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 highest chance to reduce anxiety.
What you need to do to maximize CBD oil’s potential for anxiety relief.
If you’re looking for a CBD oil, check out our list of best CBD oils for anxiety relief.
Table of contents:
Review of Studies That Found Anti-Anxiety Effects Associated with CBD
What’s the Best CBD Oil for Anxiety Relief?
How to Use CBD Oil for Anxiety
How to Dose CBD Oil for Anxiety
How Might CBD Reduce Anxiety? (Review of Studies)
CBD stands for cannabidiol. CBD is part of a group of compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are a type of compound that can only be found in the cannabis plant species. For example, THC, the compound that makes you high, is also cannabinoid.
Cannabis plants generally get divided into two categories:
- hemp, and,
Both hemp and marijuana strains contain CBD. But the main difference is that marijuana contains very high levels of THC.
THC has many health benefits. For example, it can be a useful cannabinoid for pain relief or depression. But when you have anxiety, you want to avoid ingesting high levels of THC.
Why? Because THC can have side effects like anxiety and paranoia. So THC can make your anxiety worse.
CBD has many health benefits as well. One of these benefits includes an anxiety-reducing effect. CBD can even counteract THC’s anxiety-inducing side effects.
Below we will review studies that looked at the effects of CBD on anxiety.
First, we will look at the different mechanisms that can explain CBD’s anxiety-reducing effects.
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) (1). In pharmacology, the term ‘agonist’ means ‘activator’. What this means is that CBD activates the 5-HT1a receptor.
Scientific research shows that activation of the 5-HT1a receptor has health benefits:
- anxiolytic (anxiety decreasing) effects (2);
- prosocial effects (3);
- decreased aggression (4);
- decreased impulsivity (5);
- analgesic (painkilling) effects (6).
Activation of 5-HT1a receptors increases activity of serotonin neurotransmitters. The serotonin neurotransmitter is also called ‘the happiness hormone’. By activating serotonin receptors, CBD can increase activity of the happiness hormone in your body.
Traditional anti-anxiety medication, SSRIs like:
- Prozac, and,
increase serotonine levels over time (7).
SSRIs are effective at treating depression and anxiety (8). But they come with countless side effects (9, 10, 11).
CBD has a much better side-effect profile than SSRIs like Prozac and Zoloft (12). Even at high doses used chronically, side effects of CBD are mild.
Further studies should show whether CBD can indeed be as effective as SSRIs.
CBD Might Interfere with Fear-Based Response and Adaptations
Cannabis is gaining ground as a treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In part, because of CBD (13).
CBD can alter the regular “fear-extinction” response.
CBD interrupts signals in the amygdala-hippocampal-cortico-striatal circuit (14). These signals coordinate fear-related memories. But they also coordinate the body’s response to fear-related memories and behaviors.
Sometimes, the connection between a fear-based memory and bodily response is so strong, that it stays ingrained for years.
CBD can interfere with these ingrained fear-response connections. CBD can help alter conditioned and ingrained fear-responses in your:
- body, and,
- nervous system.
CBD Might Regenerate Anxiety-Caused Loss of Brain Cells Through Neuro-genesis
CBD may stimulate the repair of brain cells. Studies in mice looked at CBD and hippocampal neuroregeneration. Hippocampal neuroregeneration is the production and repair of brain cells inside the hippocampus.
One study published in the “International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology” shows that CBD (15):
promotes progenitor proliferation and cell cycle progression and mimics the proliferative effect of CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptor activation
This means that CBD aids in repair of hippocampal cells.
How does this relate to anxiety?
Mental disorders like depression and anxiety cause measurable changes in the brain. One study found that chronic stress can shrink the hippocampus (associated with emotion memory) (16).
Mental disorders can interfere with healthy growth and maturation of your brain cells. CBD has the potential to regenerate brain cells.
Further research should show:
- to what extent anxiety destroys brain cells, and,
- to what extent CBD can re-generate those exact brain cells.
Review of Studies That Found Anti-Anxiety Effects Associated with CBD
Clinical studies that looked at the effects of CBD on anxiety in humans are rare.
But there are a few preliminary studies.
