I Took CBD Oil Every Day for My Anxiety—Here’s What Went Down
When I first learned about CBD oil, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical. My mind immediately turned to weed and the unnerving experiences I’d had with heightened anxiety in college. For me, a person who’s already predisposed to overthinking, marijuana, no matter what the form, would typically put my mind into overdrive and result in a common yet dreaded side effect: Paranoia. But, let’s back up a bit. What even is CBD?
What is CBD?
A bit of online digging led me to realize that the active ingredient in Charlotte’s Web Everyday Plus Hemp Oil, the product I’d been offered to test, was the chemical compound CBD, which stands for cannabidiol. Unlike THC, the other crucial compound in hemp and marijuana plants, CBD (when derived from the hemp plant) does not produce the psychoactive effects that make you feel “high”; instead, emerging science has hinted that CBD may actually ease anxiety, and therefore, makes you less likely to freak out.
For example, one study comparing the effects of THC and CBD found that, while THC increased anxiety by activating the neurotransmitters involved in the “fight or flight” response, CBD actually repressed autonomic arousal—or the nervous system response associated with sudden increases in heart rate or respiration. In other words, CBD may be ideal for people looking to relax and unwind.
While the science behind CBD’s effectiveness for treating anxiety, pain, and insomnia is still in its infancy, Charlotte Figi’s inspiring story sounds promising. Figi, a 6-year-old girl diagnosed with a rare and resistant form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome, was placed on hospice care and given a “do not resuscitate” order when her parents, desperate and frustrated with pharmaceutical medication, considered medical marijuana; specifically, a strain low in THC and high in CBD. Charlotte is now nearly seizure-free since she began supplementing with Charlotte Web’s CBD oil, which the brand named after Figi.
Legal and Safety Things To Know About CBD
The current CBD industry is like the internet’s early years. the Wild West. Legally, speaking, a Harvard Medical School blog post reads, “All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction, and while the federal government still considers CBD in the same class as marijuana, it doesn’t habitually enforce against it.” With heightened interest around CBD, it’s important to note that because CBD is currently unregulated, it’s difficult to know what you’re getting (whether that’s a tincture—commonly referred to as CBD oil, which is often combined with a carrier oil like coconut oil—topical products like creams and balms, sprays, or capsules), despite product labels and brand promises, the blog post further reads. It’s also important to note that people experience CBD differently. For the most part, the National Institute of Medicine says that while most people can tolerate CBD, side effects do exist. They might include dry mouth, drowsiness, and reduced appetite, among others.
That said, those interested in exploring the potential benefits of CBD should consult with their doctor (especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or currently taking medication) and be mindful of your dosage, writes Consumer Reports. And before you buy, Megan Villa, co-founder of the hemp-focused website and shop Svn Space, told Shape magazine to seek out a certificate of analysis. “Ask for a COA for the batch number of the product you have, since these products are made in batches,” she said. “You need to match the batch number to the COA that pertains to it.” Then, scan the report for potency (i.e. does the number of milligrams of CBD that the product label touts match the lab report?), contaminants and pesticides, and mold (which should live under the “Microbiological Testing” part of the report). Go a step further and note whether the testing lab is GMP (Good Manufacturing Principles) certified, and whether the lab is registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Shape magazine also suggests purchasing CBD products made from domestically-grown hemp, and reading up on the difference between full- and broad-spectrum and CBD isolate.
With that, I threw caution to the wind and asked for a sample. Here’s what happened—including what it feels like—when I took one full dropper of Charlotte’s Web’s Everyday Plus Hemp Oil in the mint chocolate flavor every morning for seven days.
My First Impression
It was actually a bad bout of jet lag after a trip to California that inspired me to finally test out the CBD oil (I’ll admit that my weed-based reservations kept me from trying it for the first few months). Knowing that the oil had also helped people with sleep issues, I squeezed one full dropper of the Everyday Plus oil onto my tongue, per the instructions, and waited.
Thirty minutes later, I was surprised by how subtle the effect was. While I expected a hazy nodding-off effect similar to melatonin’s, the oil simply relaxed my body ever so slightly—my heart stopped pounding against my chest, my legs stopped kicking beneath my sheets, my mind stopped racing. I wasn’t sure if it was the oil or the late hour, but eventually, physical relaxation gave way to mental relaxation, and I drifted off to sleep.
