The Effectiveness of CBD Oil for Anxiety and How It Works

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound derived from the cannabis plant that has been gaining popularity in recent years for its potential health benefits, including reducing anxiety. While CBD is not a cure-all for anxiety, it has shown promise in helping to manage symptoms for some people. Many people who struggle with anxiety are turning to CBD oil as an alternative or complementary treatment to traditional medication or therapy.

The exact mechanism of how CBD oil works for anxiety is not yet fully understood, but it is thought to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for regulating various physiological and cognitive processes, including mood and stress response. By interacting with receptors in the endocannabinoid system, CBD may help to reduce anxiety symptoms and promote feelings of calmness and relaxation.

However, while many people have reported the positive effects of using CBD oil for anxiety, it is important to note that research is still limited, and there is not yet enough evidence to make definitive claims about its effectiveness. Additionally, the quality and purity of CBD products can vary widely, so it is important to do thorough research and purchase from reputable sources.

In this article, we will explore what the current research says about CBD oil for anxiety, including its potential benefits and risks, how to use it, and what to look for when purchasing CBD products.

How Does CBD Work?

According to research, CBD is believed to stimulate certain receptors in the brain and nervous system associated with physical and mental functions such as pain, inflammation, stress, and mood. These receptors can have an impact on various things, including emotional regulation, metabolism, and immune function, which is how CBD is thought to deliver its therapeutic benefits.

To produce oils, edibles, and supplements, CBD is often extracted and isolated from the cannabis plant. These products are typically free from THC, meaning they are legal to buy, sell, and consume in all states in the US. CBD products are marketed as nutritional supplements, which implies that they are not regulated by the FDA and do not require a prescription to purchase. While many people have reported finding relief from various symptoms by using CBD products, more research is still needed to fully understand how it works and its potential long-term effects on the body.

Is CBD Oil Addictive?

CBD is not believed to be addictive. While it is possible to develop a problematic dependence on marijuana, this is not thought to occur in people who use CBD. One of the primary signs of addiction is continuing to use the substance despite experiencing problems. Because CBD does not impair a person’s ability to think clearly and function, most people who use CBD do not experience these kinds of problems or consequences as a result.

Is CBD Legal?

CBD is legal in all 50 states in the US, although there are different kinds of CBD products that may be regulated in certain states. States that have fully legalized recreational use of marijuana have no restrictions on CBD products. States where marijuana is not legal for recreational or medical purposes usually have restrictions on CBD products that involve limiting the allowed level of THC.

While the extraction process eliminates most THC from CBD products, trace amounts can remain. Many states have laws that state that CBD products cannot contain more than 0.3% to 0.5% of THC in them.2, 5, 6 There are a few medications derived from cannabis that are FDA-approved. These medications had clinical trials in which they were found to have medical use and benefit.

Does CBD Help Anxiety?

Some people who use CBD for anxiety report experiencing significant benefits, including feeling less stressed, anxious, and better able to cope.

Potential benefits of using CBD as opposed to other medications to treat anxiety may include:3, 4, 8

  • Lower risk of intoxication, abuse, or addiction
  • Fewer side effects than other anti-anxiety medications
  • Less drowsiness or cognitive impairment than other medications
  • More accessible than other controlled prescription medications
  • Ability to increase or decrease dosage according to individual needs
  • Ability to stop taking it, skip doses, or only take it as needed
  • Other benefits to physical and mental health
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Improvements in chronic stress (which can trigger/worsen anxiety symptoms)

Is CBD or Hemp Oil Better for Anxiety?

Reports show that both CBD and hemp oil work for anxiety. Whether one works better than the other seems to depend on individual differences at this point. Someone could feel much better with CBD, while it could have little impact on another person. Just like with mental health medications, results will vary from person to person.11

Research Regarding CBD and Anxiety

Early research shows promising results in the use of CBD for anxiety disorders, with many people reporting an improvement in their symptoms after taking CBD oil or other CBD supplements.3, 7 Major organizations like the World Health Organization have issued statements in support of using CBD for anxiety, while others like the FDA and APA have been more hesitant to support its use.

Some of the anxiety disorders that CBD has shown promise in treating include:3

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder

Scientists don’t agree on how CBD works to reduce symptoms of anxiety, but several studies note that it does improve symptoms such as:3, 4, 7, 8

  • Feeling nervous, jittery, restless or on-edge
  • Being unable to fall asleep or stay asleep
  • General ability to focus and concentrate
  • Worried or racing thoughts
  • General feelings of fear and anxiety
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Nightmares

There is limited evidence that taking CBD before an anxiety-provoking situation (like flying on a plane or public speaking) could also help reduce anxiety.8

CBD has also shown promising results in disorders where anxiety is a key symptom, including OCD and PTSD. (FN2) Many people who suffer from anxiety disorders also struggle with insomnia, which CBD may also be effective in reducing.3, 7

Options For Anxiety Treatment

Talk Therapy – Get help from a licensed therapist. Betterhelp offers online therapy starting at $60 per week. Get matched With A Therapist

Virtual Psychiatry – Get help from a real doctor that takes your insurance. Talkiatry offers medication management and online visits with expert psychiatrists. Take the online assessment and have your first appointment in days. Free Assessment

Choosing Therapy partners with leading mental health companies and is compensated for marketing by BetterHelp and Talkiatry.

