Today, you’re going to learn everything about using CBD oil for anxiety.
We reviewed over 50 scientific articles that looked at:
- The potential benefits and effects of CBD, including for anxiety;
- The mechanisms of action that give CBD its anti-anxiety properties, and;
- What doses of CBD were found effective in different studies for anxiety relief.
The results we found are a MUST-read for anyone interested to explore the potential benefits of CBD oil for anxiety relief.
The best part?
You’re going to learn exactly what type of CBD oil has the most potential to be effective for anxiety relief according to scientific research.
What you need to do to maximize CBD oil's potential for anxiety relief.
If you're looking for a CBD oil to test if it will promote feelings of peace and calmness, check out our list of best CBD oils for anxiety relief.
How Does CBD Reduce Anxiety? (Review of Studies)
CBD stands for cannabidiol. CBD is part of a group of compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are a specific type of compound that can only be found in the Cannabis Sativa plant species (both in Hemp and Marijuana).
In the past decades, research has shown that several cannabinoids can have powerful pharmacological effects on the human brain and nervous system.
One of these cannabinoids that have been researched extensively in the past decades is CBD.
CBD is thought to many potential benefits, among them a benefit pertaining to anxiety relief.
Below we will review different studies that looked at the effects of CBD on anxiety and an explanation of the different mechanisms at play that could explain why CBD can be so effective for anxiety relief.
CBD Reduces Anxiety through Acting on Serotonin Receptors
CBD has been shown to act as an agonist of the 5-HT1a receptor (a serotonin-subtype receptor). In pharmacology, the term ‘agonist' means ‘activator'. What this means is that CBD activates the 5-HT1a receptor.
There's scientific research showing that activation of the 5-HT1a receptor can have positive effects on mental and physical health:
- Anxiolytic (anxiety decreasing) effects;
- Prosocial effects;
- Decreased aggression;
- Decreased impulsivity;
- Analgesic (painkilling) effects.
By activating 5-HT1a receptor-levels, CBD can increase the activity and presence of serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain, which in turn, is associated with the positive effects mentioned above.
Although traditional anti-anxiety medication, SSRIs like Prozac and Zoloft increase extracellular 5-HT levels over time as well and have been shown effective in treating depression and anxiety, they come with countless negative side-effects.
CBD, on the other hand, has a much better side-effect profile than SSRIs like Prozac and Zoloft.
CBD Might Interfere with Fear-Based Response and Adaptations
Cannabis is gaining ground in the psychiatric community towards the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), partially because of CBD.
When you introduce CBD into the nervous system, it's shown to alter the human “normal fear-extinction” response.
CBD interrupts signals in the amygdala-hippocampal-cortico-striatal circuit, which is the primary brain function that coordinates fear-related memories and brings one’s body to respond to fear-related behaviors.
By interrupting these signals CBD could help alter conditioned and ingrained fear-responses in your brain, body and nervous system. Further research should point out whether this really is the case.
CBD Might Regenerate Anxiety-Caused Loss of Brain Cells Through Neuro-genesis
CBD may provide the brain with what it needs to repair itself literally. Preliminary studies in mice looked at hippocampal neuroregeneration, which is a production and repair of the brain cells of the hippocampus.
Studies showed the CBD “promotes progenitor proliferation and cell cycle progression and mimics the proliferative effect of CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptor activation”, meaning that cells in the hippocampus begin to repair themselves while activating the crucial parts of the endocannabinoid system that regulate mood.
How does this relate to anxiety?
Researchers agree that mental disorders like depression and anxiety cause measurable changes in critical areas of the brain like the hippocampus (associated with memory).
While mental disorders have the potential to interfere with healthy growth and maturation of your brain cells, CBD has the potential to regenerate any lost brain cells. Further research should point out to what extent anxiety destroys brain cells and to what extent CBD can re-generate those exact brain cells.
Scientific Evidence of CBD Reducing Anxiety in Anxiety Patients
Scientific studies looking specifically at the effects of CBD on anxiety in human anxiety patients are rare.
But there are a few of those studies.
Study 1: CBD Reduces Anxiety in Public Speaking Tests
Ever felt afraid of going out of your home and into social situations?
Different studies that looked at the effects of CBD on social anxiety found positive effects related to CBD-use.
A 2011 study looked at the effects of CBD on anxiety related to public speaking situations. One group received CBD, with another group receiving a placebo. The group that was given CBD demonstrated:
- Reduced anxiety;
- Reduced cognitive impairment;
- Reduced discomfort in their speech performance, and;
- Significantly decreased alert in their anticipatory speech.
While those who received a placebo:
presented higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, discomfort, and alert levels when compared with the control group.
