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The 4 Best CBD Products for Sleep and Anxiety

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Perhaps the best known, and most proven, use for cannabidiol or “CBD” products is in treating epilepsy. 1

In fact, the origin story of one of the oldest CBD brands, Charlotte’s Web, began after CBD showed incredible efficacy in stopping seizures for a 6 year old girl named Charlotte Figi. Charlotte’s Web has played a big role in developing CBD as a therapeutic agent that many with epilepsy benefit from today.

Since then, more research has been done on the health benefits of CBD, the non-psychoactive cousin to THC, with many swearing by CBD products as sleep aids and as powerful anti-anxiety agents.

CBD proponents make big claims, but are their studies to back them up?

If you are in the market for a good CBD product, how do you know which preparations are of good quality?

Let’s dig in to find some answers.

More research is needed on CBD and sleep

To be fair, much of the evidence to date on CBD’s ability to reduce anxiety and get a good night’s sleep is anecdotal. However, there is some scientific research to share that is promising.

In 2019, a group of researchers published a paper titled: Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series.

In total, data from 72 patients was studied retrospectively, meaning the authors of the study drafted their conclusions based on analysis completed before they became involved with the data set. In other words, they parsed through old data for evidence that CBD could improve sleep. Most of the patients studied complained of an issue with either anxiety or sleep, and the results after being administered CBD were promising.

80% of the patients studies saw a decrease in anxiety in the first month of treatment with CBD and those scores stayed lower over time.

67% of patients saw an increase in sleep scores over the first month, but the results fluctuated over time, meaning the benefits for sleep weren’t long lasting in some subjects.

While these results are encouraging, more research is needed.

Rules to follow when buying CBD

However, I have seen firsthand the benefits of CBD for both sleep and stress in my day to day life and share below the products I have found most effective for these dual purposes.

I try to follow two basic rules when shopping for CBD products:

  1. Know the source
  2. Understand the dose

CBD sourcing matters

Cannabis is a natural bio-accumulator, meaning is “sucks up” metals and toxins from the soil it is grown in. 2 As a result, it’s especially important to choose CBD products made by reputable manufacturers who know where their plants are grown. Rule number one when choosing CBD products is buy from a trusted producer growing good quality cannabis plants in good quality soil.

The best way to establish trust is to only buy CBD products from producers who offer third party batch testing. If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’ll remember the emphasis we place on batch testing in our fish oil reviews. In sum, you want to see that supplement manufacturers are having independent testing done to prove their products are free of harmful pollutants and metals. This is especially important for CBD products because of the potential for cannabis plants to accumulate heavy metals.

CBD bioavailability is low

Rule number two, is find the appropriate dose.

According to Will Kleidon, Chairman of the California Hemp Council (more on Will in a minute), most CBD products on the market are offered at such low doses that it’s unlikely the CBD content itself will have much more than a placebo effect. To quote Will from our recent podcast interview:

All the time, we get people saying they’ve never ever felt CBD before until taking our formulation, which makes sense because where the data really clicks in in terms of efficacious engagement of the endocannabinoid system from taking CBD, the bare, bare minimum is 250 milligrams of a fat-based formulation. And really, they’ve got to get stronger at around 500 milligrams

Finding brands focused on enhancing bioavailability, and also brands that pair CBD with other complimentary nutrients, can help you get the most bang for your buck when buying CBD products.

My favorite CBD products

No two people are going to react to any supplement in exactly the same way, so it’s always best to start small with any new product and clear it with your doctor first. Having said that, I have chosen products here from high quality producers, that have conservative dosing, and that all contain only trace amounts of THC. Research indicates that CBD is well tolerated by humans at relatively high doses. 3

Best CBD oil and best overall CBD product – Ojai Energetics Hemp Elixir

There is a lot to love about Ojai Energetics. For starters, the company’s founder, Will Kleidon, who I interviewed in episode #20 of the Gene Food Podcast is the real deal. Not only is Will involved in creating the cleanest and most effective CBD products anywhere on the market at Ojai, he is also the Chairman of the California Hemp Council. Will eats, breathes and sleeps cannabis and his attention to detail and craftsmanship shines through in the CBD tinctures Will produces at Ojai.

