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Anxiety and CBD Oil: What You Need to Know

Anxiety is a condition that impacts nearly 40 million adults in the United States alone. While anxiety is treatable in most cases, many do not get the right kind of help, or find that they have side effects to the traditionally used medications for anxiety. 

And worse yet, many do not seek help at all. Fortunately, recent studies have found that using CBD oil for anxiety can be an effective solution, with little to no side effects.

Keep in mind, the information presented on this page is intended to serve only as an informational guide—always speak to your doctor before starting any kind of new treatment.

How CBD Oil Can Help With Anxiety

Conditions like depression and anxiety are linked to low levels of serotonin in the brain (serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood). CBD oil can help by activating a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A, which increases serotonin levels in the brain.

Traditionally, anxiety and depression are treated with selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac or Zoloft. Unfortunately, these conventional medications can produce undesirable side effects like loss of sleep, dry mouth, reduced sex drive, and diarrhea. It can also be difficult to stop taking SSRIs, as it's possible you could experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. CBD oil can have a positive impact on serotonin levels without any of these negative side effects.

The human body contains two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found mostly in the brain while CB2 receptors are found throughout the body.

CBD is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant that indirectly stimulates activity in both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is another cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant that produces the ‘high' typically associated with marijuana consumption. CBD oil does not have the same intoxicating effects as THC, and will not get you high.

So, CBD oil's interactions with the endocannabinoid system can produce a wide range of positive results in the body from relieving pain to reducing anxiety without impacting your mental or physical capacities.

Effectiveness of Using CBD Oil for Anxiety

The cannabidiol molecule inhibits adenosine re-uptake in the body, boosting the amount of this neurotransmitter present in the brain. The increase of adenosine available in the brain leads to a change in the A1A and A2A adenosine receptors, which play a role in the expression of anxiety and depression. Because CBD acts as an A2A inhibitor, taking CBD oil can result in clarity and an elevated mood.

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Anandamide is a neurotransmitter known as the “bliss molecule.” Anandamide is responsible for feelings of joy and a sense of motivation. CBD acts as an anandamide reuptake inhibitor, which increases the amount available in the brain thereby decreasing the negative effects anxiety can have on your mood and motivation.

Next, you'll find information on CBD oil's treatment of specific, anxiety-related conditions with the research that's been done so far.

CBD Oil for Generalized Anxiety

Research compiled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that CBD can reduce the symptoms of generalized anxiety, a condition characterized by chronic, excessive worry. In a study cited by NIDA, CBD reduced both the behavioral and physiological (increased heart rate) effects of stress and anxiety.

A small, double-blind study performed in humans with generalized anxiety disorder found similar positive results. After receiving doses of CBD, the participants reported reduced anxiety. Brain scans performed by the researchers backed up these claims by showing increased cerebral blood flow patterns consistent with anti-anxiety effects.

CBD Oil for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A common source of anxiety is post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and some of the most promising scientific results to date show CBD oil to be a potential treatment for PTSD.

CBD inhibits the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), an enzyme that breaks down and reduces levels of anandamide, the “bliss molecule” mentioned above. CBD also indirectly activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors, also mentioned above, which decrease anxiety and behaviors prompted by adverse memories. The increase in anandamide coupled with a reduction in response to traumatic memories offers a great deal of hope for those suffering with PTSD, allowing them to break free from an often destructive and crippling cycle of anxiety.

CBD Oil for Social Anxiety

CBD oil might also be helpful in managing the symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD). In a 2010 study, participants with social anxiety received brain scans before and after ingesting CBD. The results showed a positive change in blood flow to the regions of the brain responsible for emotions and feelings of anxiety, effectively proving CBD’s ability to reduce social anxiety.

Other studies have looked at CBD’s impact on social anxiety in a simulated public speaking experience. In this instance, participants with SAD performed a public speaking test both before, and after, taking CBD.

The results showed that participants who were given a single dose of CBD reported decreased levels of anxiety and increased cognitive function compared to those who were given a placebo. The participants who received CBD even reported increased self-confidence and a reduction in negative self-talk.

While these results are promising, there is still a lot of research to be done. Longitudinal studies will need to be performed to see how long-term use of CBD oil impacts anxiety and health. Once we better understand how CBD works in the brain, we can utilize it most effectively.

How to Take CBD Oil for Anxiety

If traditional anxiety treatments like SSRIs are not effective or are causing negative side effects, it may be time to consider CBD oil. However, it’s imperative that you consult your physician before starting CBD oil. While it’s mostly safe and free of side effects, CBD oil has been shown to interact with certain medications, including antidepressants.If traditional anxiety treatments like SSRIs are not effective or are causing negative side effects, it may be time to consider CBD oil. However, it’s imperative that you consult your physician before starting CBD oil. While it’s mostly safe and free of side effects, CBD oil has been shown to interact with certain medications, including antidepressants.

Once you have the ‘OK' from your doctor, how you'll take CBD oil is entirely up to you, your needs, and personal preferences. Drops, capsules, and edibles are all popular and discrete methods for ingesting CBD. If you need something fast acting, CBD tinctures or vapes may be your best bet. Consider your options carefully and consult with your physician to find the best path forward for you. Answers may be hard to come by, so if you need more information about potential drug interactions or dosage, you may want to talk to a naturopathic doctor.

CBD Oil for Anxiety Dosage

It is important to understand that there is no universal dose when it comes to CBD oil. No two people are the same and this means that no two people will experience the same effects off of the same dosage. You should always follow the dosage recommendation on your CBD product.

If you're still having trouble finding dosage information, we at CBD Oil Review have analyzed hundreds of CBD products and come up with a standard serving suggestion to start you off:

The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25mg of CBD, taken twice daily.

If you are not getting your desired results from this amount, we recommend increasing the dosage amount by 25mg every 3-4 weeks until you find relief.

For more information about dosage, check out our general dosage advice here.

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+ 12 sources


  1. Facts & Statistics - ADAA https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
  2. Raquel Linge (2015) Cannabidiol induces rapid-acting antidepressant-like effects and enhances cortical 5-HT/glutamate neurotransmission: role of 5-HT1A receptors - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26711860/
  3. Mayo Clinic Staff Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/ssris/art-20044825
  4. (2020) Going off antidepressants - The President and Fellows of Harvard College https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/going-off-antidepressants
  5. Koji Yamada et al. Involvement of adenosine A2A receptors in depression and anxiety - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25175973/
  6. Dale G Deutsch A Personal Retrospective: Elevating Anandamide (AEA) by Targeting Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) and the Fatty Acid Binding Proteins (FABPs) - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27790143/
  7. Nora D. Volkow (2015) The Biology and Potential Therapeutic Effects of Cannabidiol - National Institute on Drug Abuse https://archives.drugabuse.gov/testimonies/2015/biology-potential-therapeutic-effects-cannabidiol
  8. José Alexandre S Crippa et al. (2010) Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20829306/
  9. (2021) FAAH fatty acid amide hydrolase [ Homo sapiens (human) ] - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/2166
  10. National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=18706790
  11. José Alexandre S Crippa et al. (2010) Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report - British Association for Psychopharmacology https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269881110379283
  12. Mateus M Bergamaschi et al. (2011) Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients - Springer Nature Limited https://www.nature.com/articles/npp20116?foxtrotcallback=true

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