How CBD Works to Help With Panic Attacks
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a unique system that maintains our body’s homeostasis or biological balance in response to environmental changes(1).
The ECS regulates physiological function, including mood, cognition, and chronic pain perception. Experts believe that the system can modulate these functions through its cannabinoid receptors(2).
Studies suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) activates the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors in several brain regions(3). This particular type of receptor contributes to the action mechanism of antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs(4).
In addition to serotonin chemical structures, CBD engages the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors of the ECS(5). Both receptors are linked to the ECS’s involvement in neuropsychiatric disorders, particularly depression and anxiety(6).
CB1 and CB2 are the primary types of receptors found in specific parts of the human body. These receptors have unique roles in the ECS.
The brain and the central nervous system contain most CB1 receptors. However, they are also located in the reproductive organs, liver, lungs, retina, and gastrointestinal and urinary tracts(7).
CB1 receptors affect memory processing, appetite, motor regulation, pain sensation, sleep, and mood(8).
The activation of CB1 receptors is linked to neuroprotective responses, suggesting that cannabinoids with a higher affinity for CB1 receptors may help with neurodegenerative conditions.
Neurodegenerative diseases are effects of miscommunications between brain cells, resulting in neuron death. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis are among these neurodegenerative conditions.
Meanwhile, cells in the immune system and associated structures are the primary locations for CB2 receptors.
Triggering CB2 receptors stimulates a response that reduces pain, fights inflammation, and minimizes tissue damage.
These anti-inflammatory responses may help treat conditions linked to inflammation, including chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and inflammatory bowel syndrome(9).
Researchers suggest that CBD’s purported anti-panic effects result from its interaction with various receptors in the body(10).
How to Use CBD for Panic Attacks
You may take CBD for panic attacks in the form of edibles or capsules. These consumable forms may include CBD gummies, CBD brownies, and CBD tablets. This method of consuming CBD is more straightforward than other methods.
Another way to administer CBD is the sublingual method, suitable for a more controlled CBD intake. With this option, you would take the calibrated dropper included in CBD tincture products and apply a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue.
Leave the oil under your tongue for about 90 seconds before swallowing. This holding period allows your mucous membranes to absorb the tincture, so you feel CBD’s supposed anti-anxiety properties.
Some CBD companies sell CBD topical products, such as balms, salves, creams, and lotions. You may include CBD topicals in massage therapies for relaxation to improve therapeutic massage effectiveness for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)(11).
Meanwhile, you may prefer to inhale CBD through flavored or unflavored vaping products. This method is an ideal option to avoid the natural, earthy flavor of pure CBD oil and choose peppermint or fruity flavors.
Vaping also gets CBD in your system quickly through your lungs. However, note that CBD vapes may worsen lung disorders (12).
Thus, when using CBD for panic attacks for the first time, be sure to seek medical advice from a licensed physician. When buying CBD products, we recommend getting advice from a doctor with significant experience in CBD and cannabis product usage.
How Soon Does It Take to Feel CBD’s Effects for Panic Attacks?
The time it takes for CBD to relieve panic attacks may depend on how the CBD product is used.
Taking CBD by Mouth
When you take CBD orally, you might ingest it in the form of food, drink, capsules, or gummies. These are straightforward ways to take CBD oil, especially if you are a beginner.
You can absorb CBD directly into your bloodstream by holding the liquid from a spray or tincture sublingually for 60 to 120 seconds.
You may find CBD oil’s natural flavor unpleasant through sublingual administration. However, you will be able to feel the effects of CBD within 15 to 45 minutes, which may last for 4 to 6 hours(13).
If you prefer quick results and maximum dosage control, consider CBD oil tinctures or drops as your practical option.
Topical CBD Application
CBD topicals, such as CBD creams and CBD transdermal patches, work instantly after rubbing the product onto your skin.
You can also apply topical CBD oil alone or combine the product with cream or lotion(14). If you combine CBD topicals with massage therapy, you can ideally feel relief in about 15 minutes(15).
When you apply CBD topically, the CBD can avoid interacting with the ECS as a whole. Instead, it targets localized clusters of cannabinoid receptors.
