Fact: I, along with 40 million other Americans, struggle with anxiety. While I don’t feel it is by any means out of control or a daily occurrence, it is definitely a semi-regular visitor to my life. And while my diet and regular exercise have all helped keep my anxious thoughts, stressful moments, and restless nights at bay, they still creep in, particularly during especially busy seasons like the holidays or before big trips or events. So, with the holidays rapidly appearing on the horizon, I thought it would be the perfect time to test out the latest craze in anxiety-relief: CBD.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the meteoric rise of the trendy ingredient courtesy of the cannabis industry. "Cannabidiol know as CBD is one of over a hundred active compounds (or cannabinoids) in the cannabis plant," says Cindy Capobianco, president and co-founder of Lord Jones, manufacturer of CBD-infused products. "CBD acts as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory so it reduces pain and inflammation ... When ingested, CBD acts as an anti inflammatory and analgesic, addressing pain relief, mood stabilization, relief from anxiety and promotes a calm sense of well-being."
For that reason, CBD has rapidly become the pet of the health and wellness industry, and is being infused in everything from lotions and bath products to essential oils and mouth drops. In fact according to market research company Brightfield Group, CBD is growing faster than cannabis in the U.S. and will soon be a $22 billion industry. That’s not exactly small potatoes.
Despite the fact that CBD has been the talk (and toast) of the town for the past couple years, I never took the initiative to give it a whirl. Perhaps it was due to some of the early misconceptions surrounding it. Or perhaps it was because I didn’t know how it would fit into my life or routine. Or perhaps it was simply lack of education. Either way, up until about a month ago, CBD and I had yet to be formally introduced and, in my heart of hearts, I think I believed it to be all fluff. The novelty of an accessible cannabis product made me wary and questionable of its legitimate benefits.
But after a year of hearing friends and colleagues tout the benefits of the sacred ingredient, the chatter around CBD as an anxiety reliever got the best of me and I decided to see what the fuss was all about. In the name of research, I dove into the CBD pool feet-first and went for a well-rounded approach to see if this miracle derivative could in fact help with my stress levels, the constant thorn in my side — er, brain. I decided to sample three-four different products from some of the top CBD brands in the game over the course of a couple weeks.
Now, one thing to note is that, according to holistic cannabis practitioner Janice Bissex, the timing and range of effects of CBD vary for every person. "If you’re using a salve that you apply topically, you’ll know in 15 minutes if it's working for you for pain and inflammation," she explains. "With tinctures and soft gels, sometimes it takes a week or two." As it turned out, I designated about two and a half weeks to this experiment, one week to the roll-on, another to the tincture and about two nights to the bath salts.
For context, my timing for this experiment was kismet in that my anxiety was poised for action. Between the upcoming winter holidays, marathon of family events, and my consistently busy work schedule and commitments, ‘twas the perfect storm for stress-filled days ahead.
The first CBD vehicle I decided to take for a test-drive was a CBD Roll-On by Sagely. I love the convenience of this little bottle, as it can toted around in even the smallest of purses or stored in your desk and whipped out at a moment’s notice.
I actually swiped the oil quite a bit. As instructed, I applied the stuff across my forehead, on my temples and on my neck. In the course of a week or so, I found the formula to be helpful in soothing minor headaches, but not considerably impactful in alleviating stressful moments or anxious thoughts. However, that's not to say the product is ineffective — it may just need more time to kick in.
Despite the results, I actually still keep the roll-on handy for any incoming minor headaches or pains that may come on throughout the day (I also love the scent!).
The second stop in my CBD quest was a digestible tincture by Lord Jones. This brand in particular for several reasons. First of all, its products land on the more luxurious side of the CBD spectrum, with products ranging from $50 to about $85 in price. I’d also heard some primarily positive things from colleagues about Lord Jones’ offerings, so I was definitely intrigued.
I decided to try the tinctures throughout an especially busy work week of deadlines and meetings. Mornings can often be primetime for anxiousness, particularly on days when my calendar is packed to the brim, so I decided to indulge in a drop (which delivers 10mg of CBD) of Lord Jones’ tincture in Peppermint every morning for a few days in row.
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. While subtle, I definitely experienced a boost in my mood as I went about my jam-packed week. While back-to-back meetings and a packed inbox typically overwhelm me in an instant, I found myself considerably more collected and calm than usual. Another interesting benefit was a clearer mental state. Stressful days can typically perpetuate my already scatterbrained mind and make me forgetful or easily distracted. In the days that followed my consumption of the tincture, I felt more clear-headed and able to process things a bit better.
Again, the results were not earth-shattering, probably due to the fact that my small testing of the product is considered micro-dosing, according to Dr. Perry Solomon, chief medical officer for HelloMD. "Even when you micro-dose, it's possible to feel better," he says, explaining that, when it comes to relieving anxiety, it's best to start with smaller doses and to increase your dosage over time (after a couple weeks) until you reach the desired result. "Everyone's physiology is different," he explains. "There’s no magic dosage number as everyone is different."
My last piece of the CBD puzzle involved bath salts. I enjoy a bath from time to time, and heard a CBD-infused one would help me wind-down at night and sleep better. Now, sleep is a very important component in my overall health and wellness routine. Anxiety is a common hindrance in my snoozing routine, as it can keep me from actually falling asleep and/or staying asleep. It’s very common for me to wake up in the middle of the night drowning in irrational anxious thoughts because I just can’t get my mind to shut off.
I decided to try Theramu’s Soothe Therapeutic Bath Salts right before bedtime (around 9 p.m. because eight-hour sleep sessions are always what I strive for). As instructed, I poured two capfuls of hemp extract-infused salts (about 10mg) into a warm bath and soaked for about 15 minutes.
Bath’s are always an indulgent practice for me and this one was no different. I felt relaxed but still slightly distracted as I attempted to read shut-down a bit from my busy day. After getting out of the tub, I proceeded to launch right into my nighttime skincare routine and jumped right into bed. I typically take melatonin to help me fall asleep, but this time I decided to forgo the natural sleep-promoters (which help me fall asleep, but don't always keep me asleep) and let the bath salts be my lullaby for the night.
While melatonin typically kicks within 15 minutes or so for me, I found it took me a bit longer to get to a sleepy state this time around — about 25 to 30 minutes or so. However, I slept very well. I woke up briefly in the middle of the night but went straight back to sleep without any anxiety or stressful thoughts creeping in.
I also woke up surprisingly refreshed, which is rare these days. I typically wake up very sluggish and exhausted, but I actually arose about 15 minutes earlier than usual and found getting out of bed to be fairly easy. Now this could simply be a result of skipping melatonin (which can is proven to lead to grogginess if you overdo it), but it’s worth noting in the name of research.
All in all, I don’t think my experience with CBD products was life-changing or earth-shattering, but I definitely understand that the benefits can increase and be useful over time.
A couple of pro tips to consider if you decide to give the CBD trend for a spin yourself:
- Make sure the CBD product is derived from organically grown cannabis or hemp. "The plant is a bioaccumulator, which means it sucks sucks toxins and pesticides from the soil," says Bissex. "So, do your research."
- Make sure your CBD product does in fact contain CBD. Dr. Solomon explains that while CBD can come from the hemp plant, it is not found in the hemp seed itself. "Many vendors are selling hemp seed oil-infused products, which people assume contains CBD," he says. "Pay attention to labels and the ingredients included in the products you're buying."
- Always consult with a physician before taking CBD products to ensure they don't interfere with medications you might be taking.
*Readers should note that the regulations and data surrounding CBD are still developing. As such, the information contained in this post should not be construed as medical or legal advice. Always consult with your doctor before trying any substance or supplement.