CBD for Anxiety

This article discusses how CBD can help with reducing the symptoms of anxiety and help people with sleep issues, such as insomnia, get a good night’s rest. You will discover which products may work for you, how to pick the best CBD Oil for insomnia, and what to look for when buying CBD oil for anxiety. We will also explain the basics of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the effect that CBD has on its associated receptors.

Anxiety and Sleep Disorders in the U.S.

Anxiety disorders are extremely common, impacting over 18% of the population in the United States. People with severe anxiety can exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Excessive worrying
  • Feeling agitated
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia/trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Panic attacks
  • Avoidance of social situations (a Social Anxiety Disorder)
  • Irrational fears
  • Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, neck pain, chest pains, and digestive issues

And it appears that Americans are becoming more and more anxious. According to a 2018 poll done by the American Psychiatric Association, about one-third of the adults in the United States were more anxious in 2018 than in 2017, and baby boomers had the greatest increase with a seven-point jump from 2017 to 2018, although millennials continued to be more anxious than other generations.

Likewise, Sleep Disorders are becoming more and more common. In fact, a third of the adult population in the United States, reports getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night. Sleep disorders can have a negative impact on your overall health. Some less serious side effects of lack of sleep can include heavy eyelids, dark circles and “bags” under the eyes, headaches, and loss of concentration during the day. You may find that you are clumsy and daily chores are difficult to complete. Long term sleep deprivation can resemble psychosis or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are different types of sleep disorders:

  • Insomnia: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Sleep apnea: abnormal breathing patterns experienced while sleeping
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS): an uncomfortable sensation in your legs which can contribute to a sleeping disorder
  • Narcolepsy: a tendency to fall asleep suddenly during the day.

Mainstream treatments for sleep disorders include medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, sleep hygiene, nighttime devices such as CPAP, surgical procedures and relaxation, meditation, and exercise techniques. Another alternative in the treatment of anxiety disorders and sleep disorders is CBD oil. Continue reading below to discover how CBD oil for sleeping products are showing promising results at reducing the symptoms of anxiety, helping people get a good night’s sleep without harmful drugs, which products may work for you, and how to take CBD oil for anxiety and insomnia.

How Does CBD Help with Anxiety and Sleep Problems?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has three core components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. The term endocannabinoid system refers to the endocannabinoid, their targets, and their deactivators. The ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis of a variety of physiological processes. There are two main receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptor site are located throughout the brain and central nervous system. These same receptors are also found in some the peripheral organs and tissues. CB2 receptors are found throughout the body on cells associated with the immune system, as well as in some bone and liver cells. Experts currently do not fully understand the ECS, but research has shown it plays a role in regulating mood and sleep, amongst other processes and functions.

biological effects of cannabidiol

The biological effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a type of cannabinoid, for people experiencing anxiety, is that it is believed to interact with the CB1 receptor and by doing so, altering serotonin levels. Serotonin plays a vital role in our mental health. Low serotonin levels can cause problems in psychological functioning. People with low serotonin may feel highly stressed, have issues with sleeping, and be more susceptible to depression. While serotonin is not the only neurotransmitter to blame for anxiety, we do know that by increasing serotonin levels has shown to help alleviate and reduce anxiety.

Similar to the way prescription serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) such as Lexapro, Celexa, and Zoloft work, CBD has shown to boost signaling through serotonin receptors. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “CBD has shown therapeutic efficacy in a range of animal models of anxiety and stress, reducing both behavioral and physiological (e.g., heart rate) measures of stress and anxiety. In addition, CBD has shown efficacy in small human laboratory and clinical trials. CBD reduced anxiety in patients with social anxiety subjected to a stressful public speaking task. In a laboratory protocol designed to model post-traumatic stress disorders, CBD improved ‘consolidation of extinction learning’, in other words, forgetting of traumatic memories. The anxiety-reducing effects of CBD appear to be mediated by alterations in serotonin receptor 1a signaling, although the precise mechanism remains to be elucidated and more research is needed.

Low serotonin is also associated with insomnia because serotonin helps with melatonin production, the hormone that helps regulate the night and day cycles. Melatonin is synthesized in the pineal gland (located int the brain) and is a factor in the sleep cycle. Melatonin is actively involved in the internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. The endocannabinoid system has also been shown to be involved in the management of our sleep cycle. A study published in the Public Library of Science’s journal PloS found that the endocannabinoid system directly regulates sleep stability by the activation of CB1 receptors.

As you may already know, cannabinoid receptors are found in many different glands of the endocrine system. It appears that CBD may activate these receptors in the pineal gland, stimulating the secretion of sleep hormones like melatonin, thereby positively affecting sleep and energy levels. CBD has also shown that it can help with sleep and insomnia by causing the user to feel sleepy and relaxed a short time after ingestion.

Some of the ways CBD can help with sleep and insomnia are:

  • CBD has anxiety-reducing properties and can help regulate the stress hormone, cortisol.
  • CDB is proven to be a pain reducer in individuals who suffer from chronic pain. Studies show that CBD helps alleviate pain by working to heal symptoms, not just by masking them.
  • CBD can help individuals with REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD), a sleeping disorder in which people physically act out unpleasant dreams, often nightmares, by violently thrashing their arms and legs about.
  • CBD can help patients with Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, by helping relax the muscles so they can fall asleep. A 2018 study reveals how CBD is a promising remedy for patients who deal with muscle tensions and tremors.
  • CBD can help relieve sleep issues in people with PTSD. PTSD can cause a wide variety of sleep disturbances, including REM cycle issues.

