More and more people are turning to CBD oil for anxiety because of its calming benefits.
This natural extract from cannabis possesses anxiolytic properties, which means it can reduce stress, alleviate anxiousness and improve mood.
Yet, while it relaxes the mind and helps to soothe nervous feelings, it isn’t intoxicating or psychoactive. CBD doesn’t get you high like THC. Instead, it provides mental benefits without overstimulating or causing euphoria, making it well-suited to anxious types (unlike THC).
It’s easily absorbed, well-tolerated, and non-addictive. This is particularly true when you compare it to traditional anxiety medications like Xanax. Many pharmaceutical anxiety medications are addictive or have strong side effects that can be nasty.
That’s why natural alternatives for alleviating anxiety, like CBD gummies or oils, are gaining greater popularity.
They’re great at helping anxious people regain confidence, sleep better, improve mental energy, and increase their quality of life.
In Australia, millions of people already experience forms of anxiety. They are seeking more holistic, natural ways of better managing symptoms.
In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of CBD oil for anxiety, how it works, and why you might consider it.
- 1 What is CBD Oil?
- 2 Benefits of CBD Oil for Anxiety
- 3 Evidence for CBD Oil’s Calmness Advantages
- 4 How Does CBD Oil Help With Anxiety?
- 5 How to Use CBD Oil for Anxiety
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 FAQs
- 8 References
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is an extract from the cannabis sativa plant, also known as hemp.
This plant contains many natural compounds known as cannabinoids.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the most important of these and has several therapeutic effects.
It can be used alone or in combination with other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN, or CBDA.
CBD is usually extracted into an oil to make it consumable.
This oil usually contains many other phytonutrients from hemp, like flavonoids, antioxidants, and hemp-derived terpenes.
CBD is anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) due to its effects on the body’s endocannabinoid system. In particular, it activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain, stimulating relaxing mental effects.
This makes it helpful in treating mental issues like anxiety, depression, and chronic stress. Terpenes found in hemp, such as Linalool, also similarly provide calming and anxiety-reducing effects. They function on similar brain receptors as cannabinoids to help regulate the stress response and promote mood.
Benefits of CBD Oil for Anxiety
Due to being anxiolytic, it’s no surprise that there are substantial benefits in using CBD oil for anxiety.
It’s been clinically proven in a range of studies to reduce anxiousness.
Additionally, it can help with other conditions associated with anxiety, such as depression, mood disorders, PTSD, and stress problems.
Let’s explore how it provides relief for anxiousness and brings about calmness.
The main reason CBD oil offers relief for anxiety is it stimulates mental feelings of calmness and even ‘bliss’.
After using it, most people note they feel significantly more relaxed, at ease and more resilient to stress.
These effects are from the cannabinoid altering the stress response.
CBD downregulates this anxiety-inducing brain pathway via cannabinoid receptors in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the brain region responsible for fear, stress and anxiety regulation.
The stress response triggers these feelings.
However, an overactive stress response from negative thoughts or worry causes anxiety. It becomes overactive, and the brain becomes ‘stuck’ in a parasympathetic or nervous state.
Through the CB1 cannabinoid receptors located in the brain, CBD oil actively lowers sensitivity to stress and negative thoughts. It aids users in building resilience mentally against stressors to obtain a more balanced mental state.
Over time, this also results in lower anxiousness. But it also helps boost mood and reduces mental fatigue. Building a baseline of calmness is the main reason people take CBD gummies and similar products.
People with anxiety are also often susceptible to mood problems like irritability or mood swings.
Cannabinoids in CBD oil can help with mood and improve emotional state. This is due to their interactions with neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin.
Serotonin, in particular, is hugely important as the central brain chemical responsible for mood.
CBD can help the brain manage serotonin better, normalising its production and reabsorption via the serotonin receptors.
Again, this is mainly done via the CB1 cannabinoid receptor channels in the brain. These are activated and release endocannabinoids like anandamide, which can modulate serotonin.
Anandamide is known as the ‘bliss’ molecule because of its potent effects. It causes deep calmness, better mood and even bliss without intoxicating. It’s a critical method that CBD oil helps to boost mood while counteracting anxiety.
