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CBD for Anxiety: Does Cannabidiol Benefit Anxiety?

CBD for Anxiety: Medical Cannabidiol Health Research Guide + Top Products

CBD for Anxiety

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid extracted from the hemp plant that has been shown to assist with a wide range of health conditions. Modern research investigating the various phytocannabinoid compounds that are found in the hemp plant has led to the creation of health products such as CBD hemp oil, CBD patches, and even CBD vape pens, all of which offer health benefits backed up by clinical science.

There are many different ways in which CBD is able to assist the body in maintaining a state of homeostasis. Some of the earliest research into the health benefits of cannabinoids found that CBD can be used to prevent inflammation, increase immune system function, and assist with pain management.

More recent research indicates that CBD has the potential to function as a powerful alternative to traditional psychiatric medications. CBD is an exogenous cannabinoid that is able to interact with the human endocannabinoid system.

One of the most interesting uses of CBD as a replacement for traditional pharmaceutical psychiatric drugs is as a treatment for anxiety. CBD for anxiety is one of the most effective applications of cannabidiol, and has been proven in multiple clinical trials to deliver fast and effective relief from the symptoms of many different anxiety disorders without causing any unwanted side effects.

Interestingly, CBD has been demonstrated to deliver faster results than SSRIs in treating generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and even PTSD. There is a growing number of people who choose to use CBD on a daily basis to manage their anxiety conditions.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how CBD interacts with the human brain in order to assist with the management of anxiety disorders. We’ll also examine the science behind CBD and check out the clinical evidence that supports its use for anxiety disorders, before checking out the best dosages and CBD products for anxiety disorders.

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol is frequently referred to as CBD. Found in the hemp plant, cannabidiol is one of the many phytocannabinoids that can be extracted from the cannabis sativa “hemp” plant in order to create health products. The hemp used to create CBD products is grown around the world, but some of the highest quality CBD comes from US states such as Colorado.

There are a number of common misconceptions surrounding the use of health products derived from the hemp plant. Firstly, it’s important to note that CBD is not psychoactive — the compound that causes the psychoactive properties of marijuana is THC, which is not present in CBD products.

For this reason, CBD is legal in almost every US state. Most US states dictate that CBD products designed for health use must contain less than 0.3 percent THC. CBD is extracted from strains of hemp that are extremely low in THC and extremely high in CBD in order to create highly effective and efficient CBD health products.

A second common misconception regarding the use of CBD oil and other cannabidiol products is that CBD is considered an “alternative” health solution. Cannabidiol, however, is far from a fringe health solution and has been the subject of hundreds of in-depth clinical investigations that have proven the potent health benefits of the unique plant-based compound.

CBD is also often misconstrued to be “illegal” as it is derived from the cannabis plant. The use of CBD as a health aid, however, is far removed from the recreational or even medical use of marijuana. The psychoactive compound THC is not found in CBD products, thus making it legal for sale.

CBD is a simple organic compound that is extracted from plants. When this compound enters the human body, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. Every vertebrate organism on the plant possesses an endocannabinoid system.

This system modulates a wide range of functions in the human body, form digestion and appetite, to immune system function and inflammation, to the way specific chemicals are created and released in the brain. The last property of the endocannabinoid system is what makes it so effective in managing the symptoms of anxiety.

How Does CBD Work?

When CBD enters the human body, it affects a broad spectrum of functions. CBD for anxiety interacts with a very specific receptor in the human brain called the 5-HT1A receptor. This receptor is a subtype of the serotonin receptor.

Serotonin is an extremely important compound that is created in the brain, and is closely linked to mood balance. This is why traditional pharmaceutical clinical science advocates the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRI’s, in treating anxiety — they modulate the way the brain releases and uses serotonin by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, thereby increasing the total amount of serotonin available.

Put simply, increasing the total amount of serotonin in the brain has a positive effect on the symptoms of anxiety. While the full biological basis of why modulating serotonin response in the brain is able to affect mood and anxiety disorders is not yet fully understood, assisting the brain in increasing the total amount of serotonin in the synaptic space has been empirically proven to manage the symptoms of anxiety.

SSRI’s, however, are known to cause a wide range of unwanted side effects. Some of the side effects associated with SSRI’s include weight gain, dizziness, dry mouth, fevers, nausea, fatigue, and lethargy. CBD, however, is able to minimize the impact of anxiety symptoms without causing any of these unwanted side effects at all.

In addition to helping to modulate the release and interaction of serotonin in the brain, CBD is able to deliver a range of other health benefits. CBD has been observed in clinical trials to minimize inflammation which, in turn, minimizes neuroinflammation, leading to higher levels of brain health. Other ways in which CBD can help individuals with anxiety is improved sleeping patterns, elevated mood, and better overall immune system function.

CBD has also been observed to assist with a wide range of other mental health conditions such as PTSD, stress, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. New clinical investigations are providing more compelling evidence for the use of CBD to treat mental health conditions on a daily basis.

Can CBD Help With Anxiety?

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States today, and affects almost 18 percent of the total population. Treating anxiety can be difficult — some treatments involve cognitive behavioral therapy, while other solutions rely on pharmaceutical drugs that can cause dependency and side effects.

