A Natural Chill Pill?
The connection between CBD and anxiety
CBD is funny. Usually the thing you order as an add-in for your smoothie is not the same thing that’s mixed into your lip balm, used as a key ingredient in cat treats, slathered on Melissa McCarthy’s feet before the Oscars, and studied by medical researchers as a possible treatment for cancer, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s.
A major health and wellness trend that’s hitting many industries at once, CBD is a natural biochemical that’s found in the cannabis plant. Although it doesn’t make you feel high (THC—another chemical found in cannabis—is responsible for that), CBD was entangled for years by the same laws that restrict marijuana. After a new law concerning hemp passed last year, CBD’s legal status in the U.S. suddenly changed, making the substance widely available—for both retail sale and scientific research.
Why Are People So Excited About CBD?
It depends whom you ask. Much of the enthusiasm for CBD is based on personal and anecdotal evidence—meaning, you need to take it with a grain of salt—but you hear the same stories over and over. CBD is widely credited by everyday users as being effective in a few main areas: improving sleep, reducing pain, balancing mood, and decreasing inflammation. Among many everyday users, it’s also thought to reduce anxiety—which is one of the key areas that CBD researchers are investigating, too.
Does CBD Really Help with Anxiety?
So far, early evidence has been promising. One study zeroed in on the type of anxiety that comes from public speaking. Researchers gave CBD and clonazepam (the prescription anti-anxiety drug) to 60 study participants aged 18-35 and asked them to deliver a speech. The results suggested that when it came to the anxiety felt after public speaking (interestingly, not during but after), 300 mg of CBD was as effective as clonazepam.
Two years earlier, another team of researchers examined the experiments related to CBD and anxiety that had been performed to date. Their findings? “Preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely.” In 2017, another review echoed that “CBD seems to be a promising drug for the treatment of PD,” or panic disorder.*
While the research may be exciting news for sufferers of anxiety, as is true for most aspects of CBD, officially speaking, the jury is still out. As you might have already noticed, the research into CBD is all over the map—more than 50 clinical trials are currently planned or underway to look at CBD’s potential use for everything from cancer and alcohol abuse to PTSD, arthritis, chronic back pain, and anxiety. So far, however, the FDA has only approved CBD to be sold as a drug to treat epilepsy. (Sold under the name Epidiolex, CBD is prescribed to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy.)
Apart from this official stamp of approval, CBD is still in the research phase, and it may be many years before we’ll know conclusively whether CBD is effective or not as a treatment for anxiety or anything else—and, if it is, what dosages of CBD work best.
CBD and Anxiety: The Takeaway
So, where does this leave the casual anxiety sufferer who’s curious about trying CBD to ease stress? For now, all roads lead back to personal stories. Isabel Vigil, Red Door’s National Director of Retail, shared two of her own. Along with Monique Blake, Red Door’s National Director of Body, Vigil spent a year researching more than a dozen CBD-skin-care makers to find the right CBD product line for Red Door. (Vigil and Blake eventually discovered the Colorado brand Color Up Therapeutics, a line of organic-CBD tinctures and skin care that undergoes extra testing for purity.)
During her research, Vigil tried out a range of CBD products informally, on herself and her friends. She told us that she saw dramatic results when it came to pain and her skin, and CBD also eased her anxiety—specifically, a nervous tick she has during public speaking.
“I get anxiety—I don’t drink caffeine because it makes me literally crazy,” Vigil says. “And I noticed in myself that [when I’m giving a presentation], there are certain people in a group where I’m thinking, I’m not getting my point across,” Vigil explains. “I’m in my head, being anxious,” fixating on her skeptics. Using CBD, Vigil says, “I haven’t done that.” During presentations, “I’m feeling more confident now because I’m not feeling anxious.”
Vigil says she was especially interested to see if CBD could help a friend of hers, who has “crazy anxiety—he has social anxiety, he’s super quiet.” Vigil gave him a bottle of Color Up Therapeutics’ tincture (a three-ingredient mixture of organic CBD, MCT oil as the “carrier” oil, and a small amount of spearmint oil for taste) to see if it would affect him.
But Vigil’s friend had the wrong idea. “You’re supposed to use 8-10 drops of [tincture]—a whole pipette is essentially a week’s dose,” Vigil says. “He used the whole pipette! He essentially drank the entire bottle that day. I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘Well, I don’t feel anything.’”
Vigil’s friend was expecting an immediate change, like a light switch, but, Vigil says, that’s not the point. “It’s going to help balance you, and over time you’ll see,” she says. “It doesn’t make you feel high.” Vigil’s friend, who now takes a “normal” amount of tincture—Vigil says the sweet spot for dosage of CBD taken internally is typically 25 mg per day—is seeing the results she hoped for. Says Vigil, “He’s like, ‘I can’t live without CBD now.’”
If you’re interested to see if CBD works for you, consider trying Color Up Therapeutics’ tincture (available for sale at The Red Door in either a full-size 2 oz. bottle or a tester vial that comes in the travel kit). You can also try CBD via skin-care products—either at home or integrated as an enhancement into any massage or nail service at Red Door salons and spas.
Color Up Therapeutics Tincture, 500mg Full Spectrum CBD ($70, 2 oz.): A mild-tasting tincture of just three ingredients: organic CBD, MCT oil (as the “carrier” oil), and a small amount of spearmint oil for flavor. For fast absorption, apply in droplets under the tongue.
Color Up Therapeutics Body Lotion, 200mg Pure CBD ($45, 4 oz.): Anti-aging and anti-inflammatory, the body lotion contains a blend of CBD, jojoba oil, cocoa butter, and collagen-boosting hempseed oil.
Color Up Therapeutics Salve, 75mg Pure CBD ($10, .5 oz.) and 250mg Pure CBD ($40, 2 oz.): Recommended as a spot treatment for pain, sore muscles, acne, insect bites, even hang nails, the salve “is kind of like that cult product—something you can use for anything,” says Isabel Vigil, The Red Door’s National Director of Retail. She likes it when traveling to moisturize skin.
Color Up Therapeutics Bath Balm, 30mg Pure CBD ($9, 2 oz.): Use the bath balm to re-mineralize with Epsom salts and relax in a warm CBD-infused bath or foot bath. Great after workouts.
Color Up Therapeutics Lip Treatment, Full Spectrum CBD ($12, 2 oz.): Containing raspberry- and carrot-seed oils in addition to CBD, the lip treatment is a “super-anti-inflammatory” slick for lips, says Vigil.
Color Up Therapeutics CBD Massage Travel Kit ($20): An easy way to immediately see how CBD works for you as both a tincture and skin care. The kit contains a 3.5ml vial of tincture (which, if you follow the dosage suggestion above, lasts for several days), a 1 oz. body lotion, a 1 oz. massage oil, and a .125 fl. oz. salve (the size of a small hand-applied lip balm). Use for travel in countries that allow CBD products.
*The study and reviews were published, respectively, in the May 2017 issue of Frontiers in Pharmacology, the October 2015 issue of Neurotherapeutics, and the February 2017 issue of Current Neuropharmacology.
Products containing CBD should not be used directly on cuts, lesions, or open wounds. The Red Door does not offer CBD services for our pregnant guests. We do not offer CBD services or retail to minors under 18. The Red Door does not assume any responsibility for the improper use of CBD. If you have any concerns about the safety of CBD or conflicts with medicine you may be taking, ask your doctor prior to your spa visit.