However, determining whether the relieving properties of a CBD topical product comes from CBD or another ingredient is difficult. Topical products might include other common over-the-counter ingredients, such as camphor, menthol, or capsaicin.
When using a vape pen to inhale CBD vape juices, you will feel its anti-anxiety effects within minutes, which will keep you steady between three to five hours after inhalation(16).
However, the precise amount of CBD you get in each draw of CBD vapes is challenging to determine.
Still, inhaling CBD vapors may be the quickest way to get CBD into your body. CBD does not go through your digestive system since you allow CBD to enter your bloodstream through your lungs.
However, a 2018 study published in Molecules indicated the primary limitations of inhaling: the variability in your inhalation techniques and respiratory tract irritation upon inhalation(17).
You must also consider the potential adverse effects of vaping, including chemical irritation or immune or allergic reactions to various chemicals or other foreign substances in the vapors you inhale (18).
How to Choose CBD for Panic Attacks
CBD is not approved as a supplement for treating panic disorders, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)(19).
Still, you may choose from the three forms of CBD currently available on the market: full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolates.
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all of the natural compounds present in Cannabis sativa plants, from terpenes and flavonoids to cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Quality full-spectrum hemp extract contains a high cannabidiol content and only low amounts of the other compounds.
CBD oil that contains all of cannabis’ naturally occurring chemical compounds produce the “entourage effect.” This process involves combining all the components of cannabis plants to have synergistic effects in aiding anxiety disorders and mood disorders(20).
To obtain full-spectrum CBD, manufacturers make industrial hemp plants undergo extraction methods, such as steam distillation, CO2 extraction, or alcohol extraction. Manufacturers then mix the pure hemp oil with a carrier oil, such as hempseed oil or MCT oil.
Like full-spectrum CBD, the broad-spectrum CBD variant contains almost the same phytocannabinoids of full-spectrum products, except THC-free.
You may prefer broad-spectrum CBD over full-spectrum as the former does not contain the psychoactive THC compound.
Meanwhile, CBD isolate is the purest type of CBD on the market, which brands usually sell in crystalline or powdered form.
To obtain CBD isolate products, manufacturers remove all other hemp plants’ compounds during the extraction process, leaving only pure CBD.
Despite the different CBD types, you must only purchase the best quality products available to maximize the purported health benefits of CBD. Here are some tips to consider when choosing the best CBD oil for anxiety and panic attacks.
- Look for the CBD product’s certificate of analysis (COA) or third-party lab results. This document indicates that the item you selected has undergone thorough lab testing.
The COA indicates that the CBD product is of the highest quality and contains the exact specifications listed on the product label.
- Ensure that the COA confirms the absence of pesticides, chemical additives, heavy metals, residual solvents, and other harmful contaminants.
- Confirm whether the CBD product you plan to buy is derived from organic hemp. High-quality CBD products from organic hemp ensure that the amounts of THC are within the federal limit of less than 0.3%.
- Look up the CBD legalities within your home state and the brand’s manufacturing location. Some of the reputable CBD brands source their high potency CBD hemp from farms in Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon, and North Carolina.
- Consult your family health care professional before deciding to use CBD for alleviating panic disorder symptoms. We recommend consulting a medical practitioner with significant experience in medical cannabis and CBD usage.
- Avoid purchasing CBD products from companies that claim to sell CBD derived from the seeds and stalks of hemp plants. Non-GMO industrial hemp stalks have very little CBD content, while its seeds have no cannabidiol.
- Choose a CBD shop that offers a money-back guarantee for its products to ensure your satisfaction.
How Much CBD Should I Take for Panic Attacks?
There is no official guide that details the proper CBD dosage for panic attacks because the FDA has not approved CBD for panic disorders.
However, you may consider the common factors in determining the correct dosage for an individual, including the results you desire from the product, amount or mg of CBD in the product, and your body weight.
A 2017 report published by the World Health Organization mentioned that researchers analyzed a study where human subjects received up to 600mg CBD. They noted that the participants did not experience any adverse reactions after taking CBD, despite the high dose(21).