CBD is one of the leading solutions used to treat anxiety today. A survey published In Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2012 found that of all survey respondents, fully 62 percent used CBD to treat an anxiety condition.

CBD anxiety benefits are varied and are all delivered without any side effects whatsoever.

Some of the health benefits of CBD for anxiety include:

  • Minimized anxiety attacks
  • Prevention of anxiety attacks before they occur
  • Mood balance
  • A sensation of calm
  • Minimized heart rate and blood pressure
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Minimized tension
  • Relief from nausea
  • Relief from headaches

Clinical investigations assessing the various health benefits of CBD oil and its applications for the treatment of anxiety reveal that cannabidiol can not only prevent anxiety, but also help to eliminate the secondary symptoms that generalized anxiety disorder can cause.

CBD has been demonstrated to prevent nausea, as well as completely eliminate the cluster headaches and migraines associated with generalized anxiety disorders. Several highly interesting investigations reveal that CBD oil is able to make public speaking stress-free and simple, even for individuals that suffer from extreme social anxiety.

Individuals that have experienced panic attacks caused by anxiety will be familiar with the awareness of the onset of a panic attack. Taken at the time of onset, CBD has been demonstrated to completely eliminate anxiety attacks before they occur, making CBD a highly effective alternative to dependency and side effect-causing pharmaceutical psychiatric medications such as SSRI’s.

Overall, CBD is been demonstrated to function as a highly effective solution for managing anxiety.

The Science Behind CBD And Anxiety

The science supporting the use of CBD for anxiety disorders is extensive and extremely interesting. When CBD passes through the blood-brain barrier, it modulates the 5-HT1A receptors that are associated with the endocannabinoid system of the human body.

The 5-HT1A receptor is critical to the neurotransmission of serotonin in the human brain. Research into the way CBD interacts with these receptors reveals that CBD is able to enhance and increase the efficiency of serotonin neurotransmission without affecting serotonin receptors in the same way SSRI’s do.

Importantly, this property allows CBD to function much faster than traditional anti-anxiety medications and pharmaceutical solutions.

CBD also helps to minimize the impact of anxiety in another way. The hippocampus of the brain is a region that is closely linked to a range of different brain functions that include the way memories are formed, and a number of cognitive processes.

There is a link between the hippocampus and depression or anxiety — individuals that suffer from either mental health condition typically possess a smaller hippocampus region. CBD has been demonstrated in multiple clinical trials to promote hippocampal neurogenesis, or the growth of new, healthy cells within the hippocampus.

A clinical investigation assessing the impact of CBD on the hippocampus administered doses of cannabidiol to mice, and observed that the CBD caused the growth of new neurons in the hippocampal region. This unique property of CBD could hold the key to solving the issue of anxiety and promoting higher levels of brain health in individuals that have been diagnosed with a wide range of mental health disorders.

Clinical Evidence

There is a vast body of clinical evidence supporting the use of CBD for generalized anxiety disorders and CBD for social anxiety.

A clinical investigation performed in 2011 by a medical team based in Brazil administered a group of trial participants diagnosed with anxiety with 400mg of cannabidiol via oral delivery methods. Each of the participants that received CBD had previously been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, or SAD.

The results of the trial were impressive — participants that had received CBD demonstrated significantly decreased subjective anxiety symptoms, revealing that CBD causes improved brain function in several regions of the brain associated with anxiety. The trial concluded that CBD reduces anxiety in individuals diagnosed with SAD.

Another clinical investigation performed in 2015 performed a meta-analysis of 49 different preclinical, clinical, and epidemiological studies involved in CBD and anxiety research. The meta-study found that the large body of clinical evidence available on CBD and anxiety reveals that it is a highly effective alternative to traditional SSRI treatment of the condition.

The meta-study states that preclinical evidence strongly supports the use of CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders and can deliver a wide range of benefits that include anti compulsive benefits, anxiolytic anti-anxiety properties, anti-panic effects, and a minimization of fear response.

One of the most interesting clinical trials assessing the effectiveness of CBD in treating anxiety is a clinical trial performed in 2011. In the trial, 24 individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder were tasked with performing a simulated public speaking test.

Public speaking event are typically extremely difficult for individuals diagnosed with generalized or social anxiety disorder. In the trial, participants were provided with one 600mg dose of CBD 90 minutes before the simulated speaking test.

During the test, the clinical team took a number of biological readings that included blood pressure, heart rate, cognitive impairment, and speech impairment. The participant group provided with CBD demonstrated significantly increased cognitive performance and minimized anxiety, as well as lower levels of physiological symptoms associated with anxiety or stress responses.

A more recent clinical investigation performed in 2018 assessed the efficacy of oral CBD administration in individuals diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. The findings published in the study reveal that CBD is able to modulate the flow of blood in the brain in specific regions that are associated with anxiety, delivering potent anxiolytic benefits.

CBD Dosage For Anxiety

CBD dosage for anxiety — or any other health condition — is an extremely subjective matter, as the amount required to achieve a beneficial effect varies wildly between individuals. Before experimenting with CBD for any health condition, it’s essential to first consult with a medical professional to ensure you are making a safe choice.

