Gretchen Lidicker thought cannabis wasn’t for her, leaving her paranoid and with heart palpitations. But once she tried CBD, she realized the opposite was true. It made her feel so good she wrote a wh One editor explains how she took CBD oil every day for a week to help her anxiety, plus the difference between CBD and weed. Learn more here. Having suffered from sport-related pain and anxiety for years, Adam started to see huge improvements after incorporating CBD into his routine.
CBD Completely Changed How I Handled My Anxiety
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“It’s made from one of the main compounds in marijuana,” the barista explained as I was taking my first sip of a hot chocolate at The End, an eclectic Brooklyn cafe known for creating the unicorn latte. I froze. Panic washed over me. It was 2017 and the last time I’d consumed any type of marijuana—more than three years before—I’d experienced paranoia, heart palpitations, and I’d fainted. (Yes, fainted. And yes, it was embarrassing.) The barista assured me that I would not get high from the CBD in my drink, so I kept sipping. Instead of panic, I felt a cozy sense of calm.
As someone who’s long suffered from anxiety (starting with general pangs of uneasiness about why we’re here on earth that date back all the way to Kindergarten, maybe even earlier), I wasn’t about to let my experience with CBD begin and end with that latte. Over the years I’ve learned to master my anxiety. er, at least I’ve befriended it so we can co-exist. I’ve done this mainly by accepting that this is just the way my brain works sometimes and limiting my intake of caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, and exercising and meditating regularly (if you have anxiety and haven’t tried these things—do). But despite all my progress, feeling anxious—even if it’s just occasionally—sucks. I don’t think anyone with anxiety would turn their nose up at a natural, quick fix.
Gretchen Lidicker: Author, CBD Oil: Every Day Secrets
On the G train home, I took out my phone and started Googling CBD—short for cannabidiol, one of the many compounds found in the marijuana plant. I was fascinated by the idea that I might benefit from a plant I had long regarded as “not for me.” My search led to a lot of confusing and convoluted articles, most of which were written by people peddling CBD products. I have two science degrees and still found myself confused about how CBD, hemp, marijuana, THC, and cannabis all fit together. The confusion made me all the more motivated to figure out exactly how to use CBD the correct way.
As someone who’s been studying alternative medicine and herbs for years, I knew that cannabis was one of the most powerful plant medicines ever discovered. To be honest I’d always been bummed that seemingly something about my physiology meant I would never really understand its benefits. But here was a realization. I was hooked on the idea that I’d just been underestimating the complexity of the plant and that there was hope yet for cannabis and me.
I started experimenting with different doses and delivery methods, looking for the moment when I understood what all the fuss was about. I’d felt calm after that first latte, but one experience wasn’t enough to convince me it was anything more than a hope-filled placebo effect. I wanted to crack the code on CBD and figure out an exact equation, something like: I took X amount of CBD via Y delivery method and got Z effect. The second time I tried CBD is was a sublingual oil at 5 milligrams (mg), which seemed to do nothing. Then I tried 40 mg twice a day and felt sleepy and lightheaded. I moved on to creams, balms, tinctures, sprays, vape pens, bath bombs, drinks, eye creams, and serums. There’s no official dosage recommendations for CBD; this sloppy trial-and-error approach is pretty standard for the newly curious.
By the end of that year of experimentation, I was so deep down the cannabis rabbit hole that I’d begun writing what ultimately turned into my first book, CBD Oil: Everyday Secrets. (opens in new tab) I was also working full-time at a media company, meaning the book was written in what felt like 80, 35-minute increments that were squeezed in at 11 p.m. on Tuesdays, 8 a.m. every other Monday, and on the weekends when all my friends were being carefree and eating tacos without me—which triggered some major anxiety. Much to my dismay, it turns out that writing a book about a compound with anti-anxiety benefits does not make you immune to book-related anxiety. (Even in my most panic-ridden moments, the irony of having CBD book–fueled anxiety was not lost on me). But I just doubled down on the idea that clearly, we could all benefit from some all-natural anxiety relief.
