Using CBD Oil for Treating Anxiety
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman’s World, and Natural Health.
Arno Kroner, DAOM, LAc, is a board-certified acupuncturist, herbalist, and integrative medicine doctor practicing in Santa Monica, California.
In recent years, cannabidiol (CBD) oil has become a widely favored remedy for anxiety. While some individuals take CBD oil to soothe their everyday worries, others use it to treat more serious conditions like generalized anxiety disorder.
A compound found in the marijuana plant, cannabidiol has increased in availability as marijuana use is legalized in more and more states across the country. A growing number of companies have begun selling supplements, salves, and other products made with CBD oil, typically touting these items as natural remedies for issues like anxiety and pain.
Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC, another compound found in marijuana), cannabidiol doesn’t produce a “high” when consumed.
The most common mental illness in the U.S., anxiety disorders affects more than 18 percent of the population each year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Although anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two, many people opt to forgo these standard approaches and self-treat with products like CBD oil.
According to a survey published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2018, almost 62 percent of cannabidiol users reported that they used CBD to treat a medical condition, with the top three conditions being pain, anxiety, and depression.
Due to a lack of research, scientists aren’t sure how CBD oil might help treat issues like anxiety. Some research suggests that in addition to impacting the endocannabinoid system, cannabidiol may influence receptors involved in the modulation of serotonin (a chemical messenger thought to play a role in anxiety regulation).
So far, most of the evidence for CBD’s effects on anxiety comes from animal studies and laboratory experiments.
For a report published in the journal Neurotherapeutics in 2015, scientists analyzed this preliminary research and found that CBD oil shows promise in the acute treatment of conditions like generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Social Anxiety Study
While there’s currently a lack of large-scale clinical trials testing the use of CBD oil in the treatment of anxiety, a small study published in Neuropsychopharmacology in 2011 determined that CBD may help alleviate social anxiety.
For this study, 24 people with social anxiety disorder received either 600 milligrams (mg) of CBD or a placebo an hour and a half before performing a simulated public speaking test. Additionally, 12 other people with social anxiety disorder performed the same test without receiving any CBD treatment.
Results revealed that pre-treatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort while participants were delivering their speech.
The anxiety-reducing effect of CBD may follow a bell-shaped dose-response curve, suggests a study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology. After administering different dosages of CBD before a public speaking test, researchers found that subjective anxiety measures were lowered with the 300 mg CBD dose, but not with the 100 or 900 mg CBD dosages.
Paranoid Trait Study
Another study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2018, tested the effects of cannabidiol in people with high paranoid traits and found that cannabidiol had no impact on anxiety, cortisol levels, heart rate, systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading), and persecutory ideation.
Anxiety in Healthy Participants Study
Cannabidiol did not reduce responses to negative emotional stimuli or reduce anxiety in healthy participants, according to a study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2017. Researchers tested participants’ responses to negative images or words and threatening emotional faces and sensitivity to social rejection after taking oral cannabidiol.
Using CBD oil may cause a number of side effects, including anxiety. Some research indicates that CBD oil may also trigger the following side effects:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in mood
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
Cannabidiol has been found to slightly increase heart rate at a dose of 900 mg. In addition, there’s some evidence that the use of CBD oil may lead to increased levels of liver enzymes (a marker of liver damage).
CBD oil may also interact with several medications, including benzodiazepines, calcium channel blockers, antihistamines, and some types of anti-epileptic drugs. If you are on any of these types of medications, consult your doctor before using CBD oil.
A research review found that in the treatment of certain types of refractory epilepsy, participants used lower dosages when using a CBD-rich extract compared to purified CBD products, and found adverse effects were less frequent in those using CBD-rich extracts.
It should also be noted that, because CBD oil is mostly unregulated, products may be incorrectly labeled. To that end, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017 found that nearly 70 percent of all CBD products sold online are mislabeled and that a number of products contain a significant amount of THC.
Since THC can aggravate anxiety and make your heart beat faster than normal, it’s possible that using CBD oil that contains THC might make your anxiety worse.
