As more and more states start to legalize both recreational and medical marijuana, there’s been a growing interest in one of the plant’s non-psychoactive compounds, cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD.

Extracts of cannabidiol have been marketed and sold as a product that can help ease aches, pains, and even reduce everyday stress, all without “highs” of medical marijuana. Naturally, this is appealing to consumers who want to treat their ailments without the mind-altering effects of THC. Now, more and more individuals are turning to CBD for anxiety relief, even ditching prescription pills in the process.

However, December’s passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which made the industrial hemp plant legal in all 50 states, has created some confusion for both doctors and patients, especially since hemp and marijuana are both strains of the same exact Cannabis sativa plant. While both varieties contain cannabidiol compounds, industrial hemp has been purposely bred to remove all but trace amounts of THC, which is responsible for giving marijuana users that infamous “high” feeling.

Per federal guidelines, as long as THC levels remain below .3%, then hemp and its byproducts are legal. It should be pointed out that cannabidiol’s that are extracted from marijuana is still considered an illegal Schedule I drug, which is why hemp-based CBD’s are growing in popularity. In fact, some estimates claim that CBD’d are now 200-million dollar industry.

CBD for Anxiety: What Science Says

Researchers are still trying to nail down the effects of CBD and how it actually works in our bodies. Dr. Esther Blessing, a psychiatrist and researcher with New York University, told NPR that there’s evidence to suggest that while CBD is a very promising treatment for several disorders, more research is actually needed.

“I think there’s good evidence to suggest that CBD could be an effective treatment of anxiety and addiction. But we need clinical trials to find out.”

Preliminary findings piqued Dr. Blessing’s interest, and she pointed to a 2011 study in which people with social anxiety disorder were asked to speak in front of a crowd. Participants didn’t know if they’d been given a medicine grade CBD, Epidiolex, by GW Pharmaceuticals, or if they had swallowed a placebo.

Compared to those who took the placebo, “people who took CBD reported significantly less anxiety” compared to those who took the placebo. It’s really interesting.”

How to Find the Best CBD for Anxiety

While the anti-anxiety effects of CBD’s are promising, Consumer Reports says there are several things consumers should be on the lookout for when shopping for products containing cannabinoids.

  • The delivery method of CBD’s has an impact on how quickly the effects are felt. For muscle cramps and anxiety, oil drops under the tongue may provide the fastest relief.
  • It’s important to find out where and how the product was grown. Hemp that is grown overseas may be of lower quality, especially if it’s been sprayed with illegal pesticides.
  • Ask to see a certificate of analysis (COA), which shows the levels of CBD, THC, and possible contaminates in the product.
  • Some labels only list the “total cannabinoids” the bottle contains, but consumers should be on the lookout for products that indicate how much CBD is in each dose.

Charlotte’s Web is one of the oldest and most popular CBD brands out there, however, new brands are popping up all the time. Bliss Herbal is an inexpensive alternative to Charlotte’s Web that offers high potency for its value, but no matter what brand you buy, one thing is clear – thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD is here to stay.