But there are more studies.
Study 2: CBD Reduces Anxiety In Social Anxiety Disorder Patients Through Activity in Limbic and Paralimbic Brain Areas
Another 2011 study compared 2 groups of Social Anxiety Disorder patients on anxiety levels. The first group was given an oral dose of CBD, while the second group was given a placebo. The researchers found that the group that was given CBD experienced a significant decrease in anxiety levels.
The researchers note different mechanisms thought to be at play that make CBD a useful agent for social anxiety relief:
- The first mechanism is related to CBD's potential to activate to 5-HT1a receptors and increasing serotonin neurotransmitters (activity) in the brain;
- The second mechanism is thought to be related to CBD's potential to disrupt forward intrinsic connectivity between the amygdala and the anterior cingulate.
This means researchers currently think that CBD targets different biochemical nervous/receptor systems that are related to anxiety, which might be part of the reason why it's so effective for social anxiety relief.
The bottom line?
We can see that science supports CBD as a possible tool for anxiety relief (among countless other benefits), and is slowly starting to understand the exact mechanisms at play for this beneficial effect.
What's the Best CBD Oil for Anxiety Relief?
The best CBD oil to explore CBD's potential for anxiety relief is any CBD oil that contains a full spectrum of:
- Cannabinoids, and;
AND contains a full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes in more than just trace amounts.
Cannabinoids like CBD and terpenes are associated with countless health benefits. Plus, some researchers suggest that CBD works best in combination with other naturally occurring compounds (like other cannabinoids and terpenes) found in the Hemp plant, through a process they call ‘the entourage effect’.
A full spectrum or full-plant extract CBD oil makes the best case for the entourage effect.
For a current list of CBD oils that we recommend for exploring the potential benefits of CBD for anxiety relief, click the link below:
How to Use CBD Oil for Your Anxiety
There are many different CBD products that come with different potencies and ingredients.
There are also different ways you can ingest CBD.
But if you’re looking to reduce your anxiety, it’s crucial that you consume therapeutic amounts of CBD.
And there are only 3 ways to do precisely that:
- Take CBD oil orally/sublingually;
- Vape CBD vape oil, or;
- Smoke/vape high-CBD strains;
Taking CBD Oil Orally/Sublingually
This is the easiest and most straightforward way to consume therapeutic amounts of CBD for your anxiety.
It's also the most effective way because only among edible CBD oils will you ever find ‘full-spectrum CBD oils.'
Why does this matter?
As explained before:
It’s proven that CBD is more effective when taken together with THC, and it's been suggested that all cannabinoids and terpenoids found in Hemp plants influence each other's pharmacological effects. In addition to CBD, full-spectrum CBD oils contain all the other beneficial compounds found in the Hemp plant (like THC and different terpenoids).
If you take CBD oil orally/sublingually, your oil will take some time to take effect (can take 15-30 minutes). But the effects will last longer than with smoking or vaping CBD-containing products (2-5 hours for oral consumption vs 1-2 hours for vaping).
It’s essential when you take CBD orally, that you keep the drops of CBD oil under your tongue for at least 60 seconds and THEN swallow it. This way the CBD oil will get directly absorbed into your bloodstream (this is called sublingual consumption), instead of having to first through the gastrointestinal tract where it risks getting degraded.
Pro tip: Take your CBD oil together with a different edible oil like olive oil. Recent research has shown that CBD has a higher bio-availability when taken together with other dietary lipids.
When using edible CBD oil, NEVER try to vape it. Edible CBD oils are not suited for vaping! Edible oils vaped over a longer period of time can cause lipid pneumonia.
Look here for the highest-quality CBD oils:
Although the oral method is very effective, pulling out a tube and dropping drops of CBD oil under your tongue isn't the most discreet method to consume CBD.
If you're looking for a more discreet method, next up we have…
Vaping CBD Vape-Oil
First of all:
When using CBD oil through a vaporizer, you will want to ensure that you use a CBD oil that is designated for vaping.
Again: edible CBD oils should NEVER be vaped!
How you recognize CBD vape oils is by making sure that the manufacturer clearly states that it is vape oil.
CBD vape oils usually contain:
- Vegetable Glycerin (VG), and/or;
- Propylene Glycol (PG).
Vaping CBD oil will have immediate effects, but the effects won’t last as long as when you would consume it orally/sublingually.
If you want to be discreet, this is the most discreet method to consume therapeutic amounts of CBD.
Vaping has become so widespread, and such a widely and socially accepted behavior, that anyone seeing you with a vaporizer should never associate it with CBD-use.
CBD vape oil also has no specific smell that makes it easy for anyone to recognize.