A Word From Verywell
If you’re experiencing symptoms like frequent restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, fatigue, lack of control over feelings of worry, and sleep problems, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. By working with a mental health professional, you can find the anxiety treatment plan that’s right for you.
Because letting an anxiety disorder go untreated can deplete your quality of life and lead to physical health problems (such as digestive conditions), it’s crucial to consult a doctor rather than self-treating. If you’re thinking of using CBD oil to help manage your anxiety (and it is legal where you live), make sure to talk with your doctor about whether it’s right for you.
Discover how CBD oil is touted as an all-natural way to find relief for people suffering from anxiety.
Best CBD Oil for Anxiety: Benefits and Top Brands for 2021
Anxiety in itself isn’t anything bad. In fact, it’s a healthy reaction that humans have developed over the course of evolution as a protective mechanism against other predators.
Also known as the “fight or flight response,” anxiety can happen from time to time and is completely normal.
However, modern times are putting so much pressure on our shoulders that we are driven into anxiety on a daily basis—even though we face no life-threatening dangers.
Plants and herbs are known for their relaxing properties, but cannabis plants seem extremely helpful in curbing symptoms of anxiety and other stress-related disorders.
But how to find a high-quality product if you’ve never bought CBD oil before? How do you find a reputable brand in the sea of mediocre companies?
5 Best CBD Oils for Anxiety
In this guide, you’ll learn about the best CBD brands on the market today and everything you need to know about the benefits of CBD for anxiety disorders.
After hours of research, we’ve narrowed down this list to the top five vendors so you wouldn’t have to spend the same amount of time comparing prices, reading reviews and trying out all possible CBD oils
Check out the recommendations below.
1. Royal CBD – Top Pick
Our top pick, Royal CBD is a premium brand rooted in California that offers excellent value for money. Considering the wide potency selection of their CBD oil, the way the company processes its products and the effort put into testing its CBD range, it’s hands down top shelf.
Royal CBD oil is available in four strengths: 250 mg, 500 mg, 1000 mg and 2500 mg. Such a wide range of potency options makes this oil suitable for both new and experienced consumers alike.
This is a full-spectrum extract, so you’re getting the entire array of non-psychoactive cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and only trace amounts of THC (below 0.3%).
Unlike many competitor brands, Royal CBD uses carbon dioxide in its supercritical form to extract the CBD oil. The CO2 runs through the plant material under different temperatures and pressure levels, changing its state from gas to liquid. From there, it diffuses into the air, leaving behind a cold, liquid extract.
All Royal CBD products are submitted to independent laboratories for extensive content analysis to ensure they’re safe to consume. The company also offers free shipping, as well as full refunds, for customers who aren’t satisfied with the product.
2. Gold Bee – Runner Up
Gold Bee is a true maverick among other CBD brands. The company offers organic-only CBD oils made from locally sourced hemp grown in Colorado. Although Gold Bee focuses on low-to-mid potency oils (up to 1200 mg of CBD per bottle), their formula has been mastered to perfection.
The guys at Gold Bee even use honey as a sweetener in their flavored versions of CBD oil. If you’re new to CBD, or have some experience but don’t need more than 40 mg CBD daily, their oils are among the best natural remedies for stress. You can also choose from Gold Bee’s high-potency capsules and delicious CBD-infused honey sticks.
3. CBDistillery – Runner Up
CBDistillery has been on the market for about six years now, upholding its reputation as one of the best CBD brands in the world. The company has an impressive selection of CBD oils, available as full-spectrum or pure oil (isolate).
You can choose from five different strengths, from 250 mg to 5000 mg of total CBD. But the best part about CBDistillery is that its products are highly affordable. The company’s mission is to provide education and access to CBD products for everyone who needs them. For example, the 250 mg bottle costs only $20, which is a great deal. For $240, you can get your hands on the maximum potency.
The only downside about this oil is that it’s not made from organic hemp, but considering the affordability of CBDistillery products, this is a minor disadvantage.
All in all, CBDistillery doesn’t sell the best CBD oil out there, but its extracts are without parallel in this price category.
4. NuLeaf Naturals
NuLeaf CBD oil is another veteran company, but unlike CBDistillery, it only makes full-spectrum CBD oil. Despite the modest product line up, the quality of the NuLeaf Naturals CBD oil is top-notch.
