Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting over 40 million adults and causing high levels of distress in sufferers and their loved ones. Many people turn to prescription drugs to help them through anxious episodes, but for many, the side effects of these medications can outweigh any temporary relief they may provide.
Luckily, there’s another way to calm your nerves without risking addiction or potential side effects. Cannabidiol (CBD), a naturally-occurring compound in the hemp plant, may help with anxiety in all its forms, from generalized feelings of nervousness to panic attacks and phobias.
CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant. It works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system regulates things like mood, appetite, and pain. When CBD comes in contact with endocannabinoid receptors, you may experience improved mood, reduced pain, and other positive effects.
Does CBD Help with Anxiety?
Based on emerging research, CBD may reduce your anxiety in several ways:
- Reducing the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol
- Lowering blood pressure, which often helps people feel calmer
- Interacting with serotonin receptors: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating your mood and managing anxiety symptoms.
- Reducing inflammation and oxidative stress: Oxidative stress is a type of damage to cells that can lead to inflammation, which causes joint pain, swelling, and other discomforts.
In short, the research surrounding CBD and anxiety is still developing, but very promising. Based on what we’ve learned so far, the calming effects CBD is likely to have on the body will also help an anxious mind feel calmer and more able to manage their emotional symptoms, along with any improved mood the CBD may also affect through their neurotransmitters.
For Calming CBD Products: Look for “Full-Spectrum”
Which CBD products you try is up to you, but we recommend reading the label. Be sure you’re getting pure CBD and the benefits of a “full-spectrum” product. These products include multiple cannabis plant extracts, like essential oils, terpenes, and CBD. Some may contain trace amounts of THC, though not enough for the majority of users to experience any psychoactive effects. Full-spectrum CBD products are not diluted or degraded and are more likely to interact effectively with your endocannabinoid system.
What About Other Cannabis Products?
Unlike its cousin THC, CBD does not have any psychoactive properties. It won’t get you high, and won’t alter your cognition or impair your judgment. CBD has been shown to have many potential health benefits, including reducing anxiety. If you’re looking for the mental health benefits cannabis may offer, but would prefer not to use marijuana/THC, CBD products could be a great fit for you.
But that doesn’t mean that THC or more newly-discovered cannabinoids are a poor fit. It just requires learning about each one, understanding the effects you want, and starting with a clear understanding of what to expect from your experience. If you’re unsure, asking your healthcare team, or a mental health professional you trust might be helpful support for you when making these decisions.
It’s important to note that CBD, cannabis, and products people use with them affect everyone in different ways. When exploring your options, don’t feel like you have to try everything right away. Start simply, with CBD products you know you’ll feel comfortable trying. As you see their benefits, you can incorporate other, complementary products into your lifestyle a little at a time, There’s no rush. Take your time and listen to your mind and body.
Find a Regimen That’s Right for You
CBD is non-addictive and has few side effects, making it a safe and effective treatment option for anxiety. You may find that you most enjoy CBD oils, which you can use with a dropper to take under your tongue. If you enjoy smoking cannabis, but don’t want to smoke anything high in THC, CBD cigarettes might be a good fit. Or maybe you prefer edibles, like CBD gummies or fruit snacks. Many people find CBD topical creams immediately soothing, thanks to added scents like peppermint, menthol, or eucalyptus. Whatever you decide to try, using what you feel most comfortable with is a great first step toward incorporating CBD into a healthy, low-stress lifestyle.