Your Complete Guide: How to Use CBD to Help Manage Anxiety


Your Complete Guide: How to Use CBD to Help Manage Anxiety

There’s a scene in the 6th Harry Potter movie when Harry and his friends sip Felix Felicis, a luck potion that is meant to help everything go their way.

But at closer inspection of the events of that fateful, tragic night at Hogwarts (no spoilers here, I promise), I realize that the ‘Liquid Luck’ potion didn’t change any external events to give the crew their lucky breaks. What it did, however, was heighten their critical thinking, and give them really, really good executive functioning skills.

I wish I could sip on Felix Felicis every morning as I begin my day. I would be so productive! So alert and focused! Maybe I wouldn’t crave my 2 pm nap or wish for that third cup of coffee mid-afternoon.

Last year, I read an article about a woman who drank CBD-infused coffee every day for a week as a natural remedy for her anxiety, which often leaves her unable to focus – a big problem as her stressful job requires her to be fully alert.

While the author didn’t necessarily find CBD coffee had the anxiolytic effects she had been hoping for, she had this to say about a particularly good experience with the infused java:

“As I finish my latte, I feel great: super alert, but surprisingly calm… It was as if someone spiked my latte with teeny tiny bits of Xanax. Just enough to take the edge off, but not enough to make you feel like you’re under the influence of a drug.”

To me, that sounds about as close to Liquid Luck as we muggles can get.

Super alert, but surprisingly calm.

Who doesn’t want that? But can you really manage the discomfort of anxiety with CBD? And if so, what kind of CBD for anxiety is best to battle those feeling of worry and dread?

In this article, we’re going to explore how CBD oil is being used to help people manage anxiety and stay calm and focused. We’ll also explore products on the market specifically designed for anxiety-sufferers, and help you decide if CBD is the right product for you.

Complete Guide to Managing Anxiety with the Help of CBD

Let’s explore these topics:

Anxiety 101: What is it and why does it happen
Anxiety 201: What’s really going on in our bodies, and how prescription medications affect us
CBD Basics: What is CBD and where does it come from
CBD for Anxiety: A look at the world of science and how cannabinoids are being studied
Our Recommendations: What CBD to take, and how to take it
What is Happening?!: What you’ll notice when you take CBD for anxiety
Other Tips and Tricks: Other professionally suggested ways of managing anxiety

Anxiety 101: What is it and why does it happen

Many of us who suffer from an anxiety disorder have learned to live with what we’ve long believed to be the truth: While there are medications that help, anxiety will always be a struggle we live with.

Anxiety disorders touch every area of life.

Social anxiety disorder affects friendships and can even limit opportunities to make connections in professional settings. Traumatic stress disorder keeps us from taking risks and trying new things. Panic disorder makes every unknown or unexpected situation feel like certain death. And even the simplest anxiety symptoms can lead to sleep disorders and a lower quality of life.

Why does this happen? Why does it happen to some people and not others?

Anxiety attacks are sudden, intense episodes or panic or fear that usually come without warning. Sometimes, they are triggered by a common experience (like public speaking or flying), and other times, they come out of the blue, and we don’t know why.

For most people anxiety attacks last for 10 to 30 minutes. However, when in the midst of the attack, it can feel much longer and even feel like you might die or at least, need medical help. Obviously, this is an unhealthy, overreaction of our nervous systems, fight or flight response.

According to Mayo Clinic, here are the most common symptoms of anxiety attacks:

  • Feeling nervous or tense with restless behavior
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired (drowsiness)
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort
  • Having difficulty controlling worry
  • Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
  • Anxiety attacks can even result in temporary cognitive impairment.

No matter what type of anxiety disorder you have, none of these symptoms are fun.

So why do panic attacks happen?

Our bodies have 2 nervous system responses: sympathetic and parasympathetic. Our parasympathetic response, often called the ‘rest and digest’ response, allows us to be calm and to remain in homeostasis.

Fight or Flight Response Infographic

Our sympathetic response, however, allows us to prepare for danger, or perceived danger. Often called the ‘fight or flight’ response, it kicks in when our bodies need extra energy or alertness to handle a particularly stressful situation. Sometimes, our sympathetic response overreacts a little (or a lot). Why this happens, scientists and doctors aren’t quite sure. What has been noted, however, is the amount of adrenaline released during these over-reactive episodes; as much as 2.5 x a normal amount of adrenaline has been measured in people having debilitating anxiety attacks. This may be explained by the amygdala hijack, a term used to explain an over-reactive internal alarm system.