Are There Any Dangers of CBD Oil for Anxiety?

All medications, including natural supplements like CBD, have potential risks and drawbacks. One of the biggest drawbacks to using CBD is that it is a largely unregulated product. Because most CBD products aren’t FDA-approved, there is no way for the average consumer to verify how much CBD a product has or what other fillers or ingredients are included.6

In a 2017 survey of 84 online CBD and hemp oil products, only 26 were accurately labeled for their CBD and THC content. These inaccurate doses increase the risk of accidentally becoming intoxicated when taking CBD.9

Potential Side Effects of CBD

All medications and supplements carry a risk of adverse effects. Some of the most commonly reported adverse effects in people who take CBD include drowsiness and changes in appetite.

Potential side effects of CBD may include:

  • Feeling drowsy or sleepy
  • Trouble focusing and staying alert
  • Having an upset stomach or other GI problems
  • Potential liver damage (especially for long-term or heavy users)
  • Possible fertility problems (observed in some animal studies)
  • Muscle tics and spasms
  • Changes in appetite

Drug Interactions With CBD

CBD also has the potential to interact with several other prescribed medications, increasing the risk for adverse reactions, and side effects, or reducing the effectiveness of a medication. There is a list of medications that CBD may negatively interact with published here. If you take any other medications, it is especially important to consult with your primary care doctor or prescriber before starting CBD or any other natural supplement.

The FDA has also issued a warning that CBD can negatively interact with other illicit substances, including alcohol, in ways that increase intoxication.

Using Supplements or Medication Alone for Anxiety

Taking a pill or supplement alone is not a sufficient cure for anxiety. Without anxiety therapy, people do not learn the skills and techniques needed to master better ways of coping and symptom management. This means that even if they do experience benefits from CBD, they likely will not feel in control of their symptoms, and may even come to depend on CBD to cope.

While early research on the effectiveness of CBD is promising, there are many other treatments for anxiety disorders that have a lot more evidence to prove they are safe and effective, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy.1 Therapy is always recommended in conjunction with any prescribed medication or natural supplement for the treatment of anxiety disorders.1

What Is the Best CBD Oil for Anxiety?

Trying to find the best CBD oil for anxiety can be a challenging experience. When choosing, pay attention to:13

  • The reliability of the brand
  • The quality of the oil
  • Positive reviews from other users
  • The method by which the oil is extracted
  • The potency
  • If the ingredients are natural or artificial

How to Use CBD for Anxiety

CBD is readily available for purchase on many websites as well as in smoke shops, vitamin shops, and other retail stores. People are able to purchase CBD oil for anxiety that can be taken orally or can choose to buy candies, gummies, edibles, and even vape liquids that can be smoked using an electronic cigarette.

If you are interested in trying CBD for anxiety, consult with your doctor first, especially if you are on any prescribed medications. If you live in a state where medical or recreational use of marijuana is legal, it’s especially important to pay attention to the package labeling when purchasing CBD products to ensure they do not contain THC. Ingesting THC can actually increase anxiety and paranoia, which can counteract any of the potential benefits of taking a CBD supplement.


The therapeutic dose of CBD for anxiety is typically between 300 milligrams (mg) and 600 mg, and the maximum recommended dose is 1500 mg per day.7 Still, it is recommended to take a lower dose if it is your first time taking CBD, or if it’s your first time trying a particular CBD product or brand. In some studies, taking too high of a dose could actually lead some people to become more anxious, while other studies have found high doses lead people to become drowsy and sedated.3, 7

Until you know how it will affect you, it’s recommended to only take CBD during times when you are not working, driving, or doing other tasks that require focus or coordination. Some people may want to try CBD in the evening, as studies have shown that it can cause drowsiness in some people.8

How Long Does CBD Oil Take to Work for Anxiety?

The speed of action for CBT oil is quite fast. Absorbing under the tongue (oromucosal) will produce effects in around 10 minutes. Edibles, tinctures, and other oral varieties will have a delayed onset of around 90 minutes.12

Final Thoughts on Using CBD For Anxiety

Some studies show that CBD can be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety, with fewer risks than other anti-anxiety medications. Still, research on CBD is in its early phases, while other treatments like CBT and exposure therapy have an abundance of research to prove they are safe and effective.1 Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplement or seeking help from a professional counselor.


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