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.
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.
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.
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 for Energy, Focus and Concentration: Can It Help?
The fast-paced times we live in make it difficult for us to focus during the day, with so much pressure and responsibilities at once. Our bodies have their limits, so expecting the optimal performance when you don’t give it the necessary time to restore is just wishful thinking. Many people are looking for a quick fix for their low energy levels and blunt focus — turning to caffeine, energy drinks, and other widely available stimulants.
Effective as they are in a short-term perspective, long-term use of stimulants has dangerous side effects, including addiction, cardiovascular problems, liver damage, and more.
This is where CBD comes in. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a natural compound in hemp plants that have balancing effects on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) — our prime self-regulatory network. CBD has many science-backed health benefits, such as sleep regulation, pain relief, immune support, neuroprotection, and more.
Recent research also shows that CBD can enhance focus and boost energy throughout the day.
Today we explain the mechanisms behind this phenomenon.
Does CBD Oil Help with Energy and Focus?
Although most people associate cannabis with sleepiness and low energy levels, CBD does exactly the opposite. CBD can be sourced from both hemp and marijuana, but most CBD products available for sale online are made from hemp. Hemp plants contain 0.3% of THC or less, which doesn’t produce intoxicating effects. Simply put, CBD won’t make you feel high and sleepy like the high-THC cannabis does.
Better yet, CBD can balance your neurotransmitters and alleviate certain symptoms that negatively affect your energy.
Energy-Boosting Properties of CBD
Our energy and concentration are influenced by many factors. Chronic health problems, such as sleep deprivation, diet, and stress can all compromise your productivity. At present, there’s not much evidence to support CBD’s ability to improve energy and focus.
According to one 2014 review of studies, CBD might promote wakefulness in some people, although these findings haven’t yet been confirmed clinically (1).
A 2015 randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study found that CBD improves facial emotion recognition, indicating the cannabinoid’s role in cognitive functioning and focus (2).
Although the research into the effects of CBD on energy and focus is in the early stage, many studies suggest that CBD may alleviate certain symptoms that compromise these parameters.
Here’s how CBD can help you boost energy throughout the day — in a not-so-direct way.
Anxiety disorders often cause people to feel tired and have difficulty staying focused. CBD may help you fix the short attention span and boost energy by reducing anxious thoughts. CBD does that by regulating several neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine and serotonin (3–4). However, CBD doesn’t affect them like caffeine or other natural stimulants; instead, the cannabinoid provides balance in the activity of these neurotransmitters, allowing the body to use them more effectively. CBD also modulates the GABA-A receptor, which is the “handbrake” of the nervous system (5).
Lack of sleep is another contributor to low energy levels and poor focus. Even one night deprived of sleep can negatively affect your cognitive performance the next day. CBD may be able to help regulate sleep cycles (6). Most users report sedation at high doses of CBD taken in the evening, whereas lower doses in the morning are believed to boost alertness. This may have a profound impact on your sleep duration and quality. When you stay productive throughout the day, your brain will receive signals that it’s time to prepare for rest. On the other hand, when you feel sluggish and do literally nothing before the evening, your brain may wake up and give you a train of thought as you try to fall asleep. On top of regulating your daily functioning, CBD can reduce the REM phase disturbances and keep you longer in the deep sleep stage.
Chronic pain can cause you to struggle with concentration and experience fatigue. CBD can mitigate pain by reducing inflammation and altering the way pain signals are sent to the brain. Studies have mentioned CBD as a potential painkiller in conditions such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, migraines, post-surgery pain, and neuropathy (7).
Does CBD Help You Focus?
As mentioned, CBD interacts with the “feel good” hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. Every time you feel considerable stress, your body starts to produce cortisol. High cortisol levels may compromise your ability to focus and make you unable to maintain mental clarity. CBD may help manage this problem by interacting with the excretion of excess cortisol (8). As a result, the brain can release more dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters affect memory, focus, energy, and motivation. Long story short, yes, CBD can help you focus on the important tasks you encounter each day.
