I Tried CBD To Manage My Anxiety—Here’s What Happened

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My baseline level of anxiety is really high. I operate on what other people probably consider a medium to high level of stress. In addition to being exhausting, chronic stress is linked to health issues like obesity, heart disease, depression and gastrointestinal issues. Fun stuff.

So, as a perpetually anxious person, I've tried nearly everything to manage my symptoms. When I began to hear buzz about CBD and its supposedly magical stress-reducing properties, I was curious with a healthy dose of skepticism. But, naturally, I had to try it for myself. Because not only are the personal testimonials compelling, there's actually science to back them up. Here's what happened when I added CBD to my daily wellness routine.

Homepage, and bottom imagery by:Sandra Semburg; marquee and above image by: ImaxTree

WTF Is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound found in hemp, but it's not psychoactive, unlike some of other hemp compounds you may have heard of (THC, for instance). Because it's not psychoactive, it won't get you high. In the short term, it can help you relax and relieve anxiety. It takes about two weeks to a month to get the long-term benefits (more on those in a minute).

The Supplements

CBD has become more widely available thanks to its increased popularity. And there are various ways to ingest the supplement: capsules, oil, flavored beverages, even CBD-laced chocolates. I'm partial to Charlotte's Web Everyday Plus Hemp Oil (this was the first CBD I ever tried) because it's easy to take—I put it in my smoothies—and comes in a mint chocolate flavor that pretty much masks the earthy taste. I also like Sagely Naturals Relief And Recovery Capsules, which contain 10mg of CBD plus anti-inflammatory turmeric. One other product that works well for me is Habit Purified CBD Water, which I was introduced to during a tour of Medmen's flagship store (basically the Apple store for cannabis). It was my first time in a dispensary, but that's a story for another day. They recommended this water to help with anxiety and post-workout recovery. It's also quite delicious.

How It Works

I feel the short-term benefits of CBD within 15 minutes of taking the Charlotte's Web for the first time. I almost immediately feel calmer and more relaxed. My brain, which is usually going 1,000 miles an hour, slows down so I'm able to focus better. I may have taken a touch too much, because I also feel a little sleepy. The next day I scale back a tiny bit and get the stress relief without the drowsiness.

Over the next two weeks, I gradually up my dosage to about 20 milligrams a day, but like with any new supplement, you should figure what's right for you.

I feel so much less stressed. After taking it consistently for a month, I find I'm much better able to cope with stressors that before would have sent me reeling toward a panic attack. Unrelated to anxiety, I also notice I get much less sore after going to the gym. These are long-term benefits of CBD. After about a month of consistent use, CBD helps regulate systems in your body, helping reduce anxiety even if you haven't just taken it. (At first, the calming effects only last a couple of hours.)

As a health and wellness writer, I've tried a lot of things that are ultimately just marketing gimmicks. CBD is not one of them. It's one of those rare wellness trends I believe actually lives up to the hype.