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Can CBD help with anxiety?

If you ask anyone who knows me well, they’d probably list “stressing” as one of top skills. Whether it’s a work assignment or dating problem, I tend to overanalyse and fret about all the things that could go wrong. Instead of endlessly ruminating on these hypothetical scenarios, I tested whether CBD supplements could help me relax and take my stress level down a notch.

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is one of roughly 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant — and unlike its brother THC, it doesn’t get you high. Among its many purported health benefits, researchers are studying whether CBD could be a viable treatment for a variety of ailments including anxiety.

Scientific studies on CBD are still pretty limited, but preliminary research suggests it might help with managing anxiety. In 2011, a very small study of 24 people showed that participants who took CBD before public speaking were less anxious during their speeches. Though we’re still waiting on a clearer picture of how CBD impacts our bodies and brains, Dr. Esther Blessing, psychiatrist at New York University, told NPR that current data seems promising.

“I think there’s good evidence to suggest that CBD could be an effective treatment of anxiety and addiction” and other disorders, Blessing — who received funding from the National Institute of Health to determine whether CBD could help people with PTSD — told the outlet. “But we need clinical trials to find out.”

A constant worrier, I tested whether CBD would help my stress levels. It’s worth mentioning that although I get anxious, I haven’t been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

The experiment

I tried Medix CBD Edible Chews – Citrus Strawberry, a chewable capsule that contains 99.9 per cent CBD Isolate, for three days. The first night, I experienced a massive muscle spasm in my inner thigh. Since I’d never had a Charley Horse before, I initially wondered if the CBD could be to blame, but now I’m certain it was just a coincidence.

I’m pretty active, hitting the CrossFit gym three to four times a week, so it’s natural for my muscles to get tired. Plus. CBD has been shown to soothe sore muscles — not cause them more pain.

The other two days, I took one capsule in the morning and went about my day, but didn’t feel any different. I wasn’t particularly stressed about anything, but everyday annoyances still irritated me. I went to a self-service laundry on Sunday and had to wait 20 minutes for a washer to open up; this put me behind for the day, and I frantically sped through the rest of my errands feeling cranky and stressed.

The bottom line

Although the CBD tablets didn’t work wonders for me, that’s not to say that they can’t help with anxiety. Anecdotally, many people on Reddit report feeling more relaxed and less anxious after taking CBD supplements.

But Dr. Margaret Haney, professor of neurobiology at the Columbia University Medical Center, warns that science doesn’t yet support these claims. “We’re in the infancy of cannabis science,” she said. When it comes to claims that CBD can help with pain, sleep, or anxiety, Haney warns that we’re still waiting on the hard science.

“As a society we’ve jumped very far ahead of our use of CBD. We don’t have any of the data, and we really struggle to understand where and how it’s doing anything.”

But don’t get her wrong — she’s hopeful that future studies show the hype around CBD’s alleged benefits is legitimate. “I actually am very excited about CBD,” Haney added. “I think there’s tremendous potential.”

A version of this article originally appeared on


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