Is More CBD Better? The Science Behind CBD Dosing for Anxiety and Other Conditions
In 2015, the National Institute of Health allotted $21.2 million of its $111 million cannabinoid research budget towards projects exploring the medicinal potential of these compounds. These projects proposed to manipulate the body’s endocannabinoid system, either by modifying endocannabinoids or with phytocannabinoids from the cannabis plant.
While the primary psychoactive phytocannabinoid, delta 9-THC, has acknowledged medicinal value, cannabidiol (CBD) is widely known for its broad range of potential medicinal uses. In recognition of CBD’s vast potential, over $9 million in grants were awarded in 2015 to fund CBD-specific medicinal research.
Much of this research has centered around the treatment of epilepsy, with studies showing that CBD has significant potential for treating the condition in children at high doses. A daily dose over 600 mg reduced seizure frequency by 39%. While this is a far greater amount than you’d find in many of the CBD consumables available at your local dispensary, many retail CBD products with lower levels of the cannabinoid are reported to be effective at treating anxiety, pain, and a host of other disorders, either through self-experimentation or anecdotal reports.
So why not crank up the CBD dose to reduce your anxiety? If a little is good, shouldn’t a lot be better? It turns out that for CBD, the answer is no; CBD’s medicinal efficacy might require a particular dose range. Call it a “Goldilocks Zone,” where there’s not too much CBD but not too little, either.
Intriguingly, this Goldilocks Zone differs for each disorder. For instance, CBD appears to treat anxiety at relatively low doses compared to the high doses used to treat epilepsy.
Overshooting the Goldilocks Zone when trying to treat a given condition may reduce the efficacy of CBD. An animal study published back in 1990 found that low to moderate CBD doses reduced anxiety, but CBD’s anti-anxiety effect disappeared at higher doses. Importantly, the authors note an inverted-U response to CBD. Out of the four doses tested, the lowest dose had a moderate anti-anxiety effect, the second-lowest dose had the greatest anti-anxiety effect, the third dose had a moderate effect, and the highest dose had no effect.
While it may sound out of the ordinary, this “inverted-U” effect is actually quite common among drugs that affect multiple brain receptors, as CBD does. In fact, 37% of published toxicology articles report some degree of an inverted-U response, indicating that this is not a random event but instead reflects differential drug effects on brain targets.
Different doses of CBD may actually be more beneficial, depending on the ailment or condition being treated. (Leafly)
The wide spectrum of CBD’s medical indications—it is used as a treatment for pain, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions—reflects its diverse set of brain and body targets. Since each of these many medical problems is impacted by CBD acting on specific receptors in the brain and body, differences in sensitivity for these targets may underlie CBD’s inverted U-response and define its Goldilocks Zone.
Right: The brain contains a huge a number of brain cells (neurons). Each neuron, represented here as a hexagon, is connected to many others. Left: The synapse is the site where two neurons communicate with each other. The “sender neuron” releases chemical signals called neurotransmitters, which stimulate receptors on the “receiver neuron.” There are many different receptor types in the brain, each one sensitive to different neurotransmitters. (Leafly)
Renowned cannabinoid pharmacologist Roger Pertwee described CBD actions at low, medium, and high doses in an oft-cited review published in The British Journal of Pharmacology. As expected, low doses of CBD impact fewer neural targets than high doses. At relatively low doses, CBD can block endocannabinoids like anandamide and phytocannabinoids like delta 9-THC from interacting with receptors in the nervous system. This blocking action is thought to explain CBD’s ability to reduce the adverse effects that can accompany delta 9-THC exposure such as anxiety.
Left: THC directly stimulates the CB1 receptor. This interaction underlies the major psychoactive effects of Cannabis consumption. Right: CBD reduces, or “antagonizes,” THC’s ability to stimulate CB1 receptors. This can decrease some of THC’s effects, especially negative effects like anxiety and short-term memory impairment. (Leafly)
CBD’s anti-anxiety effects can also be attributed to its activation and enhancement of specific serotonin receptors. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and stress response; low serotonin levels are thought to contribute to conditions including generalized anxiety disorder and major depression. A common pharmacological treatment for these conditions involves enhancing the amount of serotonin available in an effort to activate the receptors using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.
