How to Take CBD Oil for Anxiety
This article was co-authored by Liana Georgoulis, PsyD and by wikiHow staff writer, Megaera Lorenz, PhD. Dr. Liana Georgoulis is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years of experience, and is now the Clinical Director at Coast Psychological Services in Los Angeles, California. She received her Doctor of Psychology from Pepperdine University in 2009. Her practice provides cognitive behavioral therapy and other evidence-based therapies for adolescents, adults, and couples.
There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
This article has been viewed 7,047 times.
Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, is a natural oil found in marijuana and a related plant called hemp. Unlike THC, another oil found in the marijuana plant, CBD won’t make you high. However, there’s some evidence that it may help relieve anxiety. Research on CBD as a treatment for anxiety is still in its early stages, so talk to your doctor about the possible risks and benefits of using it.  X Research source Since most CBD products aren’t regulated by the FDA, make sure to buy a product that’s been third party tested for purity and safety. To get the most out of your CBD oil, try using it in combination with other anxiety treatments, like psychotherapy and stress-relieving exercises.
- Do a search using terms like “licensed CBD dispensary near me.”
Warning: Don’t buy from a dispensary that refuses to share information about how their products were tested.  X Trustworthy Source Consumer Reports Nonprofit organization dedicated to consumer advocacy and product testing Go to source
- You can find information about accredited third-party testing labs by visiting the ANSI National Accreditation Board’s search database and searching for “cannabidiol” or “CBD”: http://search.anab.org/.
- When purchasing a product, ask to see its certificate of analysis (COA). The COA will provide information about test results, including how much CBD and THC (if any) the product contains and whether there are any contaminants present.  X Trustworthy Source Consumer Reports Nonprofit organization dedicated to consumer advocacy and product testing Go to source
- Use caution with products that specify the quantity of “cannabinoids” they contain rather than CBD specifically. These products might also include other compounds, such as THC.
- For example, you could do a search using terms like “Is CBD oil legal in Illinois?”
- Tell your doctor about any other medications or supplements you’re currently taking, since they may interact with CBD oil. For example, CBD oil can interfere with the effectiveness of some blood thinners.
- Talk to your doctor before trying CBD oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The possible effects of CBD oil on the developing fetus and baby are still poorly understood.  X Trustworthy Source Consumer Reports Nonprofit organization dedicated to consumer advocacy and product testing Go to source
Did you know? Currently, the only FDA-approved medication that contains CBD oil is Epidiolex, which is used to treat some forms of epilepsy.  X Research source While the FDA does not approve Epidiolex for any other uses, your doctor may be able to prescribe it off-label for other conditions, like anxiety.  X Research source
- Small studies have shown that patients can take up to 1280 mg per day for 4 weeks with no major ill effects. However, there’s still not enough evidence to show what the long-term effects of such high doses might be.
- Tinctures are designed to enter your bloodstream through the skin inside your cheeks or under your tongue, and you should start to feel the effects 15-30 minutes after using them.
- Don’t put the spray or drops on top of your tongue. If you do this, you’ll swallow the CBD oil more quickly, which will delay its absorption into your bloodstream.
Tip: When using a tincture or any CBD product, start with the lowest dose recommended by your doctor (e.g., 10 mg per day) to see how you respond. If you tolerate the low dose well, gradually increase your dosage until you get the desired effect.  X Trustworthy Source Consumer Reports Nonprofit organization dedicated to consumer advocacy and product testing Go to source
- The effectiveness of edible CBD products may be affected by the food itself as well as your individual metabolism.
- It can be difficult to accurately determine how much CBD you’re getting if you use an edible form. For more precise dosing, try using a CBD pill or capsule.
- These topical products are usually mixed with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or beeswax, to improve absorption and make them easier to rub onto your skin.
- Some studies show that topical CBD products that also contain THC may be more effective for pain relief than those without THC. Since they only affect the immediate area where they’re applied, these products won’t make you high.  X Research source
- Topical CBD products tend to need higher concentrations of CBD than other products in order to be effective. For this reason, topical CBD products are often more expensive than other forms of CBD oil.
- Avoid CBD cartridges that contain propylene glycol, which can cause a variety of severe health effects when heated. Buy cartridges that are labeled “solvent free.”
- You may feel the positive effects of CBD oil within 30 seconds of inhaling the smoke or vapor.
- It’s very difficult to get a precise dose of CBD oil through inhalation, so be cautious if you’re not sure how CBD affects you.
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Try using a resource like MarijuanaDoctors.com to find doctors in your area who specialize in using medical marijuana and CBD for mental health conditions.
- Your local public health department might also have information about finding doctors who work with medical marijuana, CBD oil, and related products.
- Ask your primary care doctor to recommend a therapist.
- One of the most effective treatments for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on helping you recognize and change the thoughts and behaviors that may be contributing to your anxiety.