Study 1: CBD Reduces Anxiety in Public Speaking Tests
A 2011 study looked at the effects of CBD on anxiety related to public speaking situations (17). 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 alertness 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
Another 2011 study compared anxiety levels in 2 groups of social anxiety disorder patients (18). The first group got an oral dose of CBD, while the second group got a placebo. The group that got CBD experienced a significant decrease in anxiety levels.
The researchers note different mechanisms that explain CBD’s anti-anxiety effects:
- CBD’s activates 5-HT1a receptors and increases serotonin neurotransmitter activity in the brain;
- CBD’s disrupts forward intrinsic connectivity between the amygdala and the anterior cingulate.
CBD targets different nervous/receptor systems that relate to anxiety. This multi-level targeting may be the reason why the few studies on the topic, found good results with it.
The bottom line?
We can see that science supports the use of CBD as a possible tool for anxiety relief. While more research is needed, science is also starting to understand the exact mechanisms at play for CBD’s anxiety-reducing effects.
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;
But contains a full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes in more than trace amounts.
CBD has many well-researched benefits. But there are more beneficial compounds inside cannabis plants than CBD. Other cannabinoids like CBC, and terpenes like myrcene have unique beneficial effects.
Plus, research suggest that CBD works best in combination with other hemp-derived compounds. This synergy between CBD, other cannabinoids, and terpenes, is called ‘the entourage effect’ (19).
A full spectrum or full-plant extract CBD oil makes the best case for experiencing the entourage effect.
To find a CBD oil 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
Oral consumption is the easiest way to consume therapeutic amounts of CBD.
It’s also the most effective way. Why? Because only among edible CBD oils will you ever find true full-spectrum CBD products.
Why does this matter?
As explained before:
CBD is more effective when taken together with all other cannabinoids and terpenes found in hemp plants (20). Cannabinoids and terpenoids influence each other’s pharmacological effects (21).
With a full-spectrum CBD oil, you take CBD with all other beneficial compounds found in the hemp plant.
Full-spectrum CBD oil always has a small amount of THC. For most people, this amount isn’t large enough to experience THC-induced anxiety. But a small percentage of people is highly sensitive to THC. For those people, it’s better to avoid THC altogether. If you want to avoid THC, get a broad-spectrum or isolate product.
If you take CBD oil orally/sublingually, it will take some time before you experience effect. Usually you’ll feel some effect after 30 minutes. But it can take up to 2-3 hours before you experience the full effect.
Between these 30 minutes and 2 hours, you can still experience anxiety-relieving effects.
The effects of orally consumed CBD last longer than smoked/vaped CBD. The effects of orally taken CBD can last 2-5 hours. The effects of vaped CBD last 1-2 hours.
It’s important that when you take CBD orally, you keep it under your tongue for at least 60 seconds and THEN swallow it. This way, part of the CBD goes into your bloodstream through the mucous membrane beneath your tongue. Otherwise, all the CBD would first have to go through the gastrointestinal tract where it risks getting degraded. This method of consumption is called sublingual consumption.
Pro tip: Take your CBD oil after a meal with at least some fats, and together with a different edible oil like olive oil. Research shows that CBD is better absorbed when taken together with fats (22). CBD is also better absorbed when taken on a full stomach than an empty stomach (23).
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 (24).
Look here for the highest-quality CBD oils:
To use CBD oil orally or sublingually, go straight to my step-by-step recommendation.
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 a widely and socially accepted behavior. 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:
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 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 lead to a different bioavailability of CBD. Vaping CBD, for example, results in a higher bio-availability than oral consumption;
- Type of CBD product > CBD is more potent when taken together with all the different cannabinoids and terpenes. So 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 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 (25);
- A 2018 study with 57 healthy male subjects that did a public speaking test, found that 300mg CBD reduced anxiety levels (26). Important to note here is that the researchers found that 150mg CBD and 600mg CBD had no effect on experienced anxiety-levels. More is not always better in the case of CBD.
An effective dose of CBD for reducing anxiety can range from 12mg to 300mg. It depends 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.
Why not 300mg CBD? Because studies show full-spectrum CBD can be up to 4-times more potent than CBD isolate. Using full-spectrum CBD, you may need a 4-times smaller dose.
If you want to learn more about CBD dosages, check out the article below:
If you want to dive deeper into the science of CBD, the articles below explain the potential benefits of CBD:
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:
If you’re looking for a CBD oil, 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’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:
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.
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