My research took an important turn when I leaned that the best CBD products offer an “entourage effect:” when THC and other compounds in the cannabis plant help bolster CBD’s unique anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating, and anxiolytic properties. This entourage effect seemed like some abstract trip until I experienced it first hand. While visiting California in early 2018, I kept seeing non-psychoactive, high-CBD cannabis oils sold in dispensaries across the state. More accurately, most of the high-CBD cannabis oils were sold out due to the high demand. I tried out some of these California CBD oils, which are differentiated mostly by the ratio of CBD:THC they contain, looking for the ultimate ratio for my anxiety. I (very cautiously) made my way from 30:1 to 20:1, 18:1 to 10:1, and all the way down to 8:1, which is considered the threshold for intoxication. Of course there were a few mishaps, since not all brands test their products’ THC content and others often mislabel their offerings. But I slept them off, ate some snacks, and learned to distinguish the good brands from the not-so-good ones.
One of my favorites? Care By Design. I visited their manufacturing facility in Northern California, had a two-hour-long conversation with their chief scientific officer, and settled on their 18:1 CBD:THC oil. I take two or three drops under my tongue and the results are subtle but nice. When I’m in the crowded train carrying three heavy bags, I don’t feel cortisol coursing through my veins in quite the same way. When I’m bombarded with emails and a million tasks to complete in one day, I’m better able to sit still and tick them off one by one without my body going haywire.
I also keep the 8:1 CBD:THC ratio oil from Care by Design on hand, mainly for flights and acute anxiety situations like a panic attacks. The effects of the 8:1 are noticeable—I might equate it to a very subtle xanax.
If I’m using one of the hemp-based CBD oils available in all states, I take a 15 to 20 mg dosage of CBD oil by Lord Jones or Bloom Farm when I’m stressed, traveling, or feeling less-than-optimal. (It’s a life-saver if I’ve had one too many cocktails the night before.) I also use a combined CBD and THC topical balm from Papa & Barkley on my chronic neck and jaw pain, which is exasperated by my anxiety and the fact that, like so many people in 2019, I sit staring at a screen for most of the day. I’ve tried everything for my neck pain—from acupuncture and chiropractic work to physical therapy and massage. These all helped to varying degrees but nothing gave me quick relief except Advil, which has been problematic since I’ve basically made it my life’s mission to reduce my use of over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
When I discovered topical cannabis lotions (I use one that’s even higher in THC—a 1:3 ratio of CBD:THC—since applying it topically won’t give you a negative reaction), it changed the game for me. Even though cannabis is expensive, it’s nothing compared to going to physical therapy twice a week. The science on topical applications of CBD is still very much in development, but I can tell you that it really, really works for me.
I started using CBD as a total skeptic. But after I did my research, it upended my life: my approach to stress management, how I feel about cannabis as a whole, even my career. Many people still feel the way about CBD that I used to. But my hunch? Pretty soon our entire country’s opinion of CBD will be changed, too.
Gretchen Lidicker is the author of CBD Oil: Everyday Secrets (opens in new tab) and the forthcoming Magnesium: Everyday Secrets (opens in new tab) (available April 30, 2019).
I Took CBD Oil Every Day for My Anxiety—Here’s What Went Down
Dana Myers, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker and life coach based in Philadelphia. She has a special interest in how race, sex, gender, ethnicity, social status and competencies impact those in marginalized communities and aims to help her clients find purpose and peace in life.
Michelle Regalado is a seasoned editor, fact-checker, and content strategist with expertise in women’s lifestyle news.
When I first learned about CBD oil, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical. My mind immediately turned to weed and the unnerving experiences I’d had with heightened anxiety in college. For me, a person who’s already predisposed to overthinking, marijuana, no matter what the form, would typically put my mind into overdrive and result in a common yet dreaded side effect: Paranoia. But, let’s back up a bit. What even is CBD?