Over time, CBD oil can help with anxiety by naturally improving mood. It stabilises emotions and soothes the mind to enhance resilience against anxiousness.
Mitigating Stress and PTSD
Frequently, anxiety is caused or worsened by chronic stress. It’s well known that CBD oil lowers stress levels, making it great for preventing anxiousness simultaneously.
Stress is very detrimental to the mind and exacerbates anxiousness. That’s because it causes heightened states of nervousness and racing thoughts. Avoiding it is crucial in managing anxiety symptoms.
This is where using products like CBD gummies for anxiety can be effective.
They lower sensitivity to stress and stressors. Things that may have previously been sources of acute stress, like public speaking or meetings, become less impactful.
Advantageously, CBD products can be used every day without increasing the risk of side effects. As such, they’re well-suited to target chronic stress symptoms that need longer-term remedies.
In some instances, CBD oil has even been shown to be effective for more acute stress. Some studies have explored its use as a novel treatment for stress-related disorders like PTSD.
PTSD is heavily related to anxiety and is a comorbid condition. Like anxiety, it causes substantial mental distress. It’s also primarily caused by dysregulation in the hypothalamus.
CBD oil’s demonstrated abilities in mitigating downregulating stress responsivity and providing calmness make it powerful in minimising the impact of stress conditions like PTSD.
It can correspondingly minimise anxious feelings and help users to resist mental angst.
Often, anxiety disorders lead to worsened sleep health. Preventing anxiety-related sleep problems by using CBD oil is often effective for many.
In fact, insomnia is a significant comorbidity of anxiety. Over 50% of those with generalised anxiety disorders also suffer from sleep disorders.
This is unsurprising because of the racing thoughts, nervousness, and stress that anxious people frequently feel at night.
Instead of sleeping, they can be kept awake and alert due to their anxious state.
Even when they do fall asleep, anxiety can impair sleep quality.
Anxiousness reduces REM sleep, meaning less restorative slumber and waking feeling unrested.
To make matters worse, poor sleep can result in worsened mood and greater susceptibility to anxiety. This causes more sleep problems, creating a detrimental feedback loop and worsening both issues. Insomnia can even become a source of anxiety in itself, creating further worry before bedtime.
Using CBD oil for anxiety can directly assist with insomnia for this reason. Taking some at night is an ideal natural method to counteract these interrelated ailments.
It works to help individuals calm down at bedtime and lower stress so sleep can be more easily obtained. In addition, CBD oil has various sleep health benefits, enabling more consistent, deep, and restorative sleep.
This can further help mitigate anxiety by boosting mood and mental energy during the day.
Sleep is critical for mental well-being and anxiety prevention. Reinforcing sleep cycles using CBD oil can be a powerful supportive tool for greater calmness.
Evidence for CBD Oil’s Calmness Advantages
Over the past few decades, there have been many studies examining the effectiveness of CBD oil for anxiety.
A 2011 study tested its efficacy in treating patients with social anxiety.
In a double-blind study, 24 subjects with the disorder were given either CBD oil or a placebo. Both groups were given their dosages 1.5 hours before a public speaking test. This test was designed to trigger social anxiety symptoms and stress sensations to understand how well CBD oil could calm them. After the test, subjective ratings from each individual in anxiety levels were taken. In addition, physiological stress metrics such as blood pressure, heart rate and sweating were monitored.
Subjects dosed with CBD oil showed far lower anxiety symptoms. They displayed better cognitive performance and less fatigue during their speaking tests. Their social anxiety appeared to be markedly reduced compared to the placebo group. Researchers concluded CBD oil had potent mentally calming effects from this trial. It showed particularly acute efficacy in mitigating anxiety when doses were timed before a stress-triggering situation.
Another study explored the anxiolytic properties of CBD oil in 39 young adults suffering from social anxiety. Each was given a high 300mg dose per day during the experiment. Doses were also administered before public speaking tests to measure changes in anxiety symptoms. Subjects given CBD oil displayed suppressed anxiety during these tests. Ratings of anxiousness were gauged using the Liebowitz Social Anxiety scale. The test group dosed with CBD displayed a 12-point reduction in their anxiety scores on this scale.
