Does CBD Cause Withdrawals? Can It Help With Withdrawals?
The main issue with both (with an emphasis on benzos like Ativan and Xanax) is withdrawal symptoms.
It's a brutal process we personally went through (that story is here).
The last thing we want to do is trade one nightmare for another with CBD.
This brings up a range of questions regarding CBD and withdrawals.
We'll get into all of them and look at research from NIH studies to back it up.
If you've been in the throes of withdrawals, you'll appreciate that we take this seriously.
We're going to look at the following:
- First, what causes withdrawals
- Can CBD cause withdrawals
- Can you stop CBD cold turkey
- CBD and benzo withdrawals (Valium, Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, etc)
- CBD and antidepressant withdrawals - serotonin discontinuation syndrome (Lexapro, Effexor, Zoloft, etc)
- CBD and opioid withdrawals
- CBD and gabapentin withdrawals
- CBD and alcohol withdrawals
- CBD and nicotine withdrawals
- CBD and Adderal withdrawals
- CBD and THC withdrawals
- CBD and neurogenesis for withdrawal
- CBD and withdrawal side effects - anxiety, seizures, etc
- How much CBD for withdrawals
- What's the best CBD for withdrawal symptoms
You see how we quickly go from the question of whether CBD can cause withdrawal symptoms to how it works to lessen other substance withdrawal effects.
This is very telling but we'll get into all of it below.
If you or a loved one is suffering, you'll hopefully have a better understanding of what's going on and how to survive it.
Benzos were terrible but the SSRI weaning almost broke me.
They don't mention this in the 10-minute meeting at the GP's office.
Let's get started!
First, what causes withdrawals
When you're in a better place, check out the book Never Enough by Judith Grissel.
It's probably the best explanation of what's happening with addiction, normalization, and withdrawals.
Let's focus on the last one there but in order to get there, we have to first understand it's predecessor.
We can blame our brain for this one.
Actually, we have to look at a system within it call the endocannabinoid system which CBD supports.
This system is tasked with balancing other key systems:
- Immune system - inflammatory agents and cell birth/death control
- Endocrine system - hormones
- Nervous system - neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin, and dopamine
Our modern medical system in terms of drugs that lead to addiction and withdrawals is primarily focused on the last one there.
- Benzos are turbo boosters for GABA levels (our brain's main brake pedal)
- SSRIs (antidepressants) are boosters for serotonin levels (our "feel good" neurotransmitters)
- Nicotine boosts acetylcholine (focus, alertness, etc)
- Alcohol boosts GABA and serotonin (explains why so many women in perimenopause drink to self medicate - we'll explain below)
- Opioids - boost our naturally occurring opioid system which governs pain
- Adderal is a stimulant that boosts NMDA function and glutamate (the gas pedals of our brain)
- THC is a booster of anandamide (our "bliss" molecule), a natural endocannabinoid
See what we mean...it's a who's who of our neurotransmitters!
On top of this primary pathway, almost all of them will entangle with dopamine….the "do that again" neurotransmitter.
You can see where we have a problem.
This last piece is more a function of addiction itself though.
What about the next step...normalization?
This is very fascinating if you want to feel better. Stay with us.
The brain is constantly trying to find balance. The technical term is homeostasis.
Sure, you need more GABA when it's time to sleep and more Glutamate when it's time to study for a test or drive a car.
But back to balance is the overarching goal of our nervous system.
What happens when there's a sudden onslaught of GABA (from benzos) hitting neurons in the brain for example?
The system panics and tries to offset this artificial influx.
If it's just one time, maybe not a problem. The nervous system might just suppress natural GABA functions temporarily.
What if it's constant and long-lasting?
Research is showing that the brain will literally suppress GABA functions and boost its opposite (Glutamate) down to the genetic level.
DNA will be turned off that construct the 5 proteins that make up the GABA receptor.
This can occur with a few weeks of benzo usage.
