Session & Q+A: The Magic of CBD: How to Reduce Pain, Ease Anxiety & Sleep Better

A note from Mary: It was such an honor to share my insights into CBD for anxiety, pain, and sleep for the Plantie Wellness Summit. I hope my presentation helps to empower people to include CBD in their wellness routine. 



There is a ton of buzz around CBD. Our society, social media, and stores are so saturated with an array of CBD products promising bold results that it seems almost too good to be true.  So, what is CBD? We know it is good, we know it helps. But do we know for what and how? We tuned in and listened to Mary Biles at our Virtual Summit. Her open-minded and kind approach helped us get a firmer grasp on what CBD does, why it is important, and how to use it. We are here to share our favorite points. Mary explains that CBD is an invitation to listen to your body. Start low, go slow. Learn what your body has to say beneath the anxiety and pain. Learn to listen. 

The biggest takeaway from this? CBD activates the Endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a molecular system responsible for regulating and balancing many processes in the body, including immune response, communication between cells, appetite and metabolism, memory, and more. This is a VAST network that is present throughout the body. When it is activated, the body promotes homeostasis, bringing relaxation, decreased inflammation, and a reduced pain sensation. Stress, poor diet, and Alcohol deplete the ECS.  Funny enough, these are all things rampant in today’s society—seemingly inescapable in our lives, regardless of where we call home. 

A detailed example of how CBD works in partnership with the Endocannabinoid system is seen through CBD’s relationship with Anandamide. Yogis out there might recognize this word is derived from the Sanskrit word “Ananda” meshing Bliss.  CBD helps to keep Anandamide levels high by blocking the enzyme that is intended to break it down. This leads to increased amounts of Anandamide, encouraging a blissful state for a longer period of time. This feeling and molecule are the same sensations we often refer to as “Runner’s High.” A strong presence of Anandamide explains the relief and joy people feel after incorporating CBD into their routine. 

What else does CBD do? CBD activates the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A, aiding in the decrease of general anxiety and discomfort. Many studies are currently underway about the power of CBD over mood disorders as we are rapidly becoming aware that just a small amount of CBD can have positive effects on mood and anxiety management.  CBD will also bind with the TRP1 receptor, a receptor responsible for regulating pain perception and inflammation.  This has the power to bring great relief to anyone suffering from Fibromyalgia, migraines, IBS, and other conditions originating from inflammation. There is more research on the use of CBD for sleep. Oftentimes, those who are using CBD for relaxation and pain management have reported they have found deeper, less interrupted sleep; however, research is still underway in this area. Mary Biles informed us that CBD tends to have a biphasic effect, meaning, a small dose can make you alert while a high dose can make you sleepy, or vice versa, so as you experiment with CBD for a fuller sleep cycle, do pay attention to your dosage.  

Where to start?

Each person will have an individualized relationship with CBD and that is why it is crucial to slow down and learn as you go. A journal recording your relationship with CBD can be a fun way to record the changes and lifts your experience as you incorporate CBD into your daily life. 

  • When considering where to start with CBD take note of the spectrum of the product you will be using. Mary recommends Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum (no THC).
  • Opt for Organic CBD to ensure the soil your product was grown in is free from chemicals and toxins.  
  • Do not go for the cheapest or for the most expensive. Allow yourself to get excited and shop around until you find a CBD that is perfect for you. 

Special thanks to Mary for educating us on the seemingly endless benefits of CBD.  We are grateful for her gentle reminder that we are all capable of a simpler and more relaxed life. 

Questions & Answers:

Q: How often should you be taking CBD?