What is CBD?
A bit of online digging led me to realize that the active ingredient in Charlotte’s Web Everyday Plus Hemp Oil, the product I’d been offered to test, was the chemical compound CBD, which stands for cannabidiol. Unlike THC, the other crucial compound in hemp and marijuana plants, CBD (when derived from the hemp plant) does not produce the psychoactive effects that make you feel “high”; instead, emerging science has hinted that CBD may actually ease anxiety, and therefore, makes you less likely to freak out.
For example, one study comparing the effects of THC and CBD found that, while THC increased anxiety by activating the neurotransmitters involved in the “fight or flight” response, CBD actually repressed autonomic arousal—or the nervous system response associated with sudden increases in heart rate or respiration. In other words, CBD may be ideal for people looking to relax and unwind.
While the science behind CBD’s effectiveness for treating anxiety, pain, and insomnia is still in its infancy, Charlotte Figi’s inspiring story sounds promising. Figi, a 6-year-old girl diagnosed with a rare and resistant form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome, was placed on hospice care and given a “do not resuscitate” order when her parents, desperate and frustrated with pharmaceutical medication, considered medical marijuana; specifically, a strain low in THC and high in CBD. Charlotte is now nearly seizure-free since she began supplementing with Charlotte Web’s CBD oil, which the brand named after Figi.
Legal and Safety Things To Know About CBD
The current CBD industry is like the internet’s early years. the Wild West. Legally, speaking, a Harvard Medical School blog post reads, “All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction, and while the federal government still considers CBD in the same class as marijuana, it doesn’t habitually enforce against it.” With heightened interest around CBD, it’s important to note that because CBD is currently unregulated, it’s difficult to know what you’re getting (whether that’s a tincture—commonly referred to as CBD oil, which is often combined with a carrier oil like coconut oil—topical products like creams and balms, sprays, or capsules), despite product labels and brand promises, the blog post further reads. It’s also important to note that people experience CBD differently. For the most part, the National Institute of Medicine says that while most people can tolerate CBD, side effects do exist. They might include dry mouth, drowsiness, and reduced appetite, among others.
That said, those interested in exploring the potential benefits of CBD should consult with their doctor (especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or currently taking medication) and be mindful of your dosage, writes Consumer Reports. And before you buy, Megan Villa, co-founder of the hemp-focused website and shop Svn Space, told Shape magazine to seek out a certificate of analysis. “Ask for a COA for the batch number of the product you have, since these products are made in batches,” she said. “You need to match the batch number to the COA that pertains to it.” Then, scan the report for potency (i.e. does the number of milligrams of CBD that the product label touts match the lab report?), contaminants and pesticides, and mold (which should live under the “Microbiological Testing” part of the report). Go a step further and note whether the testing lab is GMP (Good Manufacturing Principles) certified, and whether the lab is registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Shape magazine also suggests purchasing CBD products made from domestically-grown hemp, and reading up on the difference between full- and broad-spectrum and CBD isolate.
With that, I threw caution to the wind and asked for a sample. Here’s what happened—including what it feels like—when I took one full dropper of Charlotte’s Web’s Everyday Plus Hemp Oil in the mint chocolate flavor every morning for seven days.
My First Impression
It was actually a bad bout of jet lag after a trip to California that inspired me to finally test out the CBD oil (I’ll admit that my weed-based reservations kept me from trying it for the first few months). Knowing that the oil had also helped people with sleep issues, I squeezed one full dropper of the Everyday Plus oil onto my tongue, per the instructions, and waited.
Thirty minutes later, I was surprised by how subtle the effect was. While I expected a hazy nodding-off effect similar to melatonin’s, the oil simply relaxed my body ever so slightly—my heart stopped pounding against my chest, my legs stopped kicking beneath my sheets, my mind stopped racing. I wasn’t sure if it was the oil or the late hour, but eventually, physical relaxation gave way to mental relaxation, and I drifted off to sleep.