Anxiety 201: What’s really going on in our bodies, and how prescription medications affect us

While the fight or flight response is necessary and important, the unnatural explosion of events that causes the medical conditions known as anxiety-related disorders are not necessary, and, while not life-threatening, can even be damaging to our bodies.

If a person suffers from any underlying medical conditions, anxiety attacks can cause high blood pressure, chronic stress, depression, and intense fatigue, and even short-term issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and shortness of breath.

Doctors generally prescribe medications that help us deal with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Some prescription drugs are meant to cure GAD, and others are meant to prevent attacks. Some mediations work like rescue inhalers for asthmatics: giving immediate relief during an acute attack, when anxiety levels have stretched beyond a healthy, helpful reaction. A common tranquilizer, Benzodiazepine (Valium), results in heavy sedation which can also be debilitating.

Interestingly, antidepressants are often used as anti-anxiety medication. Antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Serotonin, which helps us feel happy and well, is typically reabsorbed by neurons. This results in less serotonin available for our brain to use to keep us feeling good. An SSRI blocks the reabsorption, so it’s available for our use longer.

But anxiolytic drugs like SSRIs have a number of common and serious side effects. According to Mayo Clinic, SSRIs can cause:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness, agitation or restlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Sexual problems and erectile dysfunction
  • Impact on appetite, leading to weight loss or weight gain

What’s scary is the numbers: 50-70% of people on SSRIs will experience sexual side effects. As many as 1/100 will experience liver toxicity. 9-40% will experience hyponatremia, leaving them with headaches, feeling tired, and unable to think clearly.

And there are many more.

The good news is, there are natural products that can help.

Please note that dietary supplements are not meant to replace your medications for the treatment of anxiety or potential treatment of any other condition. Anytime you explore a treatment option, be sure to seek the advice of your doctor. CBD, or any other dietary supplement, is not meant to treat, prevent, or diagnose any condition.

CBD Basics: What is CBD oil and where does it come from?

CBD is an abbreviation of the scientific name, ‘cannabidiol.’ There’s a lot of mystery around CBD and many people believe it to be the same as marijuana because of hemp’s relation to the marijuana plant, and the government’s dual ban on the products for so long.

After all, if the government classified it as an illegal substance for so long, it must be controversial, right?

But the truth is that CBD is not very controversial at all.

The recent legalization of CBD oil shows that there is proven benefit in using CBD. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration, (FDA has deemed CBD to be safe and worthy of study for its use in medicine.

But the millions of people who’ve already been using CBD oil don’t need studies to tell them about how it’s helped them. Fortunately, for the skeptics or newbies out there, there are plenty of clinical studies, which we will look at in the next chapter.

Where does CBD come from?

CBD oil is a plant-based dietary supplement called a cannabinoid. For anything to be considered a ‘supplement,’ it means it is something our body already makes or needs, and we are ‘supplementing’ by taking a dosage of it. Taking cannabidiol is very similar to taking a Vitamin C pill, or adding Ginko Biloba to our morning routine.

CBD is extracted from the hemp plant. Hemp and marijuana are similar plants. They are both part of the cannabis plant family and share many of the same qualities. However, there is one very important distinction:

The hemp plant (also called the cannabis sativa plant) has high levels of CBD and almost no THC.

The marijuana plant has lots of THC and, by comparison, almost no CBD.

What is that important?

Because THC is the psychotropic component of cannabis. That means THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the chemical in marijuana (or medical marijuana) that makes you high. There is so little THC in hemp that it can’t possibly have any psychoactive effects on you. For hemp CBD to be legally sold in the United States, it must be tested and contain only very small amounts of THC: no more than 0.3%.

While THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, industrial hemp isn’t affected. Cannabis users are generally looking for a ‘high’ but people who are under the treatment of anxiety disorders typically aren’t looking for the same effect.

Because these trace amounts of THC are present in cannabis sativa, hemp CBD was illegal under federal law for decades. But through the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018, the federal government has acknowledged the safety of hemp extraction. Further, it has opened up opportunities for extensive study on potential CBD treatment options.

How does CBD work?

CBD has a positive effect on your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Never heard of it? We’re not surprised.