How to Take CBD for Energy and Focus
You have plenty of CBD products to choose from, all of which can affect your body slightly differently. You need to consider things such as how long they take to get to work, how long they last, and if they provide consistent dosing. Here are some of the most common options out there:
- CBD Oil – oils are the most common form of CBD. They are made of a whole-plant hemp extract and infused into an inert oil for higher bioavailability. CBD oil usually has a dropper that makes dosing more accurate than other forms. The effects of CBD oil are relatively fast-acting, although some people may dislike its taste.
- CBD Capsules – capsules offer a convenient and discreet way to consume CBD. The majority of CBD capsules are available in an easy-to-take soft gel form. Each capsule contains a fixed dose of CBD, so there’s no need to play with a dropper or worry about the oil leaking into your bag. Although capsules have a delayed onset, their effects last longer than with oils. However, since the CBD is processed in the digestive system first, it may also lose some of its potency.
- CBD Edibles – edibles have a lot of fans out there because they offer the most enjoyable way to take CBD — and a great diversity of products. You can choose between CBD gummies, protein bars, chocolates, honey sticks, cookies, and more. Edibles use the same route of administration as capsules, so they may need more time to kick in.
- CBD Vapes – CBD vapes are picked due to their high absorption rate and fast-acting effects. When you inhale CBD in a vape pen, the compound absorbs through the lung tissue right into the bloodstream. With no first-pass metabolism in the liver, the CBD can reach the cannabinoid receptors faster and produce its calming effects within minutes after inhalation.
- CBD Topicals – CBD topicals cover a wide range of products, including creams, lotions, balms, gels, shampoos, and bath bombs. Topical formulations are designed to target localized problems. Once rubbed into the affected area, the CBD interacts with the skin’s endocannabinoid system, easing the discomfort.
How to Choose the Right CBD Product for Energy
Which product you ultimately choose boils down to personal preference. You need to understand how a particular product will fit into your lifestyle. Is it suited for your working hours? Is it discreet? Do you even need a low-profile consumption form? Here are a few handy tips to determine which CBD product will be the right one for you:
- Choose products with supportive ingredients – pay attention to all ingredients in your product. Some CBD extracts are enriched with caffeine or fruit extracts to compliment the energy-boosting benefits of cannabidiol.
- Read third-party lab reports – reputable brands test their products in third-party laboratories for potency and purity. A certificate of analysis from such tests is proof of the product’s quality. The CBD market is unregulated because hemp-derived products are classified as health supplements. Thus, many fly-by-night vendors take advantage of that situation, churning out mislabeled, often downright dangerous products. Always look for the lab-reports on the brand’s website.
- Consider the form – if you have no problems ingesting a botanical liquid, then CBD oil will be your best bet. For higher bioavailability and faster effects, you can pick CBD vapes. Capsules will be better if you live a busy life and take CBD on-the-go. Finally, a CBD cream is a handy product for managing daily aches and taking care of the skin.
- Find the right potency – the amount of CBD per serving varies between different products. Their bioavailability is also different depending on the type, so once you’ve figured out the right form of CBD, you need to consider the potency. The concentration of CBD per bottle is expressed in milligrams. Manufacturers also have their own dosage guidelines based on a single recommended serving.
Safety and Side Effects of CBD
Studies have found that CBD is safe for human consumption. There are a few mild side effects, though, such as:
- Changes in appetite
- Dry mouth
Since CBD is fat-soluble, consuming it along with fatty food can significantly increase CBD blood concentration, increasing your chances of experiencing these side effects. On top of that, CBD interacts with a lot of prescription and nonprescription medications. If your doctor has warned you against taking your meds with grapefruit juice, then you shouldn’t mix it with CBD either. CBD and grapefruit both change the way your liver processes active ingredients in drugs.
It’s always best to consult your doctor to be on the safe side when using CBD for energy and focus if you take any medications.
Other Ways to Build Energy and Boost Focus
People build stamina and increase focus in many other ways than taking CBD. Some natural methods to boost energy include:
- Getting the right amount of quality sleep
- Eating food that has a dense nutritional content
- Staying active
- Avoiding alcohol use and smoking
- Managing stress
- Drinking enough water
- Taking health supplements
If you’re chronically tired and can’t focus on important tasks, it might be a good idea to seek medical advice.
Summarizing the use of CBD for Energy
CBD isn’t a stimulant like coffee or energy drinks. Instead, CBD interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system to regulate the activity of different neurotransmitters and hormones that control your cognitive functions and energy levels. Moreover, CBD can reduce pain, improve sleep, and ease anxiety — all of which are known contributors to fatigue and problems with concentration.