- Getting 7-9 hours of high-quality sleep each night
- Staying physically active
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Doing stress-relieving activities, such as yoga, meditation, or relaxing hobbies
- Spending time with friends and family
- Avoiding alcohol, nicotine, recreational drugs, and caffeine
Dr. Liana Georgoulis is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years of experience, and is now the Clinical Director at Coast Psychological Services in Los Angeles, California. She received her Doctor of Psychology from Pepperdine University in 2009. Her practice provides cognitive behavioral therapy and other evidence-based therapies for adolescents, adults, and couples.
Generally, CBD oil is safe to use. Most studies show that CBD in its purest form is quite safe, and most people tolerate it very well. However, it’s important to research the product you’re using to make sure you know exactly what’s in it.
If you’re interested in being involved in current research on CBD oil as a treatment for anxiety, a clinical trial can be a great opportunity. You may be able to benefit from new, experimental anxiety treatments using CBD and related products. You can find a list of current clinical trials involving CBD oil in the U.S. by using the search database at https://clinicaltrials.gov/. Try doing a search using the terms “anxiety” and “cannabidiol.”
Never use any supplement or herbal remedy without talking to your doctor first. Discuss your complete health history and any other medications or supplements you are currently taking.
Be cautious of CBD oil retailers who make unverified claims about their products (for example, claiming that it can cure cancer or other diseases). The evidence for most of the possible medical benefits of CBD oil is very limited, since research is still in its early stages.  X Research source
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About This Article
This article was co-authored by Liana Georgoulis, PsyD and by wikiHow staff writer, Megaera Lorenz, PhD. Dr. Liana Georgoulis is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years of experience, and is now the Clinical Director at Coast Psychological Services in Los Angeles, California. She received her Doctor of Psychology from Pepperdine University in 2009. Her practice provides cognitive behavioral therapy and other evidence-based therapies for adolescents, adults, and couples. This article has been viewed 7,047 times.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 40 million adults in the U.S experience anxiety, making it the most common mental health condition. Studies have shown that low to moderate doses of CBD may have an anxiety-reducing effect on the brain. CBD interacts with a system in your body called the endocannabinoid system. In doing so, CBD can regulate the stress response and help reduce feelings of panic and fear.If you’re interested in taking CBD oil for your anxiety, talk to your doctor first to make sure it’s safe and won’t interfere with any medications you’re taking. You can take CBD oil straight in tincture form to feel the effects within 15 to 30 minutes, or you can eat CBD edibles for a delayed release. Start with a low dose, like 10 mg per day, and gradually increase your dosage until you feel the desired effect. CBD products aren’t regulated, so always buy your CBD from a reputable seller and make sure it’s been lab tested for purity. If CBD oil isn’t enough to treat your anxiety on its own, consider pairing it with other treatments, like cognitive behavioral therapy.
How To Use CBD To Help Alleviate Anxiety
Dr. Bindiya Gandhi is an integrative medicine physician with expertise in functional and holistic medicine based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Commissions we earn from partner links on this page do not affect our opinions or evaluations. Our editorial content is based on thorough research and guidance from the Forbes Health Advisory Board.
Table of Contents
- CBD for Anxiety
- How to Use CBD for Anxiety
- CBD Dosage for Anxiety
- Potential Risks and Side Effects
While delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can have a bad rap for being intoxicating and anxiety-inducing, cannabidiol (CBD) can actually be used to relieve anxiety. Research supports this benefit, with several studies reinforcing the positive effects CBD can have on various anxiety conditions. In fact, 51% of U.S. adults who use CBD do so to help alleviate their anxiety, according to a recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll.
CBD isn’t yet legally cleared as an anxiolytic, or anxiety relief medication. Therefore, it’s up to you—and, ideally, a doctor who specializes in cannabis administration—to determine whether CBD is a safe treatment for your anxiety.
Here’s what the science says regarding CBD’s anxiolytic properties, along with experts’ dosage guidelines and advice on how to take CBD safely.
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CBD for Anxiety
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve any CBD-based medications for anxiety. However, many studies indicate the substance can be an effective anxiolytic.
CBD for Generalized Anxiety
In 2011, a small trial-tested CBD on participants with generalized social anxiety disorder (SAD) and healthy control patients undergoing a simulated public speaking test (SPST), which is a common anxiety testing method  Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-1226. . Compared to a placebo, CBD significantly reduced anxiety and discomfort in the participants with SAD. In fact, their reduced anxiety levels were comparable to those of the control participants.
Eight years later, a 2019 test compared the efficacy of three CBD doses (150 milligrams, 300 milligrams and 600 milligrams) and a placebo in men taking an SPST  Linares IM, Zuardi AW, Pereira LC, et al. Cannabidiol presents an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve in a simulated public speaking test. Revista brasileira de psiquiatria (Sao Paulo, Brazil : 1999). 2019;41(1):9-14. . Compared to a placebo, 300 milligrams of CBD significantly reduced participants’ anxiety during the speech, but the 150-milligram and 600-milligram doses did not. These results highlight how dosage can be highly variable and that more CBD isn’t necessarily more effective.
