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Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical (cannabinoid) naturally occurring in cannabis plants. Research into CBD oil's ability to relieve various types of anxiety is promising. For instance, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states CBD could decrease stress in animals, such as rats¹, with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). In this study, researchers observed the study subjects and found they displayed reduced anxiety behavioral signs after taking CBD oil. The rats’ physiological anxiety symptoms, including an increased heart rate, also improved during the study.
A 2011 study² studied the effects of CBD on people with SAD. Study participants were given 400 mg oral doses of CBD or a placebo. The participants who took CBD experienced an overall decrease in their anxiety levels.
A number of studies³ have shown that CBD oil improved symptoms in subjects with PTSD symptoms, including nightmares and replaying negative memories. During these studies, CBD was considered not as a standalone treatment, but as a supplement to other typical treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication.
CBD oil comes in numerous forms, from edibles to sprays to oils. There isn't one particular form that works best for easing the symptoms of anxiety, as the effectiveness varies depending on the person and the condition they're being treated for. It is important that you choose the form that works best for you and the type of anxiety you have.
CBD can be taken in forms that include the following:
Vaping is by far one of the fastest ways to experience CBD's effects, which is especially helpful if you're experiencing an acute anxiety situation. Keep in mind, however, that there are some concerns with vaping, in relation to the heating coils inside the vape pens and the chemicals in the vaping liquid. The long-term health effects of vaping have also not yet been determined, so there may be adverse consequences.
CBD sprays and oils are popular forms as they are easy to administer. You can take sublingual oils by placing drops of CBD oil under your tongue. The CBD absorbs quickly into your bloodstream since tiny capillaries fill your mucous membranes.
Another popular way to consume CBD is through edibles, such as CBD gummies. The dosage is already predetermined and they come in a variety of flavors. They are also more discreet to consume in public as they look like regular candy. Edibles are convenient for taking with you wherever you may need them, such as at work. However, gummies are not fast-acting, so they may not be the ideal choice for acute situations like panic attacks or anxiety attacks.
If you're thinking about using CBD oil for your anxiety, make sure to first speak with your doctor to discuss whether it is right for you and what dosage to take.
In single-dose studies⁴, 300 mg to 600 mg doses of CBD were found to be helpful in reducing anxiety during a simulated public speaking test. Other studies suggested a more anxiolytic effect in rats when lower 10 mg doses were taken as opposed to higher doses of 100 mg.
The form of CBD oil, dosage consumed, and your body composition are all factors that affect how long it takes for CBD to work after you take it. As these vary from person to person, it can be difficult to predict how fast it will kick in and how it will affect you.
Generally, you would start feeling CBD's effects within 15 to 45 minutes⁵ of using it sublingually or through vaping, whereas topical products and edibles can take over an hour to kick in.
There isn’t an optimal time of day, such as morning or night, to take CBD oil for anxiety. Rather, the best time to consider taking it is about an hour before any stressful situation you may deal with. For instance, if you struggle with social anxiety and you have a party to attend, you could take CBD about an hour before you leave.
If you're struggling with GAD symptoms and you want to use CBD oil, it is a good idea to take CBD in the morning before you leave home for the day.
CBD is typically considered safe, but some individuals might experience some side effects after taking it, including:
Changes in appetite
Changes in weight
CBD may also interact with certain dietary supplements or medication you're taking. If you take medication like blood thinners that have the "grapefruit warning" on them, exercise caution because, like grapefruit, CBD interacts with the enzymes that are essential for drug metabolism.
A study on mice⁶ showed that taking CBD-rich cannabis extract puts them at a greater risk for liver toxicity. However, several of the mice were provided with very large CBD doses so this may not apply to humans taking CBD at lower doses.
If you are currently taking medication and are interested in also taking CBD, ensure you discuss it with your doctor.
CBD products have only been legalized in some parts of the US for certain medical purposes, including treating epilepsy. You may have to obtain a license from your doctor before you can buy CBD oil legally.
If your state approves cannabis for medical use, you may be able to buy CBD oil in special cannabis dispensaries, clinics, or online. As CBD research continues, more states might consider legalizing cannabis products, which will lead to greater availability.
CBD is generally a well-tolerated and safe supplement to take in conjunction with other treatments to help ease the symptoms of anxiety. It comes in a variety of forms and its effects differ depending on the form in which it is consumed, the dosage, the type of anxiety you have, and your body composition. Before taking CBD oil, always discuss with your doctor whether it is right for you, especially if you are taking medication.
The Biology and Potential Therapeutic Effects of Cannabidiol | NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse
CBD for Arthritis Pain: What You Should Know | Arthritis Foundation