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

Dana Myers, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker and life coach based in Philadelphia. She has a special interest in how race, sex, gender, ethnicity, social status and competencies impact those in marginalized communities and aims to help her clients find purpose and peace in life.

Michelle Regalado is a seasoned editor, fact-checker, and content strategist with expertise in women’s lifestyle news.

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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?

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.

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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.

My Experience With CBD

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.

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Explore the World of CBD

Looking to learn more about CBD? These are some of my favorite products to help get you started.

For those new to CBD, Charlotte’s Web recommends this hemp oil. Containing 17mg of CBD per 1mL serving, this CBD oil is also U.S. Hemp Authority Certified. Choose from four different flavors including Lemon Twist, Mint Chocolate, Orange Blossom, and Olive Oil.

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 50mg CBD per mL.

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.

Lord Jones’ High CBD Formula Body Oil combines CBD with organic avocado, jojoba and safflower oils for smooth, hydrated skin. Each bottle has 100mg of CBD.

Charlotte’s Web’s Extra Strength Capsules feature 25 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.

Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-836. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1

Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: A large case series. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041

CBD DOSING GUIDE – How Much Should I Take? [UPDATED]

UPDATED March 2, 2021 – Ready to reap the benefits of CBD? Awesome. One of the things that is most important to understand how much CBD you should be taking and what a suggested dose is based on. Much of this is dependent on our individual bodies and there is not an official serving size, in this post we cover some dosing guidelines and suggestions to assist you. As you might guess, much of this is a function of our individual weight and metabolism and body chemistry. Dive in and see what is best for you so you can get the most out of your C+L supplements and improve your personal preparation, performance + recovery.

Let’s start by addressing some common misconceptions about CBD. First off: you can’t get “high” using CBD. In order to be legal for sale in the US, CBD can’t contain more than 0.3% concentration of THC, the psychoactive compound responsible for the sensation of “getting high”. In simple terms: virtually no amount of CBD could be consumed to trigger the psychoactive effects commonly associated with THC. Put another way, there’s small amounts of alcohol in toothpaste, but you’re never going to get drunk by swallowing tubes of Colgate. That said, it is important to figure out the right dosage for your needs.

How Much CBD Should I Take?

Dialling in the correct dosage for your body is an important part of getting the most out of your CBD supplements. Once you’ve found the right dosage you’re not only going to get the most benefits from your supplements and feel great, but you’re also going to guard against wasting money by using excess product.

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As a baseline, our suggested dosage is 0.25mg CBD multiplied by your body weight in pounds on a daily basis. Therefore, a 120 pound person should take 30mg CBD daily (0.25 x 120 = 30), and a 200 pound person should take 50mg CBD daily (0.25 x 200 = 50). Ideally, split your doses equally between morning and evening. With this formula you can now easily figure out your suggested dose.

That said, there is no ‘official serving size’ or standard dose’ and it varies from person to person. Your ideal dosage will be based on a variety of factors including your weight, metabolism, the type of product you’re using (tincture, softgel, topical), and body type. For the best potential for success, we recommend some experimentation and consistent usage to determine the right dosage for you. It can take 2-3 weeks to determine the proper dosage, but once you witness CBD’s effects on your body you’ll be in a better position to decide how much to take and when to take it, so be patient and take your time.

CBD Dosage

  1. Tinctures – taking the correct amount of tincture can be confusing, so we are going explain it in detail. This is going to be easy using the information from the formula we introduced above. First, you need to be mindful of which strength of tincture that you purchased, 500 or 1000mg. Remember, our examples are based-on only using tinctures, so adjust accordingly if you are also using softgels, oral spray or topicals.
    1. Now, if you purchased a 500mg Tincture, the full bottle will contain ~600 drops worth of tincture and each drop will contain approximately 0.8mg of CBD. Now, if you recall from reading above, we suggest a dose of 0.25mg multiplied by your bodyweight in pounds. For example, if you are 120 pounds you should be taking 30mg CBD per day for best results. Here is our formula 0.25 x 120 = 30mg, and now to convert that into drops, we take 30mg and divide that by the 0.8mg per drop and you get ~35 drops (experiment with between 30-40 drops and see what works best for you). For a 200 pound person, our formula suggests a does of ~60 drops per day (experiment between 60-70 drops per day and see what is optimal).
    2. Let’s run through this same exercise using our 1000mg tincture bottle which also contains ~600 drops of CBD oil. It is important to note that since this product is 2x the concentration that each drop now contains ~1.6mg of CBD. For the same 120 pound person that we used as an example above, you would now take ~15 drops per day (experiment with between 15-25 drops per day to see what is optima)l. For the 200 pound person, they would take ~30 drops per day (experiment with between 25-35 drops per day and see what works best for your body). Check out our PREPARE Tincture for your morning routine or RECOVER Tincture in the evening or 60 minutes before bed.

    Dosage Tips

    In order to figure out the right dosage for you, here are some basic steps to start with:

    1. Start Small – We recommend starting with smaller doses and gradually increasing as needed. Although too much CBD won’t cause any harm, taking more than you need could waste product unnecessarily. If you’re a tincture user, start with 1/2 of our suggested dose for the first week of your PREPARE Tincture in the morning or one dosage of RECOVER Tincture in the evening 60 minutes prior to bedtime.
    2. Take Daily – Everyone’s body is different when it comes to CBD. Many people need to build up the substance in their system in order to start seeing benefits. If you don’t see results right away, keep up your daily doses for four weeks, paying close attention to the changes you sense in your body.

    Once you’ve figured out your ideal CBD dose you’ll be able to feel confident as you start maximizing the positive benefits of your CBD routine and enjoy the effects it has on your personal preparation, performance and recovery.