Lisa Hamilton, a jeweler and doula in Brooklyn, NY, knows about the side effects. She recently tried CBD for the shoulder pain that plagued her five years after an accident. Her doctor certified that she was in chronic pain, which under New York State law allowed her to buy from a state dispensary. One Friday, she swallowed two 10-mg capsules, the amount recommended at the dispensary, then took another two on Saturday. “By Sunday, it felt like I’d gotten hit by a truck. Every muscle and joint ached,” Hamilton says. She cut back to one pill a day the following week, but still felt hungover. She stopped after that.
It makes no sense to me that something that helps with anxiety has an irritability side effect – as a lot of my anxiety is co-mingled naturally with irritability. Further, I have noticed none of these side effects, given that if you become fatigued or sleepy, you adjust dose the next day. So I don’t call that a side effect – rather – an effect of taking too much.
Scott Shannon, MD, assistant clinical professor at the University of Colorado, recently sifted through patient charts from his four-doctor practice to document CBD’s effects on anxiety. His study, as yet unpublished, found “a fairly rapid decrease in anxiety scores that appears to persist for months,” he says. But he says he can’t discount a placebo effect, especially since “there’s a lot of hype right now.”
Numerous studies have found results that confirm the ability of marijuana to help anxiety and stress. In 2013 an Israeli study demonstrated that treatment with cannabinoids helped to control emotional responses and prevent stress-related responses for those that had experienced a traumatic experience. In 2015 a group of researchers found that cannabis treatments were effective in reducing anxiety in those suffering from PTSD.
The immediate and powerful effects of THC are explained because of the special affinity it has with the CB1 type receptors, which mediate crucial processes in the brain. The less prominent (but no less important) action of CBD was explained, at least for a while, by hypothesizing that it binds to CB2 type receptors, hence its more diffuse manner of exercising changes in the body. Early on, the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol were observed, an aspect which seemed to be in consonance with this initial hypothesis.
Then there is the matter of which part of the plant is used. THC tends to be more concentrated in the leaves of the plant, while CBD in its stem and seeds. It should be noted that these aspects are relative. Some degree of agreement exists that for the purest CBD, the stalk of a hemp plant (varieties of cannabis generally grown for fiber manufacturing, low in THC), or much less often the seeds. Taking into account the fact that CBD supplements are usually in an oil form, one may fathom the origins of the nearly ubiquitous hemp oil dietary supplements.