The endocannabinoid system was discovered in 1992 when scientists isolated the first endocannabinoid. The difference between an endocannabinoid and a cannabinoid (like CBD) is that endocannabinoids are naturally found in your body, where cannabinoids are similar chemicals found in nature. That’s why they make excellent supplements.

Your body’s endocannabinoid system is a set of receptors and molecules. These receptors and chemicals bind together to create homeostasis (or balance) in the body. We know about other body systems; the skeletal system, the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, to name a few. But the endocannabinoid system might be the most crucial system, responsible for keeping almost every other system and organ operating at its best.

What systems does the ECS affect?

The ECS has been studied and shown to have an effect on the following systems:

  • Appetite and digestion
  • Metabolism
  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammation and other immune system responses
  • Mood
  • Learning and memory
  • Motor control
  • Sleep cycles
  • Cardiovascular system function
  • Muscle formation
  • Bone remodeling and growth
  • Liver function
  • Reproductive system function
  • Stress
  • Skin and nerve function
  • and more

This is why it’s crucially important that CBD is demystified and appropriately studied. CBD is a molecule with anxiolytic effects that have the potential to positively affect the health of consumers without the negative effects of pharmaceuticals.

CBD for Anxiety: A look at the world of science and how cannabinoids are being studied

Most CBD users are content to try CBD based solely on the testimonials of users.  The internet is chock-full of positive reviews and testaments of life-change due to the effects of cannabidiol, leaving many users confident that  CBD is not snake oil delivering a placebo effect on their anxiety relief.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t scientific proofs of the anxiolytic effects of CBD as well. While much more study is needed to understand the full range of effects of CBD, here is a small amount of current research data that shows how CBD is directly affecting the condition of anxiety in both animal models and human studies in recent years. Typically, studies will involve a small amount of test subjects, and a blind group of participants or healthy volunteers as a placebo group.

National Institute on Drug Abuse reports the following effects of cannabidiol on anxiety and stress:

  • CBD has shown therapeutic efficacy in a range of animal studies of anxiety and stress, reducing both behavioral and physiological (e.g., heart rate) measures of stress and anxiety.
  • CBD has shown efficacy in small sample size human laboratory and clinical trials. CBD reduced anxiety in patients with social anxiety subjected to a stressful public speaking task. This is also known as the public speaking test.
  • In a laboratory protocol designed to model post-traumatic stress disorders, CBD [helped test subjects in] forgetting of traumatic memories.

How did it work? It appears CBD’s anti-anxiety effect is mediated by alterations in serotonin receptor 1a signaling, although the precise mechanism remains to be discovered. That means serotonin was detected and used by the body more efficiently than without CBD. Serotonin, our ‘happy chemical,’ helps us feel confident, content, and generally positive about life.

In addition, it’s also likely that cannabidiol’s effects on our psyche could be directly impacted by an improvement in our body’s immune function, helping to limit unnecessary or chronic inflammation.

This preliminary research naturally leads us to feel hopeful about how the use of CBD can positively affect users suffering from depression, PTSD, and other psychological problems, for which there is also a growing body of research eliciting incredibly hopeful results.

Other physiological and psychiatric disorders for which the efficacy of CBD is being studied:

  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Chronic Stress
  • Cognitive impairment and brain injury
  • Seizures
  • Epilepsy (FDA approved CBD treatment called Epidiolex exists for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome)
  • Sleep disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Various phobias

Our Recommendations: What to take, and how to take it

Are you wondering what the best CBD extract for anxiety is? What’s the most effective treatment plan? What if you’re taking it for the first time?

Hemp plants contain at least 113 cannabinoids (like CBD, THC, CBG, CBN, and many others) and terpenes. While CBD has been in the spotlight for some time, the other elements found in hemp have their own list of potential therapeutic effects.

There are three different types of CBD products on the market.

  • Isolate – these oils will contain only pure CBD, isolated from the other cannabinoids and terpenes.
  • Broad spectrum – these oils will contain many or all of the cannabinoids except for THC.
  • Full spectrum – these oils will contain the full range of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Bespoke has crafted incredibly unique products that make a fourth category:

  • CBD products fortified with other natural terpenes, extracts, and dietary supplements.

To help manage General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and other anxiety issues like OCD, we recommend full spectrum. While broad and isolate formulas may help, research shows that full spectrum CBD oil seems to be the most effective formula. This is because of the entourage effect, a phenomenon where the full range of chemicals in the hemp plant seem to work better as a team for a lot of people.