The first thing (of many) I love about Ojai’s Hemp Elixir is that it doesn’t use vegetable oil. Many other CBD tinctures encapsulate CBD in some form of cheap oil, often high omega-6 sunflower oils, which I try my best to avoid. Instead, Ojai uses an organic hemp seed oil with a much better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio than vegetable and seed oils. Ojai adds to the hemp seed oil formula superfoods moringa, and acerola cherry. The taste of the elixir is heavily weighted to acerola cherry, without being overpowering. In fact, Ojai recommends dosing the Hemp Elixir based on taste. When the formula tastes sweet under the tongue (initially expect a slightly bitter flavor), that is when Ojai says you’ve reached your optimal dose. Ojai has also developed what it claims is superior bioavailability technology to increase the efficacy of its products. Rather than using liposomal encapsulations for its CBD products, Ojai uses a colloidal encapsulation, the effects of which can be felt much faster. That was my experience when taking Ojai’s Hemp Elixir, I felt the calming effects almost instantly. Over time, the impact wasn’t as potent, but nonetheless, I definitely felt a calming effect from this product and although I cycle on and off every supplement I take, Ojai products are a regular fixture in my kitchen.

Ojai Energetics Hemp Elixir Cheat Sheet

Price:$$$
CBD content:250 mg per bottle (enhanced bioavailability makes this dose the equivalent of 5,000 mg of other preparations)
Third party batch testing:Yes
Ingredients:Vitamin C, Hemp Seed Oil, CBD, Moringa, Acerola Cherry
Best feature:Clean, sustainable formula that utilizes colloidal technology for greater bioavailability
Product link:View on Ojai Energetics

Best CBD gummy for anxiety – Charlotte’s Web “Calm”

Note: products with theanine are contraindicated if you have low blood pressure or are on blood pressure lowering medications.

As I alluded to at the outset of the post, Charlotte’s Web is one of the pioneers in the CBD game. They make this list because the company is committed to quality and continues to make some excellent CBD products.

Many of their CBD oils use extra virgin olive oil rather than seed oils, which is a big deal for me. Further, they are very committed to third party batch testing (View on Charlotte’s Web site) so consumers can feel confident that Charlotte’s Web products are free of heavy metals and pollutants.

Their Calm product is probably my favorite anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) supplement. Charlotte’s Web has combined two proven calming agents, L-theanine and Lemon Balm, alongside a small dose of CBD for a really nice belnded gummy. The only downside is they loaded the gummies up with sugar at 3g of sugar per serving of two gummies. Note to Charlotte’s Web: please reduce the sugar content of this great product!

But here’s the exciting part – there is more research behind both L-theanine 4 and lemon balm 5 as calming agents than there is for CBD, and I find the blend of all three to be a very effective anxiolytic.

Charlotte’s Web “Calm” Cheat Sheet

Price:$$$
CBD content:20 mg per 2 gummies (60 gummies per container)
Third party batch testing:Yes
Ingredients:Lemon Balm, L-theanine, Hemp Extract, tapioca syrup, beet sugar, fructooligo-saccharides, water, natural flavors, MCT oil, pectin
Best feature:Proven ingredients, effective for focus and anxiety
Product link:View on Charlotte's Web

Best CBD gummy for sleep – Charlotte’s Web “Sleep”

Most of my analysis for the Calm product by Charlotte’s Web applies to the Sleep product as well. This is also a gummy, with a decent wallop of sugar.

