Can CBD oil help with anxiety?

  • A 2015 review published in the journal Neurotherapeutics demonstrated CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors linked to multiple disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and panic disorder (PD)(1).
  • Researchers of a 2019 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry found that CBD’s anti-anxiety effect might help reduce the response to stressful environmental factors(2).
  • Published in CNS and Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets, a study showed that CBD, a cannabis Sativa constituent with great psychiatric potential, had therapeutic uses as an anxiolytic-like and an antidepressant-like compound(3).
  • Researchers of a study published in The Permanente Journal in 2019 measured sleep and anxiety scores in human subjects and found that CBD could hold benefits for anxiety-related disorders(4).
  • Results of a study published in the Neuropharmacology Journal suggested that CBD might block anxiety-induced sleep disturbances through its anti-anxiety effect on the brain(5).

Best CBD Oils for Anxiety

Editor's Pick

Spruce 750mg Lab Grade CBD Oil

Specifically formulated to be more palatable to CBD users
Spruce 750mg Lab Grade CBD Oil Bottle
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    Each bottle of the 750mg CBD oil tincture contains 25mg of CBD per dropper full. The oil is peppermint flavor to mask any unpleasant tastes related to CBD.

    •  Mid-strength
    •  Natural peppermint flavor
    •  Made from 100% organic and natural ingredients
    •  No other flavors
  • Features
    Discount pricing available? 20% Off Coupon Code: CBDCLINICALS
    Source of Hemp
    Kentucky, USA & North Carolina, USA
    Form Oil Tincture
    Ingredients Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Full Spectrum CBD Oil
    Type of CBD
    Full Spectrum
    Extraction Method
    Moonshine extraction method
    How to take it Under tongue
    Potency - CBD Per Bottle
    750 mg per bottle
    Carrier Oil Organic Hemp Seed Oil
    CBD Concentration Per Serving
    25mg of CBD per dropper full (1ml)
    Drug Test Contains 0.3% THC but there is a chance you may test positive for marijuana
    Flavours Peppermint
    Price Range $89 ($75.65 for subscriptions, 15% discount from regular price)
    $/mg CBD
    Price ($/mg)
    $0.12/mg ($0.10/mg with subscription)
    Shipping/Time to delivery
    2-4 business days (first class USPS)
    Lab Tests
    Lab Testing Transparency
    Third Party Lab Tested post formulation for safety and potency, available on website
    Contaminants Organic, Non-GMO, no pesticides, no herbicides, no solvents or chemical fertilizers, No preservatives or sweeteners
    Allergens Vegan, Gluten free
    Refund policy Within 30 days
    Recommended for New CBD users
    Countries served USA only (all 50 states)
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Best Organic

NuLeaf Naturals 900mg Full Spectrum Hemp CBD Oil

Perfect for anyone who are looking for CBD products that promote a healthy body and mind.
NuLeaf Naturals 900mg Full Spectrum Hemp CBD Oil
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    Natural remedy for various illnesses. NuLeaf Naturals’ CBD oil is a whole-plant extract containing a full spectrum of naturally occurring synergistic cannabinoids and terpenes.

    •  Pure CBD hemp
    •  All natural
    •  Approximately 300 drops total
    •  No other flavors
  • Features
    Discount pricing available? 20% Off Coupon Code: CBDCLINICALS20
    Source of Hemp
    Colorado, USA
    Form Oil Tincture
    Ingredients Full Spectrum Hemp Extract, Organic Virgin Hemp Seed Oil
    Type of CBD
    Full Spectrum CBD
    Extraction Method
    CO2 Method
    How to take it Under the tongue for approximately 30 seconds before swallowing
    Potency - CBD Per Bottle
    900mg per bottle
    Carrier Oil Organic Hemp Oil
    CBD Concentration Per Serving
    60mg per dropper full (1ml)
    Drug Test Contains 0.3% THC but there is a chance you may test positive for marijuana
    Flavours Natural
    Price Range $99 - $434
    $/mg CBD
    Price ($/mg)
    $0.08 - $0.13
    Shipping/Time to delivery
    2-3 Days via USPS
    Lab Tests
    Lab Testing Transparency
    Third Party Lab Tested post formulation for safety and potency, available on website
    Contaminants No additives or preservatives, Non-GMO, NO herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers
    Allergens Not specified
    Refund policy Within 30 days
    Recommended for Health-conscious persons
    Countries served USA (all 50 states) and over 40 countries including Australia, Azerbaijan, Beliza, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macao, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and many more.
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Best Value

Sabaidee Super Good Vibes CBD Oil

4x the strength of a regular cbd oil
Sabaidee Super Good Vibes CBD Oil
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    Super Good Vibes CBD Oil provides the purest and highest quality Cannabidiol (CBD) on the market as well as other high quality phytocannabinoids, terpenes, vitamins, omega fatty acids, trace minerals, and other beneficial for your health elements, which all work together to provide benefits.