This leads us to wonder why…

Why does CBD’s effect seem to work better with a group? And, if it does, do some of those other extracts deserve a bit of a promotion?

That’s why we’ve been crafted products with the full range of extracts plus an added amount of various other active natural ingredients.

Take, for example, our Bespoke 3C product. Designed to support a healthy stress response, Bespoke 3C starts by combining 33.3mg apiece of full spectrum CBD and CBG distillate that helps keep your stress response working at its best. To that, we added 5mg each of Linalool and Limonene terpenes, known for their significant ability to help you maintain your calm.

With four active anti-regulating ingredients in your corner, there’s no telling what you’re capable of.
We’ve also crafted Bespoke Serenity, to help keep you calm and relaxed. Our Bespoke Serenity contains the mood enhancers Vitamin D and Mununa Pruriens Seed extract, 5-Hydroxytryptophan for sleep disturbance, and the hormonal health boosters Evening Primrose Oil, Chasteberry, and Black Cohosh Extract.

Dosing – What amount of CBD should you take?

We recommend you take a low dose of no less than 25 milligrams. While some people may find help taking lower doses, 25 mg of CBD seems to be a well-agreed-upon best way to start.

Our Bespoke 3C and Serenity products begin with higher doses which are completely safe, but, based on research data, seem to provide additional and beneficial support for anxiety.

Bespoke 3C CBD dose is recommended at 40mg, however, you can lower or raise the strengthas needed with this CBD tincture (extractions in a carrier oil). Serenity is packaged as a 50mg soft gel capsule which can be taken twice a day if needed. Taking two at once may be an unrecommended high dose – speak to your doctor.

CBD oil should always be taken with food because it is fat-soluble and will be absorbed into the bloodstream best with some kind of fat, such as milk, coffee cream, or butter. Most foods also contain a bit of fat. They should also be taken at a time of day when you need it most. For example, if you need sleep support, take your CBD at bedtime. If you have a general condition or disorder, take it in the morning when it can provide you all-day-long support.

CBD is not addictive and typically causes no dependence or irritability.

Regardless of what product you take or the company you buy from, these are great guidelines. Always read labels carefully so you know how much CBD you are taking and can monitor your progress and results.

Ways to administer CBD

There are seemingly countless ways to purchase CBD. Here are a few of the most popular:

  • Tinctures
  • Rubs
  • Capsules
  • Roll ons
  • CBD-infused coffee and tea
  • Edibles and sweets
  • Gummies
  • Sprays

What is Happening?!: What you’ll notice when you take CBD for anxiety

Most people will notice… nothing! And everything, all at once.

Because CBD is gentle and has few adverse effects, you most likely won’t notice anything negative. The effects are such that you begin to simply feel healthy and well. Not a huge sway or change, but just enough that you begin to feel like yourself.

That’s the beauty of CBD. It supports wellness.

The things that used to overwhelm you may suddenly be manageable. You’ll get to the end of a presentation or exam and suddenly realize you weren’t as nervous as usual, or find your workday was more productive than normal.

You might even think it was just a coincidence. Until it begins happening all the time.

Other Tips and Tricks: Other professionally suggested ways of managing anxiety

Wondering what else you can do to help manage your anxiety?

Whether you’re ready to try CBD or not, there are other ways professionals have identified that can help with anxiety.

Exercise – It spurs the body to produce endorphins which play an important role in fighting anxiety and depression. The AADA considers exercise essential for releasing stress and anxiety and maintaining mental fitness. When the body feels better, so does the mind.

Avoid Caffeine – Caffeine is a stimulant and that’s not good for anxiety. It triggers our “fight or flight” response and could even trigger a panic attack.

Avoid Alcohol – It’s tempting to reach for a drink when you feel down or anxious, but instead of helping you feel better, alcohol can have the opposite effect. Some people report feeling even more anxious after the effects of the alcohol have worn off.

Practice Yoga – Yoga teaches participants relaxation techniques that benefit both body and mind.

Psychotherapy – If your anxiety has become unmanageable, seek out a therapist who might help. They may be able to assess anxiety scores which may help determine the most effective dose or medication, if necessary.

You can find even more great ways to manage your discomfort on our blog!

In Conclusion

Perhaps one day soon, CBD will be available in your local pharmacy. Until that time, we commit to providing you with CBD information and products you know you can trust.

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