CBD for Anxiety: How It Works & What You Should Know

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Millions of Americans deal with anxiety every day. It is the most common mental illness in the United States. Fortunately, many people with anxiety can benefit from holistic solutions. Some of these solutions — like diet and exercise — are easily accessible. Others are more controversial and difficult to obtain.

Perhaps you’re already familiar with the debates around medical marijuana use for anxiety. Although some states have approved of it, federal law still considers even medical marijuana a controlled substance. This is one reason CBD has become a hot topic in recent years.

CBD is growing in popularity as a holistic solution for anxiety. It’s an all-natural, safe, and non-addictive way to manage stress and anxiety. CBD has been shown to work as well as some pharmaceutical drugs used for anxiety relief with far fewer side effects and no risk of addiction or dependency.

There are many factors to keep in mind when considering CBD for anxiety. Keep reading to learn more about the types of CBD and its potential uses. 

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It comes from Cannabis sativa — commonly known as the hemp plant. CBD is often associated with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This is where things get controversial.

Hemp plants are cannabis plants that contain 0.3% THC or less. If a cannabis plant contains more than 0.3% THC, it’s marijuana.

THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is part of the nervous system and impacts how cells communicate with each other.

What is the difference between CBD and THC? Unlike THC, CBD does not produce the intoxicating effects generally associated with the use of marijuana (such as feelings of euphoria). It stimulates the endocannabinoid system in a way that helps promote homeostasis. It can treat inflammation, chronic pain, anxiety, and even epilepsy.

There are different types of CBD. These include:

  • Full-spectrum CBD: includes all portions of the cannabis plant. Full-spectrum CBD oil may also include low levels of THC (below 0.3%) and a wide range of cannabinoids, such as:
    • CBD (cannabidiol)
    • CBG (cannabigerol)
    • CBN (cannabinol)
    • CBC (cannabichromene)
    • Terpenes
    • Essential oils
  • Broad-spectrum CBD: contains no or only trace amounts of THC. Broad-spectrum CBD can still have a variety of cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes.
  • CBD Isolates: a pure form of CBD containing no THC or other cannabinoids.

Full-spectrum CBD is a more natural compound than the processed CBD isolate. Studies show that it may also have more potency for reducing pain and inflammation. This is due to the entourage effect — CBD, TCH, and other cannabinoids appear to work most effectively together. This is also true of CBD and terpenes.

CBD Can Relieve Anxiety

CBD impacts neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, specifically serotonin receptors. Serotonin regulates mood and helps you feel calm and happy. The effects of CBD mimic the effects of serotonin. This may be why CBD helps alleviate anxiety symptoms.

Traditional psychiatry typically treats anxiety disorders by using prescription medications like benzodiazepines or SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). These medications can cause a number of adverse side effects, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Brain fog
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

CBD has the potential to treat anxiety disorders without these side effects. Although clinical trials are currently ongoing, there is promising evidence to support the benefits of CBD for a variety of anxiety-related disorders. Let’s go over a few of them.

Generalized Anxiety

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about everyday things. People who suffer from GAD have extreme, ongoing anxiety that interferes with their daily lives. Multiple studies show that CBD is a promising alternative treatment for GAD and related illnesses.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by anxiousness in social situations. People with SAD often have extreme fear that they may be embarrassed or judged by others. This anxiety can be so severe that it is referred to as a social phobia. 

Studies show that CBD reduces anxiety levels caused by SAD due to its interaction with the limbic and paralimbic areas of the brain.

Anxiety & OCD

Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have many similarities. Although separate conditions, the disorders have comparable symptoms and causes. Both conditions are connected to the endocannabinoid system. This may be why cannabis products like CBD can be effective in treating OCD as well as anxiety.


PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is another condition linked to the endocannabinoid system. PTSD often occurs as a result of a traumatic experience. 

People with PTSD often experience intrusive thoughts and memories of the traumatic event. They may experience recurring distress or anxiety as a result. CBD can reduce the intensity of these negative memories.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are sudden episodes of intense fear or a feeling of impending doom, although no physical threat is present. They come with a several physical symptoms, including:

  • Breathlessness or hyperventilation
  • Racing heart or palpitations
  • Chills and shaking
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

CBD has proven to be an effective treatment for panic attacks.

