What Is CBD?
- Anxiety disorders
- Chronic pain
- Back spasms
- Muscle soreness
This article will focus primarily on CBD for anxiety.
CBD is legal in the United States on the federal level, and all 50 states allow the sale of at least some forms of CBD. Each state sets its own restrictions. It’s also legal in many other parts of the world. CBD’s legal status commonly hinges on whether it’s extracted from hemp or marijuana plants.
Hemp contains very low levels of THC, below 0.3%, which means it can’t get you high. CBD derived from hemp is generally legal, and buying it through reputable dealers will never land you in trouble. CBD extracted from marijuana plants is more likely to be problematic, particularly in places where the plant is still restricted.
Unlike its better-known sibling THC, CBD has no psychoactive properties. It doesn’t get you high, affect your judgment, or cause any visual or auditory disturbances. The compound is primarily regarded for its calming properties. It helps to reduce anxious thoughts and mitigates our “fight or flight” response. It can act as a buffer against unnecessarily heightened stress responses.
The compound is sold in two forms, CBD isolate and full-spectrum (or broad-spectrum) CBD. The first is a pure extraction of CBD, containing no other plant compounds. The second contains CBD along with hundreds of additional compounds that occur naturally in either hemp or marijuana. Isolate contains no THC while it may be present in full-spectrum, depending on the producer.
What Is THC?
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, is the active ingredient in marijuana that causes its psychoactive effects. When cannabis flower is smoked or vaped, the THC travels through the blood directly to the brain, producing the plant’s signature high.
If eaten, as it usually is when included in a CBD preparation, it first stops in the liver, where it’s converted to 11-hydroxy-THC. This form of the compound is more bioavailable than THC, producing a longer, more intense high. As we’ll learn later, for this to be a pleasant experience, CBD content is critical. A CBD THC ratio for anxiety requires CBD in sufficient amounts to reduce THC’s propensity to increase anxious thoughts.
In the United States, THC is still a Schedule 1 substance, illegal on the federal level. Many states have legalized it for medical purposes. A few have decriminalized it entirely or made it legal recreationally. In states where it’s restricted or its legal status is still in question, you won’t find THC in CBD products.
Understanding The Interaction Between CBD And THC
CBD vs THC For Anxiety
CBD reduces many types of anxiety. It also doesn’t cause the “stoned” feeling associated with THC. Some of its benefits include:
- Reducing anxiety caused by public speaking
- Alleviating the fear caused by social anxiety
- Reducing the frequency and severity of panic attacks
- Helping quiet nighttime anxiety, leading to better sleep
- Easing the trauma associated with PTSD
- Exhibiting neuroprotective effects
- Reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol
THC limits nervous system excitation, but only at lower doses. At higher doses, it can have the opposite effect, causing an increase in nervousness and apprehension. These panic attacks are often a fear response to THC’s psychedelic effects. THC can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms in the short term, but long term users may experience worsening symptoms.
How Do CBD And THC Work Together For Anxiety?
Researchers discovered that cannabis containing high CBD content was less likely to cause paranoia and anxiety than strains dominated by THC. This is good news for medical marijuana patients. CBD helps to take the edge off of THC (mind you, not everyone has this issue.)
We mentioned that THC might increase anxiety symptoms over time. This finding was most common in studies that used pure THC pills instead of cannabis flower. A more recent study found this isn’t a fair test because cannabis contains THC as well as CBD and hundreds of other compounds. When they instead tested inhaled cannabis, they found that strains with low THC and high CBD actually reduced anxiety and depression in the short and long term.
If you’re someone that enjoys THC’s high or needs it medicinally (and it’s legal where you live), look for strains that are higher in CBD. It will help ease potential adverse reactions while simultaneously increasing the happy euphoria users are looking for. This entourage effect primarily affects users of THC. The addition of CBD to THC can create a more positive experience, but the addition of THC to CBD is generally unnecessary and potentially counterproductive.
THC for anxiety alone is problematic. CBD is far more effective in this area.
Is CBD Effective For Anxiety Without THC?
Recommended CBD THC Ratio For Anxiety
If the ratio of CBD and THC drops below 10:1, particularly if the ratio inverts and you start adding more THC than CBD, the product’s psychoactive effects will being to impose themselves. When this happens, you risk an increase in anxiety.
In reality, the best CBD THC ratio for anxiety includes no THC at all. The science shows that CBD is a potent calmant. It reduces anxious feelings by altering serotonin signals in the brain. This is a similar pathway used by certain antidepressants. Unlike these compounds, however, CBD doesn’t cause unpleasant side effects.
Some people can tolerate THC. Others can’t. For the latter, any THC in the mix tends to impact CBD’s soothing properties negatively. For those that find THC relaxing, this tends to occur only at lower levels. At higher levels, users are more likely to fall into anxiety/paranoia reactions unless a sufficient CBD quantity is present to mitigate the effect.
For this reason, we recommend a CBD THC ratio for anxiety that’s free of THC entirely.
If you aren’t interested in THC’s recreational properties, and don’t require it medicinally, then a full or broad-spectrum CBD product that includes little to no THC is your best option for long term anxiety relief.