Reflecting the next morning, I was most surprised by the fact that I never felt “high” in any way—there was never a moment of It’s kicking in; I can feel it now like with pain medications or even anti-anxiety drugs. Considering it takes time, consistency, and the right dosage to experience the full effect, I continued taking the oil once a day for the next six days. Here’s what went down.
It Made Me Less Anxious and Edgy
Rather than overthinking a sternly worded email or analyzing a social interaction, I found it easier to recognize the irrationality of these thoughts and actually let them go.
While normally I’d be slightly tripped up by little things like an overly crowded subway car or a full inbox at work, the CBD oil seems to have taken the edge off of my anxiety a bit. Rather than overthinking a sternly worded email or analyzing a social interaction, I found it easier to recognize the irrationality of these thoughts and actually let them go. In some ways, I feel more like myself. With that said, I’ve still experienced some social anxiety when meeting new groups of people—I’d be interested to see what taking the full recommended dose would do.
I’m More Focused At Work
I work well under pressure, but being extremely busy at work has almost made me less productive—I’m constantly distracted by email, Slack, and the people around me, to the point where getting my work done becomes difficult. This week, however, I’ve found it easier to put my blinders on, block out all distractions (especially social distractions), and focus on one task at a time. I think this is partly related to the lessened anxiety—I feel more frazzled and off task when my anxiety is running high. It almost feels like a newfound sense of clarity and calm that enables me to focus.
I’m Falling Asleep Faster
I assume this is also a side effect of feeling less anxious, but I seem to fall asleep faster; within the 20-30-minute range rather than my normal 45 minutes to one hour (or longer). Not only do I seem to be skipping or at least shortening the whole tossing-and-turning phase of my sleep cycle, but I’m able to snap out of the overthinking that often keeps me up at night. Of course, there’s no telling whether a big life event would disrupt this newfound bliss, but I’d like to think it’s helped on a day-to-day basis.
My Experience With CBD
Would I say that CBD oil has fundamentally changed my life? No. But per the Charlotte’s Web website, this is the typical first experience. “Anyone who has ever started a new vitamin or supplement routine knows the short answer to how long it takes to kick in is—’it depends.’ For many newcomers, they’re not sure what to imagine, or some anticipate a huge change right away. For most of us, though, dietary supplements take time.”
With that said, I’m definitely intrigued enough by the subtle effects to continue taking the oil and to possibly up the dosage to the recommended two full droppers of the 30mL bottle per day. Plus, I take comfort in knowing that it’s an all-natural product that’s responsibly grown on family farms in Colorado. Something that’s safe, legal, requires no prescription, and makes me less anxious, less scatterbrained, and more focused? I’m definitely on board.
Explore the World of CBD
Looking to learn more about CBD? These are some of my favorite products to help get you started.
For those new to CBD, Charlotte’s Web recommends this hemp oil. Containing 17mg of CBD per 1mL serving, this CBD oil is also U.S. Hemp Authority Certified. Choose from four different flavors including Lemon Twist, Mint Chocolate, Orange Blossom, and Olive Oil.
Go deep on the subject of CBD with this book that includes case studies, interviews with doctors, an overview of the latest cannabis research, and how scientists are exploring cannabis for various medical uses. There is also an explainer about the difference between CBD products made from industrial hemp versus in a lab, and products made from the whole marijuana plant.
Charlotte’s Web inaugural CBD oil product comes in two flavors; Olive Oil and Mint Chocolate. It’s also its most potent. According to its website, its Original Formula Hemp Extract Oil comes with 50mg CBD per mL.
Gretchen Lidicker puts a lifestyle spin on the world of CBD as the author draws on the “knowledge of leaders in the health and wellness world” to explain why CBD has become a top beauty and wellness trend for top athletes and celebrities. The book also includes recipes and recommendations for how to choose a top-quality CBD product.
This travel-friendly roll-on is packed with CBD and fragrant essential oils, including lavender, bergamot, and chamomile, for an easy de-stress quick fix. The result? “That elusive feeling of wakeful calm,” reads the Sagely Naturals website.