Consistent supplementation with CBD may balance vital mental processes to keep you naturally in tune with your body and remain productive throughout the day without sacrificing your well-being.
Do you take CBD for energy and focus? Share your thoughts in the comments!
- Murillo-Rodríguez, Eric et al. “Potential effects of cannabidiol as a wake-promoting agent.” Current neuropharmacology vol. 12,3 (2014): 269-72. doi:10.2174/1570159X11666131204235805
- Hindocha, Chandni et al. “Acute effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and their combination on facial emotion recognition: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in cannabis users.” European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology vol. 25,3 (2015): 325-34. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2014.11.014
- Seeman, P. “Cannabidiol is a partial agonist at dopamine D2High receptors, predicting its antipsychotic clinical dose.” Translational psychiatry vol. 6,10 e920. 18 Oct. 2016, doi:10.1038/tp.2016.195
- De Gregorio, Danilo et al. “Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain.” Pain vol. 160,1 (2019): 136-150. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001386
- Pretzsch, Charlotte Marie et al. “Effects of cannabidiol on brain excitation and inhibition systems; a randomized placebo-controlled single-dose trial during magnetic resonance spectroscopy in adults with and without autism spectrum disorder.” Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology vol. 44,8 (2019): 1398-1405. doi:10.1038/s41386-019-0333-8
- Babson, Kimberly A et al. “Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of Literature.” Current psychiatry reports vol. 19,4 (2017): 23. doi:10.1007/s11920-017-0775-9
- Russo, Ethan B. “Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain.” Therapeutics and clinical risk management vol. 4,1 (2008): 245-59. doi:10.2147/tcrm.s1928
- Appiah-Kusi, E et al. “Effects of short-term cannabidiol treatment on response to social stress in subjects at clinical high risk of developing psychosis.” Psychopharmacology vol. 237,4 (2020): 1121-1130. doi:10.1007/s00213-019-05442-6
Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.
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Could CBD oil be the key to improving your focus?
It’s the latest trend in a bottle, and its pain-dulling, stress-relieving benefits are well-documented. But could this oil also help up your productivity?
Words: Jonathan Wells
CBD: three little letters making big promises. It’ll relieve your pain! It’ll clear up your skin! It’ll prevent diabetes, cancer and a whole host of other disorders and diseases!
Will it now? The truth is that many of these alleged benefits are simply savvy advertising spiel, spun by salespeople trying to push this new purported ‘wonder substance’. But, if you’re looking for a cure-all to take the January blues away, CBD — an abbreviation of ‘Cannabidiol’ — is not it.
That’s not to say that it’s useless. In fact, there is one benefit to using CBD that could prove invaluable to the modern man — and that is its propensity to improve your focus. Because (here comes the science), this compound — one of 104 cannabinoids found in marijuana — allows more serotonin to flow to the brain, which in turn mildly sedates the receptor associated with anxiety, addiction and sleep.
In short, CBD can make you more alert, less distracted and sharpen your mind — and who amongst us couldn’t do with a touch more focus in our lives? So, to help you zero in on this one real benefit of CBD, we’ve rounded up the best ways to introduce it into your day-to-day routine.
Keep it uncomplicated with a simple oil and dropper
The easiest – and most effective – way to ingest CBD is through the oil. A couple of drops on the tongue, and you’ll start feeling the benefits almost immediately. Many clinic trials have found good evidence to show that CBD will help you curb the levels of cortisol — a chronically detrimental stress hormone — in your body, and a simple dropper is a quick fix should you need to calm down and focus on the go.
Try Minor Figures’ offering, CBD blended with coconut oil that the brand suggests you take after a hot cup of coffee — giving you a one-two punch of caffeine and cannabinoid. Or Vitality CBD could help; with their Vitamin A-infused offering that will maintain your iron metabolism and keep your vision clear. Alternatively, Aver are a new CBD lifestyle brand you can trust to incorporate the winning benefits of this compound into your everyday life. Formulated to give you a little lift to keep you centred and clear during turbulent moments, the brand’s Boost Oil is slickly designed, endlessly effective — and perfect for the office drawer.