Hemp CBD for Anxiety
by Dr. Aimée Shunney
Stressed out? Anxious? You are not alone. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders1, and a 2018 study from the American Psychiatric Association found that 57% of women and 38% of men aged 18–49 reported feeling more anxious currently than in the previous year.2
While occasional feelings of anxiety are a normal part of life, persistent anxiety that negatively affects relationships, mood state, productivity and sleep patterns is abnormal and requires intervention.
As a naturopathic doctor, I interact with patients on a daily basis who prefer to address their anxiety without medication. Fortunately, there is a veritable cornucopia of dietary, lifestyle, nutrient and herbal approaches that can be safely and effectively used to optimize the stress response and support a stable mood.
My current favorite anti-anxiety supplement is hemp CBD (cannabidiol). CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids that have been isolated from the cannabis plant, and it has garnered tremendous attention for its non-intoxicating effects and myriad of potential health benefits including powerful anti-anxiety properties. As the research suggests3, CBD has become a safe, fast-acting, reliable choice for me, and it has allowed a number of my patients to be anxiety and medication-free.
So how does it work? CBD helps to balance the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a system whose job is to maintain homeostasis, or balance, in our bodies. It helps the body respond to stress by modulating endocrine function, regulating the fight or flight instinct, and mounting a healthy immune and inflammatory response.
It is also involved in the direct regulation of appetite, metabolic health, pain or inflammation, thermoregulation, intraocular pressure, sensation, muscle control, motivation and reward, mood state and memory. No wonder it has so many potential uses! I use CBD from full-spectrum hemp—as opposed to marijuana—because of the following reasons:
- It is available in almost 2,000 independent health food stores nationwide and across the internet as well.
- Hemp has low THC that can exacerbate anxiety in high doses.
- This is a dietary supplement which makes it easy to find “gold level” companies that are transparent about raw materials and chemicals used, and engage in third-party batch testing to ensure content and quality.
- Hemp benefits the environment because it replenishes the soil and sequesters CO2. As compared to indoor-grown cannabis, it requires no electricity—versus grow lights or climate control systems—and requires 80% less water.
CBD is extremely safe and well tolerated, and safety is essential with this ingredient because there is no magic dose. What it takes to balance your ECS could be different than what it takes to balance my ECS. And what it takes to balance my ECS could be different at varying times. This jives with my clinical experience of patients needing less over time as they create more balance and more resilience. So as a general rule, start low and go slow—especially if you have anxiety. You might be surprised at how little you need.
Dr. Aimée Shunney is a naturopathic physician in private practice at Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine in Santa Cruz, California, where she specializes in women’s health, bioidentical hormone balancing and functional digestive issues. She is a medical advisor to CV Sciences, the maker of PlusCBD Oil. For more information, visit DrShunney.com.
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