A: There’s no one size fits all with CBD. The sort of general rule of thumb is to probably take it a couple of times a day. So I would recommend, I must point out I’m not a doctor, so this is not medical advice, but most people take it in the morning and in the evening. But as I mentioned, when I was talking about sleep, perhaps if you’re taking it for sleep, and you’re just starting out, avoid taking it just before you go to bed… Don’t expect miracles overnight, as I said in the talk. For some people, it can be, you know, sort of day and night. You know they, perhaps with pain, and they feel an effect quite quickly. But generally, you know, you should allow about a month taking it regularly to feel some effects. If you’re taking it for something that’s more chronic such as stress, you know, stress can be a chronic situation and anxiety and pain, it is something that you can take on an ongoing basis. Also, “is there anything I should avoid taking it alongside?” Now bearing in mind we’re talking about taking CBD as nutritional supplements, so usually people were taking between 10 milligrams a day and possibly going up to 100 milligrams for something that’s possibly more chronic pain related, but you know, not necessarily, and really, at those sort of levels, it’s unlikely that there would be any drug interactions. But if you are taking prescription medication, I would recommend speaking to your doctor. Increasingly physicians have more knowledge about CBD. In my book, actually I do talk about drug interactions and there is a list of medications where there could be some caution needed. But as I say, if you’re taking out the lower doses that most people do for nutritional supplements, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Q: What CBD brands do you love and why?

A: This is a really, really hard question because there are so many CBD brands… At the moment and I’m using a particular brand, two brands, I mean, I’m based in the UK so I’m using a brand called Spirits Of Hemp. And another brand called Cannawell, and I like them because 1) they’re full spectrum that I mentioned in the talk, and Spirit Of Hemp also adds back in some more terpenes. Terpenes are the aromatic molecules that have therapeutic properties in their own right. They’re made with great love and care. They haven’t come about as part of this kind of green rush explosion you know? They’re genuine people wanting to help other people through CBD because there is potentially so much money to be made in CBD there’s been a whole kind of influx of companies set up just with dollar signs in mind, and I personally try to stay away from those. But you know, as I said in the talk, you really have to try a few brands and see what works with you and I really, really recommend dipping into some Facebook groups that are for CBD, asking questions, because these are the people that really, really know the brands and they can be really helpful just to give you some tips. 

Q: Is there any evidence of CBD helping with glaucoma?

A: There isn’t any evidence. THC, which is the psychoactive compound in cannabis: Yes, there is. And actually that is one of the indications, glaucoma is one of the indications, for medical cannabis in many countries. So to my knowledge, which dose needs to be taken daily in order to get any real effects for anxiety: really sorry to disappoint everyone, but I can’t say. I can’t say which dosage, because it’s very much a personalized approach. So this is an invitation; CBD is an invitation to listen to your body. Right? So my advice, you know, I do get anxiety, and the only way to go when you’re starting off with CBD is to start low, go slow. Okay? So let’s say you start off with the lowest strength oil, you know, don’t go in with the big guns. And you just take maybe a couple of drops, three times a day for let’s say, three or four days. “Am I feeling anything?” No, I build up a couple of drops. And you keep building up until you actually start to feel the effect that you’re desiring. So in which case, you know if it’s for anxiety, you start to feel a little bit less anxious. And then when you start to go a little bit less anxious, you go up a little bit more. And then if you find there’s no change now, you know your sweet spot is the previous dose. So I can’t say it’s 10 milligrams, it’s 20 milligrams: It’s up to you. You have to try it out for yourself, maybe have a diary. And also as I say, you know, you can try different brands. It’s really important if you’re taking it for anxiety, that you make sure that it’s a brand that comes with third party lab reports. There have been various studies when they’ve taken samples of different CBD oils that you can buy online and on the high street (this happened in the US, this happens in the UK, different countries in Europe) and some of them were found to contain no CBD. Some of them were found to contain less CBD. Some of them were found to contain above the higher as well as the legal limits of THC, which if you have anxiety might make you feel a little bit uncomfortable. Might make your anxiety feel worse. So, really make sure that you choose a brand that they’re fully transparent, that they contain exactly what they say they do. And you could even go broad spectrum for anxiety. It’s not necessarily the case. I use a full spectrum product, but I have tried products in the past that were full spectrum and I think they had too much THC and it did make my anxiety feel worse.

Q: Can CBD be given to kids to treat inflammatory conditions? 

A: So, remember, I am not a doctor. CBD, you know, I mentioned in the talk that the World Health Organization has found CBD, remember this is CBD, the molecule that the World Health Organization was talking about, and it was basing its findings mostly on the research that’s been done with epidiolex which is a purified CBD drug for children with epilepsy. So that generally has a good safety protocol. There are some minor side effects, there are some interactions with some anti-epilepsy medication, but I think that you know if it’s something that you are considering  giving CBD to your child you need to speak to your doctor or your pediatrician. It could help with inflammatory conditions but I’m not a doctor. In principle, it should, but that’s a conversation you need to have with a health professional.

