Cannabidiol (CBD), cultivated from the cannabis plant, is being used to relieve anxiety and promote holistic well-being, offering therapeutic effects without the high of other cannabis-based substances.
“People are using CBD as a natural alternative to anti-anxiety medication and some also use it in conjunction with medication,” says Kristen LePage, ND, a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist based in the Chicago area.
The hemp used to produce CBD is cultivated to have little or no THC, the psychoactive substance in marijuana, so there’s no mind-altering effect. Hemp-based CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC are legal and available over the counter in Illinois, whereas CBD extracted from marijuana falls under the state’s medical marijuana rules.
CBD targets receptors in the endocannabinoid system throughout the nervous system. The result is a soothing remedy for racing thoughts and anxious ideas without many of the side effects of prescription medications.
CBD is available as an oil, capsule, chewable gummy or topical cream or tincture. Doses range from 2.5 mg to 50 mg or higher, with a middle dosage around 20 mg to 30 mg. LePage cites sleepiness or lethargy as the main side effects, but these symptoms are typically only seen in very high doses.
“I see people take CBD as needed for situational anxiety,” LePage says. “Many are using it as a natural alternative.”
Erin O’Donnell is a freelance health and science writer, parent, and graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Walks by Lake Michigan make her happy.