As you might have noticed, I’m pretty open when it comes to blogging about mental health. I’ve written about my experiences with anorexia, anxiety and bereavement by suicide, as well as talking about how anxiety affects me in general.
Earlier this year, I came across the idea of using CBD oil for anxiety. Quite simply, it has changed my life, and I wish I’d discovered it sooner. I have been keen on sharing my experiences on my blog, in the hope that others will discover similar effects. This post isn’t sponsored or affiliated, I just really want to share how transformative this oil has been.
What is CBD oil/Cannabidiol?
CBD is the second most prominent cannabinoid in cannabis after THC. CBD has a number of positive effects. THC is the psychoactive component responsible for making you high. CBD oil is rich in CBD, with negligible amounts of THC. For this reason, you can reap the health/wellbeing benefits of CBD without getting high.
Is CBD oil legal in the UK?
Because CBD oil doesn’t contain marked amounts of THC (the component of cannabis that’s responsible for the high) it is legal to purchase and use in the UK. You can technically travel with it as it isn’t a controlled substance – I have flown with mine on six flights now without any problems. This can pose a risk should the airport recognise the oil as cannabis rather than CBD. I suppose that means it isn’t advised to travel with it *shrug*.
As the oil isn’t widely used, nor is it officially recognised as a medicine, it’s a good idea to choose a trusted source. You don’t want to be paying lots for money for oil with a lower CBD percentage.
Where can I buy cannabis oil in the UK?
The positive uses of CBD oil are starting to catch on. You can buy Jacob Hooy CBD oil in Holland and Barrett stores. I have been using CBD brothers’ White Edition, which has 30% extract of indica plants, equating to 1.5% CBD. This oil is a bit more expensive, but it’s worked wonders for me.
It’s important to note the percentage of CBD in your oil, as it will determine your dosage. You should also note that there are some products available on the high street with VERY low percentages of CBD (I’m talking like 0.1%) these might be a waste of your time and money.
How I use CBD oil for anxiety
I usually take a drop of CBD oil in the morning and evening. The reality is that I feel so well after a few months of treatment that I often forget to take it. I let the oil sit under my tongue for 30-60 seconds and then swallow it. It takes a bit like really concentrated pesto, so I usually have a drink of water afterwards.
My anxiety before CBD oil
Before I began anxiety treatment with CBD oil, I struggled with moderate to extreme anxiety, and had done for as long as I can remember. I’m a highly sensitive and introverted person before feeling anxious. I’d often have panic attacks before/during parties, gigs, and even meeting friends in relaxed circumstances when my anxiety is at large. The anxiety was predominantly social, but I would sometimes wake up in tears of worry for no obvious reason.
I felt like I constantly had about ten different conversations happening in my head. There was no clarity or narrative to my thoughts. They were just overwhelming and quite frankly exhausting.
When talking to someone, I’d assume that I’d mess up or that they’d dislike me, which made me avoid conversations whenever possible or shut them down and leave the situation as soon as I could. After leaving the conversation, I’d run it over in my head on a loop and pick my actions apart, until I’d convinced myself that I’d done something disastrous.
Sometimes, even just walking to work, I’d feel a sense of panic. Like something awful was about to occur. I’d feel sick walking towards the office, thinking about how I would handle socialising for a whole day. It often made my physically ill, with bouts of unplanned weight loss (or gain from binge eating). These weight changes eventually became body dysmorphia and anorexia – which I was severely ill with for seven years.
Just for the record, I don’t drink or do drugs, partly because they make my mental health so much worse, and partly because I just don’t really care for them. I’ve had phases of smoking cannabis, but it would sometimes make me feel so paranoid that it wasn’t worth it.
I’ve also tried antidepressants three times. SSRIs worked amazingly for me until I began gaining a lot of weight six months in, and retreated into eating disorder territory. Interestingly CBD oil activates the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, so it makes sense that it would work for me.
How much should I take?
Frustratingly, there isn’t really a consensus on how much to take. Everyone is different. People use CBD oil to treat an array of problems. The general idea is to start with a small amount, and increase until your symptoms are relived. This is an amazing resource to determine your dosage.
My first week on CBD oil
When I first took CBD oil, I didn’t expect much at all. I felt like my anxiety was far too complex and deep-rooted for a few drops of oil to touch. But I was very wrong.
I took a couple of drops under my tongue, let them sit there for a minute, and then gulped them away. Within half an hour, I felt a wave of tiredness, so I went to sit in the garden. Then the most amazing thing happened. For the first time in my life, the ten conversations running on loop in my mind just stopped. I decided to listen to some music, and I was really able to listen and focus. I stopped the music. I was able to think about one thing at a time, and those thoughts weren’t worries. They were neutral or happy.
I had one blip in the first week – I had a panic attack in a coffee shop on my birthday, which was followed by a lot of crying. At the start of the panic attack I took a dose of cannabis oil, and I eventually calmed down.
After that, I didn’t have a single panic attack. I was able to socialise more and worry a hell of a lot less. The tiredness quickly subsided too.
After a month of oil treatment
A month later, the story is pretty much the same. I hadn’t had a single panic attack. For the first time ever, I was able to recognise healthy worry (for example that a client might not like my work), and irrational worry (that everyone I’d meet in my day was going to hate me).
The other things I noticed were that I was sleeping REALLY well. I’d fall asleep quickly and wake up feeling that I’d slept deeply.
I’d also stopped having joint pain in my knees, which was a small but uncomfortable problem I’d been experiencing for around a year.
After three months
After three months, I felt so well that I began missing doses unintentionally. Sometimes this would happen for a few days in a row, and I would begin to feel anxious again. Resultantly, I aim to stick to a constant low dose of one drop a day minimum.
My eating behaviours are a lot more relaxed now. Although I am technically recovered from anorexia, there are parts of it that stay with you – at least that’s what I’ve found. I had still been finding it hard to eat fast food, or to let myself go occasionally. Meals out with friends would leave me with a few days of panic afterwards. Many of these things have vanished since I began taking CBD oil. I feel in tune with my cravings and hunger – sometimes I crave fast food and I’m happy to eat it without regret now.
It’s hard to do justice to how much this oil has helped me. It’s been life changing. I wonder whether it would have shortened my fight with anorexia if I’d tried it earlier.
Life still isn’t perfect and I still have off days, particularly when I’m hormonal – I’m only human! But it’s a hell of a lot better now.
Other benefits of CBD oil
CBD oil helps with many problems beyond anxiety. It’s reported to help with pain management (especially joint pain), acne, depression, inflammation, epilepsy, nausea and schizophrenia. Rick Simpson oil is a cannabis oil made from indica strains of cannabis. It contains both CBD and THC, and has seriously impressive documented anti-tumor effects. Due to the THC content, Rick Simpson oil is currently illegal in the UK.
The body of research supporting use of CBD oil for anxiety (among other problems) is quickly growing. I only hope that our understanding will grow, and as the oil becomes more mainstream it will become more accessible (i.e. formally recognised as a medicine and cheaper to buy).
Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments, I would love to hear them. I hope this post helped you.