The amount of CBD taken depends on a number of factors. Clinical trials assessing the benefits of CBD have used doses of between 400mg and 600mg up to two hours before beneficial effects occur. This is a relatively large dose of CBD, however.

Other health conditions, for example, can be managed with far lower doses. Individuals using CBD to treat chronic pain typically take between 2.5mg to 20mg of CBD per day, while individuals suffering from epilepsy commonly dose between 200mg to 300mg of CBD per day.

As such, it’s always best to start slowly when self-dosing CBD after consulting with a medical professional. The standard dose recommended by many self-dosing CBD users is 25mg per day, which can be increased or decreased depending on the benefits experienced.

CBD dosage can be easily managed by beginning with a small amount and keeping a diary of the effects. It may take some time for an individual that is new to CBD to determine the best dosage and delivery method for them.

Best CBD Products For Anxiety

There are many different ways to take CBD oil. These different delivery methods can be classified into three different types:

Ingestible CBD

  • Liquid CBD oil, hemp oil, or CBD drops
  • CBD paste, which is CBD oil concentrated into a thicker consistency. Often referred to as Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO
  • CBD oil in gel capsules
  • Nano-size CBD particles in bottled water
  • CBD sprays or spritzers that are used in oral delivery methods
  • CBD-infused gum or CBD gummies
  • CBD-infused cooking oil or CBD MCT oil
  • CBD edibles such as brownies, candies, or baked goods
  • CBD powders

Topical CBD

  • CBD transdermal patches
  • CBD bath bombs
  • CBD salves
  • CBD lotions
  • CBD shampoo
  • CBD soap
  • CBD balms

CBD Vape Products

It should be noted that vaping is largely considered to be a healthier alternative to smoking, but could potentially be linked to some health risks

  • CBD e-liquids or vape cartridges used in vape pens
  • Crystalline isolates

CBD Sublingual Drops

The simplest and most effective method of using CBD for anxiety is via sublingual drops. These drops are placed beneath the tongue and allow for extremely accurate dosing.

In most cases, CBD sublingual drop manufacturers provide extremely accurate labeling on their packaging that provides the exact amount of CBD in each drop, which allows users to determine exactly how much CBD they are ingesting. Once beneath the tongue, users hold the CBD for 60 seconds. This allows the CBD to bypass the digestive system and enter the bloodstream directly.

CBD Edibles

CBD edibles also offer individuals that suffer from anxiety with a long-lasting slow-release option. Like sublingual drops, CBD edibles allow individuals suffering from anxiety to determine exactly how much CBD they are ingesting.

CBD Safety

There are very few health risks associated with the use of CBD oil for anxiety. There is no lethal dose of CBD, with extremely high doses in excess of 1500 mg per day — which is more than 30 times the effective dose standard — proven to cause no negative side effects.

It is important, however, to consult with your doctor before beginning any CBD dosage regime. There are a number of side effects associated with the use of high doses of CBD that can include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sedation or sleepiness
  • Mild low blood pressure
  • Decreased fertilization capacity
  • Reduced p-glycoprotein activity
  • Reduced activity of Cytochrome enzyme reduced activity of T and B cells

While CBD can accurately be described as “generally harmless,” it can have an interaction with pharmaceutical drugs that rely on an enzyme created in the liver. This enzyme, called the CYP450 enzyme, is needed to metabolize a number of pharmaceutical drugs

These drugs include:

  • Steroids
  • Antihistamines
  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • NSAIDsAnesthetics

And several other common drugs. Always check with your doctor before beginning a CBD routine.


Q: What is CBD?

A: CBD, or cannabidiol, is extracted from the cannabis plant. CBD is not psychoactive and does not cause a “high” when ingested. CBD is a cannabinoid — the human body possesses a cannabinoid system that interacts with both endogenous cannabinoids found within the body, and exogenous cannabinoids from outside the body.

Q: Is CBD illegal?

A: CBD is legal in most US states and a large number of international countries. CBD products are generally available in the United States without a prescription, under the condition that the CBD products sold contain a maximum of 0.3% THC, which is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana.

Q: Is CBD better than SSRIs?

A: CBD has been proven in clinical studies to deliver the same benefits as SSRIs, but are faster acting and cause no unwanted side effects or dependency. Individual needs regarding SSRIs, CBD, and anxiety management will differ, however, so always consult with your doctor before considering replacing SSRIs with CBD.

Q: Is CBD proven to cure anxiety?

A: CBD has been proven in multiple studies to dramatically minimize the effects and symptoms of anxiety disorders. Anxiety is a complex mental condition, thus there is no “cure” for the condition, but both SSRIs and CBD has both been proven to function as highly effective therapeutic treatments for eliminating the symptoms of anxiety.

Q: Is CBD safe?

A: CBDis safe in virtually all applications and has no maximum dosage that will cause negative health effects. There are a number of pharmaceutical drugs that CBD may interfere with, and a number of minor side effects such as sleepiness or low blood pressure in some individuals.

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