The oil is available in different sizes, from 240 mg to 4850 mg. We say “sizes” because each “potency” comes in a different bottle size. You actually get the same strength regardless of the size, so your choice here will be determined by the time you want to get yourself supplied for.
Another great thing about NuLeaf Naturals is that it uses organic hemp for all of its products. Each batch is tested by a certified lab to ensure that they deliver consistent potency and desired effects.
The oil is slightly bitter and nutty in taste because it uses full-spectrum CBD.
5. Charlotte’s Web
Charlotte’s Web is an almost legendary company, established by the Stanley Brothers, whose cannabis oil helped young girl Charlotte Figi come down from several seizures a day to a few attacks a month.
Charlotte’s Web CBD oil is certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority, ensuring it meets the highest quality standards.
The company’s products come from organic, non-GMO plants and are extracted with olive oil.
The oil is available in three concentrations, 300 mg, 750 mg, and 2580 mg, so the potency range is similar to Royal CBD. It has a dark green color and viscous consistency, which is a good indicator of its strength and overall quality.
You can choose between 30 ml and 100 ml bottles.
Almost every list of the best CBD oils on the market includes CBDPure. Unsurprisingly, we won’t break that pattern.
CBDPure is known for producing high-quality CBD products as well as unparalleled transparency. The CBDPure Hemp Oil has been extracted with CO2 and thoroughly filtered from the plant material, so it has a nice golden yellow color. However, it tastes surprisingly tart—a bit worse than other brands.
You can choose between three different strengths: 100 mg, 300 mg and 600 mg. The lowest potency provides 3.3 mg of CBD per serving. However, these are full-spectrum oils, so you get the synergistic effects from all cannabinoids and terpenes—resulting in lower effective doses.
What Is Anxiety?
As mentioned at the beginning, anxiety is a normal human response to dangerous stimuli. The “flight-or-flight” response covers an array of physical reactions, such as a rush of adrenaline, sweating, increased heartbeat and sensitivity to environmental triggers.
When the anxious feeling gets exaggerated compared to the seriousness of the trigger, the anxiety may turn into an anxiety disorder.
Once at that stage, the anxiety deteriorates to the point when a person’s daily function and mental health are heavily affected.
Common Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are four main types of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This is a chronic ailment in which people get anxious for no specific reasons. It’s considered the most common anxiety disorder.
- Phobias: Phobias induce overwhelming fear about a specific situation or object. They often prevent people from engaging in normal situations due to that fear.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: This condition usually occurs when a person is among other people. It triggers an overwhelming worry about social interactions, causing fixation on being judged.
- Panic Disorder: Panic attacks strike randomly and are accompanied by symptoms like breathing difficulty, shaking, dizziness, tremors, confusion and nausea. It can last anywhere between a few minutes to an hour.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
Wondering how to tell if you’re suffering from one of the above anxiety disorders? Below we share the full list of symptoms:
- Dry mouth
- Inability to stay calm
- Feelings of insecurity
- Heart palpitations
- Sleep problems
- Somatic complaints
- Tense muscles
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety disorders are very complex. Usually, there are several factors involved, including:
If you have a family member diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, there’s a risk that you may develop the same condition.
Changes in Brain Structure
Suffering from a traumatic events or genetic changes of the brain may cause an overexaggerated response to potentially neutral triggers. Scientists suggest that the majority of anxiety disorders derive from compromised communication between neurons.
Certain elements of your environment can worsen your anxiety. Some of the stress-inducing factors include chronic stress at work, at school or even at home. Sometimes, things like a bad financial situation or the loss of someone who was very close to you can also contribute to this medical condition.
When you don’t get enough sleep, it can also make your anxiety worse.
Just as traveling to high altitude areas, where the brain gets affected by low oxygen levels.
Sometimes, anxiety can result from another medical condition, prescription medications or health supplements you’re taking, or any other disease than can either change the structure of your brain or cause you to suffer from severe stress.
Can CBD Oil Help With Anxiety?
Dealing with anxiety can be a real pain.
