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Can CBD help us find relief from anxiety and be more conscious parents? A balanced endocannabinoid system could be the relief we’ve been looking for.

Emma Andrews, RHN, NPDP

Autumn signals a serious change to summer’s relaxed vibe. It’s time to get back to basics and get the kids back to school, homework and extracurricular activity. Yet a change in routine can complicate everyday life and heighten our feelings of stress and anxiety—sometimes to the point of chronically affecting mood, sleep quality and the ability to fully enjoy the moment.

Behind those anxious feelings may lie an underlying endocannabinoid system (ECS) imbalance. This lesser known, but increasingly understood, neuromodulatory arrangement of the body plays an important role in central nervous system function and many biological processes.

The ECS is comprised of receptor sites throughout our body, which can accept endogenous cannabinoids (those produced naturally within our body), or exogenous cannabinoids (those obtained from external consumption).

More than 100 identified cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found within the cannabis plant, have been identified. Each cannabinoid exhibits its own unique effects, with THC and CBD being two of the most widely researched of the compounds.

CBD or cannabidiol is specifically sought for its anti-anxiety benefits and calming properties. Many avid CBD consumers report that they’re more easily able to reframe situations and detach from the clutch of anxious feelings.

As a non-psychoactive form of cannabis, CBD does not get the user high.

Choosing a CBD

CBD is extracted from both hemp and cannabis. Hemp-derived CBD does not typically yield the same high potency or the same spectrum of cannabinoids compared to cannabis-derived CBD, and therefore may not offer the same degree of anxiety relief.

When choosing a CBD product, consider whether you’re approaching consumption from a proactive or reactive perspective toward your anxiety management.

“A CBD isolate on its own will serve a purpose when you need to address an existing condition. But coming from a preventative perspective, it’s important to have a broad spectrum of cannabinoids to support a truly healthy endocannabinoid system,” says Dr. Ivan Casselman, an ethnobotanist, analytical phytochemist and director of research and development at Nextleaf Solutions, an extraction and distillation company based in BC.

“Look for products made with a ‘full spectrum’ or ‘broad spectrum’ extract,” he encourages. “This means while you may be consuming a high concentration of CBD, you are also benefitting from more than one single cannabinoid, and more than one single compound.”

These compounds may include natural terpenes, flavonoids, fats and chlorophyll found in the plant. More commonly referred to as the “entourage effect”, this phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy has been shown to have a positive impact on our anxiety response, among other ailments. The whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts, as in whole food nutrition!

Consuming a CBD

CBD can be consumed in a wide variety of formats once extracted from the plant. It can be infused into capsules, tinctures, topicals and food, and it can even be vaped. Products made from a concentrated form of CBD are the best option for those not wanting to roll and smoke.

In its most natural form, CBD is found in the flowering portion of the cannabis plant. Once dried and cured, this can be combusted and inhaled through a device such as a pipe or hand rolled in papers. The new preference among health-conscious consumers is to use a specialty vaporization device such as the Pax, which is designed for cannabis flower.

When purchasing flower from a licensed dispensary, ask for strains with high CBD and a low- or no-THC ratio to obtain the most therapeutic benefit with the least psychoactive side effect.

Various strains, or cultivars, of the cannabis plant will produce varying levels of CBD and varying levels of THC. Professional advice is important. Always begin by consuming a small amount of CBD; increase your consumption slowly over time, as needed.

Consuming CBD for anxiety, no matter the format you consume, is best when timed as a way to unwind at the end of the day and transition into your nighttime routine, once the kids are in bed.

Consistent consumption can allow your ECS a chance to adapt and recalibrate, so you can enjoy the benefits of CBD far beyond the typical consumption experience.

Emma Andrews is a Vancouver-based wellness educator, holistic nutritionist and marketing consultant who is making waves at the intersection of the cannabis and natural product industries. She’s actively involved in all aspects including cannabis cultivation, harvesting, product development and health research for the legalized market. Connect with her on social @emmarunsvan

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