CBD Oil for Anxiety: What the Research Has to Say

Are you wondering if CBD oil could help you find your inner calm? Find out what peer-reviewed CBD research has to say about CBD’s effects on anxiety.

Your heart is pounding and your mind is racing. It seems like there’s nothing you can do to soothe the anxiety and regain your mental wellbeing. Whether you’re dealing with an anxiety disorder or chronic stress, you know you need to find a way back to your happy place.

Most of us have felt this way at one time or another, and it’s paramount to find a way to stop the stress before it takes over.

Enter: CBD oil.

Plenty of people are turning to cannabidiol oil, also known as CBD hemp oil, as a way to address daily stress. The question that we often hear from our customers is, “does CBD actually do anything for anxiety?”

In this article, we’re going to explore the human studies that have sought to answer this question. By understanding the current published research and what we still have to learn, you’ll gain the tools to draw your own conclusions. 

What Is Anxiety?

Stress and anxiety occur as part of our body’s natural fight or flight response. When we sense danger, our bodies release stress hormones that prepare us to face the threat. This can mean sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat, or feelings like irritability and worry.

Once the stressor has been dealt with, our fight or flight response dampens. This means fewer circulating stress hormones and a calmer sense of being. Unfortunately for many of us, feelings of ongoing stress mean that the fight or flight response continues, leaving us feeling restless.

Chronic stress occurs when we aren’t able to cope with daily stressors. It’s marked by things like excessive worry, trouble sleeping, and moodiness.

Anxiety conditions are different from chronic stress, but often come with similar symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, anxiety conditions are marked by “intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear.” Common anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Chronic stress and anxiety conditions are hard to treat, but with the right strategy, many people can regain their inner peace and live happy, healthy, fulfilling lives.

How Should You Address Stress and Anxiety?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for dealing with chronic stress and anxiety. However, there are a few tricks that might help.

First, figure out what’s causing you to feel stressed and anxious. You may consider including a therapist or primary care physician to figure out if you have an anxiety condition or simply chronic stress. From there, you can work together to formulate a plan that targets your source of anxiety.

No matter what’s causing your cortisol levels to skyrocket, there are multiple natural remedies that you can try. Things like exercise, meditation, and deep breathing are a good place to start. You may want to consider minimizing alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes, and starting a journaling practicing to work through your feelings.

If you have an anxiety disorder, even the best holistic plans often fall short. This is why people with anxiety may turn to using an FDA-approved anxiolytic medication. But even with prescription drugs, some people won’t find the relief that they need. Additionally, many anxiolytic drugs come with side effects like addiction.

Due to medication side effects and a hope for an all-natural remedy, people with chronic stress and anxiety often turn to natural supplements in hopes of relief. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most popular natural compounds that people try when they want to regain a calm, balanced life.

Can CBD Help with Stress and Anxiety?

One of the most popular Google searches for CBD is “CBD for anxiety,” and there’s a reason for that. There’s no shortage of testimonials online from people who have experienced impressive results from using daily CBD to relieve stress. There are even stories from those who incorporate CBD into their anxiety disorder treatment protocols. 

While these stories are promising, it’s important to understand that CBD is not approved by the FDA to treat any anxiety condition. There simply haven’t been enough large scale human clinical trials to determine what effect CBD has on anxiety and stress.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t know anything about the benefits of CBD. There have been a multitude of small-scale human studies that have found anxiolytic effects of CBD. Below is a summary of some of the leading research looking into CBD and stress. We’ve summarized the CBD oil studies so you can make your own conclusions about CBD and anxiety. 

Human Studies on CBD and Anxiety

1. CBD’s Impact on THC-Induced Anxiety

Aim: In this study, scientists sought to understand how CBD influences the anxiety caused by THC consumption in normal volunteers.

Study Design: Eight volunteers received each of the following treatments in a double-blind study: 0.5mg/kg THC, 1 mg/kg CBD, 0.5 mg/kg THC and 1 mg/kg CBD, placebo, and 10 mg diazepam (an anti-anxiety drug). The researchers compared the level of anxiety experienced by the participants following each treatment.

Findings: The researchers concluded that CBD lessened THC-induced anxiety in these healthy volunteers.