For one, conventional anxiety treatments are very expensive, and their cost is continuously rising. If you want to get those meds prescribed to you, you’ll have to cover the cost by yourself before the insurance covers some part of it.
Not to mention that many prescription drugs used to manage anxiety can lead to a range of negative side effects. Don’t take our word for it, just see the list of contraindications or possible negative reactions on any popular medication, and you’ll see that it’s worse than what they’re trying to solve.
Of course, if you’re meds are helping you, and you don’t feel the need to make any changes, that’s fine. But some people either can’t take medications due to allergies or their anxiety just isn’t bad enough to qualify for prescription treatment.
It’s no wonder that some anxiety sufferers are turning to natural resources for relief.
CBD oil is one of them.
But the question is: Can CBD actually help with anxiety?
Research and a large portion of evidence from people with anxiety suggests that CBD oil may even be a better alternative to pills and shots for anxiety. Compared with those options, CBD oil has a low risk profile and the side effects are nearly nonexistent unless taken in extremely high doses.
How Does CBD Work?
Why is CBD oil a good option to consider as an alternative anxiety treatment?
Because CBD regulates the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is the most important neurochemical network inside the body—it controls vital functions, such as memory, mood, sleep, immune response, cognition, appetite, pain and more.
When the body is in homeostasis—a fancy word for chemical balance—it can stay in good health.
However, if there are imbalances in your neurochemicals, they may give rise to anxiety. It also works the other way round; when you suffer from a traumatic event, your receptors and neurons get out of whack, and your body starts to seek something that would restore that balance.
This is where CBD starts to shine.
CBD and the 5-HT1A Receptor
CBD is a 5-HT1A agonist. In other words, 5-HT1A works a serotonin receptor and is responsible for the way your body absorbs serotonin.
It’s also the target of the most popular antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, which belong to the group of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).
SSRIs can block the reuptake of serotonin, increasing the brain’s ability to transfer more signals, improve mood and curb anxiety. CBD has a similar effect on 5-HT1A.
CBD and Hippocampal Neurogenesis
Your hippocampus is the region in your brain that modulates several functions. One of them is the ability to regenerate neurons. CBD can help stimulate the hippocampus and thus improve its functioning.
This is particularly important for patients diagnosed with anxiety, as they often show smaller hippocampus plasticity. By stimulating the regeneration of neurons, there’s a chance that fearful behaviors will be minimized.
CBD and GABA
Australian scientists have found that CBD is a “positive allosteric modulator” of the GABA-A receptor in the brain.
In simple terms, GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the human central nervous system. It works as the handbrake for our brain to slow the nervous system down when we get too agitated. The sedating effects of Valium and other benzodiazepines are triggered by their interaction with the GABA-A receptor.
By modulating this receptor, CBD can amplify the natural calming effect of GABA and reduce anxiety.
CBD and Anandamide
Anandamide is one of the two main endocannabinoids (produced inside your body). It has almost the same structure as THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.
Anandamide is also known as “the bliss molecule,” as it controls feelings of happiness, euphoria, and keeps us in emotional stability—on top of many other functions. CBD helps keep the levels of anandamide at the right level, reducing mood swings and emotional outbursts.
Studies on CBD Oil and Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the best studied areas when it comes to using CBD oil.
A 2010 study on social anxiety showed that CBD has the potential to reduce symptoms in people diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder. The substance also changed the way the patients reacted to anxiety—of course, in a positive way.
In a 2014 study, scientists concluded that CBD has anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. Although the study was conducted on rat models, it gave an interesting insight into the management of anxiety disorders in humans.
CBD was also highlighted in this 2015 report published in Neurotherapeutics as the next potential treatment for anxiety disorders and its symptoms.
It’s worth noting that all of the above studies examined high-quality pure CBD oil. This is particularly important for our next section.
What Determines the Quality of CBD Oil?
CBD oil isn’t regulated by the FDA in the United States. Even though it may be more effective in managing anxiety disorders than conventional treatment options, it’s still considered a health supplement—not a medication.
Similar to other food supplements, it may be difficult for consumers to know if the CBD oil they’re using is actually pure.
