Even if marijuana is legal in your state, it continues to be illegal under federal law.
Cannabis is having a moment. Marijuana legalization movements are sweeping the nation — and the world.
If you have any sort of chronic health condition, mental or physical, chances are that someone has mentioned cannabis as treatment.
“It’s not legal in my state!” might have been your reply. But not all cannabis is created equal. THC, the psychoactive part of marijuana, which makes you feel high, is found in different concentrations in various strains of cannabis plants.
For people who don’t want a hazy high or live in a state where weed is illegal, cannabidiol (CBD), another chemical compound found in the cannabis plant, still offers medicinal appeal.
In part because the usual anxiety treatment could be risky, many people are opting to use CBD to alleviate their stress and anxiety. Cutting-edge studies show that CBD can decrease anxiety. Anecdotal evidence from users is also pretty convincing.
Best of all, if it’s hemp-derived, it’s likely legal and shouldn’t make you fail a drug test since the amount of THC present, if any, is absolutely negligible.
“I think there’s good evidence to suggest that CBD could be an effective treatment of anxiety and addiction” and other disorders, says Dr. Esther Blessing, a psychiatrist and researcher at New York University. “But we need clinical trials to find out.”
So far, evidence of the substance’s anti-anxiety effect comes from animal research and from very small, short-term human studies that suggest CBD exhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties.
So how do you actually use it?
There are many different ways to use CBD, from oils to sprays to lotions to candies. There’s no one type that works best — that depends on the condition to be treated and the person using it. So, it’s important to choose the best administration method — for you and what ails you.
If that’s anxiety, here are three of the ways people use CBD.
Vaping to treat anxiety from THC-based marijuana for pain
Jessie Gill, a registered nurse and cannabis advocate uses CBD for her anxiety. Originally, she began using medical cannabis for pain resulting from a serious spinal cord injury. She then discovered CBD as a way to manage general anxiety, as well. Until recently, she says, she inhaled vaporized CBD oil through a vaping pen.
Vaping is arguably one of the quickest ways to feel effects of CBD, which is important in an acute anxiety situation.
Jessie says she would vape “a small amount when waking up, again a night, and use it frequently during the day as needed.” She preferred using a high-CBD, low-THC strain and was microdosing (inhaling small doses that wouldn’t get her high).
Jessie also mixed her high-CBD oil for anxiety with the high-THC oil that she used legally for pain. She tells Healthline, “Besides my general day-to-day anxiety, I’m prone to THC-induced anxiety, and CBD is amazing for counteracting that.”
For some, CBD can counteract the anxiety people may feel after using THC.
Unfortunately, there are other concerns that go along with vaping, namely the chemicals found in vaping liquid and the heating coils inside vape pens. The jury’s still out on the safety of vaping, so while it might be fast, there may be negative consequences we aren’t fully aware of yet.
Another drawback, according to Gill, is that the strain she vaped was cost-prohibitive in her home state, so she switched to taking CBD oil under her tongue.
CBD tinctures to ward off anxious feelings
CBD oils and oral sprays are also becoming more popular with consumers. People take dosages of sublingual oils, like the high-CBD low-THC strain Gill uses now, by dropping liquid under the tongue.
The mucous membranes are filled with tiny capillaries, so the CBD is absorbed quickly and directly into the bloodstream.
Since switching to CBD oil, Gill says she takes it morning and night. “Currently, I take 25 mg [milligrams] of full-spectrum high CBD oil twice a day — in the morning and before bed. I also frequently take it during the day to relieve my anxiety symptoms. It’s the first thing I reach for [when] my mind starts racing.”
She adds that it also helps with her chronic pain. “In total, I take at least 50 mgs of full-spectrum CBD oil a day, and I usually take 75 to 100 mgs,” depending on pain and anxiety levels that day.
Sublingual CBD oils are a great choice for people who have trouble swallowing capsules or are unable to take gummies.
Oils do have a tendency to taste a little “weedy” though, which might be a turnoff for some people. There are oils on the market that are infused with other ingredients, like peppermint, that help to dial back any unpleasant flavors.
Sublingual CBD oils are used by dropping liquid under the tongue or mixing with a beverage, like your favorite tea. Other CBD oils can be put into capsules or rubbed onto the skin.
Edibles help fight anxiety without judgment
One of the most popular ways to take CBD is, not surprisingly, in candy. CBD gummies are available in a rainbow of flavors and take the guesswork out of dosing.
San Diego restaurateur Beau Schmitt uses CBD gummies to treat his anxiety. He takes two to three gummies in the morning and then again before bed to help him sleep. “I take gummies (vs oils or vaping) because dosing is consistent, they’re convenient, and I don’t look “druggy” while conducting business or interacting with our staff,” he tells Healthline.
Pulling out your oil dropper might get you some funny looks, but no one is going to think twice about you eating candy in public. “CBD gummies are discrete so you can take them in a professional environment without everyone asking you questions,” he points out.
“Especially since they target anxiety relief, the last thing you want is someone bugging you about dropping a tincture under your tongue or blowing smoke out a window.”
Be aware that gummies aren’t fast-acting, so they may not be the right choice for anxiety attacks or other acute situations.
There’s no denying that CBD can help many people get their anxiety under control. However, you should be aware that CBD is regulated as a supplement in the United States. That means that between brands — or even bottles — you might find that strengths and purity of ingredients vary.
Kristi is a freelance writer and mother who spends most of her time caring for people other than herself. She’s frequently exhausted and compensates with an intense caffeine addiction. Find her on Twitter.