We go into the process in detail at our CBD and GABA function summary.
So we have both a short term and long term effect on the use of the drugs above.
This is normalization. The brain is trying to offset the outside influence on its key pathways.
That's why we develop tolerance, the other side of the coin to normalization.
Tolerance means that you need more and more of the drug to have the same effect.
This makes perfect sense when you know that the brain is downregulating the same pathway as a reaction to the drug.
Why withdrawals thoughts? The terrible side effects?
So...we may have had an imbalance (too low GABA) to begin with. This background GABA is called tonic GABA.
It's like our sea of GABA function. Brake pedal. Slowing down activity.
Occasionally, we need a spike in GABA (sleep, calm, after fight or flight moment, etc).
That's called our phasic GABA. As needed, episodic waves in our sea of GABA.
Benzos created a tidal wave of GABA!
The brain panics and drops tonic GABA function as an offset.
So...let's put this in practical terms.
You take a Xanax. It spikes your GABA and you feel calm and drowsy (remember, it's a brake pedal).
Your brain sees this spike and suppresses your normal GABA function.
The Xanax wears off.
Uh oh. You're now worse off than when you started. Hello, Withdrawals!
If you're taking Xanax for weeks, months, or God-forbid...years, this offset keeps going lower and lower till you essentially crash.
You literally can't come off Xanax (or benzos in general) cold-turkey or there's a danger of seizures (a situation where we have no GABA and too much glutamate).
Of course, the full range of withdrawal side effects are present as well.
We'll cover the effects of dopamine drops (the real driver of cravings and addiction) in a separate review of CBD and addiction shortly.
Dopamine is key to many of the withdrawal symptoms people experience in addition to the missing neurotransmitter pathway.
Let's figure out how to deal with withdrawal symptoms in the meantime.
I had to slowly slice off slivers of the benzo and SSRI over 1-2 months to get there while using CBD as support.
I'll cover what research is showing in terms of dosages for withdrawal symptoms below.
The good news is that these pathways should eventually come back but it takes time.
We have to survive that transition in the meantime.
Generally, the last piece (actual DNA production of receptor protein) takes weeks or longer.
There is research on "damage" from long term usage but we'll cover the powerful tool against this below...neurogenesis!
Let's get to the question at hand.
Can CBD cause withdrawals
This is the first question as the last thing we want to do is substitute one cause of withdrawal from another.
In all the NIH research, there is no indication of tolerance, withdrawals, or addiction with CBD.
A study on Epeliodex (synthetic CBD which has its own issues):
In healthy volunteers, no evidence of withdrawal syndrome was found with abrupt discontinuation of short-term treatment with CBD.
We covered this in detail at our CBD versus Xanax and Ativan review along with tolerance, addiction, and other elements.
How can this be?
Here's the secret after reading 100's of NIH studies.
CBD supports the system that IS the knee-jerk reaction.
The endocannabinoid system itself guides the ship towards balance.
Technically, CBD is called a negative allosteric modulator of CB1 and CB2 receptors, our main endocannabinoid receptors.
Basically, it works like a constraint on this system.
- If too high, signal back to stop.
- If too low, signal back to increase.
The "back" part is important as all the drugs above send signals forwards to boost.
CBD is the reverse and acts as a feedback mechanism.
Let's take one interesting example which really drives this home.
Our body uses inflammation via the immune system to kill pre-cancerous and cancerous cells.
Look at CBD's effect depending on the state of the cell:
- Healthy cell with low inflammation - CBD has no effect
- Healthy cell with high inflammation - CBD reduces inflammation
- Cancerous or pre-cancerous cell - CBD INCREASES inflammation!
Read that back over because it's critical to balance (in this case, cell death called apoptosis).
Three different effects are dependent on what's going on with the cell.
This interesting trick isn't CBD really but the endocannabinoid system boosts.
Meanwhile, the drugs mentioned above all push in one direction.