    •  Extra strong
    •  Significant benefits with just a few drops
    •  100% Natural ingredients
    •  No other flavors
  • Features
    Discount pricing available? 15% Off Coupon Code: CBDCLINICALS15
    Source of Hemp
    Colorado, USA
    Form Oil Tincture
    Ingredients Cannabidiol (CBD), Coconut Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) Oil, Peppermint oil
    Type of CBD
    Broad Spectrum
    Extraction Method
    How to take it Using 1-3 servings per day as needed is a good start to determine how much you need
    Potency - CBD Per Bottle
    1000 mg per bottle
    Carrier Oil Coconut MCT Oil
    CBD Concentration Per Serving
    33.5 mg per dropper (1ml)
    Drug Test Contains 0.3% THC but there is a chance you may test positive for marijuana
    Flavours Peppermint
    Price Range Single Bottle - $119.95, 2-Pack - $109.97 each, 3-Pack - $98.31 each, 6-Pack - $79.99 each
    $/mg CBD
    Price ($/mg)
    Single bottle - $0.010, 2-Pack - $0.011, 3-Pack - $0.009, 6-Pack - $0.007
    Shipping/Time to delivery
    3-5 Business days
    Lab Tests
    Lab Testing Transparency
    Third Party Lab Tested post formulation for safety and potency, available on website
    Contaminants Contaminant-free
    Allergens Vegan and Gluten-free
    Refund policy Within 30 days
    Recommended for Patients who are looking for serious CBD oil support
    Countries served USA only (all 50 states)
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Why People Are Turning to CBD for Anxiety

CBD has been known for its numerous health benefits, from helping to reduce chronic pain to alleviating cancer symptoms(6). 

There have also been other studies conducted to understand better the anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) characteristics of CBD.

CBD’s potential for anxiety relief is also linked to its ability to help with sleep problems, reduce stress, and manage depression

Esther Blessing, Ph.D. of New York University, led a group of researchers in 2015 and investigated the benefits of CBD in helping with anxiety. Their review of 49 studies yielded promising results(7). 

Blessing noted that animal studies conclusively demonstrated CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors linked to multiple disorders. 

These disorders include panic disorder (PD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Blessing added that the results were supported by human experimental findings, which also suggested CBD’s minimal sedative effects and excellent safety profile.

Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), another well-known compound of the cannabis plant, CBD (cannabidiol), is non-addictive and does not get users high, making it an appealing option for most people dealing with anxiety.

However, the results could not confirm that treatment with CBD would have comparable effects for those with chronic anxiety. Further tests are needed to determine the impact of prolonged CBD use on individuals. 

Meanwhile, researchers of a 2019 study, published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, looked at CBD’s effects on anxiety and stress. 

The study demonstrated that CBD might help reduce the response to stressful environmental factors when given in the optimal dosage(8).

Orrin Devinsky, M.D., director of NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center in New York City and a principal investigator in the Epidiolex trials, says there is growing evidence that CBD can ease anxiety. 

This disorder sometimes accompanies attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)(9).

A study published in the Neuropsychopharmacology journal simulated public speaking and demonstrated that a single dose of CBD could decrease the discomfort in people with a social anxiety disorder(10). 

A review published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry in 2019 yielded similar effects on healthy people in anxiety-inducing situations(11).  

Researchers are also exploring CBD as a means of soothing anxiety in people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

In a study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology in 2019, the authors found an increase in the use of cannabidiol in children with ASD(12). 

Based on the parents’ reports, the findings suggest that CBD may be useful in improving ASD symptoms, such as anxiety, aggression, and hyperactivity. 

However, the authors also note that CBD’s efficacy and safety need large-scale clinical trials and further evaluation in children with ASD.

Orrin Devinsky is also involved in two clinical trials that aim to test whether CBD can meaningfully reduce the irritability and anxiety of those with autism(13). 