In comparison, only a 3-point reduction was recorded amongst the experiment’s placebo test group. The conclusion of the study commented on the effectiveness of CBD oil in reducing anxiety. In addition, researchers were surprised at how well tolerated and safe it was among subjects, with none experiencing adverse reactions or side effects.
Additional Clinical Research
A similar study from New Zealand examined 400 patients who were the first in the country to be prescribed CBD oil. These patients all had symptoms of depressive or anxiety disorders. Each was given 300mg doses of the product per day. On average, the subject’s anxiety and depression scores halved on a standardised mental distress rating model. In other words, CBD oil substantially helps with anxiety and depression. Many subjects reported better mood, greater calmness, less anxiousness and more mental energy. To date, this has been one of the most successful clinical trials of CBD oil’s efficacy in treating mental conditions. It underscores the power of the cannabinoid as a multi-target solution that can treat multiple disorders and their symptoms simultaneously.
In the US, an extensive case study was performed on 103 adults who had sleep and anxiety problems. Low CBD oil doses of 25mg were given to patients in capsule form daily over several weeks. In subjects given the CBD capsules, reductions in anxiety of up to 79% were reported. Sleep length and quality improvements were recorded in 66% of subjects tested. The researchers noted the cannabinoid was very well tolerated. Only three subjects reported minor side effects. This research again showed CBD oil reduced anxiety but also mitigated comorbid conditions like insomnia. It worked holistically to improve mental state across multiple areas instead of only treating anxiousness. This meant its mental health benefits were amplified. Subjects could sleep better, which helped lower their anxiety and vice versa.
While there are still more clinical trials to be conducted, the ability of CBD oil to help with anxiety is already well-documented in modern research.
How Does CBD Oil Help With Anxiety?
Let’s take a look at how CBD oil helps with anxiety through the endocannabinoid system and brain. It acts on multiple pathways within each, providing many beneficial, relaxing effects that lower anxiety.
Endocannabinoid System and CB1 Receptors
It may sound surprising, but most of CBD oil’s benefits for anxiety aren’t due to the cannabinoids it contains.
Instead, they result from potent endocannabinoids the body naturally creates in response to interactions with cannabinoids (like CBD).
Endocannabinoids such as anandamide are produced within the brain when these cannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors in the region.
These are known as ‘type 1’ cannabinoid receptors, the primary type in the brain and CNS.
Their location in these centres of mental and nervous system control is what makes CBD oil so powerful for lowering anxiety. Once activated, the receptors can bring about homeostasis in the stress response and downregulate sympathetic nervous system activity. In turn, the mind, nerves, and emotions become calm.
They’re also found in brain areas like the amygdala, which controls the fear response.
Endocannabinoids like 2-AG can modulate the fear response through CB1 receptor activity. This is also why CBD oil is excellent for PTSD and helps mitigate phobias. 2-AG helps bring these areas back to balance and prevents them from excessive sensitivity.
Serotonin and GABA Receptor Activity
The mood-boosting effects of CBD oil are due to its serotonin neurotransmitter receptor interactions. It also plays a role in modulating the GABA neurotransmitter, which helps with relaxation.
- Serotonin affects mood and anxiety directly. It’s the primary neurotransmitter in the brain that controls mood regulation.
- GABA, on the other hand, is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It suppresses excessive activity amongst other neurotransmitters, which can help with anxiety. For instance, neurotransmitters like epinephrine can cause feelings of anxiety or nervousness if they’re overproduced. Reducing their activity by boosting GABA production can be an effective way to combat anxiety symptoms.
Studies have revealed CBD can act specifically on the Serotonin 1A Receptor.
This receptor type has anxiety-regulating properties. By raising its signalling, CBD oil can boost mood while mitigating anxiousness.
However, its interactions with GABA occur quite differently.
The CBD cannabinoid doesn’t act directly on GABA receptors. Instead, it activates CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain that cause endocannabinoids like 2-AG to be released.
These endocannabinoids then act on the GABA receptors, producing effects similar to benzodiazepine and antidepressants. They evoke feelings of calmness and elevated mental energy.