That's why you can overdose on most if not all of them.
Benzos dose-dependent effect on GABA trajectory with increasing amounts:
- Dead! (systems stop altogether)
They've tested CBD up to 1.5 grams (1500 mg) with a strong (and more importantly, similar) safety profile as lower doses.
This brings up another key question.
Can you stop CBD cold turkey
Yes. There is no danger of seizures or withdrawal side effects from stopping CBD by itself.
Now, the pathway you were taking CBD to address (GABA, serotonin, etc) may be still impaired from your original state and the effects of the drug you're weaning off of (the normalization effect).
Losing the "safety net" of CBD may be felt but it doesn't compound the withdrawal effect itself in research.
As with all things, it's best to change slowly and taper.
What's really interesting is the research for CBD and withdrawal from other drugs.
We're going to break each of these out for a full review with deep dives but for now, a quick summary of the key drug classes.
Check out CBD and addiction to get a better understanding of what's going on here.
Let's now look at specific drug pathways for withdrawal.
CBD and benzo withdrawals (Valium, Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, etc)
This is where we see the most activity as CBD's effect on GABA function is probably one of its strongest.
There are two main concerns with benzos effects on our neurotransmitters:
- It pumps up GABA and the brain offsets this by reducing natural GABA production while boosting Glutamate as a response
- It primes Dopamine neurons to respond more strongly to future benzo interaction
It's hard to say which one is more painful when coming off.
A sudden drop in GABA can result in anxiety, insomnia, agitation, and a host of nasty symptoms.
Two of those are probably the reason you were prescribed benzos to begin with.
It's a recipe for disaster.
Valium and Klonopin are slower, last longer, and have metabolites that trickle off with time.
This is less severe but makes the "rescue" of GABA function a slower and more painful process.
The key to our next epidemic (after opioids) though is the effect on dopamine.
Your brain is literally being rewired to crave benzos more:
Dr. Lüscher and colleagues have now demonstrated that benzodiazepines weaken the influence of a group of cells, called inhibitory interneurons, in the brain’s ventral tegmental area (VTA).
What does this effect have?
These neurons normally help prevent excessive dopamine levels by downregulating the firing rates of dopamine-producing neurons.
It's this very specific effect on a sub-type of GABA receptors in the dopamine system that causes all the issues and voila…:
Benzodiazepines’ newly discovered mechanism for producing reward is comparable to those of opiates, cannabinoids, and GHB.
Check out CBD versus benzos….it's the next big epidemic especially now with Ativan and Xanax, which are supremely suited for addiction.
So...we have to address two key pathways in terms of withdrawals from benzos:
- GABA/Glutamate balance
- Dopamine function
Can CBD support and balance this system to lessen withdrawal symptoms?
Two studies come to mind (out of many).
We're focused on GABA rescue here.
First, one study used an infective agent to disrupt GABA/glutamate balance as a proxy for schizophrenia (see CBD and schizophrenia).
It's known that early insults (trauma, infection, etc) can cause imbalances later in life.
What did pre-treatment with CBD do in this situation?
Overall, these findings show that CBD can restore cannabinoid/GABAergic signaling deficits in regions of the brain implicated in schizophrenia pathophysiology following maternal poly I:C exposure.
In this case, it was our immune system's overresponse to early infection instead of the constant pumping of benzos.
The net effect was the same...balance in GABA/Glutamate function.
Secondly, another study looked at CBD and GABA function in a study of autism.
There can be reduced glutamate activity in the prefrontal cortex with people who have autism.
Across regions, CBD increased GABA+ in controls, but decreased GABA+ in ASD; the group difference in change in GABA + in the DMPFC was significant.
Why is this interesting?
Thus, CBD modulates glutamate-GABA systems, but prefrontal-GABA systems respond differently in ASD
It had a different response depending on the "needs" of the system.
Otherwise, it boosted GABA levels across the brain except where that wasn't needed!
We've covered benzos in detail since we personally had to get out from under them following perimenopause.
Next up….the second suite of prescriptions my doctor hit me with after the benzos were going to long.
CBD and antidepressant withdrawals - serotonin discontinuation syndrome (Lexapro, Effexor, Zoloft, etc)
A quick summary though.
SSRIs, the main class of antidepressants. We know them all too well.
Lexapro almost broke me.
The SSRIs don't have the same affinity for the dopamine system so the companies get away with calling it something other than withdrawals.
The official term is serotonin discontinuation syndrome. Orwell would be so proud.
Call it what you will...it was even worse than the benzos.
This goes to the heart of just how wide-spread and critical serotonin is to your functioning.
We did a deep dive in our CBD and serotonin pathway here.
It's fascinating with effects on EVERY human behavior you can think of.
So the key question in terms of withdrawal symptoms (a rose by any name) is this...
Do SSRIs build tolerance?
This is why doctors have to constantly increase doses, rotate medications, or layer medications over time.
I swear, the Pharma companies must just "run" the FDA.
They even gave this a different name that no one could understand.
The condition of losing a previously effective response while still on adequate treatment is known as antidepressant treatment (ADT) tachyphylaxis
Just don't call it tolerance!
How prevalent is it?
Fava et al found that 26 of 77 depressed patients (33.7%) who had achieved full remission of symptoms on fluoxetine 20mg daily experienced a recurrence of symptoms (ADT tachyphylaxis) between 14 and 54 weeks despite maintenance treatment
That's interesting because it's estimated that SSRIs help about 30% of people and the rest is attributed to a placebo effect (see CBD versus SSRIs).
Placebo doesn't have a tolerance effect!
This leads us to the net effect of this if we try to get off of SSRIs.
Serotonin discontinuation syndrome.
It's probably not like withdrawal symptoms though, right?
The mnemonic FINISH summarizes the symptoms of an antidepressant discontinuation syndrome: Flu-like symptoms (lethargy, fatigue, headache, achiness, sweating), Insomnia (with vivid dreams or nightmares), Nausea (sometimes vomiting), Imbalance (dizziness, vertigo, light-headedness), Sensory disturbances (“burning,” “tingling,” “electric-like” or “shock-like” sensations) and Hyperarousal (anxiety, irritability, agitation, aggression, mania, jerkiness).
Hmmm...sounds like withdrawal with the added benefits of spastic body motions and electric shocks (see CBD and perimenopause brain shocks).
They estimate that 20% of people who stop SSRIs quickly after taking it only 1 month will experience serotonin discontinuation syndrome.
So...here's the roller coast to oblivion:
- SSRI builds tolerance
- Amounts have to be increased, changed, or layered
- Tolerance builds further
This just leads to more and more of a pit if a person tries to come off.
In fact, it can be dangerous to stop SSRIs cold turkey. Not recommended.
What about CBD?
We covered a lot of these issues in our full review of perimenopause:
Estradiol (our main estrogen) directly boosts serotonin!
All of those are serotonin pathways (a really big player in the gut as well).
When estradiol is in flux or drops, you have similar effects to when SSRIs get pulled away.
Those are great reviews to look at how CBD affects serotonin pathways.
We'll leave off with just two in terms of serotonin rescue.
Our first study used an injury to deplete serotonin in mice.
After all, the pain will eat up your serotonin pathway. In fact, serotonin is key to our pain threshold or how we perceive pain.
What happened when they pre-treated with CBD?
Seven days of treatment with CBD reduced mechanical allodynia, decreased anxiety-like behavior, and normalized 5-HT activity.
Allodynia just means pain sensitivity. Anxiety is a bonus (also a withdrawal symptom from SSRIs).
Most importantly, is the last part. "Normalized 5-HT activity"
5-HT is none other than serotonin.
You'll see lots of descriptions like normalize and modulate in regards to CBD and serotonin.
That's why we don't see tolerance...it's not pushing in one direction.
Another study found that CBD had a fast-acting anti-depressant (the main reason for SSRI prescriptions) via the serotonin pathway.
More importantly, was this:
Moreover, adaptive changes in pre- and post-synaptic 5-HT1A receptor functionality were also found after chronic CBD.
Remember, the brain offsets boosting from the original SSRI.
This can go as far as suppressing activity at the receptor on neurons.
Long term, CBD was re-calibrating this activity.
This is key to rescuing serotonin function following SSRI discontinuation.
Of course, help on the symptoms (the perimenopause reviews above) are a lifesaver.
Next up...the one that's garnering all the attention now.
CBD and opioid withdrawals
This was the first well-designed study on CBD and withdrawal symptoms.
Of course, the fact that it was for opioids, the epidemic cause of withdrawal nightmares everywhere is telling.
This double-blind, placebo study found the following:
Acute CBD administration, in contrast to placebo, significantly reduced both craving and anxiety induced by the presentation of salient drug cues compared with neutral cues.
Here's the fascinating piece which we'll get into below:
CBD also showed significant protracted effects on these measures 7 days after the final short-term (3-day) CBD exposure.
How could one dose of CBD have an effect that lasts 7 days later?
Ahhh...neurogenesis. If it was just a pop to serotonin (like an SSRI), that would be gone pretty quickly.
Interestingly, they even found effects on effects not in our control (placebo driven) like heart rate and cortisol levels (See CBD and cortisol).
Cortisol is our key stress hormone and is a big player in any withdrawal symptom.
The abstinent heroin-dependent participants had significantly higher plasma cortisol levels nocturnally suggesting a loss of diurnal variation in these heroin subjects.
It's that "coming out of your skin" feeling.
CBD's effect on this in the opioid users is telling.
Let's look at the new addition to benzos that also cross-used with opioids. Gabapentin.
CBD and gabapentin withdrawals
We published our big review of CBD to taper off benzos and we started getting lots of responses on people in the same boat with gabapentin.
So...we did a deep dive on CBD versus gabapentin.
Gabapentin is interesting once you drill down into it. Yes, its effects are clearly on the GABA pathways but it really works like a discount (synthetic) version of L-leucine, an important neurotransmitter.
Gabapentin is showing tolerance and withdrawal effects as we looked at in the review above.
Make sure to check how CBD helps with those withdrawal symptoms and rescuing the GABA/glutamate balance.
This is similar to the benzos above (but nuanced).
Now the big one (in terms of prevalence).
CBD and alcohol withdrawals
Alcohol is fascinating.
Unlike the other drugs which tend to target 1 main pathway, alcohol is such a small and simple molecule that it dances with everyone at the party!
In fact, multiple neurotransmitters in various parts of the brain combine to make the consumption of small doses of alcohol enjoyable.
There are two big players though in terms of withdrawals and we should be familiar with them by now.
GABA and serotonin
This may be why women start to drink red wine mid to late '40s and carry that into menopause.
Estradiol boosts serotonin and progesterone boosts GABA function.
They're both leaving (progesterone drops in half by age 40).
Enter the substitute teacher.
Alcohol is believed to mimic GABA's effect in the brain, binding to GABA receptors and inhibiting neuronal signaling.
And it releases other inhibitors, such as dopamine and serotonin.
Goodness. There's dopamine, our reward neurotransmitter. The trifecta.
You can think of a hangover as a mini-withdrawal state where key neurotransmitters are depleted (along with water and glutathione from trying to clear out the poison that results in alcohol metabolism, acetaldehyde).
Long term use causes the same tolerance we described above as the nervous system tries to offset the juicing of these key systems.
We're just starting to get studies on CBD and alcohol use and withdrawals like this study:
Experimental studies found that CBD reduces the overall level of alcohol drinking in animal models of AUD by reducing ethanol intake, motivation for ethanol, relapse, anxiety, and impulsivity.
The key there is anxiety in terms of withdrawals as the others are driven more by the addiction angle (which we'll cover in another article - see CBD and addiction for now).
Anxiety is a reflection of an imbalanced state in our system. It's there for a reason...as a warning!
AUD is short for alcohol use disorder (alcoholism).
As a side note (maybe should be the first note), CBD's effects on protecting the liver and brain following alcohol is not in question.
CBD reduces alcohol-related steatosis and fibrosis in the liver by reducing lipid accumulation, stimulating autophagy, modulating inflammation, reducing oxidative stress, and by inducing death of activated hepatic stellate cells
The same was true for the brain.
We covered much more on the interaction at our CBD and alcohol review here. Very interesting.
Let's go in the other direction.
CBD and nicotine withdrawals
Nicotine is interesting. Outside of this manipulation of dopamine (the reward system), it's a big booster to acetylcholine.
Focus. Attention. Energy! That's its domain.
Yes, we could all use some more of that but it goes deeper.
There are many mental illnesses that rest on the reduced function of acetylcholine. Schizophrenia is one of them.
Smoking is highly prevalent among schizophrenic subjects. Nicotine improves attention in schizophrenia. Nicotinic receptors, in particular the α7 nicotinic receptor, are candidates for the development of new medications to treat cognitive and perceptual deficits in schizophrenia.
That nicotinic receptor is a type of acetylcholine receptor.
It's self-medicating, essentially.
Smoking prevalence was highest among those with schizophrenia, at nearly 90%.6
Again, check out the review on CBD and schizophrenia which is pretty fascinating.
Back to nicotine (and caffeine for that matter).
Same receptor...acetycholine pathway.
Look...one measure of withdrawals is relapse. After all, that's the primary driver for falling back into the habit.
What does CBD show there?
When participants received PBO, tobacco abstinence increased AB (P = 0.001, d = 0.789) compared with satiety. However, CBD reversed this effect, such that automatic AB was directed away from cigarette cues
PBO is short for placebo. AB is short for attention bias which means you respond when you see tobacco-related cues during abstinence.
CBD reversed this trend!
This is really pretty interesting. It's the key to addiction...re-wiring the brain for new habits!
The ultimate goal (for some people) is to get through withdrawals and stop smoking altogether.
What about CBD there?
Over the treatment week, placebo-treated smokers showed no differences in the number of cigarettes smoked. In contrast, those treated with CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by ~40% during treatment.
This was CBD by itself...without any other support or treatment.
By reducing cigarettes by 40%, you're reducing normalization and potentially, withdrawals by 40%.
Remember that tolerance is dose-dependent. The more the influx, the harder the brain pushes back.
To another stimulant.
CBD and Adderal and ADHD med withdrawals
Adderal and Ritalin are essentially amphetamines...a stimulant.
First, does Adderal create tolerance, the gatekeeper to withdrawals?
Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance and can be habit-forming as users may develop a tolerance to the drug over time.
The players in the situation are dopamine and norepinephrine...two powerful neurotransmitters.
The latter is better known as adrenaline but in small amounts, it's more about focus than fight or flight.
The theory is that stimulants like Adderal and Ritalin allow neurotransmitters to remain available longer in people with ADHD.
Like we mentioned above, there is tolerance and eventually, withdrawal symptoms.
How do we "rescue" the dopamine systems after Adderal?
This is a mouthful but we'll decipher after:
Cannabidiol Counteracts Amphetamine-Induced Neuronal and Behavioral Sensitization of the Mesolimbic Dopamine Pathway through a Novel mTOR/p70S6 Kinase Signaling Pathway
Basically, the researchers used amphetamines to disrupt the dopamine system in the hopes of studying...schizophrenia.
CBD was able to offset this imbalance specifically in the dopamine system (which may speak to its effects on addiction as well).
Otherwise, if you come off of Adderal, you're going to have a drop of dopamine which is going to feel like….nothingness.
Another study looked at amphetamine relapse and found this:
They found that both cannabinoids potentiated the extinction of cocaine- and amphetamine-induced place preference learning and that this effect was not reversed by the administration of a CB1 receptors antagonist.
Place preference just means that the mouse will focus on a certain thing or area which is usually cocaine or amphetamines when prior exposed.
CBD "erased" or re-wired this effect!
Again, more to the heart of addiction but withdrawals are key to this "relapse" process.
The other "cannabinoid" they were looking at is THC. Let's go there now.
CBD and THC withdrawals
Many people think that THC (usually in the form of cannabis) is not addictive.
This may not be true for a percentage of the population and researchers don't know exactly why.
They tend to be male and there's likely a tie with anandamide function.
Again, THC works very similarly to our naturally occurring anandamide, the "bliss" molecule.
Higher dose THC (See why sellers of high THC products are bad) or chronic use will build tolerance or normalize over time.
This means the body will suppress anandamide function to offset THC's effect.
Fewer receptors. Less function.
Tolerance to cannabis and cannabis withdrawal symptoms are believed to be the result of the desensitization of CB1 receptors by THC.
This is going to feel pretty bad when you come off of THC or cannabis (generally high THC sort).
Interestingly, CBD like with so many other pathways has an opposing effect to THC.
Check out CBD for greening out (too much THC) as an example.
What about the withdrawals from THC?
It started with anecdotal studies like this 19-year woman with cannabis withdrawals:
Daily symptom assessments demonstrated the absence of significant withdrawal, anxiety and dissociative symptoms during the treatment.
With the use of the CBD oil, the patient reported being less anxious, as well as settling into a regular pattern of sleep. He also indicated that he had not used any marijuana since starting the CBD oil.
This is not surprising given the yin-yang relationship between the two endocannabinoids.
After all, CBD's ability to offset the negative effects of THC is the basis for much-ballyhooed "Entourage Effect" marketers use to pitch full-spectrum CBD.
See our review on CBD Isolate versus Full Spectrum here.
This is a good excuse to get into the beauty of CBD's effect.
THC directly boosts CB1 activity. It's called an agonist.
All the drugs we mentioned above work in this same fashion. Boost up up and away!
Cannabidiol behaved as a non-competitive negative allosteric modulator of CB1 receptors.
Goodness...what does that mean?
Basically, it works like a feedback mechanism or "constraint".
It sends a signal backwards saying "Okay, we're fine here...stop sending" or "Hey, we're low, increase levels!".
That's why it can have different effects like the cancer example above.
It's also key to addressing the changes made by too much THC!
That's the short term withdrawal effect. For the longer effect, we have to look at how CBD can actually unwind tolerance (which is both chemical and physical - brain pathways and receptors).
CBD and neurogenesis for withdrawal
Neurogenesis is just a fancy way to say making new brain and more importantly, connections.
We've covered it in detail since its critical to almost every mental illness out there (Anxiety, depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, etc).
Think of withdrawals as a river that suddenly runs dry. The brain has built around certain inputs (The drug) pathways and now there's no water!
The brain has to rework around the block like a river with a dam.
In the meantime, you feel terrible because of critical neurotransmitters, hormones, and other criticals are running low.
The faster we can rebuild new pathways that don't involve the drug, the better you will feel.
That's neurogenesis and it speaks to the "extinction" of drug cues above with nicotine.
It also explains why one dose of CBD can have an effect 7 days later.
The real star of that show is BDNF, our brain's fertilizer.
It's also why SSRIs have any effect (see how SSRIs really work).
It's so important (and cool!) that we did a full review of CBD and BDNF.
Also, the new kid on the block for addiction (actually, she left down for a few decades) is psilocybin from magic mushrooms. Check out the full psilocybin review here.
Again...it's an explosion of BDNF.
It's just nice to know how it's helping.
Let's get practical now.
CBD and withdrawal side effects - anxiety, seizures, etc
Interestingly, CBD is right in the wheelhouse for the various symptoms of withdrawals.
- Four Mental and Emotional Withdrawal Symptoms
- Anxiety: Anxiety, panic attacks, restlessness, irritability
- Depression: Social isolation, lack of enjoyment, fatigue, poor appetite
- Sleep: Insomnia, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Cognitive: Poor concentration, poor memory
- Six Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
- Head: Headaches, dizziness
- Chest: Chest tightness, difficulty breathing
- Heart: Racing heart, skipped beats, palpitations
- GI: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach aches
- Muscles: Muscle tension, twitches, tremors, shakes, muscle aches
- Skin: Sweating, tingling
Check out the following to dive deeper into how CBD works:
- CBD and anxiety
- CBD and depression
- CBD and sleep
- CBD and brain fog (perimenopause focus but the mechanisms are the same)
- CBD and heart palpitations blood pressure
- CBD and the gut
- CBD and pain
We haven't done a deep dive into seizures yet but it's literally how CBD became famous (Charlotte who had constant seizures till CBD came around).
That's the GABA/Glutamate balance we looked at with benzos.
So...what the research shows how much CBD.
How much CBD for withdrawals
First, a test dosage is usually around 25-30 mg to see how you respond.
Don't expect much in terms of withdrawals from this amount.
The research above pointed to 300 - 600 mg doses with the bulk at 300 mg.
This matches key research showing that neurogenesis peaks around 300 mg per day.
Remember, that's the key to not only dealing with the symptoms of withdrawals but speeding the rescue of tolerance that's marbleized in the brain following long term drug use.
Other studies specific to symptoms such as anxiety or sleep were higher (600 mg) but the 300 mg is ideal for repair/rescue.
It can be broken up as our founder takes 150 mg in the morning and 150 mg before bed.
Peak CBD is usually 4-6 hours after taking it. Research is showing that holding it under tongue up to 60 seconds can increase bioavailability by 4x's.
Next up….what type of CBD.
What's the best CBD for withdrawal symptoms
There are basic requirements that are a must but not always present on the market.
- Organically grown in the US at an FDA registered farm
- CO2 processed
- 3rd party tested (ours is available at top of every page)
- No THC (THC can increase anxiety and has addiction issues itself)
- No Solvents
- No Heavy Metals
- No Pesticides
- No Bacteria
We actually test ours twice since our whole family uses it (including 2 teens).
Then there's the question of Full-spectrum versus CBD isolate.
Here's what most brands aren't looking at.
Roughly 40-60% of the population has histamine or allergy issues.
All the plant material in full-spectrum is going the wrong direction.
This is even more pronounced for someone trying to come off of a given drug such as with opioids:
Baseline histamine, tryptase, and LpPLA2 were significantly elevated in IDU compared to the healthy control group, while DAO decreased.
Histamine is the key to allergies but also works as a powerful neurotransmitter.
Agitation, anxiety, and that "coming out of your skin" feeling can be attributed to histamine surges.
DAO breaks down histamine so our allergy response system is already heightened.
For this reason, we want the simplest CBD formula. That's why we focus on CBD Isolate and MCT oil (coconut oil extract needed for CBD to be taken in by liver).
Two ingredients to avoid histamine response.
One more note...we have to be able to afford this. CBD isn't cheap.
We covered CBD pricing here but our 6000 mg is priced at 3 cents per mg of CBD, probably the lowest on the market for legitimate CBD (See 3rd party testing at top).
We also have constant options to reduce costs with referral, review, and various discounts.
People under the brutal process of withdrawals shouldn't have to suffer because of cost.
We've been there with benzos and SSRIs. Wouldn't wish it on our worse enemy.
Always work with a doctor or naturopath with any supplement!
The information provided here is not intended to treat an illness or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.