Meanwhile, another 2019 study tested CBD in much lower doses than most other clinical studies—some participants consumed 25 milligrams a day while others consumed 50 milligrams or 75 milligrams a day  Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041. . Researchers thought higher doses might be too expensive for participants to maintain in their normal lives and that low doses would still prove effective. Indeed, anxiety decreased within the first month for most participants and remained low. Sleep quality also improved, although it fluctuated more than anxiety. Only three patients reported side effects.
CBD for Anxiety and Depression
In 2020, researchers tested the effects of CBD oil at varying doses across 397 patients with a variety of ailments  Gulbransen G, Xu W, Arroll B. Cannabidiol prescription in clinical practice: an audit on the first 400 patients in New Zealand. BJGP Open. 2020;4(1):bjgpopen20X101010. . Participants with non-cancer pain or mental health-related symptoms experienced significant improvement in anxiety and depression, as well as in their abilities to complete their usual activities. The use of CBD oil suggested significant pain relief in these groups as well.
CBD for PTSD and Phobia Therapy
A small 2019 study of 11 patients found that, when consumed orally and administered alongside routine psychiatric care, CBD decreased patients’ posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity  Elms L, Shannon S, Hughes S, Lewis N. Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series. J Altern Complement Med. 2019;25(4):392-397. .
Other studies suggest CBD can reduce PTSD symptoms when consumed with THC  Bitencourt RM, Takahashi RN. Cannabidiol as a Therapeutic Alternative for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: From Bench Research to Confirmation in Human Trials. Front Neurosci. 2018;12:502. . When taken together, the two compounds create what’s known as the “entourage effect,” where THC enhances the effects of CBD as CBD tempers the effects of THC, resulting in a more well-rounded experience  Ferber SG, Namdar D, Hen-Shoval D, et al. The “Entourage Effect”. Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2020;18(2):87-96. .
Some studies also suggest CBD can enhance the effects of exposure therapy—which assists patients in dissociating certain cues with a fear response—and cognitive behavioral therapy  Das RK, Kamboj SK, Ramadas M, et al. Cannabidiol enhances consolidation of explicit fear extinction in humans. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2013;226(4):781-792.  Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-836. .
How to Use CBD for Anxiety
Without clear FDA guidance, optimal CBD use for anxiety varies from person to person. You may find one method works better for you over another. You can consume CBD in the following forms:
- Oils and tinctures, which come in dropper bottles and are consumed by mouth
- Gummies, which are chewable, sweet and often fruit-flavored
- Sprays, which come in bottles with a nozzle to be sprayed in the mouth
- Capsules, softgels or tablets, which are taken individually by mouth like a pill
- Vapes, which heat CBD oil without igniting it, resulting in an inhalable vapor
- Flowers, which are dried hemp plants that are typically ignited and smoked
- Creams and gels, which introduce CBD topically (through the skin) as a more localized treatment
You may have to try different forms to determine what works best in addressing your anxiety. For instance, when it comes to the absorption of CBD in your bloodstream, vaping and smoking are more effective than edibles like gummies.
CBD Dosage for Anxiety
You also have to find the right CBD dosage for your anxiety. Experts suggest starting small and working your way up depending on how your body reacts.
Many clinical trials jump right to testing high doses. Successful doses evaluated for anxiety relief specifically include:
- 600 milligrams in patients with SAD in a speech simulation  Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-1226.
- 300 milligrams in male patients in a speech simulation  Linares IM, Zuardi AW, Pereira LC, et al. Cannabidiol presents an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve in a simulated public speaking test. Revista brasileira de psiquiatria (Sao Paulo, Brazil : 1999). 2019;41(1):9-14.
However, other trials suggest much lower doses are also quite effective in treating anxiety.
- 25 to 75 milligrams for generalized anxiety and/or sleep problems  Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041.
- 33 to 49 milligrams a day for PTSD, in addition to routine psychiatric treatment  Elms L, Shannon S, Hughes S, Lewis N. Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series. J Altern Complement Med. 2019;25(4):392-397.
Another study involving hundreds of patients noted success with doses from 40 milligrams to 300 milligrams a day, further supporting the idea that CBD dosage varies significantly, depending on a person’s symptoms and physiology.
Potential Risks and Side Effects
The World Health Organization deems CBD a safe and generally well-tolerated substance. Studies report very few adverse effects, if any.
However, taking CBD while on other medications may pose a risk, as these substances may interact and cause unwanted effects, such as weight gain, drowsiness, upset stomach and change in appetite.
Cheryl Bugailiskis, M.D., a cannabis specialist at Heally, a telehealth platform for alternative medicine, also warns people with preexisting liver injuries and people taking medications that can cause liver injuries should practice caution when using CBD.