Rodent studies of CBD in anxiety and stress reveal that CBD similarly enhances serotonin receptor activation. In rats, a low-to-moderate dose of CBD has anti-anxiety effects following a stressful period of restraint (the rat equivalent of being placed in a straitjacket for an hour), but these anti-anxiety effects go away when the serotonin receptor 5-HT1a is blocked ahead of time. This suggests that low doses of CBD near the peak of the rodent’s inverted-U response reduce anxiety by activating 5-HT1a receptors.
Similar CBD doses in humans have been shown to be effective at reducing anxiety in individuals with generalized social anxiety disorder, and low to moderate doses are effective at reducing stress and improving performance in a simulated public speaking event. These positive effects are associated with a restoration of normal brain activity in key regions associated with anxiety and emotional dysregulation.
The positive effects of CBD in treating anxiety are experienced at about 25% of the dose used to treat epilepsy. That higher effective dose level reflects additional CBD brain targets beyond those active in treating anxiety.
While CBD activation of 5-HT1a receptors is insufficient to protect against seizures, a promising target for CBD’s antiepileptic effects is the receptor GPR55, which initiates a cascade of events that can have diverse effects in brain cells. CBD is an antagonist of GPR55, blocking its function and altering brain activity in a way that may protect against seizures. When administered in higher doses, though, the benefits of lower concentrations may be lost. Anti-anxiety effects, for instance, seem to be obstructed while higher concentrations of CBD work to block GPR55 receptors.
Identifying CBD’s many neural targets and their sensitivity is an exciting area of ongoing research. But knowing the optimal CBD dose for treating different conditions is a critical component of successful CBD treatment. The current research suggests that anxiety and depression-related disorders (e.g., obsessive compulsive disorder, autism, acute stress) respond best to low-moderate CBD doses, while epilepsy responds best to higher CBD doses.
Being able to titrate CBD dosing for specific disorders will lead to more efficacious CBD-centric therapies and reveal treatment strategies that may be able to combat multiple ailments at once. CBD’s Goldilocks Zone for treating anxiety illustrates the need for an improved understanding of the compound’s therapeutic mechanisms, while highlighting its vast treatment potential.
Does CBD Help with Anxiety?
Many of us battle stress and anxiety in different forms. The truth is our lives are constantly changing; adapting to these changes can be difficult. It is important that we tune in, in order to challenge ourselves to cope with these changes with more effective strategies. Life will continue to test us, we can only become better students. The emergence of new research suggests that CBD could potentially relieve symptoms related to anxiety and stress. CBD presents a great holistic option for combating several mental health issues.
“CBD” also known as Cannabidiol is extracted from the cannabis plant. It is important to note that the hemp and marijuana plant are very different while they still are both derived from the cannabis sativa species. Tetrahydrocannabinol better known as THC (a psychoactive compound); differentiates hemp from marijuana that of which contains a low concentration of CBD coupled with a high concentration of THC ranging from 5%-30%.
Hemp is known for its medicinal benefits related to its high concentration of the CBD compound and low concentration of THC. While cannabidiol oil research is still in its infant stages, new evidence suggests that CBD can relieve symptoms related to anxiety. In order to understand how CBD helps with Anxiety, we must determine the definition of Anxiety and how it is caused. Anxiety can be defined by feelings of dread, unpreparedness, and feelings of panic/danger recurring more and more often, leading to intrusive thoughts and physical reactions.
These feelings can be caused by several different life changes such as stress from a personal relationship, job, school, or financial predicament that can contribute greatly to anxiety disorders.
How Does CBD help with Anxiety?
New research proposes that CBD may help with general anxiety as well as anxiety-related disorders such as SAD (social anxiety disorder). Brain scans of participants revealed changes in blood flow to the regions of the brain linked to feelings of anxiety. So, how does CBD help with anxiety? Research indicates that CBD works with CB1 and CB2 receptors which are found in the central nervous system it is possible that this may alter serotonin levels.
Research continues to investigate how CBD leverages these receptors in order to help monitor the way the human mind responds to anxiety. In a recent study taken in 2016; exploring the effects of CBD on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and anxiety-related sleep disorder in children researchers found that cannabidiol reduced anxiety while promoting a full sleep cycle.