2. The Influence of CBD on Public-Speaking-Induced Anxiety

Aim: The goal of this preliminary study was to find out how CBD influences the feelings of anxiety during public speaking for patients with Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

Study Design: Twenty-four SAD patients and 12 healthy controls participated in a simulation public speaking test. Twelve SAD patients were given 600 mg CBD an hour and a half before the test, 12 SAD patients a placebo, and 12 normal control participants were given neither placebo nor CBD. 

Findings: SAD patients who were given CBD pretreatment experienced less anxiety when compared to the SAD patients who were given the placebo. The subjects with SAD that were given CBD experienced similar anxiety levels as those in the healthy control group.

3. THC, CBD, and Emotional Processing

Aim: This study evaluated how THC and CBD influence neutral activation and emotional processing.

Study Design: Fifteen healthy male volunteers were studied on three occasions to determine their subjective and objective anxiety when viewing faces that elicit anxiety. Each subject ingested 600 mg CBD, 10 mg THC, or a placebo before viewing the faces.

Findings: Compared with placebo consumption, THC consumption was associated with higher levels of subjective anxiety when viewing faces that elicit anxiety and CBD was associated with lower levels of subjective anxiety.

4. Case Study: CBD and PTSD

Aim: This study sought to determine if CBD could help minimize the anxiety and sleep difficulties experienced by a young girl with posttraumatic stress disorder.

Study Design: A young girl with severe PTSD was given a CBD dosage of 25 mg/day or more for five months. Her anxiety and sleep troubles were tracked during this time.

Findings: The patient’s anxiety decreased during the course of treatment, and her sleep also improved.

5. CBD and Craving and Anxiety in Abstinent Heroin Abusers

Aim: This study examined how CBD influences craving and anxiety in people with heroin use disorder who are currently not using heroin.

Study Design: Abstinent heroin addicts were randomly split into either a CBD or placebo group. The CBD group received either 400 or 800 mg/day CBD for three consecutive days, while those in the placebo group were given a placebo. Researchers then examined their cue-induced anxiety and craving at 1 hour, 2 hours, 24 hours, 3 days, and 7 days.

Findings: Compared to the placebo, CBD treatment resulted in a significant reduction in the craving and anxiety caused by drug cues.

6. CBD on Sleep and Anxiety

Aim: The aim of this study was to determine if CBD had an impact on anxiety and sleep problems for patients in a psychiatric clinic.

Study Design: Seventy-two patients in a psychiatric clinic with anxiety or sleep complaints were given CBD in addition to their other treatments. Most patients received 25 mg of CBD each day in an oral capsule, although other patients received 50, 75, or 175 mg/day.

Findings: Anxiety scores decreased in 79.2% of patients in the first month and remained lower throughout the study’s duration. Sleep scores improved for 66.7% of patients in the first month but fluctuated after.

7. CBD’s Impact on Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder

Aim: This study’s aim was to examine the effect of CBD on subjective anxiety in patients with Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

Study Design: Ten SAD patients were brought into the lab on two occasions. In one, they were given 400 mg CBD and in the other a placebo. Researchers measured subjective anxiety and took brain images following the treatment.

Findings: The patients experienced less subjective anxiety when given 400 mg CBD than when given a placebo.

What’s Next

More research is needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn about the anxiolytic properties of CBD hemp oil. Scientists around the world are currently working hard to help us understand more about CBD’s potential.

When we visited clinicaltrials.gov, we found 18 current studies examining CBD and anxiety. Here’s a breakdown of a few of the ones that we’re following closely.

  • A phase 2 clinical trial evaluating the impact of full-spectrum CBD oil on participants with diagnosed anxiety disorders. 
  • A phase 2 clinical trial examining the impact of a single dose of CBD on anticipatory anxiety in breast cancer patients prior to a scan that assesses tumor burden. 
  • A phase 3 clinical trial evaluating a 50:2 CBD:THC treatment’s efficacy against symptoms of anxiety disorders, including patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD), generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and agoraphobia. 

Over the next few years, we expect for these and other studies to help us understand more about the potential for the use of CBD and other cannabinoids for chronic stress and anxiety conditions.

Final Thoughts

The effects of CBD and other hemp and cannabis compounds, such as cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG), are an exciting new frontier in health and wellness. Because hemp and cannabis legalization is so recent, it’s going to take time for research to catch up with popular use.

 

If you want to utilize CBD oil and aren’t sure where to start, try finding a local healthcare practitioner who’s educated in using cannabis for wellness. The Society of Cannabis Clinicians is a great place to find a practitioner near you who can help you towards your health goals.

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