Main image credit: Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash
This is pretty well known among smokers and ex-smokers, but the science backs it up, with anxiety, sweating, and a heightened heart rate being commonly observed in clinical studies around cannabis withdrawal.
This is a real problem for people trying to overcome a cannabis habit, or even for those trying to take a short break from smoking.
But in recent years, CBD has been growing in popularity, in part due to a range of suggested health benefits that includes reducing anxiety. So, does this mean CBD for smokers is a potential way to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal and more easily manage addiction?
We’ll take you through the scientific evidence that exists so far, but first, how does CBD for anxiety work at all?
CBD for Anxiety: Benefits & Effects
While studies into the benefits of CBD for anxiety are relatively early still, there has been a surprising amount of positive evidence found.
A study in 2015 concluded that not only can CBD reduce stress and anxiety in patients suffering from PTSD and other disorders, but that it also did so without the risk of causing or exacerbating anxiety, something that the most commonly prescribed anxiety medications still hold the risk of doing. Other studies have found similar conclusions, including a more recent one that stated that CBD is often more well tolerated than accepted antipsychotic medications.
It has even been suggested that CBD can help reduce social anxiety!
While exactly how this effect works remains unclear and further studies are required, it is commonly hypothesized that these benefits come from the interactions between cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system.
The ECS interacts with all other systems in the body such as the immune system and endocrine system in order to promote wellbeing and maintain a healthy balance, so it would logically follow that these interactions are what can lead to reduced anxiety in many cases.
But how does this make sense, when smoking cannabis has a reputation for giving certain people panic attacks? How is it possible that a single plant can both cause anxiety in some situations, and reduce it in many others?
There have been several studies into panic attacks caused by recreational cannabis smoking, but almost all have pointed to THC being the cause, especially in cases where somebody with very little history of cannabis use intakes larger than usual amounts.
Whatever the cause, thus far, there is absolutely zero evidence that CBD can cause or worsen anxiety, and plenty of evidence that it can reduce it.
Using CBD To Help Quit Cannabis
When people quit smoking marijuana, it’s not unusual to feel on edge, sweaty, and to have some level of heightened anxiety. This can be as small as a mild tremor, or as severe as repeated panic attacks. Evidence suggests these symptoms are often more severe the longer a person has been regularly smoking.
This is typically a temporary issue, with evidence showing that anxiety was often recorded as being heightened in the first 0-3 days of abstinence, but rapidly dropped off afterwards.
Regardless, this is a serious issue, because for these 3 days people going through cannabis withdrawal often feel extremely uncomfortable, and feel that the only way to feel normal again is by smoking. This remains one of the biggest obstacles to quitting, period.
Fortunately, the evidence strongly suggests that taking CBD oil during this time period can dramatically reduce said symptoms and increase the likelihood of success quitting smoking.
Of course, the next question is how should a person in such a situation take CBD oil for maximized benefits?
Many people have found excellent results from vaping CBD oil. This is the fastest way to get CBD into the system from a bioavailability standpoint, and also has the benefit of being a habitual replacement for smoking.
But there is a pretty big downside to this - CBD vape liquids tend to be made from CBD isolate, which is 100% CBD with no other cannabinoids involved.
This is a problem because it means you miss out on the “entourage effect” - the name given to the fact that presence of other cannabinoids have been found to increase the effects of CBD.
Having all cannabinoids present in a CBD product, especially in the naturally occurring ratios in which they exist in the plant (as opposed to being added later), has been suggested to make the health benefits of taking CBD oil way more pronounced.
As a result, it is likely that people attempting to use CBD oil to treat anxiety will find much better results using a CBD oil tincture that is broad spectrum. Broad spectrum CBD only simply means that it contains the entire hemp plant extract, including all other cannabinoids, with the only thing removed being CBD.
Hemp plants also have a wide range of other beneficial ingredients beyond cannabinoids - including vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, terpenes and healthy Omega fats.
While broad spectrum CBD oil isn’t as convenient for somebody trying to quit smoking as vaping is, it is much more beneficial and can easily be added to foods, smoothies or other drinks in order to make it as easy to take as possible.
Photo by Itay Kabalo on Unsplash
CBD for Anxiety Dosage
Another common question around this topic is how much CBD should be taken in an attempt to reduce anxiety when quitting smoking cannabis.
One study that found a positive result gave patients 25mg per day. A test on mice that also found a beneficial impact, gave mice the equivalent dosage of 20mg for an 150 pound person.
This gives us a good rough guide, but fortunately there has been no reliable evidence of major negative side effects of CBD overdosing, or even that such a thing is possible.
As a result, it is often a good idea to start small (~1-5mg) and increase your dose by around 1-2mg per day until you find the optimum results for your symptoms. If you keep experiencing improved results even above 25mg, then keep going - as mentioned, any negative side effects are very unlikely.
How Long Before CBD Helps with Anxiety Symptoms?
This question is very difficult to answer because the length of time can vary from individual to individual.
When using CBD to manage anxiety as a side effect from quitting cannabis, you shouldn’t experience symptoms for any longer than 3 days to a week, since after that time your withdrawal itself should start to reduce. CBD can play a beneficial part in reducing these symptoms during that time period.
If symptoms persist for longer than this, it is possible we are talking about a long term case of anxiety disorder instead of just symptoms of withdrawal.
In this case, we would of course recommend contacting your GP. It’s also worth mentioning that no specific time period can be given for CBD to cause a beneficial result in this situation. This is because while CBD is very likely to reduce the anxiety symptoms and help with sleep and relaxation, it is not going to outright cure a condition and would likely need to be taken in the long term as part of an ongoing treatment plan.
Best CBD oil for Anxiety
If you’re somebody struggling with anxiety after quitting smoking cannabis, and were reading this article to see whether CBD could help, your next question might be “which CBD oil is best to use?”.
This is an important question because unfortunately, the massive increase in demand for CBD has led to several sketchy companies to appear, selling CBD products that don’t contain other cannabinoids, or that in some cases don’t contain CBD at all.
The relatively premature stage of research and regulations means these people are likely to get away with it for a while longer, but luckily there are high quality options available from places prioritising quality such as Evopure.
It’s crucial to look for a CBD oil that is:
● Broad spectrum (explained above)
● Organic (some pesticides can cause anxiety making this an absolute must)
● Has nothing else to dilute the effects (some add other ingredients and oils and try to sell these as additional benefits, but really they just water down the cannabinoid content)
In addition to all of the above, it’s important to go for a brand that produces it’s hemp sustainably. While this has nothing to do with increased effects, hemp farms are rapidly popping up all over the world, and it’s crucial to ensure the ones that succeed and grow are those that aren’t damaging the earth in the long term.
SmokersGuide.com takes pride in featuring high quality articles to its readers, however does not assume liability for the claims and medical facts presented by the author. Please check with your doctor or medical practitioner, before consuming any products containing CBD, THC or any other products recommended here. Make sure to always check for advised dosages, and please keep all THC and CBD products (including vapes, flowers, oils, concentrates or edibles) away from children, animals and any persons who may not desire to consume them. Make sure to clearly mark all products with warnings about the contents, and store all products in locked, child-proof containers, to avoid accidental ingestion. Please check your own country's laws regarding CBD and THC, and make sure shipping is allowed. SmokersGuide.com content is always created in countries where cannabis products are legal, for medicinal and/or for recreational uses. Smokers Guide does not encourage the use of cannabis in countries where its consumption is illegal.