Influencing GABA regulation is an area researchers are focussing on to find natural antidepressant solutions as alternatives to SSRIs. Using CBD oil for depression may be a powerful future application of the product. Its potent mood and anxiety-relieving effects underscore this. The comparatively low side effect risks of CBD extracts when compared to SSRIs are also attractive.
Normalising levels of both serotonin and GABA enables CBD oil to prevent anxiety, irritability, sleep issues and even depression. It supports the production and reabsorption of each neurotransmitter, keeping them balanced and in homeostasis.
Inhibiting Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH)
Another way CBD oil assists with anxiety is by reinforcing the effects of endocannabinoids in the brain.
Endocannabinoids like anandamide are broken down by enzymes called ‘Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase’ or FAAH.
By inhibiting the production and activity of FAAH, it’s possible to enhance endocannabinoid potency. Their length of action and beneficial effects for anxiety can be extended.
CBD and other cannabinoids offer this ability. They help to prevent FAAH from breaking down endocannabinoid compounds.
As a result, they enable more anandamide to reach the brain’s cannabinoid, serotonin and GABA receptors, which enhances its anxiolytic effects.
More research is now being targeted at developing cannabinoid medications that can inhibit FAAH by scientists due to this.
A complementary benefit of CBD oil for anxiety is its capacity to reduce neuroinflammation and protect brain neurons.
The cannabinoid is anti-inflammatory in the brain and helps prevent neurons from becoming inflamed. This is useful in preventing brain fog and promoting mental clarity. Inflammation in the neurons from cytokines or other immune agents can weaken the mental state, contributing to anxiousness. Reversing this and defending the brain from inflammatory degradation is a significant advantage of CBD oil.
What underlies this effect is the anti-inflammatory properties of endocannabinoids such as anandamide. Endocannabinoids can act on the brain’s microglia. Microglia regulate brain activity and are responsible for neuron repair. Modulating these cells is critical to CBD’s ability to lower brain inflammation.
They’re also neuroprotective and help stop neurons from misfiring, reducing the excitatory activity that can contribute to anxiety. In fact, CBD oil is so effective at protecting neurons in this manner that it’s widely used to treat epilepsy and seizure disorders. For example, it is used in pharmaceutical-grade medication for epilepsy called Epidiolex. This is a spray containing high concentrations of the CBD cannabinoid. It reduces the length and severity of seizures in patients.
Improving overall brain health and reducing inflammation in the neurons is another way that CBD oil works for anxiety reduction. It helps keep neurons behaving optimally and prevents dysregulation, which can worsen anxiousness.
How to Use CBD Oil for Anxiety
Using CBD oil for anxiety can be tricky because each person has individualised symptoms.
Some people may experience passing anxiety or minor feelings of angst. However, others may suffer from intense anxiousness consistently and have Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
Each person has a unique neurochemistry. As such, they will have different experiences of anxiety, severity of symptoms, co-morbidities and responses to CBD products.
What this means is you’ll need to figure out what works for you personally when it comes to taking CBD oil for anxiety. No hard and fast rules or cookie-cutter approaches work in all cases.
However, we can offer some tips to keep in mind when using it for your symptoms.
Best CBD Oil Dosage for Anxiety
How much CBD oil does someone need to obtain calmness? It is a personal question. There is no best or ‘one size fits all’ approach due to differences in each person and their anxiousness.
A good starting point is 1-6mg of CBD per 5kg of body weight per day. Starting even lower than this initially to check for intolerances or allergies is also prudent.
Over time, you can titrate your doses to what works best for your circumstances.
Avoid this until you’ve used the product for a few weeks to let your body adapt.
Advantageously, CBD oil is really well tolerated, even at high doses. Some people need up to 600mg daily to see the symptoms’ benefits, but this can vary.
Another tip is to find the lowest dose that gives you results. Minimising doses each day but staying consistent helps to minimise side effect risks while maximising effectiveness.
Only increase your intake if you aren’t getting the results you need.
It’s safe to use CBD oil at high dosages for most people, and the compound doesn’t pose a risk of addiction. Side effect risk increases with dose but is generally low in most people.
CBD comes in many products today. If you don’t like oil, you can always try something like CBD gummies for anxiety.
