I remember as a teenager lamenting with friends about how hemp was grown legally in the U.K. but the stuff was useless as you needed to smoke a tree trunk of the stuff to get high. Well, it turns out 15 years later that is totally true, except for the part about it being useless.
Hemp contains no THC (or very little) but it contains lots of other cannabinoids, of which CBD is the most useful and well known one. Over the last 30 years or so CBD hemp oil has been selectively bred out of cannabis plants due to the desire of many to simply use the THC to get high. The result is your typical street ‘Skunk’ now does nothing good for anxiety and for many people actually will make their anxiety worse… paranoia anyone? A study done way back in 1982 (1) found that people given THC with a sufficient amount of CBD at the same did not suffer the anxiety effects associated with THC on its own. As an anxiety sufferer myself I find getting stone truly horrible. Using CBD on its own will not get you stoned as it is not psychoactive and has been shown to counteract the negative affects of THC. This is great news for people, like me, who have a job and a family and really have no desire to walk around in a hazy fog of stoned paranoia.
How CBD Hemp Oil Helps With Anxiety
Surprisingly, the human brain has been found to contain cannabinoid receptors, i.e. our brains appear to have developed ready formed to make use of CBD. These cannabinoid receptors (CB1, CB2, TRPV1, GP55 and some others) along with some clever gubbins to allow humans to generate their own cannabinoids exist in the areas of the brain which control emotional behavior. Weird eh? It seems humans are pre-ordained to make use of cannabinoids. This emotional part of the brain controls mood, sleep, stress, anxiety and our fear response. It even in part controls feeling of ‘craving’ giving rise to the possibility CBD could help with minor addiction withdrawal.
Studies in mice have shown clearly that the activation of cannabinoid receptors within the brain lowers the heart rate stress responses of those animals. It appears that the cannabinoid receptors play a role in the preventing activation of our fight or flight response which is a major factor in chronic anxiety.
Another study conducted in 2011 showed that a 400mg dose of CBD hemp oil given to patients suffering with generalized social anxiety disorder reduced their symptoms of anxiety. This seems to be great news, although I would always caution that the study was only carried on 10 people so not exactly a huge cohort.
Anxiety itself is often associated with fear. I’ve personally found this hard to accept, I mean I don’t feel like I’m scared of my job but then deep down I guess there is fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of not coping. Fortunately cannabidiol has been shown in this study to help reduce fear. As the authors note:
Cannabidiol does so by reducing fear expression acutely and by disrupting fear memory reconsolidation and enhancing fear extinction, both of which can result in a lasting reduction of learned fear.
Now that sounds pretty good to me.
How to take cbd hemp oil for anxiety?
There are two main ways of taking cbd hemp oil and several variations of these basic methods are available. You can either swallow it and let it absorb through your stomach and digestion or you can vape it and absorb it through your lungs. The choice is really down to a couple of key questions which you need to ask yourself.
- How rapidly do you want anxiety relief? If you have panic attacks then maybe a quick reactive hit of cbd would help.
- Are you comfortable vaping? As an ex-smoker I have found that I enjoy the act of vaping almost too much and I have to be mindful of not slipping into habit territory.
Vaping cbd oil is quite pleasant and vaping itself has been shown to be far safer than smoking although clearly taking anything into your lungs can’t be great for them. The positive aspect of vaping cbd is that it hits you fast. Twenty good drags on a vape pen and the calming affects can be felt for the next hour and a half.
Taking cbd oil orally is the other option which gives longer relief from anxiety and does not pose any risk to your lungs. You can buy tinctures of cbd oil which can be dropped into tea or coffee for all day long feelings of calm. The negative aspect of taking orally is that you need to take more cbd oil since it is not absorbed as well as through the lungs – there is a reason pot heads smoke 😉
Either method you choose is likely to give some relief to anxiety sufferers. Experimentation with some products from reputable sources appears to be the key to finding one that works for you.
- Zuardi AW, Shirakawa I, Finkelfarb E, Karniol IG. Action of cannabidiol on the anxiety and other effects produced by delta 9-THC in normal subjects. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 1982;76:245–250