In another study, published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, researchers suggested that the therapeutic benefits from the use of CBD oil may be attributed to its anti-anxiety and sleep-inducing effects(14). 

Results of an animal study published in the Neuropharmacology Journal in 2012 also had comparable results that supported the use of CBD treatment. 

The findings suggested that CBD might block anxiety-induced sleep disturbances through its anxiolytic effect on the brain(15). 

A case report in The Permanente Journal, meanwhile, noted the effectiveness of CBD oil for anxiety and insomnia related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)(16). 

The authors of the 2016 study found that CBD oil reduced the feelings of anxiety and reduced the insomnia of one 10-year old girl.

The strength of this particular case is that the child was receiving no prescription medications other than the nonprescription diphenhydramine. 

With only nutritional supplements and the CBD oil to control her symptoms, her scores on the sleep and anxiety scales consistently and steadily decreased over 5 months. 

Ultimately, she was able to sleep on most nights in her room, behave appropriately, and become less anxious at school and home. 

For people who deal with the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep(17).

A study published in Pharmaceuticals (Basel) in 2012 even compared CBD with a sleep aid called nitrazepam(18). 

The authors found that a high dose of 160 milligrams of CBD (equivalent to 0.16 milliliter of CBD) increased the subject’s duration of sleep.

Similarly, a 2017 study published in the Current Psychiatry Reports noted that at moderate to high doses of CBD, the compound might have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia(19).

Researchers of a study published in The Permanente Journal in 2019 measured sleep and anxiety scores in human subjects and found that CBD could hold benefits for anxiety-related disorders(20). 

A 2018 study published in the Frontiers in Immunology Journal demonstrated CBD as a potential remedy to depression(21). 

In the study, researchers examined the experimental and clinical use of CBD. They found that CBD showed anti-anxiety, anti-epileptic, and antipsychotic properties that might potentially help reduce depression linked to stress.

CBD is a cannabis Sativa constituent with great psychiatric potential, including uses as an anxiolytic-like and an antidepressant-like compound, as a 2014 study published in CNS and Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets suggested(22).

In one study, results showed that CBD could induce rapid-acting antidepressant-like effects and enhance neurotransmission(23). Neurotransmission is the process of communication between nerve cells.

How CBD Works to Help With Anxiety

To fully understand how CBD works to help with anxiety, one must understand how the endocannabinoid system (ECS) works. 

The therapeutic effects of cannabinoids, such as CBD, are realized by their interaction with the body’s ECS and its specialized cannabinoid receptors. 

The ECS, integral to the body’s physiologies, is responsible for regulating a wide range of body functions, including pain sensation, immune response, anxiety, sleep, mood, appetite, metabolism, and memory.

CB1 and CB2 are the two main types of receptors found in specific parts of the human body. These receptors each have particular roles in the ECS.

CB1 receptors are mostly located in the brain and central nervous system. However, they are also found in the reproductive organs, gastrointestinal and urinary tracts, liver, lungs, and retina(24). 

 CB1 receptors play a role in motor regulation, memory processing, appetite, pain sensation, mood, and sleep(25). 

The activation of CB1 receptors has also been related to neuroprotective responses. 

This activity suggests the cannabinoids with a higher affinity for CB1 receptors could help in the treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Meanwhile, CB2 receptors are primarily situated on cells in the immune system and its associated structures.

When CB2 receptors are triggered, they stimulate a response that fights inflammation, reducing pain, and minimizing damage to tissues.

These anti-inflammatory responses are useful for treating inflammation-related conditions, such as chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), Crohn’s disease, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel syndrome(26).  

CBD acts indirectly against cannabinoid agonists. Agonists are substances that attach to a receptor and cause the same action as the substances that typically bind to the receptor.

CBD also interacts with several other receptors in the body, such as the 5-HT1A receptor, which is linked to serotonin, a neurotransmitter found to be a contributor to feelings of well-being. It is through this interaction that these cannabinoids promote healing and balance(27).

A 2005 research published in the Neurochemical Research Journal indicated that cannabidiol could inhibit the reuptake of serotonin in the brain, making serotonin more available for the body(28). 

Serotonin occurs throughout the body, and it impacts a variety of body and psychological functions. In the brain, serotonin influences levels of anxiety, mood, and happiness. 

The researchers believe that with better regulation of serotonin, CBD could help stabilize mood and reduce anxiety. In fact, many pharmaceutical antidepressants work directly on serotonin pathways.

