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I Took CBD Oil Every Day for My Anxiety—Here’s What Went Down

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?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, which comes from the Cannabid sativa plant (also known as marijuana). It’s a naturally occurring substance used in oils and edibles to help calm and relax.

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.

The Verdict

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

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 “the most hemp extract and cannabidiol (CBD) content per serving.”

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.

Charlotte’s Web’s body cream combines aloe, coconut oil, and shea butter with 300 mg of CBD per ounce. It’s also available in an unscented version, and both are made with GMO-free and sustainably grown ingredients.

Sagely Naturals’s Relief and Recovery Capsules includes 10 mg of CBD per capsule, with the addition of turmeric and vitamin E.

Charlotte’s Web’s Extra Strength Capsules feature 18 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.

One editor explains how she took CBD oil every day for a week to help her anxiety, plus the difference between CBD and weed.

What does CBD oil feel like?

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Contents

  1. Does CBD make you feel good?
  2. Different types of CBD oil deliver different effects
  3. What are the side effects of CBD oil?

CBD is said by many to have a relaxing and soothing effect, but you’re not going to feel this non-intoxicating cannabinoid the same way you would THC. To explain how CBD truly feels, we need to look at how both THC and CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

CBD is said to have a relaxing and soothing effect. The effects are much different than THC. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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The ECS is made up of endocannabinoids, receptors that cannabinoids bind to, and enzymes that break them down. While THC activates the CB1 receptors, CBD induces the opposite outcome, instead inhibiting activity in the CB1 receptors.

Aside from CB1 receptors, CBD also binds to several other targets throughout the body. For instance, this non-intoxicating cannabinoid has at least 12 sites of action in the brain and may elicit therapeutic effects by activating multiple pathways at once.

The interaction between CBD and the body may create a feeling of relaxation and improved mood. Studies and anecdotal evidence also suggest that CBD offers therapeutic value in the treatment of chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, and other ailments.

Does CBD make you feel good?

You might have heard about the various purported health benefits of this non-intoxicating cannabinoid, but how does CBD feel once it enters your system?

Many consumers and medical patients report several positive effects after taking CBD, including feelings of relaxation and calmness. But the exact feeling you’ll get from CBD is contingent on several factors, including the type of CBD product, the total CBD dosage, and individual-specific factors.

How CBD affects you depends on your body’s chemistry and the type of product you select. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Depending on the treatment or therapeutic relief you seek, the effects of CBD can vary. Different CBD products may prove more beneficial than others. For instance, CBD-infused topicals have been reported to provide relief in pain-specific areas, while a CBD oil with a 1:1 CBD-to-THC ratio could be better suited to help with falling asleep, perhaps also producing an intoxicated feeling, depending on the level of THC.

Individual-specific characteristics such as the consumer’s weight, diet, metabolism, other medications, genetics, and medical conditions, as well as the formulation and quality of the CBD product itself could all influence the amount of therapeutic value that CBD will offer.

Not only does it depend on the individual, but also their ailment or condition. Depending on the therapeutic needs, different CBD products may prove more beneficial than others.

Different types of CBD oil deliver different effects

When you stumble upon a wide selection of CBD oil products, there might not appear to be much differentiating them. However, not all CBD oil will make you feel the same. In fact, the effects of various CBD oil products can differ drastically.

Hemp-derived vs. marijuana-derived CBD oil

There are two main classifications of cannabis plants that produce CBD: hemp and marijuana. Though the CBD molecular structure is identical regardless of source, there’s a difference between the chemical makeup of hemp and marijuana plants, which can lead to CBD oil products with different effects.

Industrial hemp plants are typically grown for their fiber and seeds, and tend to be skinny and scarce in foliage. Hemp plants and hemp-derived products are considered legal under U.S. law, as long as the plant contains no more than 0.3% THC. Therefore, hemp-derived CBD oil will have little to no THC, which will prevent consumers from feeling any of the intoxicating effects that stem from this cannabinoid.

On the other hand, marijuana-derived CBD is extracted from marijuana plants that have thick, lush foliage and flowers, typically with higher levels of THC than CBD, although there are several CBD-rich cultivars on the market. Marijuana-derived CBD oil often contains much higher levels of THC than hemp-derived products, so consumers may want to brace for the effects of THC. These products are legally available on the adult-use market and in certain medical marijuana states, but remain illegal on the federal level.

Not all CBD oil will make you feel the same. There are many types of oil out there, so make sure you know where the oil in your products was sourced. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Although the intoxicating feeling of THC might be something you wish to avoid, it’s important to note that CBD and THC have actually demonstrated a synergistic relationship when taken in tandem, a phenomenon commonly known as the “entourage effect.” For example, when CBD is consumed alongside THC, people tend to experience less of the paranoia and anxiety associated with high THC concentrations. The inclusion of other minor cannabinoids and terpenes could also contribute to the experience and to how you ultimately end up feeling.

When it comes to the purported effects of CBD oil products, we’re not only looking at hemp-derived and marijuana-derived products. The additional cannabis compounds and ingredients (or lack thereof) also play a significant role in the consumer experience. There are major differences between broad-spectrum CBD oil, full-spectrum CBD oil, and CBD isolate.

Full-spectrum CBD oil

When a CBD oil product is labeled full-spectrum, that means the plant’s original terpenes and other types of cannabinoids, including cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), and importantly, THC, have not been filtered out during the extraction process.

Broad spectrum CBD oil

Broad-spectrum CBD oil derived from hemp is similar to full-spectrum, as the oil contains most of the cannabinoids from its original state. However, the key difference here is the additional extraction process that filters out all traces of THC. With the THC removed, consumers don’t need to worry about encountering any feelings of being high, but can still reap the potential benefits of other minor cannabinoids and terpenes.

CBD isolate

Another option for consumers is CBD isolate, which comes in the form of a crystalline solid or white powder. Stripped of all other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, CBD isolate is the most refined form of the non-intoxicating cannabinoid, containing upwards of 99% pure CBD. With all THC and other compounds removed, CBD isolate is the purest possible form of CBD available.

CBD isolate is the most refined form of the non-intoxicating cannabinoid, containing upwards of 99% pure CBD. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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What are the side effects of CBD oil?

Although CBD does not produce the same adverse side effects as THC, should you be concerned about feeling or encountering any other side effects from the cannabinoid?

While research has found that CBD has a much better side effect profile compared with most other drugs, a large dose of CBD can still have potentially adverse effects on the user. A 2017 study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research concluded that while CBD had a “favorable safety profile,” there were side effects reported by participants, including tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite or weight.

In addition, CBD may cause other side effects in some individuals, including nausea and irritability. Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and contributor to the Harvard Health Blog, discussed these potential side effects in a 2018 post, writing, “Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements.”

For this reason, it is vital to consult with your physician before beginning a regimen of CBD products, including CBD oil. Be sure to discuss any current prescription medications and possible drug interactions prior to starting CBD.

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