Cannabidiol (CBD) has garnered a lot of attention over the past few years. During this time, many have claimed it can be used for a number of health benefits, including anxiety. But how effective is CBD for anxiety and is it really as magical as everyone says it is?
Throughout this article, we’re going to explore CBD and its potential benefits for anxiety. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (better known as CBD) is the second most common cannabinoid found within the cannabis plant, right behind tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t cause a “high.” In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) claims, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential… To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” ¹ ²
CBD is legal across the United States thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill which federally legalized the hemp plant. This plant is a cousin to marijuana but contains less than 0.3% THC – making it incapable of causing psychoactivity.
As of today, CBD can be purchased in a multitude of different products, from tinctures (CBD oils) to gummies to vapes. Many consumers have claimed that CBD has a number of therapeutic effects to help them with their day-to-day life, but there’s only so much research backing up these claims.
Not to mention, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t currently approve of any CBD product as a health supplement. That is, with the exception of Epidiolex – a cannabis-derived pharmaceutical for rare forms of seizures. ³ ⁴
How Does CBD Work in the Body?
Researchers still aren’t 100% sure how CBD works within the body. However, they do know it has something to do with our endocannabinoid system (ECS).
To put it simply, our ECS is a cell-signaling system that’s responsible for a number of aspects of our day-to-day life, including: ⁵
- Reproduction and fertility
Many cannabinoids, such as THC, replicate the endocannabinoids found in our ECS. With that, we’ll naturally experience effects when we consume cannabinoids.
However, CBD works a bit differently. As of this time, researchers believe that it doesn’t directly affect our ECS. Instead, they theorize it has an indirect effect to help balance out the ECS.
It’s through this homeostasis that CBD is able to produce so many of its therapeutic benefits, from relieving chronic pain to acting as an anti-inflammatory.
Can You Use CBD for Anxiety?
Since CBD helps to balance our ECS, some researchers believe it can help reduce levels of anxiety. Furthermore, our ECS works directly with our amygdala – a region of the brain associated with emotional processes, including fear. ⁶ Simply put, when our amygdala is out of control, we feel an abundance of anxiety.
A recent study found that CBD reduced the neurofunctional response to fear and threat-related stimuli in both the amygdala and parahippcompal. ⁷
In other words, CBD was able to physically decrease fear in the brain. While more research is required to understand how much CBD affects anxiety, we know it has a lot of potential.
What Does the Research Say?
In the last few decades, there have been a number of studies performed focusing solely on CBD for anxiety. These include:
- In 2015, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) recognized that CBD has shown to decrease stress levels in varying animal studies. Furthermore, they made note that symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heart rate, often improved upon CBD consumption. ⁸
- In 2011, a study was looked into how CBD affected social anxiety disorder (SAD). Participants received either 400 milligrams (mg) of CBD or a placebo. Those who took CBD saw a decrease in overall anxiety when asked to perform tasks they typically feared (i.e. public speaking). ⁹
- A number of studies have recently come out showing that CBD has a lot of potential in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These studies have indicated that CBD may be of use as a standalone treatment or alongside traditional treatment methods. ¹⁰
It’s worth noting that a 2016 study also found CBD may have antipsychotic effects in individuals struggling with schizophrenia. ¹¹
Other Benefits of CBD
Beyond anxiety and mental health, CBD has been observed to have a number of potential health benefits, including: ¹²
- Chronic pain
- Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn disease)
- Involuntary muscle contractions
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson Disease
- Seizure disorder (epilepsy)
- Substance abuse withdrawal symptoms
However, just like anxiety, more research is required before CBD can be claimed to help with any of these conditions.
CBD Side Effects and Safety
One of the reasons CBD has garnered so much attention is because it’s both non-addictive and comes with little to no side effects. Still, some people may experience mild bouts of the following: ¹³
- Dry Mouth
- Reduced appetite
In particular, drowsiness and fatigue have been observed in high doses of CBD. In order to get an idea of how much you should take, see below.
If you are currently on prescription medication, we highly recommend you consult your doctor before taking CBD. Some research has indicated that CBD can have negative drug interactions with certain medications. ¹⁴
For women who are pregnant or lactating, the FDA recommends avoiding CBD and all cannabis products. As of this time, there simply isn’t enough research concerning the safety of these products for women in this category. ¹⁵
CBD for Anxiety Dosage Recommendation
Finding the right dosage of CBD oil can be a bit tricky as there are no standards when it comes to this industry. Most reputable CBD brands will have a “suggested use” somewhere on the label of the product. If you’re new to CBD, we highly recommend going off this suggestion as it tends to be an adequate dosage for most people.
However, there are a few variables that should be considered before going off this suggestion. First off, you’ll want to consider the strength of CBD. Brands measure potency in milligrams (mg) and make it easy to identify when purchasing online. For newcomers, lower strength CBD is recommended (products with anywhere from 100mg to 500mg total CBD range). This results in a dosage of between 5mg and 25mg. ¹⁶
If you’ve taken CBD frequently for a while now, it’s likely you’ve developed a tolerance to it. With that, you may need more CBD in order to feel the effects.
Something else to consider is your body weight. Just as with other supplements, the more you weigh, the more CBD you’ll need in order to feel the effects. A rule of thumb to consider is taking anywhere from 1mg to 6mg of CBD for every 10 pounds you weigh (depending on how bad your anxiety is).
What If CBD Isn’t Helping My Anxiety?
If you’re not experiencing the effects you desired on your first few tries, don’t be disheartened. You may simply need more CBD in order to reduce anxiety. We recommend gradually increasing your dose of CBD to get an idea of how it has an effect on you.