In the Translational PsychiatryJournal, a 2012 study demonstrated CBD’s ability to trigger the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body to produce more of its natural cannabinoids, including anandamide, which regulates emotions(29). 

Results showed that anandamide levels were higher in subjects exposed to CBD.

The ECS plays a vital role in the human body due to its ability to maintain homeostasis or state of balance, as explained in a 2018 research published in the Journal of Young Investigators(30). 

Increased anandamide production in the brain is believed to guard against the effects of stress while reducing behavioral signs of anxiety and fear, according to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience(31). 

In another 2019 study published in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports, results indicated that CBD might have the potential to help elevate anandamide levels for the treatment of anxiety-related disorders in the future (32). 

Studies in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research showed that CBD might stimulate the hippocampus, a part of the brain important for memory, to regenerate neurons (nerve cells)(33). 

Preclinical studies have shown some evidence suggesting that the pro-neurogenic action of CBD through the hippocampus might trigger its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects(34). 

The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Anxiety

The Pros

  • Studies have shown that CBD might be beneficial in alleviating anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • Unlike the commonly prescribed medications for anxiety, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and benzodiazepines, CBD oil may be purchased without a prescription in locations where it is legally available.
  • CBD is non-addictive, says Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in a 2015 article(35). This characteristic makes CBD an appealing option for people with anxiety. 
  • CBD “is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile,” as the World Health Organization (WHO) states in a critical review(36). 
  • In a 2017 review published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research Journal, the authors found CBD to be well-tolerated at doses of up to 1,500 mg per day(37). 

The Cons

  • Studies are too limited to determine whether or not CBD is an effective treatment for conditions other than the ones approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has only approved Epidiolex, a drug for seizures that has CBD as its main ingredient(38). 
  • As with the use of any natural chemical compound, there are risks involved in using CBD. Possible side effects of CBD use include diarrhea, fatigue, and changes in appetite and weight. CBD can also alter how the body breaks down certain medications(39).  
  • Research published in Medicines Journal in 2019 indicates that the CYP450 family of enzymes is responsible for breaking down several phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids that exist naturally in the cannabis plant), including CBD(40). Thus, taking CBD in combination with medications that have a “grapefruit warning” is not recommended(41). 
  • CBD products marketed online and in dispensaries are mostly unregulated, making it difficult to determine whether the CBD oil tinctures, CBD gummies, CBD balms, and CBD softgels contain the amount of CBD the product labels claim(42). 

A 2107 review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed labeling inaccuracies among CBD products(43). Some products had less CBD than stated, while others had more.

How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Anxiety

Yoga and massage are alternative treatments for anxiety.

According to an article posted by Harvard Health Publishing of the Harvard Medical School of Harvard University, yoga functions like other self-soothing techniques, such as relaxation, exercise, meditation, or even socializing with friends(44).  

By decreasing levels of perceived stress and anxiety, yoga modulates stress response systems, which consequently leads to a decreased heart rate, reduced blood pressure, and natural respiration.

Self-soothing methods also include massages or other types of tactile treatments which represent different kinds of relationships with other living beings, like pets. 

Oxytocin, a hormone produced in the brain, is released in response to several kinds of massage(45). 

Oxytocin is linked to increased levels of social interaction, well-being, and anti-stress effects, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (46). 

Although using oxytocin to treat mental health conditions has not yet been studied sufficiently, low oxytocin levels have been linked to depression, says the Endocrine Society(47).

The benefits of aromatherapy and essential oils include reducing anxiety and depression symptoms and improving sleep, according to a 2012 study(48). 

CBD used in aromatherapy and massage takes advantage of the cannabis plant’s terpenes that are used to create an essential oil. 

Terpenes are responsible for the flavors and aroma of cannabis and influence its effects by interacting with cannabinoids.

When combined with other essential oils, CBD stimulates one’s sense of smell and heightens the soothing benefits of a massage. 

When applied topically, CBD oil gets absorbed into the skin and targets cannabinoid receptors found in the skin’s mast cells and nerve fibers. 

The reaction gives a calming, anti-inflammatory effect with localized benefits all over the skin and muscles. 

Massages are used as a wellness and healing practice, and with an infusion of pure CBD hemp extract, the therapeutic benefits increase.

Studies have found that massage can also help relieve pain in people with cancer, as it helps relieve anxiety, fatigue, and stress(49). 

Meanwhile, according to an article published by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), the potential value of massage therapy for individuals with depression comes from interrupting the pattern of symptoms regularly. 