The primary difference between the two is that Sleep comes with a CBD and melatonin combination, rather than CBD and L-theanine plus Lemon Balm. What I really like about these sleep gummies is that you can micro-dose the melatonin. One side effect of taking too much melatonin is low mood and even short term depression. 6 I have found that taking full melatonin doses over the span of a few days will give me a day where I feel an overall subdued mood. To avoid the dip in mood while still getting some of melatonin’s sleep benefits, I take very small doses. This works for me, but might not for you. However, it’s easy to do with the Sleep product by Charlotte’s Web. There is only 3 mg of melatonin per serving, which is 2 gummies. It’s easy to get a micro dose (0.75 mg of melatonin) by cutting one gummy in half and using that as a dose. I’ve found that small dose to be my ideal which makes the container of gummies last much longer than the Calm product.

Charlotte’s Web “Sleep” Cheat Sheet

Price:$$$
CBD content:20 mg per 2 gummies (60 gummies per container)
Third party batch testing:Yes
Ingredients:Hemp Extract, melatonin, tapioca syrup, beet sugar, fructooligo-saccharides, water, natural flavors, MCT oil, pectin
Best feature:Allows for a melatonin micro dose with a CBD compliment
Product link:View on Charlotte's Web

Best CBD capsules – Garden of Life Whole Hemp Extract CBD + Relax

Note: products with theanine are contraindicated if you have low blood pressure or are on blood pressure lowering medications. 

Enter another CBD product aimed at reducing stress and anxiety – the CBD + Relax formula by Garden of Life. Despite the fact that Garden of Life removes all THC, they still tout the entourage effect (the complimentary effect of using different cannabinoids in tandem) by adding clove, rosemary and black pepper oil to a base formula of CBD, L-theanine and saffron. Saffron was an interesting addition here. There are studies indicating that saffron can be helpful improving sleep in otherwise healthy subjects, but more research is needed. 6 This is the product to take if you want to avoid the sugar in the Charlotte’s Web gummies. The Garden of Life formula was created by neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter (we just had Dr. Perlmutter’s son Austin on the podcast to discuss their new book Brain Wash). Garden of Life capsules use MCT oil as their carrier of the CBD, but only contain 15 mg of CBD per dose, which is on the low side.

Garden of Life CBD + Relax Cheat Sheet

Price:$$$
CBD content:15 mg per capsule (30 capsules in one bottle)
Third party batch testing:Yes
Ingredients:Hemp extract, CBD, theanine, organic saffron, clove oil, black pepper oil, rosemary oil, annato, candelilla wax, sunflower lecithin
Best feature:CBD, theanine and saffron blend without the sugar

Common CBD side effects

I have tried each of the products listed in this article and stand by the quality of each one. Having said that, I cycle on and off of every supplement I take, sometimes taking weeks off in the process.

Before starting on a CBD regimen, check with your doctor to make sure you’re a good candidate for CBD. I have already mentioned that those on blood pressure lowering medications should steer clear of theanine, and if CBD is to be used at all, it’s better to use plain preparations like Ojai Energetic’s Hemp Elixir.

Also, while CBD is well tolerated by most people, be aware of common CBD side effects, which according to the Mayo Clinic include:

  • dry mouth;
  • diarrhea;
  • reduced appetite;
  • drowsiness and fatigue;
  • interaction with other medications you’re taking, such as blood thinners.

Closing thoughts

Well, there you have it – my top 4 CBD products for anxiety and sleep.

The key takeaways here seem straightforward:

  • The CBD dose you get from most commercial products is very low. For this reason, it may be advantageous to pair CBD with other soothing nutrients to get the maximum calming effect, or to try a brand like Ojai that has developed technology to improve bioavailability.
  • CBD is all the rage these days. This means lots of small producers will develop products and, unfortunately, many will cut corners on quality to maintain profit margins. To ensure you are getting high quality CBD, never buy a CBD product that hasn’t been third party tested for purity.

John O'Connor

John O'Connor is the founder of Gene Food, host of the Gene Food Podcast and a health coach trained at Duke's Integrative Medicine Program. Read his full bio here.

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