It is proven that Serotonin has at least 14 different receptors, but CBD specifically binds to 5-HT1A which is thought to have the strongest role in anxiety disorders, this scientific fact explains the anti-anxiety effects of CBD on rats exposed to stressful situations. Science suggests that CBD could help counterbalance the brain damage associated with chronic stress. Put simply, CBD is proven to stimulate the growth of new neurons in the brain suggesting that CBD can potentially treat brain damage.
People are often shocked to know that our genetics are a major contributor to how we process stress. Small differences in our hormones or neurotransmitters (like serotonin and norepinephrine) can massively impact how we respond to stress. In addition, the second variable that has a direct impact on how we process stress includes environmental & lifestyle toxins that affect our neurochemistry. With that being said, our diet and environment directly impact our likelihood of feeling symptoms related to anxiety.
How much CBD should I take for Anxiety?
When taking CBD it’s important to investigate the best starting dose for you. Typically you should consider a few variables before purchasing CBD:
Bodyweight can impact CBDs affect on the body. For example, a heavier person may need a higher potency while a lighter person may require and lower potency to experience the same effects with a lower dose.
Looking at the concentration of CBD per 1ml dose is very important in understanding how much CBD is being ingested per dose. Most products will measure the amount of CBD per bottle it is important to note the difference between the amount of CBD in each bottle in comparison to the amount of CBD per dose.
The level of pain or discomfort you are experiencing will help you determine what dosage is most suitable for you. If you consider your symptoms to be mild you may want to consider a lower dose.
A recent study by the National Cancer Institute – a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – states that overdosing on CBD is virtually impossible, and the same is true of THC and marijuana. Per the report: “Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from Cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.”
How to Use CBD Oil for Anxiety?
There are several ways to ingest CBD. Research suggests that CBD is best absorbed sublingual and inhalation transmission is the most effective way to take CBD.
The term sublingually requires the individual to place the oil beneath the tongue; this allows the body to absorb the CBD oil immediately through the bloodstream. A CBD capsule even a supplement would have to be absorbed through the digestive tract, which may take longer or result in a less potent effect. While CBD lotions or creams are absorbed through your skin which is also considered to be one of the most effective ways to absorb medicinal benefits.
According to Dr. Weissman, starting with a CBD tincture will give you the full CBD experience. When taking CBD oil under your tongue hold the oil under your tongue for 1 minute to allow your body to fully absorb the oil.
However, doctors remain open to suggesting several different options which could potentially be effective depending on the subject!
Finding Your Perfect CBD Oil Dose
Figuring out your CBD dose takes tim e and consistent use. Because every dose is unique to the in dividual and can vary based on environmental changes, such as stress and hormones – we offer Tarot CBD & MCT oil in 500mg and 1000mg options. You’ll have to spend some time and put in a bit of effort to find out your exact dose, but in the end, it will be worth it.
How to Dose CBD Oil
There are three things we can’t stress enough when starting a new wellness routine; be consistent, track your results, and dose thoughtfully. Just like diet and exercise, you can’t expect to try CBD once and solve all your life’s problems. CBD should be taken at the same time each day, for 4-6 weeks for best results. Track your daily dose and jot down notes when you notice improved moods or faster pain relief. And lastly, be mindful of your dose. CBD can cause drowsiness. If you’ve never taken CBD before it is best to start at night, before bed.
Calculating your CBD Dose
We’re believers of consistent dosing of our tinctures—both the amount and time that you take them. For personalized dosing, first, consider your individual health needs and desired effects to determine how much CBD you’ll need. Studies suggest taking 2-10mg of CBD per every 10 pounds of body weight. Here’s a cheat sheet to help you visualize your CBD needs:
- 2mg for every 10lbs: Overall wellness
- 4mg for every 10lbs: Mild pain and anxiety
- 6mg for every 10lbs: Moderate or persistent pain and anxiety
- 8mg for every 10lbs: Severe pain, sleep disorders, severe anxiety
Lucky for us, there’s an app built specifically for calculating your CBD dose based on your weight and ailment(s). Once you’ve calculated the best dose for you, we suggest keeping the same dosage for about a month or until you start to notice changes. For best results, start a journal or take daily notes so you can track your dosage and the effects it produces. From there you can adjust your dosage amount accordingly. Keep in mind that figuring out your ideal dosage isn’t a one-time thing. Your dosage needs may change periodically as your lifestyle, mood, and environment do.