Reflecting the next morning, I was most surprised by the fact that I never felt “high” in any way—there was never a moment of It’s kicking in; I can feel it now like with pain medications or even anti-anxiety drugs. Considering it takes time, consistency, and the right dosage to experience the full effect, I continued taking the oil once a day for the next six days. Here’s what went down.
It Made Me Less Anxious and Edgy
Rather than overthinking a sternly worded email or analyzing a social interaction, I found it easier to recognize the irrationality of these thoughts and actually let them go.
While normally I’d be slightly tripped up by little things like an overly crowded subway car or a full inbox at work, the CBD oil seems to have taken the edge off of my anxiety a bit. Rather than overthinking a sternly worded email or analyzing a social interaction, I found it easier to recognize the irrationality of these thoughts and actually let them go. In some ways, I feel more like myself. With that said, I’ve still experienced some social anxiety when meeting new groups of people—I’d be interested to see what taking the full recommended dose would do.
I’m More Focused At Work
I work well under pressure, but being extremely busy at work has almost made me less productive—I’m constantly distracted by email, Slack, and the people around me, to the point where getting my work done becomes difficult. This week, however, I’ve found it easier to put my blinders on, block out all distractions (especially social distractions), and focus on one task at a time. I think this is partly related to the lessened anxiety—I feel more frazzled and off task when my anxiety is running high. It almost feels like a newfound sense of clarity and calm that enables me to focus.
I’m Falling Asleep Faster
I assume this is also a side effect of feeling less anxious, but I seem to fall asleep faster; within the 20-30-minute range rather than my normal 45 minutes to one hour (or longer). Not only do I seem to be skipping or at least shortening the whole tossing-and-turning phase of my sleep cycle, but I’m able to snap out of the overthinking that often keeps me up at night. Of course, there’s no telling whether a big life event would disrupt this newfound bliss, but I’d like to think it’s helped on a day-to-day basis.
My Experience With CBD
Would I say that CBD oil has fundamentally changed my life? No. But per the Charlotte’s Web website, this is the typical first experience. “Anyone who has ever started a new vitamin or supplement routine knows the short answer to how long it takes to kick in is—’it depends.’ For many newcomers, they’re not sure what to imagine, or some anticipate a huge change right away. For most of us, though, dietary supplements take time.”
With that said, I’m definitely intrigued enough by the subtle effects to continue taking the oil and to possibly up the dosage to the recommended two full droppers of the 30mL bottle per day. Plus, I take comfort in knowing that it’s an all-natural product that’s responsibly grown on family farms in Colorado. Something that’s safe, legal, requires no prescription, and makes me less anxious, less scatterbrained, and more focused? I’m definitely on board.
Explore the World of CBD
Looking to learn more about CBD? These are some of my favorite products to help get you started.
For those new to CBD, Charlotte’s Web recommends this hemp oil. Containing 17mg of CBD per 1mL serving, this CBD oil is also U.S. Hemp Authority Certified. Choose from four different flavors including Lemon Twist, Mint Chocolate, Orange Blossom, and Olive Oil.
Go deep on the subject of CBD with this book that includes case studies, interviews with doctors, an overview of the latest cannabis research, and how scientists are exploring cannabis for various medical uses. There is also an explainer about the difference between CBD products made from industrial hemp versus in a lab, and products made from the whole marijuana plant.
Charlotte’s Web inaugural CBD oil product comes in two flavors; Olive Oil and Mint Chocolate. It’s also its most potent. According to its website, its Original Formula Hemp Extract Oil comes with 50mg CBD per mL.
Gretchen Lidicker puts a lifestyle spin on the world of CBD as the author draws on the “knowledge of leaders in the health and wellness world” to explain why CBD has become a top beauty and wellness trend for top athletes and celebrities. The book also includes recipes and recommendations for how to choose a top-quality CBD product.