Finally, the time of day you take CBD also plays an important role. Those with anxiety are likely better off taking a dose in the morning and another dose midday. This will allow you to benefit from the effects throughout the day. However, if you find you experience more anxiety at night, you’re better off taking it an hour or so before bed.
How Long Does CBD Oil Take to Work for Anxiety?
Upon taking CBD oil, you should feel effects within 15 minutes of consumption. However, if you’ve taken too low a dose, you may feel no effects at all.
Typically, people experience the most benefits from CBD when they take it frequently. While there is no research on how long it takes, many have claimed that CBD oil works best for anxiety after a few weeks of daily consumption.
What Kind of CBD is Best for Anxiety?
CBD products come in a multitude of consumption methods, giving you a variety of ways to consume them. If you’re new to cannabis, we recommend going with CBD oil as they’re extremely effective. However, you can also use a CBD gummy or capsule to garner the benefits you’re looking for.
Some people have found that certain types of anxiety require different CBD consumption methods. More particularly, those who struggle with a panic disorder or sudden anxiety attacks tend to benefit more from a CBD vape or smokable hemp flower. When we inhale CBD, it’s able to enter our bloodstream quicker and provide us with more immediate effects.
Furthermore, CBD products come in three extract types. These include: ¹⁷
- Full-Spectrum – Contains all of the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant.
- Broad-Spectrum – Contains all of the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant except for THC.
- CBD Isolate – Solely CBD and no other cannabinoid.
When it comes to anxiety, we highly recommend a full-spectrum extract as it allows you to experience the entourage effect. A term to describe your body garnering the hundreds of botanical compounds found in the hemp plant and, in turn, experiences the most benefits it has to offer. However, if you’re looking to avoid THC altogether, a broad-spectrum or CBD isolate are just as viable.
CBD for Anxiety Review
Since the CBD industry is unregulated, there are a number of low-quality products hitting the market. With that said, it’s important to identify which CBD companies provide you with premium quality and safe CBD. Here is our list of the five best CBD brands currently on the market:
cbdMD offers some a wide variety of THC-free CBD products. If you’re looking for a high-quality CBD oil, we highly recommend the brand as they offer a number of different potencies and flavors. However, if you’re looking for a versatile selection of products, cbdMD has you covered with gummies, sleep aids, and even botanicals.
Often hailed as one of the best CBD companies on the market, Charlotte’s Web is a pioneer of this industry and only provides customers with premium quality products. One of the advantages of their CBD oil is it’s advertised by the dose (milligram to milliliter), making it much easier for you to browse.
Medterra is another CBD company that’s often featured alongside the greatest’s. However, they stand out from competition in two different ways: 1.) they offer CBD products in all three extract types and 2.) they have a number of unique products that are made using other all-natural alternatives.
Green Roads is an award-winning, pharmacist-founded CBD brand that features a wide variety of CBD products. Their selection is categorized by “Solution,” making it easier for you to find products that pinpoint stress or that help you relax. Furthermore, we highly suggest their CBD coffee if you find your anxiety is at its worst after that morning cup-of-joe.
NuLeaf Naturals is a fairly simple CBD company, only offering a handful of products. However, these are some of the most natural products you’ll come across within the CBD marketplace. When it comes to anxiety, we definitely recommend their full-spectrum oil – only we warn you to be careful as it sells at quite a high dosage (60mg/mL)!
In terms of all-natural wellness, CBD is one of the fastest-growing industries. While many claim it’s the answer you’ve been looking for when it comes to anxiety, chances are CBD isn’t going to work its magic alone. Often, people find the best results when pairing CBD with other healthy lifestyle changes, such as dieting and exercising.
If you plan to shop around this industry, we highly recommend a word of caution. Since the industry is unregulated, there have been a number of low-quality products hitting the marketplace. With that, be sure to make sure companies are informative of their manufacturing process and offer a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) for their products.
Still have questions concerning CBD for anxiety?
We invite you to ask them in the comment’s section below. If you have any further knowledge to share – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.
¹ Harvard Health Publishing (Harvard Medical School): Cannabidiol (CBD) – what we know and what we don’t
² World Health Organization (WHO): CANNABIDIOL (CBD): Pre-Review Report
³ Food & Drug Administration (FDA): What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD
⁴ Food & Drug Administration (FDA): FDA Approves New Indication for Drug Containing an Active Ingredient Derived from Cannabis to Treat Seizures in Rare Genetic Disease
⁵ International Journal of Molecular Sciences (MDPI): Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System
⁶ Journal of Psychopharmacology (Oxford, England): The endocannabinoid system in anxiety, fear memory and habituation
⁷ Translational Psychiatry: A single dose of cannabidiol modulates medial temporal and striatal function during fear processing in people at clinical high risk for psychosis
⁸ National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The Biology and Potential Therapeutic Effects of Cannabidiol
⁹ Journal of Psychopharmacology (SAGE): Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety: a preliminary report
¹⁰ frontiers in Neuroscience: Cannabidiol as a Therapeutic Alternative for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: From Bench Research to Confirmation in Human Trials
¹¹ National Library of Medicine (PubMed): Could cannabidiol be used as an alternative to antipsychotics?
¹² MedlinePlus: Cannabidiol (CBD)
¹³ Current Neuropharmacology: Cannabidiol Adverse Effects and Toxicity
¹⁴ Journal of Clinical Medicine (MDPI): Potential Adverse Drug Events and Drug-Drug Interactions with Medical and Consumer Cannabidiol (CBD) Use
¹⁵ Food & Drug Administration (FDA): What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding
¹⁶ Journal of Clinical Medicine Research: Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials
¹⁷ molecules (MDPI): Quality Traits of “Cannabidiol Oils”: Cannabinoids Content, Terpene Fingerprint and Oxidation Stability of European Commercially Available Preparations