You could be taking CBD-laced oil full of synthetic additives and you wouldn’t even know it because supplements aren’t subject to obligatory lab testing, unlike prescription anxiolytics.
If you want to make sure that you’re getting exactly what you’re buying, you’ll need to learn how your oil was manufactured. This includes the following elements:
Cannabis plants have the ability to absorb anything from their environment. When grown in contaminated soil and treated with pesticides, they will yield weak and contaminated extracts.
If you want a pure and potent oil, always buy from companies that use organic hemp plants, preferably those cultivated on American farms.
Brands have different extraction methods and ways of processing CBD extracts. As much as possible, choose brands that employ supercritical CO2 extraction, as it’s considered the safest and the most effective way to obtain CBD oil.
Avoid companies that use toxic solvents such as butane or propane, as they carry a high risk of contamination due to the unpurged residue at the bottom of the oil.
Third-Party Lab Tests
Trustworthy CBD oil brands should proudly publish third-party lab results on their websites or attach them to the product’s package. Third-party testing ensures that your oil contains exactly what’s written on its bottle—they analyze the potency of CBD and look for common contaminants in the end product.
Getting a CBD product tested by an independent laboratory will serve as evidence of its quality.
How to Use CBD Oil for Anxiety
One of the most common questions about using CBD oil for anxiety is “How much CBD oil should I take?”
There are no official guidelines because everybody reacts differently to CBD. Factors such as the individual’s age, weight, severity of symptoms and lifestyle choices can affect your effective dose.
Dosing CBD oil for the first time requires some trial and error. For maximum safety, consider the following steps:
- Take basic measurements such as your weight and height.
- Determine the severity of your anxiety on a scale from 1 to 10.
- Start your supplementation with one drop of CBD oil.
- Increase your dosage slowly by, say, two drops each day for a few weeks and write the effects down. Monitor how you react to CBD with every single dose.
- Don’t rush it. Sometimes, the effects of CBD are almost immediate, but for most people, dramatic changes in the way you feel become noticeable after a few days or weeks.
- Consult your doctor before buying any CBD product. This will help you make sure that there are no drug interactions between CBD and other medications if you take them together.
- A study on social anxiety reports that 600 mg is an effective dose in relieving the condition. However, there are also studies that recommend taking much lower doses to improve the symptoms.
- If you suffer from severe pain and sleep problems , you may need to take higher doses of CBD because it affects these areas of your well-being as well.
- Some people dislike the taste of CBD oil and feel uncomfortable with taking the supplement in this form. If you’re one of them, opt for other formats, such as capsules, vape oils, or CBD gummies .
Possible Side Effects of CBD Oil
CBD oil is considered generally safe and poses no threat of addiction, according to the World Health Organization.
The side effects of CBD oil are mild and include:
- Dry mouth
- Temporary drop in blood pressure
- Sedation (in high doses)
- Diarrhea (from large amounts of oil)
The main risk about using CBD oil for anxiety is the lack of regulation by the FDA. Without regulation, you’re putting yourself at risk of exposing yourself to synthetic cannabinoids or toxic additives in your extract without even knowing it.
Another potential concern is the aforementioned interaction between CBD and medical drugs. CBD engages with them in a similar fashion as grapefruit juice. With that in mind, we suggest that you talk to your doctor first, particularly if you have any other ongoing medical conditions.
If your doctor gives you the green light, you can start looking for CBD oil online or locally.
Final Thoughts on Using CBD Oil for Anxiety
Managing anxiety with CBD oil has become popular these days. With a growing body of evidence backing the positive effects of CBD on an individual’s mental health, it’s not surprising that more and more people are turning to CBD for help.
If you’re planning to buy CBD oil online or in local shops near you for your anxiety symptoms, make sure it comes from a reputable brand that’s open about its manufacturing practices and has lots of positive reviews.
CBD oil is also effective in managing other functions, such as blood pressure, sleep cycle and glucose levels.
It’s a good choice if you want to live a healthy and happy life.
We hope that you’ll find this guide useful for your future purchases!
Thousands of people use CBD oil to fight stress and anxiety. If you’re looking for the best CBD oil to ease your symptoms, then this guide is for you.