The cannabinoid is commonly diffused into capsules, drops, teas, vaporisers, drinks and sublingual strips.
Each of these can be viable for calming effects.
Your selection of ingestion method comes down to your taste. Some people prefer CBD capsules to avoid the taste of oil. Others enjoy CBD gummies to relax. They’re a delicious way to get your daily doses.
Whichever you choose, the most crucial factor to account for is the extract’s quality.
You should be prioritising quality over cost when it comes to CBD oil. Cheap options are frequently fake, diluted, or even contaminated products. Providers who cut corners and don’t control production quality will often have contaminants like pesticides in their products.
Do your research and check reviews before buying. Verify the product is legitimate by consulting its third-party lab testing results, which will denote the quantities of CBD and other cannabinoids it contains.
We recommend seeking CBD oils extracted via supercritical CO2 gas treatment. This will have the highest strength and purity levels. By leveraging CO2 gas, these extracts also avoid the risk of solvent contamination with ethanol extraction. It can be more expensive, but the added cost is well worth the peace of mind it brings.
Cannabis Terpenes for Anxiety
While cannabinoids in CBD oil steal the limelight, the product also contains other compounds from cannabis that deliver calming effects.
For example, terpenes.
These are natural scent chemicals produced by cannabis.
Some, like Linalool, are directly anxiolytic. They function in similar ways to CBD. Terpenes help to calm the mind, ease racing thoughts, and enhance mood. They’re also able to act on cannabinoid receptors. But they are more mild in effect and complementary to cannabinoids.
In fact, terpenes are synergistic with them.
They boost the uptake of cannabinoids in receptor sites, amplifying their effects.
As such, it’s generally best to opt for CBD oil formulations that include terpenes. These are called ‘full-spectrum’ or ‘broad-spectrum’ products, which contain a blend of cannabinoids, nutrients and terpenes from cannabis in them.
They’ll offer greater efficacy in reducing anxiety by combining the potent anxiolytic properties of both terpenes and cannabinoids.
Consistency and Planning
If you’re going to use CBD oil for anxiety, doing some planning will substantially improve the results you achieve.
Creating a dosage plan with your medical practitioner will mean you can systematise your intake while monitoring results. These steps are key to ensuring you know whether what you’re doing is working for your anxiousness.
Not using appropriate doses from the start or sticking to your dose schedule will mean delayed or non-existent results. This is why many people quit using CBD oil. They will cite that it ‘doesn’t work’ for their anxiety. But often, they didn’t use it properly to experience its benefits.
Most new CBD oil users won’t see improvements in anxiety symptoms for several weeks after starting doses.
It takes time to build up the cannabinoid in the body and activate the endocannabinoid system.
Planning well and remaining consistent is essential to getting strong outcomes for calmness.
You’re probably aware of THC, which is the psychoactive cannabinoid from cannabis.
This causes the ‘high’ that the plant is renowned for.
THC is different to CBD, which doesn’t cause any intoxicating effects.
While CBD is useful for anxiety, THC isn’t. It can significantly worsen symptoms and cause paranoia, panic attacks, depression or psychosis. As such, it must be avoided by anxious people.
When you’re buying CBD oil for anxiety, always confirm the product doesn’t contain THC.
The best way to do so is by checking the product’s certificate of analysis or lab report. It will confirm if any THC is present. Usually, you can find this certificate on the seller’s website. If not, ask for it.
Sticking to pure CBD products and avoiding low-quality ones is also critical here. THC is often found in low-quality extracts, which means they can actually worsen anxiousness.
Combining Other Treatments
Always keep in mind that CBD oil isn’t a cure for anxiety.
Taking it won’t magically make your symptoms disappear or stop them from recurring.
Instead, it offers natural support for managing anxiousness and helping people to stay calm.
But using it as a crutch is not the right mindset.
It needs to be combined with other treatment options or lifestyle changes that will help support lower anxiety.
- Seeing a therapist for anxiety
- Building a support network
- Avoiding stress and its triggers
- Getting more exercise
- Eating a healthy diet
- Practicing mindfulness and meditation
Each will likely have a more significant impact on treating anxiety than CBD oil.
