THE LEVEL – If there’s anything we have learned as we navigate the coronavirus, it is that we are not alone in terms of feeling stressed out about our health and the future.
The issue spans ages, genders, socio-economic status and beyond. Motherly found that 97% of Millennial Moms said their stress due to the pandemic is at an all-time high.
Since the pandemic began, surveys show that Americans collectively are reporting more signs of stress, anxiety and related conditions. One study of half a million U.S. residents found that anxiety screens were up 634% from January and depression screens were up an astounding 873%.
About 30% of Americans have symptoms of clinical anxiety or depression, all the result of the pandemic and the impact it is having on our mental health, according to Census Bureau data cited in the Washington Post.
Scientists and others are looking to help. It turns out the more “happy chemicals” our body produces, the better we feel, according to researchers who are studying how serotonin — the happy chemical that regulates our mood and reduces anxiety and depression — and CBD interact.
A significant percentage of individuals with chronic conditions are experiencing more elevated levels of stress and anxiety issues as a result of the pandemic according to the Arthritis Foundation, which is among numerous advocacy organizations calling for the expedited study and regulation of CBD.
The interest in CBD is so high, that the Foundation issued a CBD Guide to help members navigate education, dosage and safe shopping.
Nearly 80% of its members use or are considering CBD use, according to a 2019 survey conducted by the Foundation. But does it work?
“Some, but not all, survey respondents report noticeable pain relief, sleep improvement and/or anxiety reduction,” according to Arthritis Foundation spokesperson Claire Villines
Patients who have chronic pain often experience higher stress and anxiety levels, so it’s not surprising that the American Academy of Pain Medicine is among national organizations advocating for CBD regulations and research.
Its largest and fastest growing group of constituents is consumers. Nationwide more than 80% want to see CBD regulated, according to Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumer League, a consumer advocacy organization calling for the regulation of CBD.
In addition to amping-up our body’s “feel good” chemicals, CBD also helps to lower fear and anxiety triggers, according to an array of research studies.
In a 2019 study, published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, researchers found that 300–600 mg of CBD significantly reduced anxiety symptoms in 57 adult males.
Similarly, a 2019 sleep and anxiety study published in the Permanente Journal found that 79% of study participants experienced an improvement in their anxiety after one month of CBD use. Further improvements were seen over the next 30 days of use, according to 78% of study participants who reported additional improvement in anxiety over the prior period. A small number of study participants (15%), however, found that CBD increased their anxiety.
In another audit, 70% of New Zealand study participants indicated some level of satisfaction with CBD use, and associated improvements in their overall quality of life and ability to perform daily functions.
If you feel your symptoms increase in the winter months, you’re not alone in this area, either. In regard to seasonal effective disorder (SAD), a 2010 study revealed promising reductions in anxiety levels among participants.
In a 2015 report published in Neurotherapeutics., researchers cited evidence of CBD’s efficacy in regard to treating panic (PT), post-traumatic stress (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive (OCD), in addition to SAD and GAD.
Preliminary research results show that CBD is more effective in lowering anxiety than THC and shows more pronounced reduction in female subjects than in male subjects, according to Cinnamon Bidwell, director of the Center for Research and Education Addressing Cannabis and Health at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Bidwell said data collection for the study is ongoing through 2021, and she is looking to expand her research to include a more diverse patient sample.
CBD-based products come in many forms. It can be taken orally, applied to the skin, or inhaled. Talk to your doctor and/or a CBD specialist to explore which might be best for you.
TINCTURE/SPRAY (Under Tongue). Tinctures are one of the most popular forms of CBD. Place tincture liquid under the tongue (sublingual) for 60 to 120 seconds to aid absorption and speed delivery into your bloodstream. Sprays are becoming more popular and work in a similar fashion. Whether you use a tincture or spray, most users feel effects within 15 to 45 minutes of dosing.
When you place CBD under your tongue, it gets absorbed directly into your bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system and metabolization by the liver.
Product taste varies by brand, so it may take some experimentation to find the right product for you. There are enough flavors and varieties to suit most any taste preference from mint and fruity flavors to more earthy varieties.
ORALLY (By Mouth). Whether in capsule, food or liquid form, CBD is absorbed more slowly through the digestive tract. The process can delay the onset of the effect (1- 2 hours) depending on your stomach acids, food consumption, and other factors.
CAPSULES. (By Mouth). Capsules are a very reliable method that allows users to manage a consistent dosage of CBD. They are also are tasteless, odorless and convenient for individuals who are always on-the-go.
TOPICAL (On the Skin). Topical CBD lotions, balms, and rubs can be applied directly to the skin. Some contain additives like menthol, capsaicin or camphor, which enhance the effect of the product. Critics note that these additives may mask the efficacy of the CBD product. Users that question CBD’s impact are encouraged to use CBD products that don’t contain additional additives so they can evaluate CBD’s effectiveness.
Studies are underway to determine exactly how much CBD is absorbed via topical applications. Most users feel effects near immediately.
VAPE/INHALER (Inhaled). CBD can be inhaled via a vaporizing or vape pen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating vaping-related hospitalization and deaths, which appear to be associated with additives, not the vaping compounds themselves.
CBD use recommendations vary. Experts advise:
Liquid forms of CBD require users to be mindful of both the amount of liquid product (the dose) and the among of CBD in each dose (concentration).
Experts say it is best to “go low and slow,” starting with just a few milligrams of CBD in sublingual form twice a day. Wait about a week before amping-up dosage and increase in small and equal increments over time. Once you find your sweet spot, you’ll have a better idea of how many milligrams you’ll need in order to notice a result.
There are a number of things to look for when buying CBD. Chief among them is where it’s grown. Look for U.S. grown products manufactured with domestically grown ingredients.
Check manufacturing processes. As CBD increases in popularity, more CBD brands are following Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) guidelines set forth by the FDA and other regulatory bodies to ensure consumer safety.
Look for a companies COA (Certificate of Analysis) from an accredited independent laboratory that uses validated, standardized testing methods approved by the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) or the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists (AOAC).
Every batch of every product made should be tested and available for customer review.
Leave the research to the researchers. Credible CBD brands cannot nor should not claim that their products cure health conditions.
Editor’s Note: As with any supplement, users should seek medical advice before use.