When considering CBD or hemp oil for anxiety, what about — both? Learn how each can relieve anxiety in its own fashion
Anxiety issues are widespread. More than 70% of people who have previously attempted suicide have some type of anxiety disorder, according to research published in the journal Depression and Anxiety.
Additionally, two of the most common anxiety disorders associated with attempted suicide are panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Even mild forms of anxiety can have negative effects on the body. Among them are headaches, increased irritability, digestive issues, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, and excessive fatigue.
With traditional anxiety medication comes side effects
While one common approach to anxiety treatment is to take one of four classes of prescription medication — selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), or benzodiazepines — these don’t always come without side effects.
For instance, SSRIs can leave patients with agitation, dizziness, upset stomach, and difficulty sleeping and taking SNRIs can result in constipation, headaches, loss of appetite, and sexual problems.
That’s why some people who are struggling with anxiety turn to alternative options instead. Two of these options are cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp oil. Because both of these substances come from the same plant, there is a bit of confusion as to the effect each has, and choosing CBD or hemp oil for anxiety.
“Both CBD and hemp seed oil can help treat anxiety,” says Sonya Soderlund, an expert in CBD oil research who shares her findings in numerous articles published on this topic, “but for completely different reasons.” Let’s look at hemp oil first.
Hemp oil for anxiety
“Hemp seed oil, which is cold-pressed from hemp seeds, contains no cannabinoids like CBD or THC,” says Soderlund. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, the part of the hemp plant that is responsible for the “high” that is typically associated with the use of marijuana. Therefore, because hemp seed oil does not contain this substance, it does not offer this effect.
Soderlund goes on to explain that hemp oil is “generally sold for use in cooking or skincare and is rich in the optimal proportion of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.” It is these two fatty acids that make products containing this ingredient helpful for easing anxiety.
There is evidence of omega-3’s value in treating anxiety in a 2018 study published in JAMA Network Open. “In this study, people who took at least 2.000 mg per day of omega-3 were most likely to have decreased anxiety,” says Soderlund.
Another 2018 study, this one published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, shares that individuals suffering with anxiety and depression tend to have lower levels of these polyunsaturated fatty acids. They have lower ratios of omega-3s as total fatty acids as well.
CBD for anxiety explained
“CBD, on the other hand, is a cannabinoid, a chemical that is not present in hemp seeds at all,” explains Soderlund. “It is extracted from the bud, as well as the stems and leaves.”
The way CBD works is by interacting with our body’s endocannabinoid system, which is the system that helps regulate our sleep, mood, appetite, memory, and reproduction.
The human body naturally produces two endocannabinoids — anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglyerol — that interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors located throughout the body. However, some health experts suggest that some people may not produce enough of these endocannabinoids, resulting in a condition called clinical endocannabinoid deficiency. In cases such as this, taking CBD may be helpful.
For instance, some studies have found that CBD helps ease social anxiety. “Studies also suggest that CBD may also aid in fear extinction,” says Soderlund, “which is part of what fuels PTSD.”
If patients are interested in using hemp seed oil to ease their anxiety, how much should they take?
“For perspective, one tablespoon of hemp seed oil would contain between and 3,000-6,000 mg,” Soderlund says. “So, half a teaspoon could be a good starting dose for people who want to try this out.”
In regard to CBD, “in terms of dosing, each person is unique,” says Soderlund. “It’s best to start with a low dose, like 10-15 mg of CBD, and take that for 5-7 days and then increase if needed. Some people need very little, while others take doses of 50 mg per day or higher.”
Each body is different, and patients or doctors prescribing CBD or hemp oil for anxiety need to keep in mind each person’s individual reaction and needs.