Cannabidiol, one of the many active ingredients found in cannabis, is said to be a natural alleviant for anxiety – but does it really work? Emily Reynolds investigates.
If someone said the words ‘cannabinoid oil’ to you, you probably wouldn’t be thinking of anything particularly medical. You’re probably, let’s be honest, thinking about weed.
But unlike cannabinoids like THC, one of the active ingredients in marijuana, cannabinoid oil (or CBD oil) doesn’t get you high – so if you’re looking for something euphoric, it’s probably not going to hit the spot.
CBD oil could have its own benefits, though: research has found that using the oil may be good for mental health. One 2016 study found a “maintained decrease in anxiety and a steady improvement in the quality and quantity of the patient’s sleep”; another, in 2010, reduced symptoms of anxiety in patients with seasonal affective disorder.
“CBD works on receptors in the brain, a number of which have now been identified as cannabinoid,” Dr. Adrian James, registrar at the Royal College of Psychiatrists tells me. “We don’t know exactly how it works and further research is need to understand this.”
When I first read about the potential anxiolytic properties of CBD oil, I was intrigued. Anxiety isn’t my only mental health problem, but it’s certainly one of the most pervasive and unpleasant of my bipolar symptoms. Anxiety plagues me almost every day – sometimes related to specific or genuinely stressful things, sometimes free-floating. I’m anxious about work, relationships, money, my health, my friends, my family. I’m anxious about being anxious; I’m anxious about having anxiety. Could CBD oil be the thing that calms me down once and for all?
I decide to try it, buying a small bottle that instructs me to place two or three drops under my tongue, to hold it there for a minute and then swallow. It tastes earthy; almost like straw might, but somehow not unpleasant at all. The bottle recommends starting with two drops and building up to a maximum of ten. I start my routine.
I don’t notice a change immediately, but after a week or so I start to feel the benefits. One unintended but entirely welcome side effect of the oil is that my joints are hurting less: persistent shoulder and back pain has eased. I’m doing nothing else differently; I still fall asleep on a lumpy mattress, my posture still most closely resembles Gollum’s. I have to put it down to the CBD oil, and hope that my yearly expenditure on Deep Heat might get a little smaller.
To mix it up, I add something a little tastier to my new routine: edibles. I get a package from LivLate Edibles containing a cookie, lollies, sour bears, popping candy and some sour candies.