Q: Will CBD help with urinary tract pain, inflammation? 

A: I mean I’ve had urinary tract pain and inflammation and CBDs pain relieving effect can be quite subtle… For example as I said before, it can take a few days, weeks, a month, to take effect, okay, and you’re gradually building up your days, so for acute pain, such as you would get with a urinary tract infection, personally, I wouldn’t rely on CBD. I would go take my, and I’m not gonna give medical advice, but I would stick to what you could take it alongside, but I don’t think that probably would be an appropriate option.

Q: Could you provide some insight into the different levels of effectiveness with respect to consumption of CBD? For example, smoking it in a cigarette format without tobacco, edible, and oil. 

A: So we’re talking about delivery methods. In general, certainly, in the UK, in Europe, we don’t have access to high CBD cannabis flowers. So we really have something that’s, you know, extracts that have already been through some kind of process. So smoking it with or without tobacco, it’s not something that I can speak about. But you should definitely avoid, you know, smoking tobacco if you’re taking things for health reasons anyway. But when we’re talking about delivery methods, there are two things to consider. There’s what we call bioavailability, which is how much of the CBD that you’re taking can actually make it into your bloodstream because it’s only once it gets into your bloodstream that it can actually take effect. We also consider how quickly it acts. So for example, with vaping: the bioavailability possibly is highest of all the delivery methods, and it has the quickest acting effect. But there is a little bit of controversy around vaping CBD because there were some problems, particularly in the United States, when there were some impurities and it was causing problems with the lung. But you know, if you’re going to, you know, vape CBD, again you have to make sure it’s third party lab tested, and it’s a safe product that you’re using. And if we’re talking about bioavailability, perhaps possibly the second best are the drops, because they are subdermal so you absorb them in the capillaries under your tongue. You have to hold it there, the oil there, for about a minute or two. Inevitably, you end up swallowing some and then it gets broken down during the digestive process by liver enzymes. Your body only uses about between 12 and 20%, when you’re taking CBD drops onto the tongue compared to I think it’s about 30% with vaping. So then we’ve got the edibles, so you’ve got your soft gels and your gummies and stuff like that. That’s kind of the least effective when it comes to bioavailability because it all has to be basically digested and you know and go through that process so I think the absorption is only about 6%. But having said that, a lot of people you know get great benefits from taking edibles and soft gels and capsules etc, and you know there’s your topicals as well which again, the absorption if it’s something that’s quite superficial is quite good. The thing as well with swallowing, so in your kind of soft gels and your edibles, it does take longer to have an effect so you might not feel anything for an hour or an hour and 15 minutes. So the general recommendation is to generally keep a kind of a base level of CBD, it’s your CBD oils and your edibles and your soft gels, and if you have some breakthrough pain or if you have maybe a sort of sudden feeling of anxiety, then the vaping is quite effective. 

Q: I found that CBD, no matter if gummies, drops or pen, affects my mood negatively the following morning. I have tried multiple brands as well, any ideas why? 

A: I’m not a psychiatrist or a neuroscientist; it’s very hard to say. I mean, it’s, you know, I think that would be a reason to know that CBD is not for you. You say you’ve tried different brands. Perhaps if you tried the broad spectrum… try and decide if you’ve tried full spectrum, it might be worth trying a broad spectrum product. It could also be because terpenes you know, they do have a therapeutic effect in themselves. Some people find certain perks. Terpenes are too stimulating. Myrcene is a type of terpene that has that kind of couch lock effect. So it might have something to do with the terpenes, because remember we’re talking about CBD, but most products are actually you know, they’ve got CBD plus the minor cannabinoids plus the terpenes and plus flavonoids, so it might not be the CBD actually, that you’re having a problem with. 

Find out more about Mary:

To dive deeper into CBD, check out Mary’s book ‘The CBD Book: The Essential Guide to CBD Oil’. For more information about her articles and podcast head to or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Also, check out the Summary + QA of other Mentors from the Inaugural Virtual Wellness Summit – Powered By Plantie