Each time one interrupts the pattern and experiences calm, it is easy to remember what it is like to live in a healthy state, providing hope that it is possible(50). 

How to Choose the Right CBD for Anxiety

Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all phytonutrients from hemp, including trace amounts of THC, terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, and essential oils. 

Broad-spectrum CBD oils are like full-spectrum oils without THC.

Meanwhile, CBD isolates carry only pure, isolated cannabidiol.

For individuals allergic to specific components of the hemp plant, or do not want any amount of THC in their system, CBD isolates are an option.

Regardless of the form of CBD products that one chooses, careful consideration must be employed in selecting the best CBD oil for anxiety that is suitable for his or her lifestyle and preferences.

The following factors are essential to ensure the safety and reliability of the CBD products purchased:

  1. Research on the exact legal stipulations applicable to CBD in the area where it would be purchased and used.
  2. Purchase only high-quality, non-GMO, organic hemp-derived CBD products from legitimate and reliable CBD brands. The majority of companies that manufacture the best CBD oil products grow their hemp from their own farms, or they purchase from licensed and reputable hemp producers. Popular CBD brands, like NuLeaf Naturals, CBDistillery, and CBDPure, source their hemp from Colorado. Colorado in the United States has been at the forefront of hemp production as producers have benefited from the State’s favorable regulations. 
  3. When buying from an online store, research product reviews. When buying from a physical store or dispensary, check whether the store is authorized by the government to sell CBD.
  4. Knowing the extraction methods used in making the CBD oil is also essential. Researchers of a study indicate that the Supercritical-CO2 extraction process is recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in pharmaceutical manufacturing(51). 
  5. One important thing to look for in CBD products is certification codes. Several certification authorities approve certain products only after some thorough screening tests. 
  6. Compare company claims about their products’ potency with that of the third-party lab testing reports. 
  7. Consulting with a trusted medical professional who is experienced in CBD use is ideal before trying any CBD brands or cannabis products. 

CBD Dosage for Anxiety

Several factors determine the correct dose for an individual, including body weight, the amount of CBD is in each product, and the desired results.

Still, the guidelines for the correct dosage of CBD for specific medical conditions are unclear.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved cannabidiol as a supplement. 

Researchers of the 2016 study that was published in The Permanente Journal say they have no foundation to suggest doses of CBD based on the data from their studies(52). 

However, in their experience, the CBD supplement given in different dosages of 12 mg to 25 mg of CBD once daily appears to offer relief of key symptoms, such as anxiety and sleep problems, with nominal side effects

Notably, the subject of their study did report any complaints or discomfort from the use of CBD. Clearly further large scale prospective studies are necessary in order to generalize CBD dosing to the general population.

While CBD is considered generally safe, as the 2011 review in the Current Drug Safety Journal suggests, the long-term effects are yet to be examined further(53). 

How to Take CBD Oil for Anxiety

CBD oil capsules and edibles, such as brownies, gummies, and lozenges, are a convenient and straightforward way to take CBD oil, especially for beginners.

Meanwhile, CBD oil tinctures or drops may be a practical option for those who seek fast results and maximum dosage control. 

CBD oil tinctures may be directly discharged under the tongue by using a dropper, allowing the oil to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Sublingual (under the tongue) absorption is an efficient way of consuming CBD tinctures. According to studies, CBD oil has a sublingual bioavailability of 13% to 19%, with some studies putting it as high as 35%(54).

Bioavailability is the extent and rate to which a compound or an active drug ingredient is absorbed and becomes readily available for the body to use(55). 

In a 2010 review, published in the International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, researchers found that peak blood levels of most substances given sublingually are achieved in 10 to 15 minutes, which is faster than when those same drugs are ingested orally(56). 

For those who find the taste of pure CBD hemp extract unappealing, there are CBD gummies that come in many delicious flavors. 

Each gummy also comes in a fixed dose, making it an excellent way to give CBD, even to kids with anxiety.

CBD oil can also be mixed with other foods and beverages. However, keep in mind that oil and water do not mix.

Given that CBD is a highly lipophilic (soluble in lipids or oils) molecule, it may dissolve in the fat content of food, increasing its solubility and absorption, according to a 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology(57). 

An additional fat, like milk, may be necessary for the oil to bind and completely dissolve while maintaining the smooth consistency of the drink. 

CBD may also be used in massage therapies or applied as a lotion, cream, balm, or salve. There is, however, limited absorption through the skin with topical CBD oil.