With this book, CBD is explained from A to Z and breaks down the good, bad, and ugly of a fledgling industry that is poised for rapid growth. CBD: 101 Things You Need to Know About CBD Oil covers what it is, why people take it, who it’s for (and who it isn’t for), its myriad forms, and more.
Lord Jones’ High CBD Formula Body Oil combines CBD with organic avocado, jojoba and safflower oils for smooth, hydrated skin. Each bottle has 100mg of CBD.
Charlotte’s Web’s Extra Strength Capsules feature 25 mg of CBD per capsule. The website offers capsules as a convenient and precise way to take CBD—on the go, stash them in your gym bag, pocket, etc.
One editor explains how she took CBD oil every day for a week to help her anxiety, plus the difference between CBD and weed. Learn more here.
Will CBD help you sleep?
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- What is CBD and how does it work?
- How does CBD make you feel?
- Does CBD oil make you tired?
- CBD vs. THC for sleep
- What effect does CBD oil have on sleep disorders?
- What are the other potential benefits of CBD?
- Bottom line
A good night’s sleep has incontestable benefits for general health and wellbeing. For 30% of the general population, however, sinking into an effortless slumber doesn’t come easily, according to a national poll by the Sleep Foundation. To make matters worse, sleeping pills and medications commonly used to induce sleep are often accompanied by side effects.
One possible alternative to these medications is cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabis compound. It is currently trending as a sleep aid as many are discovering that it promotes drowsiness by removing obstacles to sleep, such as anxiety. But are there scientific grounds to believe that CBD can actually support and bolster more healthful sleep? Weedmaps spoke with four experts to find out.
What is CBD and how does it work?
While we have some understanding of how CBD interacts with the body, there is still much to learn.
“CBD itself doesn’t do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors but instead promotes the binding of the endocannabinoids already in our systems,” Drew Ford, Chief Science Officer at Kase Manufacturing, a cannabis extraction facility, told Weedmaps. “It ensures they bind to the receptors that they’re supposed to go to.”
Research suggests that CBD may act on serotonin receptors, prompting the release of endocannabinoids. Serotonin is also one of the most important neurotransmitters for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Endocannabinoid receptors affect the entire body. According to Dr. Thinh Vo, Director of Quality and Compliance at Koi CBD, cannabidiol indirectly has an impact on receptors that send information between “the cells in the nervous, immune, and circulatory systems to regulate biological processes.”
Evidence from a study published in Translational Psychiatry also suggests that CBD inhibits the uptake of anandamide, which is an endocannabinoid that is often referred to as the “bliss molecule.” Anandamide binds to CB1 receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, just like CBD. When CBD occupies those receptors instead, anandamide’s pleasant effects may last longer.
How does CBD make you feel?
When it comes to how CBD products will make you feel, the answer will depend largely on individual-specific factors.
“Each person’s reactions to CBD are unique,” Vo told Weedmaps News. “Reactions to CBD are also affected by other variables such as delivery method, whether the person is taking existing medications/supplements, and whether the product is an isolate or a spectrum oil.”
Vo points out that terpenes present in CBD oil also influence the individual’s response. “We know that terpenes play an essential role in determining the strain and influencing a sedative effect, energetic effect, or combination of both,” he explained.
CBD may diminish the anxiety that can render it challenging to fall asleep. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Per a study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, when administered at different doses, CBD may provoke distinctive responses. Low doses may cause someone to feel energized and alert, while higher doses may be relaxing and encourage drowsiness. CBD is frequently anecdotally reported to alleviate anxiety.
“CBD is an anxiolytic, which means that it reduces anxiety and is calming,” explains Dr. Elaine Burns, a naturopathic doctor who is CEO and founder of Dr. Burns’ ReLeaf. “In addition, it helps to relax the muscles. These two properties both contribute to a feeling of relaxation in the mind and body.”
Does CBD oil make you tired?
As to whether CBD oil can cause tiredness, expert opinions appear to be mixed. “There is no true clinical evidence to support CBD as a sleep aid. CBD oil itself should not make a person drowsy,” Ford said.
That being said, Ford also acknowledges that CBD may diminish the anxiety that can inhibit sleep and “could be effective as a sleep aid for people who need to calm down and relax their mind.”
