How to use CBD for anxiety

They’re expecting you to speak, and you’re not sure what to say. Or you’re in a new social situation, and it feels uncomfortable. Or all sorts of things are stacking up on you.

Anxiety. You know the feeling. Your stomach is in knots, your palms sweaty. Or maybe it manifests as a mild panic, and before you know it, the stressed-out feeling begins to build on itself and you reach a state where you’re ready to bolt. Or snap.   

We are social animals, and we often revert to fight or flight instincts — which were useful when our survival depended upon our ability to hunt, or elude whatever was hunting us. But that’s a holdover from our ancient past; what purpose does anxiety serve today?

It’s hard-wired into us, say scientists. Now that mild panic of social anxiety can be triggered by events at work, or in relationships, or even by paying too much attention to social media and what’s in the news. It's not useful and can even become semi-debilitating. And because we have imaginations, anxiety can even show up as a free-floating sense of doom that comes out of nowhere.

As a 2012 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology “The Endocannabinoid System in Anxiety, Fear Memory and Habituation” put it:

Negative emotions, such as anxiety and fear, alert the organism to potentially dangerous or harmful stimuli, and can hence promote survival. However, when anxiety and fear responses are disproportional in intensity, chronic, irreversible and/or not associated with any actual risk, they can impair physical and psychological functions.

With some self-awareness, you'll recognize that when you have anxiety, you're stuck in a chain of negative thoughts. So how do you interrupt that downward flow and bring yourself back into a non-anxious, steady state? You could go see a shrink and sign up for a lifetime of pharmaceutical assistance and all the side effects that come with it. Or not.  

A lot of us (our entire society?) have tried to self-medicate our anxiety by changing our state with drugs or alcohol. Doing this can quickly numb you, but as one learns, in the long run the side effects are not just unhealthy, but counter-productive to your wellness. In the umbrella of ‘drugs’ we have to include cannabis. People have long smoked weed to gain a sense of euphoria and relaxation, and it works well for many. But for some of us, too much THC can cause anxiety, not relieve it. So it's like walking a tightrope.   

What about CBD for anxiety?

Since the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, millions of people have learned that our body has CB 1 and CB 2 receptors, which react to endogenous cannabinoids that we produce in our bodies, as well as to plant-based phyto-cannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system governs pain, sleep, mood, and appetite, and it helps us maintain homeostasis, or a sense of balance.

When we become anxious, that balance goes out the window. But what if you could bring your body’s mood-governing system back into balance with cannabidiol (CBD)? Hemp-derived CBD oil is non-psychoactive and is being used for a variety of conditions, including anxiety. Many people are doing this, and there’s no shortage of research on using CBD for anxiety.

Here’s some of what we know:

  • CBD is non-toxic and it doesn’t get you high.
  • It can be taken in several forms: capsule, tincture, topical, vape.
  • CBD can help relieve anxiety and provide a sense of mild relaxation.

Want to use CBD for anxiety? Here’s how to get started

As noted, there are multiple ways to administer CBD. Topical CBD works great on arthritis and sore muscles, but it might not be the best choice if you’re seeking relief from anxiety. For this purpose you could try capsules or tinctures. These can take hours for your body to digest and metabolize. If you want instant relief, vaping CBD gets it into your bloodstream immediately. 

Something to realize about using CBD for any purpose: This is a personalized medicine. In the western model, we often expect the doctor to tell us to take a pill every day, and report back if there are any problems. When you take CBD, you’re supplementing your endocannabinoid system. You can’t overdose on it, but you want to pay close attention to the effects, especially your mood, as you integrate it into your daily regimen. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep a journal and track your dosage and how you respond to the CBD.  

CBD is having a moment right now

Many new companies are rushing CBD products to a still-unregulated market. This is a buyer-beware scenario. You’re putting this into your body, so you want to make sure it’s organic and free of pesticides and unnecessary additives. Do your research and find a reputable brand, preferably one that publishes a Certificate of Analysis (COA) with each batch.    

There's no way around it, we live in anxious times. It often seems there are plenty of people and organizations pushing our stress and anxiety buttons so they can sell us one thing or another. But if you believe in taking responsibility for your own health — physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual — CBD might help you achieve better wellness.

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