Several studies point to the potential benefits of CBD for anxiety.
For generalized anxiety
For generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that CBD has been shown to reduce stress in animals such as rats.
Study subjects were observed as having lower behavioral signs of anxiety. Their physiological symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heart rate, also improved.
More research needs to be done, specifically on humans and GAD.
For other forms of anxiety
CBD may also benefit people with other forms of anxiety, such as social anxiety disorder (SAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It may help treat anxiety-induced insomnia as well.
In 2011, a study researched CBD’s effects on people with SAD. Participants were given an oral dose of 400 milligrams (mg) of CBD or a placebo. Those who received CBD experienced overall reduced anxiety levels.
Multiple recent studies have shown that CBD can help with PTSD symptoms, such as having nightmares and replaying negative memories. These studies have looked at CBD as both a standalone PTSD treatment as well as a supplement to traditional treatments like medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
For other neurological disorders
CBD has also been studied in other neurological disorders.
A 2017 literature review on CBD and psychiatric disorders concluded that there isn’t enough evidence to tout CBD as an effective treatment for depression.
The authors did find some evidence to suggest that CBD could help with anxiety disorders. However, these studies were uncontrolled. This means that the participants weren’t compared to a separate group (or “control”) that might have received a different treatment — or no treatment at all.
Based on their review, more human tests are needed to better understand how CBD works, what the ideal dosages should be, and if there are potential side effects or hazards.
A 2016 study found that CBD can have antipsychotic effects in people with schizophrenia. Moreover, CBD doesn’t cause the significant debilitating side effects associated with some antipsychotic drugs.
If you’re interested in trying CBD oil for your anxiety, talk to your doctor. They can help you figure out a starting dosage that’s right for you.
However, the nonprofit National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) does advise that very few commercially available products contain enough CBD to replicate the therapeutic effects seen in clinical trials.
In a 2018 study, male subjects received CBD before undergoing a simulated public speaking test. The researchers found that an oral dose of 300 mg, administered 90 minutes before the test, was enough to significantly reduce the speakers’ anxiety.
Members of the placebo group and study subjects who received 150 mg saw little benefit. The same was true for subjects who received 600 mg.
The study only looked at 57 subjects, so it was small. More research, including studies that look at female subjects, is needed to determine the appropriate dosage for people with anxiety.
CBD side effects
CBD is generally considered safe. However, some people who take CBD may experience some side effects, including:
changes in appetite
changes in weight
CBD may also interact with other medications or dietary supplements you’re taking. Exercise particular caution if you take medications, such as blood thinners, that come with a “grapefruit warning.” CBD and grapefruit both interact with enzymes that are important to drug metabolism.
One study on mice found that being gavaged with, or force-fed, CBD-rich cannabis extract increased their risk for liver toxicity. However, some of the study mice had been given extremely large doses of CBD.
You shouldn’t stop taking any medications you’re already using without talking to your doctor first. Using CBD oil may help your anxiety, but you could also experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking your prescription medications.
Symptoms of withdrawal include:
From HealthLine, updated April 3rd 2020