For decades, some people have medicated with marijuana to relax. After all, cannabis has a very mellow reputation. Unlike alcohol which has triggered a lot of violent bar fights, marijuana is much more soothing. You’re more likely to find a drunk person involved in a violent bar encounter than to find a person high on marijuana looking for a fight.
Marijuana use remained popular even though it was illegal, but now things are changing across the entire legal landscape across the US. Plenty of states allow the use of medical marijuana. This is especially true when it comes to CBD, which is a compound found in cannabis that’s different from THC.
The THC compound causes the mind-altering effects, not the CBD. In addition, CBD doesn’t have to come from cannabis at all, as it can instead be extracted from hemp. In contrast with cannabis, hemp is absolutely legal.
But does CBD actually help with medical conditions especially in cases such as anxiety? There are plenty of anecdotal reports regarding how it can relax people beset by anxiety but is such evidence enough? Are there any other scientific data to back up these claims brought forth by the burgeoning cannabis and CBD industry?
Scientific Tests Involving Lab Animals for the Use of CBD to Treat Anxiety
Alleviating anxiety is one of the many reasons for the medical use of CBD products. The problem is that the evidence that backs up these claims tend to come from studies that involve laboratory animals. Very few of these studies involve actual persons. Instead, these tests use rats and mice.
In the studies that include lab mice and rats, the test subjects tend to display signs of decreased anxiety. They act in a manner that seems to indicate that they’re less nervous and anxious. Mice and rats are generally averse to spending too much time out in the open as they prefer more confined areas. Open spaces basically stress them out. But when they are subjected to CBD, they are willing to spend more time out in the open.
However, these facts must also be factored in when drawing conclusions:
- The tests didn’t involve humans (who may be affected differently).
- The lab rats don’t have any anxiety disorders.
- In fact, these animals don’t even have to contend with stressful situations that plague healthy individuals. The mice aren’t worrying about work deadlines, relationship drama, or the prospect of public speaking.
- In a few of these studies, the mice and rats actually experienced increased anxiety as a result of taking CBD.
- The timing of the CBD usage (before or after feeling anxious) may affect the end result.
CBD Tests Involving Humans
There have been CBD research tests that involved actual human subjects, though they are few and far between. The findings (and facts) include the following:
- The CBD generally helps to counteract any feelings of anxiety that may be caused by the THC compound. It is this tendency with THC which should compel you to pick a cannabis product with low THC when you want to just relax.
- The CBD may help with your current level of anxiety, but it doesn’t really help in alleviating your general anxiety level.
- It can help with the stress caused by a social anxiety disorder, or by specific fears such as the fear of public speaking.
- Do keep in mind that in many (if not most) of these studies involving humans, the test subjects are generally good health. This means the studies don’t really show any direct evidence regarding how it works with people beset by an anxiety disorder.
- The results in lab settings may be very different when the CBD is taken out in real life.
- In human testing, in general, only a single dose of CBD is involved for each patient. There aren’t a lot of studies involving long-term CBD usage for humans.
In many of these studies, CBD intake is generally measured in hundreds of milligrams. Typically, a dose is about 300 mg, with some studies even using 600 mg doses.
In contrast, quite a few CBD products offer only dosages of up to 30 mg. In fact, some experts think that if you’re going to try CBD at first, you’re better off starting with a small dose of about 10 mg. Even doctors who prescribe CBD for the treatment of seizures recommend that patients first start off with a dosage of 2.5 mg for each kilogram of the patient’s weight.
So, if you weigh 185 pounds and you’re using CBD for seizures, you’re advised to start with about 210 mg for your dosage. You can then increase the dosage as needed, with a limit of up to 20 mg per kilogram.
Reported Side Effects
The FDA has recently approved a drug called Epidiolex to treat certain types of seizure disorders, after rounds of clinical trials. These clinical trials have documented a wide range of side effects, including the following:
- Reduced appetite
- Breathing difficulties
- Accelerated heartbeat
- Aggression (surprising but true)
Patients are at greater risk of the more serious side effects (numbers 3 to 5) when the dosage is greater.
The CBD can also interfere with liver enzymes, which is why patients on Epidiolex may be required to have their liver enzymes regularly monitored. In addition, the CBD can interfere with how other types of medications work, so you may not want to experiment with CBD if you’re taking other types of medications. At the very least, talk to your doctor first before you try CBD on your own.
Should You Try CBD?
It works for some people, so it may work for you.
- Just talk to your doctor first.
- Start with smaller dosages.
- It may be true that CBD works best for those who expect it to work. This is called the placebo effect.
- It also helps when you make sure you take the CBD in inherently relaxing settings. Try it at home, put on some soothing music, and do some deep breathing. Maybe you can even try CBD infused in your favorite dishes—even if the CBD itself doesn’t work, maybe the ice cream will!
In other words, there may not be enough hard evidence yet to support the use of CBD for treating anxiety. But if you think it will work for you, there’s a good chance that it actually will.