Is CBD Oil Helpful for Mental Health? Part One
Have you heard of CBD recently? CBD is the acronym given to the plant molecule “cannabidiol.” The naturally occurring plant chemical was recently legalized through the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018  . CBD molecules are naturally made by our bodies when we are feeling happy, relaxed, and secure. The CBD system within our bodies helps us stay in homeostasis, regulates our digestive system, and reduces pain and inflammation while making sure our mood is in a good place  . Aside from being produced naturally by our bodies, the chemical can be harvested from the hemp plant. Hemp refers to the strains of the cannabis sativa plant family that are regulated and produced for industrial and commercial use. What makes hemp unique among the cannabis sativa family is the fact that it contains extremely low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the psychoactive component present in the cannabis sativa plant family that is associated with “getting high.” Supplemental CBD from hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC to be manufactured within the United States  .
Supplemental CBD harvested from the hemp plant is consumed by people for a variety of therapeutic and spiritual reasons. One of its more popular uses is in the treatment of epilepsy in both adults and children . Aside from treating epilepsy, a lot of people are opting to use CBD over prescription pharmaceuticals for their mental health, particularly the treatment of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“In one study, 24 people with social anxiety disorder received either 600 mg of CBD or a placebo before a public speaking test. The group that received the CBD had significantly less anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance, compared to the placebo group  .”
Personally, I will always opt for plant-based healing over prescription pharmaceuticals. I deeply believe that the Earth provides us with everything we need to survive and thrive. I also believe in the human body’s natural ability to heal itself. Considering that CBD is naturally produced in our bodies, I think we could all benefit from supplemental CBD. Supplemental CBD is one of many ways in which we can make it easier for our bodies to heal themselves without having to worry about a bunch of possible side effects. So far, the only noted side effects of supplemental CBD are diarrhea, fatigue, and changes in appetite and weight. Meanwhile, people who have taken Lexapro to treat their anxiety and depression have reported increased agitation, blurred vision, diarrhea, insomnia, drowsiness, dry mouth, fever, frequent urination, headaches, indigestion, tremors, and taste alterations  . There is clearly a difference in how human bodies react to these two.
In part two of this article I speak with mental health professional, Katherine Carver, LCSW to get her professional opinion.
Miss B. Haven
Miss B. Haven, is a queer community organizer & co-founder of Shipshowz, a transcendental performance showcase that created space that nurtures embodied creative expression & affirming queer networks in the South. Alternatively, she is a published writer featured in Caldera Magazine, Duke’s Chronicle, & a mental health advocate for Mindpath Health’ Be Well Blog. She is a recipient of Southern . Read Full Bio »
CBD Oil for Anxiety: What you need to know
With the passage of the 2018 farm bill in the US and the full legalization of industrial hemp, CBD is set to become a nation-wide home remedy for anxiety, depression, and many other debilitating conditions.
Even though research is still in the early stages in establishing whether hemp oil, cannabis oil or other marijuana products represent a viable treatment for anxiety, depression, and stress, people who’ve used them claim an overall decrease in symptoms.
Here we try to clear up some common misconceptions about cbd, where to find it, how to use it, and how it can help you with anxiety.
To understand the effects and health benefits of cbd, cannabis oil, hemp oil, and medical marijuana, we will look at how these supplements affect our brain and consequently our body.
Table of Contents
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is among the most common emotional and behavioral problems that our society is currently dealing with. In fact, a 2017 report released by the World Health Organization suggests nearly 264 million people are living with anxiety worldwide.
As you can imagine, researchers and healthcare professionals from all around the globe are in a constant search for new ways to help people manage stress and anxiety.
In a nutshell, anxiety is a condition characterized by restlessness and excessive worry. Those of us who are dealing with it have a hard time making decisions, speaking in public, tolerating criticism, or asking our boss for a raise.
From social anxiety and panic disorder to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and agoraphobia, anxiety comes in many ‘shapes and sizes.’
But regardless of the type of anxiety you might be dealing with, a dose of cannabidiol can help you cope with the unpleasant symptoms associated with this condition.
What Are The Traditional Treatments for Anxiety?