Dr. Patricia Frye, a board-certified cannabis clinician and Chief Medical Officer at HelloMD, pointed out that there is evidence that high doses of CBD can modulate adenosine pathways in the brain. “Adenosine is the substance that accumulates during the day and deactivates the sensory neurons in the area of the brain that keeps us awake.”
CBD may trigger tiredness or a sleep response through its reported effects on the 5-HT1a serotonin receptors. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
CBD may also trigger tiredness or a sleep response through its reported effects on the 5-HT1a serotonin receptors, as observed in a study published in the medical journal Pain. “When binding to the 5-HT1a receptors, CBD essentially blocks those receptors from other agonists binding to them,” Ford explained. “Depending on the individual’s body chemistry, when CBD binds to these receptors it can essentially block the anxiety or depression-causing molecules, leading to immediate relief.” As a result, some individuals may feel a sensation of sleepiness.
CBD vs. THC for sleep
THC, the cannabis plant’s most abundant and intoxicating cannabinoid, is reputed to induce sleepiness. Ford believes any feelings of drowsiness associated with CBD oil can most likely be attributed to THC. “If CBD oil is making you feel drowsy, it’s probably due to a fraction of THC being left in the product,” he said.
THC isn’t necessarily more effective than CBD as a sleep aid. An individual’s body chemistry affects how he or she responds to THC, and for some, it may be counterproductive if they’re looking for deep slumber. Ford explained that while the “psychoactivity of THC” can lead to drowsiness, it can also cause the mind to race, ultimately concluding that “it really depends on what symptoms you are trying to overcome and what works best for your own body.”
Burns agrees, adding that THC can also cause anxiety and restlessness at doses higher than 10 milligrams. “Because of this, I would say that CBD is a better sleep aid for most people; however, dosing less than 10 milligrams of THC along with 20 milligrams or more of CBD could be a great combination.”
CBN, the cannabinoid into which THC transforms when exposed to heat and light, may have more sedative effects. One analysis by Steep Hill Labs found that five milligrams of CBN was as effective as a 10-milligram dose of diazepam, a member of the “benzo” family used to treat muscle spasms, seizures, and anxiety. Thus, it’s likely that consuming older cannabis will have more sedative, sleep-inducing effects than fresher flower with less CBN present.
What effect does CBD oil have on sleep disorders?
Although more studies on CBD and sleep disorders need to be conducted, Vo pointed to the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, which returns more than 100 results for a search of CBD and sleep. The articles include studies and reviews of previous research, mostly conducted on animal models, which may overlap. A 2019 review of the use of CBD and THC for sleep indicates that cannabinoids may improve sleep quality, decrease sleep disturbances, and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
Cannabinoids may improve sleep quality, decrease sleep disturbances, or reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Many of the studies reviewing CBD, however, examined sleep as a secondary outcome in the context of another illness. Frye highlighted a 2019 study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology that investigated the use of CBD oil for children with autism spectrum disorder to treat related conditions such as sleep disturbances. “Patients with autism typically have sleep disturbances,” she explained. “The study showed that CBD improved sleep in 71.4% of patients.”
What are the other potential benefits of CBD?
As CBD interacts with the nervous, immune, and circulatory systems, it may also offer benefits for a gamut of conditions. An in-vitro study published in the European Journal of Pain suggests that CBD reduced evidence of pain and inflammation behaviors in rats, while another study published in Ingenta Connect found that CBD exhibited anti-anxiety and anti-depression effects in animal models. Too, CBD shows promise in reducing epilepsy-induced seizures and some types of muscle spasms, as shown in this in-vivo study published in The Lancet Neurology and this pilot patient study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience.
Per an in-vitro study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, there is also evidence that CBD may potentially improve heart health and, as seen in this scientific review published by CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, may offer protective benefits for neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
There is some evidence that CBD may reduce anxiety and promote feelings of calm and relaxation, which could lead to better sleep in some people.
However, there is presently little clinical research on human subjects specifically investigating the effects of CBD on sleep disorders. Possibly, future studies will enhance our understanding of CBD, its mechanisms, and its role in sleep regulation.
Will CBD help you sleep? Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What is CBD and how does it work? How does CBD make you feel? Does CBD oil make