This travel-friendly roll-on is packed with CBD and fragrant essential oils, including lavender, bergamot, and chamomile, for an easy de-stress quick fix. The result? “That elusive feeling of wakeful calm,” reads the Sagely Naturals website.
With this book, CBD is explained from A to Z and breaks down the good, bad, and ugly of a fledgling industry that is poised for rapid growth. CBD: 101 Things You Need to Know About CBD Oil covers what it is, why people take it, who it’s for (and who it isn’t for), its myriad forms, and more.
Lord Jones’ High CBD Formula Body Oil combines CBD with organic avocado, jojoba and safflower oils for smooth, hydrated skin. Each bottle has 100mg of CBD.
Charlotte’s Web’s Extra Strength Capsules feature 25 mg of CBD per capsule. The website offers capsules as a convenient and precise way to take CBD—on the go, stash them in your gym bag, pocket, etc.
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-836. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: A large case series. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041
“CBD has changed my life for the better”
“I have experienced issues with anxiety over the years,” says Adam, a 40-year-old medical sales representative.
He trains community and hospital nurses on medical products; a job which involves presenting to large groups of people, often in high pressure situations.
Due to the stress of his job, which he has been doing for the past four years, Adam (who asked to remain anonymous) says he has felt anxious and, as a result, sometimes struggles leading training sessions, especially with larger groups.
He had to learn to live with this anxiety which, in his words, “wasn’t particularly pleasant”.
Adam describes himself as an active person with a keen interest in running. He trains at the gym four to five days a week and due to his intense training schedule, regularly experiences after-effects, such as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and fatigue.
“In the past I always reached for the Ibuprofen either in tablet or muscle rub formats to deal with any pain after the gym and running,” he says.
It wasn’t until his colleague mentioned a family member’s use of CBD for an injury that Adam started researching the supplement.
He continues: “When I started working in my current role, a colleague of mine mentioned that his dad had been suffering with an injury and inflammation on his knee. He told me he had been taking CBD oil from a company called Canaxen to help alleviate it.
“His dad had been dealing with the problem for some time and after taking the CDB oil, it had reduced the inflammation and allowed him to recover. As I was regularly using Ibuprofen at the time to help recover from DOMS, I thought I’d give it a go.”
But what Adam didn’t realise was that CBD also had the potential to treat another of his afflictions; his anxiety.
“I soon realised that when taking CBD oil regularly, it would also help manage my anxiety,” Adam says.
“It allowed me not to worry about presentations and training very large groups of nurses at work.”
Adam started off on six drops of Canaxen’s ‘Bronze’ option every morning and afternoon, which made a “huge difference” to his day-to-day life.
“It’s difficult to explain the feeling you get from CBD oil,” he says. “I find it relaxes me but not to the stage where I want to go to sleep or that I feel intoxicated.
“Unfortunately, there is a huge stigma attached to anything that is linked to cannabis, which I think is down to the lack of education and potentially stories of people trying a product with THC in and having a bad experience.”
After a year on the 500mg option, Adam decided to try the company’s 1000mg ‘Silver’ CBD oil, which he claims worked even more effectively, alleviating the effects of his sports training and as well as his anxiety at work.
He also noticed improvements to his skin. Having dealt with acne throughout his life, he says that the condition is now “non-existent”.
Adam adds: “I now feel I can’t live without this product. CBD oil is now a part of my daily routine. It’s done wonders for me at work which has been noticed by others. Nothing at all fazes me now, but before I found CBD I did struggle from time to time.”
Three years after he started takin the oil, Adam is a keen advocate for the supplement, recommending it to friends, family and colleagues “whenever an opportunity arises”
Adam adds: “I’m so pleased I had that conversation with my colleague and that I found Canaxen because it has literally changed my life for the better.”