The first recorded use of cannabis for anxiety relief was around the year 1500 in India.  Ever since then, experts and healthcare professionals have been busy studying the effects of cannabinoids as a potential treatment for a wide range of brain diseases and emotional problems like depression, post-traumatic stress, work-related stress, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s disease, and many more.
Therapy for Anxiety
One of the most popular treatment options for anxiety is therapy. This involves sitting down with a licensed counselor or psychotherapist who helps you understand the core of your problem and take the first steps toward healing.
By using techniques such as exposure therapy, thought challenging, or Socratic questioning, you can overcome the irrational thinking patterns that fuel your constant worrying and gain the courage to live an anxiety-free life.
Medications for Anxiety
Medications have been around for decades, and for a good reason. When your anxiety is so intense, you can’t even get out of the house or look out for yourself, therapy alone is just not enough.
Fortunately, the pharmaceutical industry has come up with a wide range of medications for anxiety, known as anxiolytics. But just like any other psychiatric medications, anxiolytics can have numerous unpleasant side effects.
As a result, some healthcare professionals have turned their attention towards cannabinoids from hemp or marijuana. In fact, numerous experts believe cannabidiol can have a beneficial impact on the brain, provide pain relief, and reduce the symptoms of stress, depression, or anxiety.
Home Remedies for Anxiety
Did you know there are plenty of natural ways to reduce anxiety?
Simple practices like meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and significantly improve your overall sense of well-being. And the best part is that you can practice them at home.
Since the Internet is bristling with instructional videos on how to meditate, do a bit of light yoga, or practice a breathing exercise, it would be a shame not to give it a try.
While these strategies should by no means replace traditional treatments, they do provide some extra help for those of us dealing with anxiety.
What is CBD?
Although the cannabis plant contains tens of active ingredients, only two have caught the attention of researchers – THC and cbd.
cbd stands for cannabidiol, the central cannabinoid found in cannabis and industrial hemp. Decades of research have concluded that, in a moderate dose, cbd can have numerous health benefits.
Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), cannabidiol doesn’t have any psychoactive effects on the brain which means you can’t get ‘high’ even if you get the dosage wrong.
By having a direct impact on CB1 receptors, cbd can affect your serotonin levels – the neurotransmitter that plays a huge role in mood disorders.  And that’s why using cbd oil for anxiety, stress, and depression might prove to be a viable option.
Whether it comes in the form of capsules, hemp oil, vape oil, pure cbd oil, cbd gummies, or other edibles, cannabidiol might just be the next breakthrough in mental health.
cbd oil Effects
If you’re dealing with an emotional problem like anxiety and find it extremely difficult to tolerate the unpleasant side effects of psychiatric medication, hemp oil or any other cannabis product that contains cbd may be a good alternative.
As one 2010 paper published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggests, both human and animal studies indicate that cannabidiol, one of the primary compounds found in cannabis and marijuana, can serve as a viable treatment for anxiety. 
In fact, some clinical trials have revealed that cbd oil is effective for a wide range of conditions, from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease to depression, stress, and anxiety. Furthermore, it can lower blood pressure and act as a natural anti-inflammatory supplement.
But cbd oil can be of great use even for those of us dealing with specific forms of anxiety. For example, a 2011 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, revealed that cannabidiol could reduce social anxiety – one of the most common types of anxiety disorders. 
In a nutshell, cannabidiol seems to have important health benefits which make it a supplement worth taking into consideration.
Does CBD Get You High?
Many of you are probably worried that using cbd oil for anxiety will get you ‘high.’ Fortunately, it’s impossible to get ‘high’ off cbd, since it doesn’t have any psychoactive effects on the brain.
While cannabidiol does interfere with all sorts of neurotransmitter receptors, the ‘high’ is always the result of THC. In short, no THC, no high.
And if that isn’t enough to convince you, bear in mind that cbd oil, hemp oil, and other cannabidiol-based products are available in most countries around the world – even countries where both medical and recreational marijuana is illegal.
Is CBD Addictive?
The most straightforward answer to this question is no. The use of cannabidiol, unlike the use of weed or marijuana products, isn’t addictive.
As one report issued by the World Health Organization in 2018 clearly states, at present no public health problems (e.g., driving under the influence of drugs cases, comorbidities) have been associated with the use of pure cbd. 
Even if you take a higher dose, there’s no way you could ever get addicted to cannabidiol.
