How to Use CBD for Anxiety
Cannabis enthusiasts are known for their calm nature. Whilst this could partly be attributed to their approach to life, it is also due to the many stress-busting compounds that can be found in the cannabis plant. Here’s how and why cannabis and CBD (cannabidiol) works for anxiety, and how to utilize them effectively …
Why does CBD work for anxiety?
There are three main reasons why CBD may work for anxiety:
- CBD activates the serotonin receptor 5HT1A and modulates serotonergic transmission, giving CBD potentially some anxiolytic and antidepressant effects.
- Cannabidiol (CBD) could improve regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in the brain, which helps reduce anxiety.
- Targeting and “blunting” the TRPV1 receptor by using CBD may also contribute to CBD’s anti-anxiety effects.
Apart from the CBD, most well-made cannabinoid-based products are full spectrum, meaning they contain many other stress-busting cannabinoids and terpenoids. Cannabis contains a number of anxiolytic terpenes that serve to act as stress busters. Linalool, beta-caryophyllene (which is also a CB2 receptor agonist, and is also a cannabinoid) and borneol are just a few of them.
CBD’s effect on serotonin and TRPV1 receptors may go some way to explaining why it works for pain and nausea. The antidepressive effects of CBD may reduce or even replace the need for antidepressants.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CBD-type_cyclization_of_cannabinoids.png; author: Cacycle (CC-BY-SA 3.0)
What about THC for anxiety?
Since the discovery of CBD, many people have stepped away from THC entirely, and say that they “just want the CBD”. This is an oversimplification. THC has many potential medical uses (e.g. for cancer or multiple sclerosis), and beating anxiety is one of them.
The key when it comes to using THC effectively for anxiety seems to be microdosing. This is because THC has biphasic effects (i.e. different effects at different dosages), and can beat anxiety at low doses, whilst potentially causing anxiety in higher doses. 5 mg of THC or less over 1 - 2 hours, seeing how you feel, and the dosing again as necessary, is one way in which THC can be used to reduce anxiety.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tetrahydrocannabinol.svg; author: Yikrazuul, 14 February 2009
How much CBD is effective for anxiety?
Interestingly enough, low to medium doses of CBD may be most effective for anxiety. Higher doses of CBD may not be necessary to beat anxiety, and some sources have stated that amounts of 25 mg - 175 mg of CBD per day were enough to reduce anxiety. Terpenes and a small amount of THC may exacerbate CBD’s anxiolytic effects via the entourage effect. Interestingly, a high dose of CBD may promote wakefulness!
Are there any cannabinoids, terpenes or ratios that may be of particular help for anxiety?
Small amounts of THC; CBD in low-to-medium doses (high doses may promote wakefulness, which may not always be desirable). Canabinol (CBN) may help for insomnia. THCV is a CB1 receptor antagonist in low doses, and a CB1 receptor agonist in high doses. High doses of THCV may therefore be best avoided.
Linalool, myrcene and humulene may all beat stress and promote relaxation. Beta-caryophyllene, pinene and limonene can also be useful in small amounts, but be careful if these three terpenes appear together in high doses - this sort of makeup (alongside THC and on occasion THCV) is seen in some of the (mostly sativa) strains with more energetic effects.
CBD:THC ratios of 20:1, 3:1 and 1:1 may be useful. Different people may respond best to different ratios, and some may want to use different ratios during different times of day.
Please remember that many of the studies on cannabis for anxiety (and many conditions) have been done in labs, usually in test tubes or mice and other rodents. This makes much of what is written here is based on the scientific evidence available and observations from patients themselves.
Sadly, until we have repeatable, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials on humans, much of what is written here is theory and supposition.
Image by Julia Teichmann from Pixabay
CBD for anxiety - overall
Please note that the below is theory, and does not constitute medical advice. Due to the endocannabinoid system (ECS) being quite individual to each patient, it must also be remembered that some people may require a completely different set of cannabinoids and terpenoids!
- Low-to-medium doses of CBD (25 mg - 200 mg CBD per day) may be most effective for anxiety.
- Low doses of THC (15 mg THC or under per day) may be most effective for anxiety. Too high a dose may promote anxiety. THC and CBN may be of particular use at night, where anxiety may affect sleep. Those who have anxiety related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may find higher doses of THC to be more tolerable.
- Terpenes such as linalool, borneol, myrcene and humulene may be useful for beating anxiety.
- Pinene, limonene and beta-caryophyllene - separately and/or in low doses with lots of other terpenes, they can be effective anxiety-busters. Together and in high doses, they may help promote wakefulness and can give some an “edgy” feel.
- High doses of THCV may also be best avoided. The combination of THCV, pinene, limonene and beta-caryophyllene is more often (though not exclusively) found in equatorial sativa strains. However, testing for cannabinoids and terpenes will tell you more about the cannabis product you are using than its parentage!
- CBD:THC ratios of 20:1, 3:1 and 1:1 may be useful.
- Dosing is easiest and longest-lasting by using a tincture with a dropper. For sudden anxiety or panic attacks where more immediate relief may be necessary, an inhaler may be useful.
- Most dosing regimes see the patient using cannabinoid-based medications 2 - 3 times per day.
- Consider these things when dosing cannabis/medical marijuana:
- Do you suffer from any other conditions? Depression is often comorbid with anxiety, so you may need to learn to balance the cannabinoid ratios to one that is more suitable for you.
- Ask yourself what you hope to achieve with the help of CBD and medical marijuana. Give yourself a target (e.g. “I want to be able to walk somewhere where there’s a small crowd of people, and not feel anxious for 30 minutes”).
- What other medications are you taking, and will you need to reduce or replace them? CBD deactivates the liver enzyme cytochrome P450, so care will need to be taken if you are using benzodiazepines, anti epileptic drugs, diuretics and many other types of drugs and medicines.