Ask An Expert: Dr Rosemary Mazanet, CBD

Consistency is key and always check the labelling. CBD industry expert Dr Rosemary explains how CBD can be good for anxiety if you know how to use it.

Menopause anxiety is the secret symptom that most of us had never heard of until it hits. Once it arrives in your life, you can feel overwhelmed. You might experience the anxiety as low level dread (for no reason), tearfulness, stress or a 3am wide-awake-panic that leaves you exhausted the next day. The variations are endless. So can CBD help, is it good for anxiety?

Derived from the hemp plant, CBD – or cannabidiol – is an active ingredient, but it won’t make you high. It’s not a banned substance and is legal to buy and use in the US and the UK.

READ MORE CBD and sleep, what you need to know.

There’s no doubt that CBD is an “It” ingredient in the wellbeing industry. It’s cropping up in everything from gummies to oils to supplements to sprays. So how do you know which product is right for you? Which ones are just hype, and which will really help?

To fully understand how CBD can help with anxiety, we’ve turned to  Rosemary Mazanet, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Columbia Care, a leading producer of science-driven, cannabis plant-based therapies.

From explaining how CBD can be good for anxiety, to how long it can take for the benefits to be felt, to how to ensure that you choose a good quality CBD products, Dr Rosemary’s advice offers clarity and reassurance in this product area.

Here’s what she has to say.

Why is CBD oil a good treatment for anxiety?

The medical use of hemp plants is not new. In fact their use dates back to the third millennium BC. Today, we know that the beneficial properties of phyto-cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) work by interacting with receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a regulatory system throughout the body that leads to positive effects in many systems

CBD works through the ECS receptors in the central nervous system to help with anxiety, sleep and other functions important to mood and wellbeing. Scientific data has been widely published showing that CBD can treat anxiety disorders, including general social anxiety.

CBD has been reported to reduce blood pressure in a small study, supporting its use to calm the body. Rather than the sedating effects of many pharmaceutical anti-anxiety drugs, the effect of CBD is subtle and gentle without causing drowsiness.

CBD may help with anxiety, sleep and other functions important to mood and wellbeing.

What type of CBD oil is best for anxiety?

To receive the greatest benefit when using CBD to help with any condition, it is important to choose a CBD product that is of a high, standardised quality. There should be clear instructions detailing the amount of oil (in milligrams) to be used and how frequently to ensure an accurate and consistent dose. Unfortunately, this is often missing in low quality products.

A well-publicised study of CBD oils purchased online (tinctures and vaporisation oils) showed that more than 69% were mislabelled in the concentration of CBD they contained. More than 43% contained less CBD than advertised, some had virtually no CBD present and worryingly, some claiming to contain no THC actually did.

READ MORE Our pick of the best CBD skincare.

Other such studies showed an alarmingly similar result, including products containing many contaminants including stimulants. This highlights the importance of thoroughly researching the CBD product you intend to use to ensure it is of high quality and 100% safe. This is particularly important for patients with serious anxiety as the presence of stimulants or THC in a CBD product can increase rather than calm anxiety.

Can CBD oil help with menopause?  

All women will go through menopause sooner or later. Although everyone will have an experience that is unique to them, most will have some symptoms to a lesser or greater degree.

READ MORE What are the 34 menopause symptoms?

Scientific research shows us that female pelvic organs have a very high density of cannabinoid receptors. Current knowledge of the endocannabinoid system does not explain the reason for this high number of receptors in the gynecological urinary tract, but often this system is used to maintain a homeostatic, or stable chemical balance in the body.

A survey-based study conducted in 2016 found that cannabis (including CBD) alleviates certain menopause symptoms, such as sleep problems, irritability, depression and joint pain.

Insomnia is a very common problem in perimenopausal women and is perhaps the most important symptom to combat during this time. There is strong evidence to suggest that products with high amounts of cannabidiol (CBD), can help reduce these symptoms even more than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

READ MORE Here’s what’s going on with menopause and sleep.

One study found that taking 160 mg of CBD daily significantly increased total sleep time and decreased the number of times that individuals woke up during the night.

How long does CBD oil take to work for anxiety?

CBD is not an anti-anxiety drug that might be prescribed by a physician to take during episodes of anxiety.

At the currently recommended CBD doses of 70mg a day, the effects are subtle, non-sedating and are meant to promote a feeling of general calm over a period of time rather than in response to stimuli (an “episode”).

The benefit of taking a consistent dose of CBD daily is usually felt over the course of a week as it works to regulate the body’s homeostasis to promote wellbeing and calm. The beneficial effects of improved sleep also contribute to reduced anxiety and a general calm state. It is unusual to feel an immediate improvement from one dose of CBD, although this can happen. It is a subtle wellness aid and its effects will gradually be felt if taken consistently. Consistency is key.

What are the pros and cons of taking CBD oil for anxiety?

CBD at recommended doses will not treat a panic or anxiety attack. These require a medical prescription drug for best results or CBD doses far exceeding what is routinely recommended or what would be considered safe for use without the specific instruction of a physician.

Similarly, CBD is not a sleeping potion. It gently works through your body’s system by modulating the homeostasis to allow sleep, not to cause sleep.

But after a week of regular use, CBD can help the body have more effective sleep, allowing for a calmer state and general feeling of wellbeing.

After a week of regular use, CBD can help the body have more effective sleep.

While some people may feel an immediate improvement to their quality of sleep, CBD needs to be part of your wellness regime and most people see a definite improvement after a week. The expectation is that episodes of anxiety and panic would be reduced over the subsequent weeks and months as a result of the mind and body getting sufficient rest at night.

READ MORE Rosie Green’s CBD and sleep kit.

What level of CBD oil is best for anxiety?

While the claim that a few sips of CBD-enhanced coffee can solve your everyday anxiety is not necessarily true, there is some scientific data demonstrating that CBD can treat anxiety disorders broadly, as well as general social anxiety. But the exact dose of CBD needed for these benefits is still not clear.

Scientific data has shown that high doses of between 300mg and 600mg of CBD has quickly reduced both experimentally induced anxiety in healthy controls and anxiety in patients diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. However, current commercially recommended doses are far less than those high doses that work quickly.

Consistency is more important than the actual dose so to feel the greatest benefit it is important to take CBD daily.

Studies have not regularly used the lower but consistent recommended daily doses to elicit the same beneficial effects, yet we know patients using 100mg daily or less report benefits.

As everyone’s body is different, the dose that is most beneficial for each person will be an individual choice and may require a certain amount of trial and error to find the right level. Consistency is more important than the actual dose so to feel the greatest benefit it is important to take CBD daily.

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