bottle.) You can adjust it to 10mg or 20mg, depending on body weight. However, this is just a starting point. Some people may respond to less and some may need to take more. Unfortunately CBD is not a one-size-fits-all scenario.
Because the oil is being ingested, it has to go through the digestive tract so onset may be in as few as 20 minutes or could take up to an hour or longer. Again, everyone is different. That is why we suggest a patient journal (see page 10) to track your progress.
When I started using CBD I was taking it twice a day: once in the morning and once before bedtime. Some anxiety sufferers may find that a third dose is needed midday. I also suggest having a vape with CBD handy. This can help with any anxiety or panic attacks that may occur between doses.
Other Helpful Tips
I have found a few other things to use or do in conjunction with CBD to help treat anxiety. The first one is a dietary supplement called 5-HTP (available where vitamins are sold). Sounds similar to the serotonin receptor I was talking about earlier, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because it also directly affects the 5-HT1A receptor.
5-HTP is derived from the seeds of the Griffonia simplicifolia shrub native to West and Central Africa and it’s effects are similar to tryptophan found in turkeys (that’s what makes us fall asleep after Thanksgiving dinner). It is also said to help treat anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraine and tension-type headaches, PMS, and ADHD. After adding 5-HTP to my nightly routine, I found that I’m not bothered by “the little things” the next day.
One last thing that has helped immensely is breathing and meditation. Prior to CBD I was pretty bad at both, I must admit. But now I find the therapeutic benefits of a few minutes of mindful breathing to be a great way to stop anxiety before it can start. Once I was able to calm down, I found that meditating became much easier as well.
There are no absolutes when dealing with anxiety. It is a very complex issue and is equally difficult to eliminate, but with CBD I found relief and, more importantly, felt “normal” again. It hasn’t been a cure-all by any means, but it is yet another tool in my arsenal against anxiety.
If you or a loved one is suffering from anxiety, please know that you are not alone, there is hope, and I am always available to help.