Everyone experiences anxiety at some point, whether it’s because of public speaking, flying, or other stressful situations. While there’s often no need to take clinical action to ease the occasional anxieties of life, it’s nice to have some strategies to lessen those feelings. Maybe you try deep breathing, exercising, meditation, or a newly available method: hemp extracts.
I’ve struggled with occasional anxiety for most of my life. A few years ago, my mother (of all people!) suggested I try hemp extracts with cannabidiol, or CBD, to ease some of the negative feelings. I’ve been taking it ever since, and I even give it to my dog to help with feelings of separation anxiety because I travel so much.
Researchers are studying the health benefits of hemp extracts and CBD extensively. CBD is a phytocannabinoid — a molecule present in the cannabis plant — that interacts with the human endocannabinoid system. This system of neurotransmitters helps regulate several processes in the brain and periphery systems, especially those related to anxiety.
CBD also can act outside the endocannabinoid system by modulating serotonin and prostaglandins, which are two chemical compounds tied to anxiety. The results of many nonclinical studies support CBD’s potential for easing anxiety.
There are clinical studies that support the same conclusions. In one study, for example, participants who felt anxious about public speaking were asked to give a speech on camera or in front of a crowd. The participants who had taken hemp extract with CBD reported significantly reduced anxiety and discomfort during their speeches compared with the control group, which took a placebo.
While further study is needed, the existing research supports CBD’s potential for dealing with occasional anxiety. For consumers looking to use hemp extracts, however, it can be challenging to choose the right product.
Understanding the Types of Ingestible CBD Products
As hemp extracts have been more widely recognized for their potential health benefits, they have become more readily available to consumers. As with any other consumer product, these extracts come in a variety of forms based on needs and preferences. The most common way to consume high-quality cannabis extract is as a tincture, or a liquid form.
A tincture gives users the flexibility of fast, adjustable doses. For example, holding it under the tongue for 15 seconds can help speed up absorption. Tinctures can be formulated a few ways: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolates (according to how many components of hemp remain in the extract).
Consumers can ingest CBD through a variety of other methods, including capsules, gummies, chocolates, and beverages. Many people prefer these methods because of taste, but they may take longer than a tincture to offer the same benefits. This is because those products have to move through the digestive system when they’re swallowed. And once they reach the liver, enzymes can reduce the concentration of the CBD.
On the other hand, a full-spectrum extract contains CBD and several other compounds from the plant, including terpenes (chemicals that give plants their distinctive smells and tastes). A full-spectrum hemp extract often is preferable to other types of extracts due to the “entourage effect.” This theory suggests that combining CBD with other compounds from the cannabis plant can increase its potential health benefits, but it has a distinctive hemp flavor.
For people who don’t enjoy the natural smells and flavors of hemp, companies can distill the extract to remove the terpenes until it becomes a broad-spectrum extract. This form doesn’t have an earthy flavor, but also may not impart the same entourage effect.
Checking the Science Behind Each Brand
The biggest differentiator between existing hemp extracts with CBD on the market is quality. A growing number of companies are entering the market, but not all of them offer the same quality products — some may not even contain the amount of CBD they claim. One of the biggest hurdles consumers face is finding products that actually contain what they advertise. Until the Food and Drug Administration better regulates hemp extracts, consumers will have to be vigilant when choosing brands and products.
Reports from researchers and journalists alike show that not all hemp extracts with CBD live up to their claims of what’s included (or not included). Before buying, always make sure to check the company’s website. If it’s hard to find a detailed list of ingredients and information on the quality of a product, consider it a warning sign.
If you’re still curious, though, you can ask the company for access to a product’s certificate of analysis. A COA will tell you all you need to know about the quality of the product: It should clearly indicate the product’s CBD concentration and offer test results that ensure it complies with limits for pesticides, heavy metals, or microbial contamination.
Every COA contains a comprehensive analysis of the product’s compounds, which should be tested by an accredited laboratory. If a company is unwilling to provide a COA, you would be wise to avoid its products. You also should look for a company’s good manufacturing practices, or GMP, certification to ensure its extraction processes meet appropriate manufacturing standards.
Until there are more regulations and research, people looking for a natural way to ease their anxiety might not know where to start. As you venture into the world of supplemental CBD, the above tips can help you find an effective, safe product to experience its potential benefits.