Is CBD Safe?
Since cannabidiol proves to be effective in treating a wide array of medical and psychological conditions, we can reasonably assume CBD-based products are safe. In fact, millions of people around the world are using this supplement regularly, without experiencing any medical complications.
Furthermore, human and animal studies have revealed that cannabidiol is a safe compound that can prevent colitis in mice  and also act as a chemopreventive supplement for colon cancer. 
Overall, experts can agree that using cbd oil for anxiety is a perfectly safe and surprisingly effective alternative to traditional treatments.
CBD Side Effects
But just because using cbd oil for anxiety or any other conditions is safe, doesn’t mean there aren’t any side effects associated with this supplement.
As with any substance that interferes with the normal functioning of the brain and body, cbd can have some relatively unpleasant side effects.
The most common ones are:
- Dry mouth
- Changes in appetite
- Low blood pressure
- Changes in mood
- Vomiting. 
How Can cbd oil Help With Anxiety?
Many anxiety sufferers use hemp oil, cbd oil, and other similar supplements to sleep better and deal with the constant stream of worry-filled thoughts associated with this emotional problem.
One case report published by The Permanente Journal in 2016 revealed that cannabidiol might be a safe treatment for the anxiety and insomnia associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. 
But that’s not all. A 2013 study conducted on mice revealed that repeated administration of cbd could trigger hippocampal neurogenesis (the regeneration of neurons in the hippocampus). 
For those of you who don’t know, the hippocampus is a brain region responsible for cognition and memory. In the case of depression or anxiety sufferers, this brain area tends to be smaller, which may explain some of the irrational thinking patterns specific to these conditions.
Overall, it seems cannabidiol is not just a placebo, but a compound that can directly impact the functioning of various brain areas and neurotransmitter receptors.
What The Research Says
As a rational and decently cautious person, you may be wondering what researchers have to say about the use of cbd oil for anxiety.
Not only that cannabidiol can lower anxiety, but it also helps reduce the symptoms associated with a wide range of psychological conditions and brain disorders.
The studies I mentioned above indicate, cbd may prove to be an effective treatment for:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety
Neurochemistry and CBD
Did you know that the human body has a built-in system designed explicitly for processing cannabinoids?
It’s called ‘the endocannabinoid system’ and it plays a major role in homeostasis – the body’s ability to maintain a healthy inner balance. This means cbd oil and other derived supplements can regulate sleep, appetite, mood, and consequently the level of anxiety we might be experiencing at a given moment.
But what’s truly fascinating is that this compound can have a real impact on the brain receptors involved in the body’s response to anxiety.
For example, cannabidiol works just like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) – a category of psychiatric drugs specifically designed for anxiety and depression. By bringing your serotonin to normal levels, CBD-based supplements can significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety.
cbd oil Dosage for Anxiety
While the FDA does approve cbd as a supplement for a wide range of medical and psychological conditions, it’s also firmly against companies that market cannabidiol as a ‘100% guaranteed’ cure against severe medical conditions.
But even though cbd oil for anxiety is an FDA-approved treatment, experts still find it difficult to determine the right dosage. You need to keep in mind that finding the right dose depends on a wide array of factors, from weight and age to the intensity of the symptoms.
Fortunately, since cannabidiol is a safe and non-psychoactive compound, you don’t have to worry about taking a dangerously high dose. The worst thing that can happen is feeling a bit nauseous or dizzy, symptoms which indicate you need to lower the dose.
On top of that, you can determine the ideal dose for you by consulting a medical professional or asking the manufacturer.
Bottom Line: Can CBD Help Treat Anxiety?
All in all, products derived from marijuana, cannabis, or hemp plant (ex. CBD oil, hemp oil, cannabis oil, and many more) can be an effective treatment for mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
In fact, a 2007 study published by Chemistry & Biodiversity points out, the plethora of positive pharmacological effects observed with cbd make this compound a highly attractive therapeutic entity. 
But just to be 100% safe, make sure to consult a physician before you decide to use cbd oil for anxiety or any other condition.
 R. E. Musty, “Cannabinoids and anxiety,” in Cannabinoids as Therapeutics, Basel, Birkhäuser, 2005, pp. 141-147.