Does CBD calm anxiety immediately? CBD can calm symptoms of anxiety within a few minutes, depending on the method and dosage. 

Products & Dosages

CBD products come in a wide variety of types with varying concentrations of CBD. The appropriate cannabis product for each individual will depend on his or her needs and sensitivity to its effects. If you’re considering trying CBD for anxiety, it’s worth discussing dosages with your healthcare provider.

Note: Higher concentrations of CBD do not necessarily equal greater efficacy. Studies show benefits from both high doses and low doses of CBD. In fact, the highest doses of the high-dose study appeared to be less effective than more moderate doses. 

How much CBD should I take to relieve anxiety? Taking 25-75 mg of CBD may effectively treat anxiety and improve sleep. However, some individuals may receive greater benefits with higher CBD doses.

Other factors to consider in choosing a CBD product are the ease of application and the speed with which the product will take effect. For instance, a sublingual method may be faster acting than an ingestion method, but effects may wear off more quickly.  

How long does it take CBD to work? Depending on the product, it may take as little as 15-30 minutes for CBD to take effect. Popular CBD products include:

  • Softgels and Tablets: Similar in appearance and function to vitamin supplements, these offer a convenient method of CBD delivery with specific doses.
  • Tinctures and Oils: These are typically applied by dropper under the tongue. They provide relatively quick delivery of CBD to the bloodstream. 
  • Topical Products: Topical products like gels and creams are applied directly to the skin for localized use. These products are often used to help with inflammation and pain.
  • Edibles: Edibles like CBD gummies and chocolates are popular CBD products. They may take slightly longer than tinctures and oils to take effect. However, many people consider them a more palatable alternative.

Related reading: NAD (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide): Benefits & How It Works

Possible Risks & Side Effects

Both the World Health Organization and the Food and Drug Administration deem CBD generally safe to use. CBD seems to be well-tolerated in doses far above those recommended for anxiety and medical use. However, there are always considerations to take into account when using a new medication.

What are the side effects of taking CBD for anxiety? Individuals with sensitivity, CBD may experience side effects such as:

  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

For those with certain preexisting health conditions, taking CBD could come with additional risks. People who are prone to liver problems, have previously suffered from liver problems, or are taking other medications that could cause these problems should use caution. 

Does CBD interact with other drugs? Yes, CBD may interact with other anxiety medications, antidepressants, and substances like alcohol. It may also amplify the effects of drugs and supplements that cause drowsiness. Other medications CBD may interact with include:

  • Blood thinners
  • Thyroid medications
  • Seizure medications
  • Cholesterol medications
  • Blood pressure medications

Shopping for CBD 

Hemp-derived CBD is now legal and widely available in all 50 states. However, that does not mean all CBD is created equal. Not all CBD products are regulated by the FDA. 

High-quality CBD products often use CBD obtained from a process of CO2 extraction. You may also want to research products for aspects such as GMO versus non-GMO and whether they are cultivated using chemical pesticides. 

Another aspect to keep in mind is that not all CBD is hemp-derived. Certain states, including Colorado, have legalized medical marijuana and marijuana-derived CBD. CBD derived from marijuana has higher levels of THC, which may cause more side effects for some people.

Checking the customer reviews of different products may help you determine which product is right for you. Here are some high-quality options to consider:

  • NED CBD offers locally sourced CBD from their sunshine fueled farm in Paonia, CO, also providing a number of blends that help you re energize and help balance your nervous system. 
  • Extract Labs offers a wide range of products including edibles, tinctures, topicals, and softgels. Products come in full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate options. Extract Labs provides lab reports on all products.
  • CBDfx offers a wide range of products from non-GMO, pesticide-free hemp plants. Products come in full-spectrum and broad-spectrum options, including edibles, oils, topicals, and vapes.
  • KoiCBD offers full-spectrum and broad-spectrum oils, gummies, and vapes.
  • CBDistillery offers full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate products, including oils, tinctures, and gummies.

A Natural Approach to Wellness

There are many potential health benefits to be gained from CBD. However, it is always best practice to get medical advice from a qualified professional before trying new medications. 

Effective treatment for anxiety or any other illness requires an individualized approach. If you’re looking for holistic solutions to manage your anxiety, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with us. We’re always here to discuss your personal needs and help you discover the best treatment plan. 

Not ready to book? No problem. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram to get the latest on holistic health news and tips. 


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