Benefits of CBD

CBD, also known as Cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent cannabinoid and the top non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in hemp. Organic hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species. CBD oil is derived from the plant’s secretions in an industrial process using alcohol or a CO2 (carbon dioxide) extraction method.

People have been turning to cannabis for its health benefits for an exceptionally long time. Historical data on the use of cannabis dates back to 6000 BC and the use of cannabis for purposes of healing predates recorded history. In the early 20th century cannabis was used as a sedative to treat insomnia, mania, and melancholia. The discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the body in 1992, sparked renewed interest in the medicinal properties of cannabis.

CBD has been shown to possess anti-convulsant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anxiolytic, and neuroprotective properties. It can alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, reduce nausea, reduce anxiety, moderate psychosis, reduce seizures, suppress muscle spasms, help aid sleep, boost immunization, reduce blood sugar levels, deter neurodegeneration, inhibit cell growth in tumors, promote bone health and reduce depression, to mention a few. 

Benefits of CBD

It is easy to understand why people are turning to CBD to aid in restful sleep and to help ease the symptoms of anxiety, as many existing treatments for these conditions are often not very effective and, in some cases, risky. Prescription drugs, as well as over-the-counter drugs, can lead to dependency and can become less effective over time. Of course, you should consult your healthcare provider before adding CBD to your daily routine, to make sure there are no contraindications in doing so.

Additional medical research will enable cannabidiol to become more understood by both the medical community and population at large. It appears that CBD does have the potential to become a better alternative to many prescription drugs. One big advantage that CBD offers is a very favorable side effect profile.

Side Effects of CBD

While side effects of CBD are rare, the most commonly reported include:

  • Drowsiness 
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Changes in appetite or weight (there is evidence that supports CBD for weight loss)
  • Low blood pressure – small drops in blood pressure, which is usually the result of high dosing
  • Dry mouth

CBD is generally safe, however, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid taking it without the consultation of a professional healthcare worker. Additionally, there are thousands of pharmaceutical drugs out there that may have adverse effects when taken in conjunction with CBD. Make sure to get advice from a medical professional before adding CBD to your daily regimen. 

Types of CBD Products

The most common types of CBD products are CBD Tinctures, Gummies and Edibles, Capsules, Topicals, and Vaping. Let us go through these one at a time.

CBD Tinctures – This is a liquid form that is usually consumed with a dropper. It is best taken sublingually and kept under the tongue for a minute, or so, before swallowing. Tinctures are probably the purest applications of CBD. Tinctures are mixed with a carrier oil and some may include flavors, sweeteners, and terpenes.

Gummies and Edibles – Gummies are gaining in popularity as a delivery device for CBD. They come in a variety of flavors, as well as sugar-free options. There are also other edibles that take the form of brownies, cookies, lollipops, and liquids such as carbonated drinks. The downside of edibles is that they take longer to take effect, as they have to go through the digestive process. However, once metabolized, the effects can last for several hours.

Capsules – For those who would prefer to take CBD in a pill form, capsules are a great alternative. The process is the same as taking traditional medicines and vitamins. Again, the downside is that it may take up to an hour to feel the effects.

Topicals – Topicals come in a variety of forms. They come in creams, lotions, oils, balms, salves, and even patches. This form of CBD is great for isolated pain, stiffness, and swelling in overworked muscles and joints. They are also great to ease flare-ups of psoriasis and eczema. Topicals also come mixed with essential oils and herbs.

Vaping – Vaping is a choice for people that want to feel almost immediate results. The effects of vaping can be experienced for several hours after dosing. Vaping pens with CBD cartridges are available but should be used with caution. Vaping can make it easy to take too much CBD and may cause a variety of health problems. But if used responsibly, this is a fast way to absorb CBD.

Also, available are full-spectrum CBD oils. These products contain all the cannabinoids that are naturally occurring in the cannabis plant and extremely low THC (less than 0.3%). Despite this low amount of THC, these products are considered “full-spectrum” and are synonymous with the “entourage effect” – which refers to the increased effectiveness due to the different cannabinoids working synergistically.

How much CBD oil should you take to treat a sleep disorder? Some of the research has recommended a dose of up to 160 milligrams by mouth before going to bed. However, it is advisable to start with the lowest effective dose and add more as needed. The CBD dosage for an anxiety disorder can differ from person to person and depends on the individual’s level of anxiety and body weight. Again, it is recommended to begin with a low dose and gradually increase the dosage by six to twenty-five milligrams, incrementally. During this time, monitor how you are feeling. Are you having a decrease in anxiety, experiencing changes in behavior, are you having any side effects? Sometimes finding the right dose can be a lengthy process and will greatly depend on the quality of CBD you are taking. Allow yourself one to two weeks to feel the effects of CBD.

Most importantly, you want to choose a CBD product that is made from American grown organic hemp and that is third party lab tested. There are several cheaper Asian varieties on the market that can contain pesticides and other chemicals that can have harmful side effects. Do your research and choose the right product and the right concentration of CBD that will work for you.


The research involved in uncovering all of the benefits of CBD is constantly evolving. While research is still in development, we do know that CBD can reduce seizures in individuals with epilepsy and other seizure syndromes, it can significantly increase the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease, it may prevent neurodegenerative and cognitive decline, relieve pain, alleviate depression and anxiety symptoms, aid in better sleep, relieve arthritis and chronic pain, reduce inflammation and help treat acne and psoriasis. If you are looking to buy CBD oil for anxiety or CBD for social anxiety or looking for the best CBD oil for insomnia, do your research. Look for reputable companies, that sell quality products that are made from organic, American grown hemp with third-party lab testing.

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