CBD is becoming increasingly more common for treating a staggeringly wide range of ailments. The list of therapeutic benefits it can provide is impressive to say the least but some of the most common uses of CBD involve treating stress, anxiety, and sleeping disorders. These issues can plague almost everyone at different points in their lives and many people struggle to find natural ways to control these problems without creating even worse side effects. CBD may be the answer if you want to alleviate stress, anxiety, or sleeping disorders without the use of pharmaceuticals.
The Safety of CBD (and Possible Side Effects)
Unlike THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, CBD will not get you high. It’s a safe and non-toxic substance so you don’t have to worry about overdosing from taking too much CBD. Many of the other medications used to treat stress, anxiety, and insomnia have many unwanted side effects or can create a dependency when used for a prolonged period of time.
While uncommon and often mild, some people may experience side effects from CBD and these may include anxiety, changes in appetite, changes in mood, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea. CBD may also affect how slowly or quickly other drugs are metabolized in your system so if you’re taking other medications you should be aware of potential drug interactions. Side effects are not usually typical with CBD but they are a possibility for some individuals.
How CBD Helps With Anxiety and Stress
In studies over the past few years, CBD has been found to help with many forms of anxiety including social anxiety, public speaking, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. CBD’s effects on anxiety are still being investigated and while many studies have already been done, a lot of what we know regarding its therapeutic effects comes from the results that the regular users of CBD are sharing.
From the studies that have been done and from the results people are seeing, CBD can effectively alleviate a great deal of these unpleasant or potentially debilitating feelings. What’s even more appealing about CBD is that it does this without the serious side effects or potentially addictive properties that pharmaceuticals like Valium, Xanax, Prozac, and Zoloft may come with.
Everyone experiences some level of anxiety and stress and this is both normal and healthy. These responses to environmental factors help us formulate an appropriate reaction to stressful situations. When your central nervous system, hormones, and neurotransmitters aren’t functioning properly your ability to respond to these situations is diminished and your perception of danger or distress will be heightened. CBD can affect the how the chemicals in your body that are related to stress are produced, inhibited, or reabsorbed into your system, allowing you to respond to these stressors in a healthy, normal manner.
One study showed that patients with Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder benefited from treatment with CBD before participating in a public speaking experiment. Anxiety levels were measured with psychological self-assessment and physical symptom scales to show varying levels of physical and emotional stress in the patient test groups.
Serotonin is known as the bliss molecule and CBD’s effects on the serotonergic system can increase the calm, blissful feelings serotonin is responsible for. The anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties of CBD can be attributed to the way it affects serotonin production, reception and reabsorption. CBD can indirectly increase serotonin production by increasing the production of the endocannabinoid, anandamide. In higher doses, CBD can also activate certain serotonin receptors which can help to create this sense of calm.
When serotonin binds to these receptors it can trigger a reabsorption of serotonin back into the system, lowering the overall levels of serotonin in your system. However, when CBD binds to them, this reabsorption is not triggered and the serotonin levels in your body are not reduced as they would otherwise have been. These higher levels of serotonin can help to alleviate much of the unhealthy stress and anxiety you experience
Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone so higher levels of cortisol can mean higher levels of stress and anxiety. Those who are familiar with cannabis or THC may be aware that THC can increase anxiety by increasing cortisol levels. CBD can have the opposite effect and actually interfere with the secretion of cortisol, reducing the effects and perception of stress. Cortisol production is also increased during exercise, which makes CBD a helpful supplement for those with intense workout routines.
Some studies have shown that CBD also promotes neurogenesis, which is the process that generates neurons from neural stem cells in the brain. Increased levels of cortisol and stress can damage the hippocampus but CBD can stimulate the growth of new neurons in many areas of the brain, including the hippocampus. This can improve stress and anxiety management.
This article from the British Journal of Pharmacology discusses the role of cannabinoids in adult neurogenesis. It suggests that the effects of cannabinoids, including the phytocannabinoids found in cannabis, play a role in modulating neurogenesis. It also mentions that impaired neurogenesis can be linked to depression and cognitive impairment.
CBD to Help You Sleep
You may have heard that CBD can help you fall asleep and stay asleep but this does not mean that CBD will make you drowsy. It is non-psychoactive and does not act like a sedative, so how does it help you sleep? CBD can alleviate stress and anxiety which are often the cause for insomnia and other sleep disorders. With a calm mind that isn’t racing with typical stress and worries, you’ll be more likely to relax and stay asleep.
One study investigated CBD’s effects on anxiety and sleep using 72 male and female patients. The patients were to complete sleep and anxiety assessments at the beginning of the study and follow up assessments were given at monthly intervals. The results showed both a decrease in anxiety and an improvement in quality of sleep within the first month.
How to Find the Right Dose of CBD
Different levels of CBD can do different things. Microdosing CBD in smaller amounts can help to keep you alert, energized, and focused. Higher amounts tend to help more with sleep, stress, and anxiety. Everyone is different and there is no one suggested daily dosage for CBD. When first starting out with CBD, it’s best to start with low doses, around 1-3mg, and work your way up to higher amounts, up to 20-30 mg for example, to see what amount helps you most effectively.
CBD may not be for everyone. While CBD generally has little to no side effects, some people may experience anxiety or changes in mood. If using CBD does the opposite of what you’re hoping to achieve you may need to try a different dose, or it just may not be the solution for you. Increased levels of stress and anxiety can be the cause for many other ailments, so managing these issues as much as possible will only improve your overall health.