Another study reported that the chronic use of CBD oil, reaching as high as 1,500 mg a day, is safe for humans(22). This study involved an even higher dose of CBD intake and has recorded no harmful side effects among its participants.
Meanwhile, in a 2016 study published in The Permanente Journal, researchers noted that CBD supplements given in 12 mg to 25 mg doses once a day appears to relieve anxiety and sleep problems with minor side effects(23).
However, the researchers clarify that they do not have a foundation to suggest proper doses of CBD based on their existing data.
The subject of the 2016 study did not report any complaints or discomfort upon using CBD. Still, despite CBD’s purported safeness(24), further large-scale prospective studies are necessary to develop a generalized CBD dosing for those with panic attacks.
Benefits of Using CBD for Panic Attacks
You may attribute CBD’s potential to help with panic attacks to its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties(25).
In 2015, the journal Neurotherapeutics published a study that presented CBD as a potential treatment for neuropsychiatric conditions, including panic disorder(26).
Researchers noted that a systemic CBD administration conducted in animal model studies helped reduce rapid heart rate and blood pressure. The researchers also observed a decrease in the anxiety-inducing effects of stress among the subjects(27).
Furthermore, the authors supported CBD’s potential as a treatment for anxiety disorders based on its anti-anxiety and panicolytic (anti-panic) actions.
The results in both human and animal studies support the concept that cannabidiol exhibits anti-panic properties. However, more longitudinal research needs to link CBD to panic disorders to validate health claims.
Risks of Using CBD for Panic Attacks
Despite the promising results from existing studies, there is minimal evidence that supports claims highlighting CBD as a viable treatment for panic attacks or any debilitating conditions.
Although the World Health Organization (WHO) says that CBD is “generally well-tolerated with a good safety profile(28),” the FDA still does not approve the marketing of CBD oil as dietary supplements or medicine for any condition(29).
The FDA ensures the safety of human and animal drugs to protect public health(30). The agency has approved Epidiolex as a CBD treatment for children with seizures associated with Dravet syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, two rare forms of epilepsy.
With significant scientific evidence, Epidiolex is the first and only FDA-approved narcotic derived from marijuana plants(31).
However, note that using CBD for panic attacks may induce side effects, including fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, drowsiness, and appetite changes (32).
CBD also has the risk of interacting with certain medications or supplements that you may already be taking(33).
Legality of CBD
There are currently only 47 out of the 50 states in the USA where you can use CBD legally on a federal level. Each state has varying degrees of regulation for using CBD(34).
If you plan to travel with CBD, you may only do so between states that share similar CBD restrictions.
You would typically associate CBD’s legality in the US with the 2018 Farm Bill or the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018(35). This law differentiated hemp plants from marijuana plants by redefining hemp as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis.
Marijuana plants are cannabis plants with more than the established limit. Cannabis sativa plants may come in hemp and marijuana varieties.
With hemp plants’ declassification as marijuana plants, the 1970 Federal Controlled Substances Act no longer covers them in its Schedule I category(36).
Before Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, both industrial hemp and marijuana plants were Schedule I drugs. Schedule I drugs consist of potentially abusive or addictive substances without any officially recognized health benefits.
Apart from hemp plants’ redefinition based on their THC content, the 2018 Farm Bill granted FDA the authority to regulate CBD’s circulation on the market(37). The agency penalizes CBD companies that use CBD’s unproven health benefits to sell CBD products.
Cannabis plants have many components, from terpenes, fatty acids, flavonoids, and cannabinoids. CBD and THC are present in both hemp and marijuana plants because they are the most abundant cannabinoids in cannabis plants.
The psychoactive properties of THC make people experience “getting high.” This euphoric effect is a critical factor in the legality of CBD products.
CBD oil with the federally legal limit of 0.3% THC by dry weight does not produce euphoria, yet you can still benefit from cannabis plants’ purported benefits.
Although the 2018 Farm Bill relaxed the legal restrictions of producing, manufacturing, and owning hemp-derived CBD products, state laws are the primary authority in drug-related offenses, meaning local laws may supersede the federal law(38).