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The Science Behind How Hemp-Derived CBD Helps with Everyday Anxiety

You’ve heard a lot about CBD, maybe from a friend, maybe on the news, maybe from social media. But how does it work?

While there’s still much we don’t know, here’s what we do know about how CBD can help with your everyday anxieties.

You don’t have to look far to see the effects of stress. Sleep that was once sound is now restless; heart rate feels faster than usual; it can be a constant state of alertness, which tends to feel more like panic.

Stress is one of the biggest impediments to the immune system, which can make you vulnerable to illness, according to Dr. Jen Palmer, ND, Director of Education for Charlotte’s Web, the industry leader in both manufacturing and cultivation of full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD.

These days, the halting of daily life due to the coronavirus pandemic highlights the persistent hum of anxious minds and bodies around the globe. While we know that stress is at an all-time high, thankfully we have more knowledge than ever before about how to manage it.

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The Case for CBD

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the most prevalent compounds in high quality hemp. Unlike THC, the intoxicating compound in marijuana, CBD does not get you “high.” A double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that taking CBD helped preserve a sense of calm in people who typically have negative reactions in social situations, as compared to placebo.” 1

“Most research has been around social anxiety, yet it can help in other anxiety-inducing situations as well,” says executive wellness consultant Stacy Mobley, NMD, MPH. “Of course, each person’s constitutional makeup, digestive health, processing and elimination times alongside other medical background will affect their CBD results.”

Not only can CBD help those with everyday anxiety to quell daily stress, but it can also help with situational stress as well.

“A research study was published that showed that taking CBD prior to public speaking helped support a sense of calm for the speakers, and supported both normal heart rate and blood pressure during the activity,” says Dr. Palmer. “Full-spectrum hemp extract can support our efforts to remain calm.” Charlotte’s Web™ Calm* Gummies contain L-theanine, an amino acid to support relaxation, and lemon balm, a calming herbal extract in addition to hemp-derived CBD.

As more is learned about CBD, it has become more popular.

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How it Works

Dr. Palmer believes our bodies were designed to use and benefit from cannabinoids including CBD. This is because receptors located all over our bodies are supported by CBD, and then used to create balance throughout various systems of the body. This system of receptors, called the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, helps to support and balance all the systems of the body, such as the nervous, cardiovascular, and immune systems.

“Unfortunately, many common, everyday factors, such as poor diet, aging, chronic stress, and environmental toxins, like pesticides, impair the production of endocannabinoids,” Dr. Palmer says. She suggests eating organic produce, avoiding cooking foods in plastic, and getting moderate exercise (while social distancing) to boost their production. In addition to CBD, Palmer says that hemp contains a medley of plant compounds that work together to support and enhance the effects of CBD. The phenomenon of this synergistic relationship is known as the “entourage effect.” This is why a full-spectrum hemp extract is often recommended, over a CBD isolate.

It’s complicated, but the key is what’s going on in your brain when you experience everyday anxiety and how CBD can help support relief.

“Our brains and bodies contain CB 1 and CB 2 receptors,” explains Dr. Kasey Nichols, ND. “These receptors, which are stimulated by CBD, influence many aspects of our health, including modulating inflammation and calming anxiety.”

Beyond receptors, CBD can also impact neurotransmitters, the molecules that travel between the nerve endings in the brain, conveying information.

“CBD specifically increases a naturally occurring neurotransmitter called anandamide which helps calm anxiety by increasing pleasure and joy,” says Dr. Melissa Sophia Joy, ND. “It does this by binding the endocannabinoid receptor CB1, which positively affects mood.”

Finding the Right CBD for You

It’s easier than ever to find a CBD product to fit your needs — but it’s vital to find one that’s both high quality and thoroughly tested. Dr. Palmer recommends you do your research and be selective. There are over 3,500 CBD manufacturers.

“There are huge variations in quality among the many brands,” says Dr. Palmer. “The first criterion to confirm is that the product actually provides the amount of CBD which is stated on the label. Make sure every batch has been through rigorous testing for residual solvents, pesticides, and heavy metals.”

Dr. Palmer advises that this information should be available on the company’s website in a certificate of analysis or COA. She also suggests looking for a full-spectrum hemp extract made from sustainably grown hemp.

CBD Misconceptions and Myths

One of the most common questions about CBD is whether it can cause a high, similar to that experienced when using marijuana recreationally. The answer is a resounding “no.”

“CBD is non-intoxicating and creates balance throughout the body,” says Dr. Palmer. “Only THC causes a euphoric sensation and hemp is defined as containing less than 0.3 percent, which is too low to be intoxicating.”

Another misconception is the legality and safety of CBD.

“This is probably because hemp was only legalized and removed from the Schedule One Controlled Substances list in 2018,” says Dr. Palmer. “The World Health Organization (WHO) assured us that CBD is safe and beneficial in a review paper published years ago.” 2

“CBD products are extremely safe, with minimal side effects,” says Dr. Nichols. “Each person is different, and there are several options for using CBD for everyday anxiety. There has never been a reported death contributed solely to an overdose of CBD products.”

Nichols says that at higher serving sizes, CBD can be helpful to promote sleep. “Using a larger serving of CBD at night (usually around 50mg) can be an excellent option for getting a good night’s rest.”

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Which Method of Taking CBD is Best for You?

Dr. Palmer says that the majority of people choose to start with one product and gradually move on to others.

“Most people who are new to using CBD often feel most comfortable starting with a topical product,” she says. “After experiencing how well that works, they become believers and go on to take it orally, as an oil, capsule, or gummy.”

Preferences for taking CBD are as varied as the people who consume them, though some methods may be more convenient or versatile than others, depending on your lifestyle. Three popular ways to take CBD: by capsules that you swallow; orally in a tincture; and topical, which is typically a balm or cream placed directly on your skin.

Topicals are designed to be applied to the skin. For instance, the Charlotte’s Web™ Hemp-Infused Balm Stick with CBD is a new topical formulation designed to help target specific areas of the body that need a little extra care.

Those who have trouble with sleep may choose Charlotte’s Web™ gummies for their nutraceutical ingredients that provide even more health benefits — like the three milligrams of melatonin, in addition to 10 mg of CBD that helps support healthy sleep cycles.

Dr. Palmer says that some CBD users prefer taking CBD as an oil, because it offers serving-size versatility. Others prefer the convenience and consistency of a capsule. Palmer adds, “I recommend taking hemp-derived CBD at least twice daily for optimal benefits.”

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The Bottom Line

The benefits of CBD on the body are far-reaching, says Carrie Lam, MD, FAAMFM, ABAARM. “Researchers now consider CBD receptors to be the most extensive receptor system in the body. These receptors are involved in how the body addresses pain, immune function, and regulation of metabolism, not to mention food cravings, bone growth, and anxiety. This receptor system is believed to play a role in almost all physiological activities. It supports energy storage and intake, cell communication, emotional balance, memory, sleep, reproduction, and more.”

The science is clear and supports what so many have been saying about CBD: That it is a valid and useful option to help support a healthy lifestyle, including managing everyday anxiety and getting good rest.

1 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0269881110379283
2 https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf