Does CBD need to be taken daily for anxiety?
This question brings up two very different pathways that CBD works on for anxiety.
There is both a short term and longer-term action from CBD:
- GABA - brain's "brake" pedal has a faster effect
- Serotonin - master mood regulator builds over time (about 14 days)
You can take CBD as needed (anxiety or panic coming on) but for trait anxiety (a constant feeling), daily use works best.
GABA is addressed right now but serotonin is dealing with stress response generally.
The goal is to calm anxiety but also support your systems that keep it under wraps, to begin with.
The heart of how serotonin works is actually a much less known pathway called BDNF.
BDNF is our brain's fertilizer and it supports neurogenesis, the process of repair, rebuilding, and rewiring the brain.
In our deep dive into how SSRIs work (till tolerance builds up), we show how researchers found that when you block BDNF, neurogenesis and their antidepressant effects go away with it!
This same pathway is coming out across the mental health and addiction (rewiring piece) spectrum.
That's not an immediate effect like GABA.
This is why it takes about 2 weeks for SSRIs to actually start to work…building a brain takes time!
Otherwise, the immediate ramp-up of serotonin would break the anxiety!
It's the repair side that's building and daily use of CBD supports this ultimate pathway.
CBD also helps with the insult side…the issues that are wearing down GABA, serotonin, and even countering the efforts of BDNF:
- Drugs and medicines
- Hyperactive immune system
GABA (right now) and serotonin (longer-term) are both buffers against the effects of these assaults.
Anandamide is a backup. This is our "bliss" molecule and a key stress-response buffer that is the driver of the endocannabinoid system.
This is where CBD works! It supports anandamide function when low which is critical because we don't build tolerance like its cousin, THC.
Daily use of CBD for anxiety supports GABA, calms stress (cortisol), inflammation, and oxidative stress while bolstering serotonin and as a result, BDNF - the real driver of healthy brains over longer periods of time.
We're getting help on both the damaging side (stress, inflammation, etc) and the repair side (serotonin, BDNF, etc).
Daily use of CBD allows the slower side (BDNF) to build over time.
We have a huge review on CBD and BDNF or CBD and anxiety pathways here.
One note…research is showing peak neurogenesis is around 300mg daily (more here).
With the 6000mg bottle, that's ½ a dropper 3 times daily. This amount may come down after the initial 2 weeks period to get things moving.
Studies have shown results for anxiety up to 600mg (see CBD and public speaking as an example) but 300mg is the goal since that's peak BDNF…our ultimate target for daily CBD use for anxiety.
This brings up another question…is it safe to take CBD daily?
We did a review on taking CBD longer-term here and the safety record is strong.
The point here is:
- CBD does not build tolerance (like benzos and SSRIs)
- CBD is not addictive (see CBD and addiction)
- CBD is not hedonic (causes pleasure)
- CBD is not psychoactive - there's no "high" and you can function regularly
The tolerance piece is really the important one.
We don't want to push these critical pathways (especially GABA and serotonin) in one direction or the body will offset this over time.
CBD works as a feedback mechanism for these and other pathways - technically called a positive allosteric modulator.
In our view, this is CBD's secret weapon (more on how CBD actually works here).
For this reason, you can just take as needed for the occasional bout of anxiety or daily to address longer term anxiety states and traits.
We did a deep dive on long-term anxiety.
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.