If you're looking for a vaporizer to vape CBD vape oils, check out this article:
And if you're looking for a high-quality CBD vape oil, check out this article:
If you don't want to be messing around with oils, next up we have…
Smoking or Vaping High-CBD Strains
If you like the act of smoking or vaping dry herb, you have a great option as well: vaping/smoking high-CBD strains.
It's critical that when you're looking to treat the symptoms of anxiety with Cannabis (dry herb), to always go for a high CBD strain. High-CBD means there's at least as much CBD as THC in the strain (AT LEAST a 1:1 ratio).
High amounts of THC can exacerbate feelings of paranoia or restlessness, while CBD inhibits exactly these symptoms.
Cannabis strains like Harlequin boast a higher CBD ratio than THC, with a CBD:THC ratio of 5:2. ACDC has a 20:1 CBD:THC ratio, making it one of the most potent CBD flowers available. Cannatonic has a low THC content (below 6%) with CBD content as high as 17%.
Although the most common way to use cannabis is to smoke it in a joint, or through a pipe or a bong, vaping your dry herb is a more health-conscious choice. When you vape, your plant material gets heated to a point before it starts burning but all the beneficial compounds like CBD do get extracted.
Vaping marijuana is less harsh on the lungs and significantly reduces the harmful compounds that are present in marijuana smoke.
To vape your dry herb, you will want to get a quality dry herb vaporizer, like the ones in this post:
If you want to release ‘therapeutic amounts’ of CBD from your high-CBD dry herb, it’s crucial that you vape at temperatures of 365°F (180°C) and above, because this is the boiling point of CBD.
Dosing CBD Oil for Anxiety
First, understand that CBD oil is not a medicine and won't cure your anxiety, all it can do is provide a sense of peace and calm.
There's no strong scientific foundation to recommend a general effective CBD dose for anxiety. The effectiveness of a particular dose of CBD is dependent on a lot of factors like:
- Method of consumption > different methods result in a different bioavailability of CBD;
- Type of CBD product > CBD is more potent when taken together with all the different compounds found in the Hemp plant, but especially with THC. Therefore a full-spectrum CBD oil is more potent than CBD isolate for example.
- Physical and biological characteristics of the individual like weight and metabolism.
There are however studies that found positive effects with the following doses:
- A 10-year old girl with PTSD and childhood anxiety disorder found a positive effect with minimal side-effects with a dose of 12 mg to 25 mg of CBD oil and CBD spray through sublingual and oral administration daily;
- A 2018 study that looked at the effects of CBD on anxiety levels of 57 healthy male subjects that did a public speaking test, found that 300mg of CBD isolate packed inside gelatin capsules significantly reduced anxiety levels. Important to note here is that the researchers found that 150mg of CBD and 600mg of CBD had no effect on experienced anxiety-levels.
As you can see, an effective dose of CBD to treat anxiety can range from 12mg to 300mg, depending on the method of consumption, type of CBD product and individual differences in physical and biological characteristics like weight and metabolism.
Important here is that you experiment.
I recommend starting with:
- A full-spectrum CBD oil;
- Taken sublingually before swallowed;
- A dose that equals 12mg of CBD, and;
- In case of no effects, slowly work your way up in 10mg increments until a maximum of 300mg of CBD.
Although realize that taking 300mg of CBD in the form of full-spectrum oil is going to cost you an arm and a leg. Luckily, there have been studies that showed full-plant extract CBD oil can be up to 4-times more potent than CBD isolate (which means you'll need 4-times less CBD), for epilepsy patients. Further research should point out whether the same holds true for anxiety, but it could.
If you want our unofficial guideline on CBD oil dosages for other conditions as well, check out the article below:
If you want to dive deeper into the science of CBD, we have several articles which explain in layman's terms, the potential medical benefits of CBD in treating conditions like:
- Pain, or
- Sleep disorders
You can find these benefits (backed by scientific research), here:
Just realize that CBD oil is not an officially approved medicine and it's not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with your doctor/physician before starting to use any of these products, ESPECIALLY if you're already on medication. CBD oil can potentially interact with many pharmaceuticals.
If you're looking for a CBD oil for your anxiety, it's CRUCIAL that you get a CBD oil that's 100% free of contaminants and contains therapeutic amounts of CBD. Check the article below to find the best CBD oils:
If you want our unofficial guideline on CBD oil dosages, check out the article below:
If you’re interested in vaping CBD, check out our list of:
If you're interested in a more convenient (but less potent) way to use CBD, check out our list of:
If you have pain issues and want to understand the biology and science behind using CBD oil for pain, the following article is for you:
Lastly, if you want to share this CBD knowledge, click the links below OR if you want to connect with us, click the links below that to go to our Facebook or Instagram pages.