Using it should only be considered once these fundamentals are in place. Addressing the root causes of your anxiousness will always be a better choice than band-aid fixes.
Keeping CBD oil as a natural, calming, anxiolytic tool in your toolbox can be powerful.
You might not always need it, but having it available when you do often works wonders for keeping anxiousness at bay.
The hype around the benefits of CBD oil for anxiety is genuinely warranted.
It’s helping more people with this frustrating mental condition to stay calmer and find mental relief.
The clinical research behind CBD’s anxiety-reducing effects is robust. It’s already been shown in research to help with relaxation as a sleep aid and stress blocker.
Plus, it can assist with many of the related comorbidities of anxiety, such as depression, insomnia, mood disorders and neuroinflammation.
CBD works for anxiety through cannabinoid receptors in the brain, modulating the stress response and soothing the mental state. Additionally, it works on normalising serotonin and GABA regulation in the brain and helps to bolster mood plus calmness.
To use CBD oil for anxiety, start with low doses to test your sensitivity. Gradually increase the dosage to find a daily amount that works for you. It is crucial to ensure that you buy pure, high-quality products that are preferably CO2 extracted, contain terpenes and are free from THC.
Remember that this product isn’t a cure for anxiousness. It shouldn’t be relied on for this purpose. Instead, combining it with other calming treatments will net you the best outcome.
CBD works for anxiety but shouldn’t be used as a standalone ‘treatment’. It won’t replace psychiatrist-prescribed medications. Many find it provides natural support for mitigating symptoms of anxiousness, panic or insomnia that anxiety causes. The cannabinoid works to normalise the stress response, reducing stress sensitivity. It additionally can aid mood, sleep quality, calmness and a balanced mental state. CBD achieves this by activating pathways in the brain’s cannabinoid, serotonin and GABA receptors. Studies have already indicated its efficacy in suppressing social anxiety, acute stress and general anxiety disorders.
In the brain, CBD acts on cannabinoid type 1 receptors to produce endocannabinoids like 2-AG and anandamide. These chemicals can subsequently modulate serotonin, GABA and other receptors that regulate anxiety. Endocannabinoids help prevent excitatory activity in neurons and lower stress. They can assist in stabilising mood while promoting relaxation. Users of CBD gummies or oil for anxiety tend to feel calmer, less anxious and more at ease.
First-time users won’t yet know their sensitivity or tolerance to cannabinoids like CBD. Trying it for the first time can reveal these factors. Some respond well and see immediate benefits for anxiety. Others may need time for results to show or not even see a benefit. For most, CBD’s effects are usually not perceivable from a single dose. It takes time and consistent dosing to stimulate adequate endocannabinoid activity. Effects can vary significantly based on each person’s unique physiology. A first-timer taking CBD oil for calmness is unlikely to feel much.
A ‘spacey’ or euphoric mental feeling is not usually associated with CBD’s mental effects. This is more commonly reported amongst users of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. THC can cause a ‘high’ by strongly activating the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. In contrast, CBD indirectly acts on these receptors and has no intoxicating properties. It helps users to combat anxiousness without causing euphoria.
CBD can’t increase serotonin in the brain. It instead helps the brain reabsorb serotonin through endocannabinoid activity. These effects enable it to stabilise serotonin levels indirectly and promote better mood. It won’t be able to replace SSRIs or similar serotonin-modulating medications designed to increase the neurotransmitter’s levels.
It depends on your tolerance, physiology, ingestion method of CBD, and dosage. Each factor can influence how long it takes for CBD to relax you. For example, CBD gummies take longer to absorb through digestion but provide a slow release and prolonged duration of effect. Most people ‘feel’ CBD’s calming sensations within 1-3 hours.
Using CBD with anxiety medications like Xanax shouldn’t be done without consulting a doctor or psychiatrist. There could be unintended or detrimental medication interactions that occur. For instance, many drugs affect liver enzymes. CBD is processed via the liver before being used in the cannabinoid receptors. As such, taking CBD oil with Xanax or other anxiety medications can potentially cause adverse reactions like liver toxicity. This must be avoided for your safety. Check with your psychiatrist before trying any new product with your existing prescription.
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