For topical products, look for keywords on the product labels that indicate that the product uses nano technology, encapsulation, or micellization of CBD. 

These words indicate that their solution can carry CBD through the dermal layers, rather than staying on the skin.

CBD vapes, meanwhile, are one of the quickest ways to get CBD into the body since it enters the bloodstream through the lungs without going through the digestive system. 

However, vaping is not for everyone. Experts are not sure if vaping indeed caused lung problems but believe the most likely culprit is a contaminant, not an infectious agent. 

Possibilities include chemical irritation or allergic or immune reactions to various chemicals or other substances in the inhaled vapors(58). 

Thus, individuals contemplating vaping CBD for the first time must proceed with caution and first consult with a doctor experienced in cannabis use.

A Close Look at Anxiety Disorders

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services lists five significant types of anxiety disorders(59):

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD is characterized by exaggerated worry, chronic anxiety, and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.

Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms include:(60)

  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep problems

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts or obsessions and repetitive behaviors or compulsions. 

Repetitive behaviors, like hand washing and counting, are often done in the hope of making them go away. 

Doing these so-called rituals, however, provides only temporary relief, while not performing them increases anxiety.

People with OCD may also have other mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphic disorder, in which someone believes a part of his or her body is abnormal(61). 

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is described by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear.

People with panic disorder sometimes worry about when the next attack can happen and try to prevent future attacks by avoiding certain places, situations, or behaviors they link to the panic attacks.

Worrying about panic attacks and exerting too much effort trying to avoid attacks cause significant problems in various aspects of life.

During a panic attack, people may experience:(62)

  • Heart palpitations or an accelerated heart rate
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sweating
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or choking
  • Feelings of impending doom and being out of control

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD may develop after exposure to a terrifying ordeal or event in which severe physical harm occurred.

Traumatic events that can trigger PTSD also include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat(63). 

Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. Those at risk include war veterans, children, and people who have been through a physical or sexual assault, abuse, accident, and disaster. 

According to the National Center for PTSD, 7 or 8 out of every 100 people experience PTSD at some point in their lives(64). 

Women are more likely to have PTSD than men. Also, some genes can make some people more likely to develop PTSD than others.

Not everyone with PTSD has experienced a dangerous event, however. Some people may develop PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or harm. The unexpected or sudden passing of a loved one can also lead to PTSD.

Social Phobia or Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

SAD is characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations(65). 

Social phobia may be limited to one type of situation, such as a fear of speaking during formal situations or eating in front of others.

In its most severe form, a person with SAD may experience symptoms almost anytime they are around other people.


How is CBD different from THC?

CBD comes from cannabis and is naturally found in hemp plants. CBD is one of more than 100 cannabinoids that occur naturally within the plant. This compound is also commonly used to produce CBD hemp oil supplements. 

Cannabis oil is a term used to refer to any extract of the cannabis plant, including marijuana plant and hemp plant, that removes the plant’s naturally thick, viscous oil from dried or fresh cannabis.

Medical marijuana, also called medical cannabis, is made of dried parts of the Cannabis sativa plant.

Hemp seed oil is produced by extracting the oil from the seeds of the hemp plant itself. This oil is abundant in nutrients, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, making it ideal for digestion. 

Although some people refer to “hemp extract” as hemp oil, the term “hemp oil” is synonymous with the term “hemp seed oil.”

Chemical compounds in cannabis, called cannabinoids, have shown various potential benefits by activating the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS)

The ECS is involved in regulating a variety of body processes and functions, including sleep, appetite, pain, and immune system response(66). 

The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system.

The medicinal efficacy of cannabis can be optimized by incorporating the various cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes that are intrinsic components of cannabis plants.

CBD is non-psychoactive, contrasting with THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), another primary cannabinoid

THC is the most significant factor contributing to the high associated with using cannabis. 

Consuming CBD without any THC does not produce those effects, which means that nearly everyone should be able to function as they usually do when taking CBD. 

The lack of high lets one continue with work, school, and other commitments without a decrease in performance. 

The absence of psychoactive effects also makes CBD oil safe to take, even for those who must pass regular or random drug tests.

CBD oil must not contain any THC for CBD not to induce psychoactive effects. 

Products containing CBD isolates do not have THC, while full-spectrum CBD oil products do. 

The full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, fatty acids, and essential oils extracted from the plant all work together in synergy. 

This synergy magnifies the therapeutic benefits of individual cannabinoids and produces a phenomenon known as the “entourage effect.”

Any product that one buys should also state the percentage of THC, information which one can also get from its certificate of analysis.

What are the FDA-approved drugs that contain CBD and synthetic cannabinoids?

CBD is used in the treatment of some types of epilepsy, such as Dravet’s Syndrome, a complex disorder in children that is associated with a high rate of mortality and drug-resistant seizures.

Epidiolex (cannabidiol) oral solution is the first drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of seizures in individuals two years of age and older(67). 

The scientific study of cannabinoids has led to two FDA-approved drugs, dronabinol and nabilone. These medications contain THC in pill form(68).   

Is CBD safe?

Side effects of CBD include fatigue, nausea, and irritability. CBD can intensify the level of the blood thinner coumadin in the bloodstream, and it can raise levels of certain other medications in the system.

Another significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication(69). 

Currently, the FDA does not regulate the purity and safety of dietary supplements. Thus, consumers cannot know for sure that the product they are buying has active ingredients at the dose printed on the label. The product may also contain other unknown elements. 

Although the World Health Organization says that CBD is safe and well-tolerated, it is not clear how much to take or how often a person should use it for any particular problem. 

High doses of CBD may interact with other medications, such as blood thinners, antidepressants, and immune suppressors(70).

CBD is readily obtainable in many parts of the United States, although its exact legal status continually changes. 

In December 2015, the FDA eased the regulatory stipulations to allow researchers to conduct CBD investigations and trials. Currently, many people are able to get CBD online without a medical cannabis license(71). 

The government’s position on CBD is confusing, and it depends in part on whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana(72).

The legality of CBD is expected to change. Currently, there is a bipartisan consensus in Congress to make the hemp crop legal, which would make CBD difficult to prohibit, says Dr. Peter Grinspoon, the author of Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction, in a 2019 article published by Harvard Health(73). 

Many states and Washington, D.C., have passed cannabis-related laws, making medical marijuana with high levels of THC legal. Still, marijuana may require a prescription from a licensed physician(74).

Also, several states have made recreational use of marijuana and THC legal. One should be able to buy CBD in states where marijuana is legal for recreational or medical purposes.

To get more information on state laws and penalties, click here(75).

Individuals who possess cannabis-related products in a state where they are illegal or do not have a medical prescription in states where the products are legal for medical treatment could face legal penalties.

For a complete list of legal medical marijuana states and D.C., including the corresponding laws, fees, and possession limits, click here(76).

What does a Farm Bill have to do with CBD?

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp and hemp-derived products at the federal level, removing them from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 

Since hemp is no longer categorized under controlled substances, it is now the job of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to regulate the crop as it does other agricultural commodities. 

The law defined “agricultural hemp” as cannabis strains that contain less than 0.3% THC. Additionally, the Farm Bill explicitly legalized the “extracts, cannabinoids, and derivatives” of hemp. 

Does CBD show up on a drug test? 

CBD products from hemp sold online and in retail stores are not supposed to contain over 0.3 percent THC, the compound in marijuana that can get the user high.

However, sometimes, CBD products contain more THC than the amount printed on the label, says Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology at Quest Diagnostics, the largest administrator of drug tests in the U.S.(77).

It is also possible that, eventually, the trace amounts of THC allowed in CBD products could accumulate in the body to detectable levels, Sample explains.

THC is fat-soluble, adds Norbert Kaminski, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University in East Lansing. Thus, THC that is not immediately broken down by the body is stored in fat tissues(78). 

Over time, THC and THC metabolites (substances made when the body breaks down chemicals) are slowly released,” Kaminski says. As a result, it is possible to test positive for THC and not pass a drug test, even after one has stopped taking the product.


CBD has shown potential therapeutic efficacy in reducing both physiological and behavioral measures of stress and anxiety(79). 

In addition, in small clinical trials, CBD has shown benefits in helping to reduce symptoms of anxiety with few or no adverse effects

Research on cannabidiol oil (CBD oil) is still in its infancy. However, there has been mounting scientific evidence to suggest that it can help provide anxiety relief or reduce anxiety symptoms.

Still, the long-term side effects of CBD are unknown, and longitudinal scientific research is still significantly lacking.

Thus, consult with a doctor experienced in the use of cannabis products before using CBD as an adjunct anxiety therapy or as a remedy for anxiety and other medical conditions.

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