Check out our team’s top high-quality CBD oil picks for anxiety, plus insider advice about how to use them.
Anxiety is everywhere. The ever-growing list of causes seems to include just about everything, from reading too much news, to learning about the latest food dangers, to getting wrapped up in social media. But just as there are more reasons to be anxious, there are also more ways to treat it.
Prescription pharmaceuticals for anxiety have been around for decades, but they’re not the right choice for everyone. Fortunately, there are holistic methods that are worth considering. And one natural method has been generating a lot of buzz: the cannabis extract cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil.
In this article, we’ll go over some common causes of anxiety and look at how it affects people. We’ll take a look at some good CBD products and get into how CBD can relieve feelings of anxiety and stress. At the end we’ll touch on some important points about finding the right CBD dosages, as well as safety and legal concerns to keep in mind when taking CBD.
Whether you suffer from anxiety or you just want to be more informed on the subject of CBD and anxiety, you can be sure to find what you’re looking for here.
CBD Oil for Anxiety: Our Team's Top Picks
Looking for the best CBD oil products for anxiety? The CBD Hacker team has selected a few of our highest-ranked products that have specific anxiety- and stress-busting properties. Check them out below, or see our full ranking of this year’s best CBD oils to learn even more.
Mission Farms, Relax CBD Oil
These CBD drops use organic coconut oil with medium-chain triglycerides, which are an easy-to-metabolize and healthy fat.
Mission Farms also formulates their CBD products with an array of essential oils: grapefruit, orange, ylang ylang, and clary sage.
The grapefruit and orange oils contain limonene, a terpene that has been shown to help reduce anxiety. And ylang ylang and clary sage oils contribute linalool, a terpene that some have suggested may be able to counteract anxiety and promote relaxation.
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NuLeaf Naturals, Full Spectrum CBD Oil
This organic, full-spectrum CBD oil from NuLeaf Naturals also contains linalool, a terpene that is used in aromatherapy to combat anxiety.
But the dominant terpene in this Colorado-grown product is beta-caryophyllene, which also occurs in essential oils like clove oil and rosemary oil.
In animal studies, beta-caryophyllene has shown potential as an anxiolytic.
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4 Corners Cannabis: Oral Tincture
Their oral tincture includes hemp extract from a high-CBD cannabis chemovar called Ma’at.
This strain’s dominant terpene is beta-caryophyllene, which may have anti-anxiety properties.
The tincture also contains limonene, a terpene found in citrus peels that could help relieve stress.
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Populum: Full-Spectrum Hemp CBD Oil
Certain compounds found in orange oil have been shown to have beneficial effects on people suffering from anxiety.
And its juicy orange flavor makes it a great option if you’re looking for a tasty full-spectrum CBD oil. It’s an ideal choice to add to foods and drinks, or to use sublingually.
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Joy Organics: CBD Vape Pen + Cartridge
Joy Organics uses a broad-spectrum CBD extract. This means you can get all the stress-reducing benefits of CBD without THC’s anxiety-provoking potential.
Their oil cartridges also contain fruit and plant terpenes. This adds a relaxing, energizing citrus flavor to every breath. And the discreet pen is rechargeable, and you can easily swap out the cartridge for a new one when you run out.
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Sunday Scaries: CBD Gummies
And if animal-derived gelatin stresses you out, Sunday Scaries also offers a vegan version of their gummies.
Table of Contents
Pain is a complicated subject, so we have a lot of ground to cover in this article. If you’re looking for the answer to a specific question, use the links below to navigate directly to the information you need.
- About anxiety
- About CBD oil
- CBD for anxiety
- CBD and anxiety medications
- Types of CBD products
- Safety, side effects and other concerns
Everyone experiences some amount of anxiety from time to time. However, people who suffer from anxiety disorders may feel anxious much more frequently.
The National Institute of Mental Health recognizes three distinct types of anxiety disorders.
Generalized anxiety disorder
- Characterized by excessive worrying for extended periods of time.
- Worries include everyday things like personal health, work, and social interactions.
- Symptoms include restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleeplessness.
- Consists of panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear and anxiety.
- During panic attacks people experience heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, and feelings of impending doom and/or loss of control.
- A phobia is an intense fear of or aversion to specific objects or situations.
- Common phobias include flying, heights, specific animals (spiders, dogs, snakes), needles, blood, and social gatherings.
People with anxiety disorders can seek treatment from primary care physicians, psychologists, or psychiatrists. The approaches to treatment will differ based on both the nature of the disorder and the type of doctor you visit.
Primary care physicians may recommend lifestyle changes like getting more sleep and exercise, and psychologists will offer talk therapy to address the issues causing your anxiety.
Physicians and psychiatrists can also prescribe pharmaceutical medications to treat anxiety. Common brand names for these drugs include Xanax, Ativan, and Valium.
These drugs are all types of benzodiazepines, which have sedative, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant properties. It’s for these reasons that benzodiazepines are also popular recreational drugs. If misused, they can lead to physical dependencies, and when mixed with alcohol they can be deadly.
Benzodiazepines may also have a number of unwanted side effects, which can intensify with higher doses. Common side effects include: drowsiness, dizziness, trouble concentrating, nausea, headaches, and blurred vision.
These problems can affect your performance at work, school, or everyday activities, which are quite a lot of downsides to keep in mind when considering this kind of medication.
They can also have negative effects when taken with alcohol, painkillers, sleeping pills, antihistamines, and other medications.
Hemp-derived CBD, on the other hand, has been helping people cope with their everyday stress and anxiety for years. Its user friendliness, adaptability, and relative good safety profile make it easy for anybody to try. With that in mind, let’s look at how CBD has grown to become a more widespread, all-natural aid in treating anxiety.
About CBD Oil
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a chemical compound found in cannabis plants.
Although CBD has many different effects, it primarily interacts with the body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a biological system present in most animals and all mammals. It plays a role in a variety of bodily functions, from mood and appetite to sleep and anxiety. CBD interacts with the ECS — both directly and indirectly — by influencing cannabinoid receptors throughout the body.
CBD Oil Varieties
You’re most likely to encounter CBD today as an extraction blended with a liquid carrier. Manufacturers sell these products under a variety of different names, including CBD tinctures, CBD oil drops, or hemp oils.
CBD oils are generally sold in three varieties: CBD isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum CBD.
In CBD isolate oils, the only cannabinoid present is CBD.
In full-spectrum oils, small amounts of other cannabinoids, including THC, are also present. Although THC, unlike CBD, is psychoactive, the amount of THC in full-spectrum products is not great enough to induce psychoactive effects.
And for those who want a variety of cannabinoids without THC, broad-spectrum CBD offers a third option. In these products, the THC is removed without eliminating the other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant.
CBD Oil Delivery Methods
By far, the most popular way to take CBD oil is sublingually, or under the tongue. To use this method, use a dropper to place a small amount of CBD under your tongue, and hold it there for at least 30 – 60 seconds to allow the blood vessels to absorb it.
You can also ingest CBD oil directly by adding it to foods or beverages. That’s why CBD is appearing in prepackaged foods and on menus today, showing up in chewable gummies, coffee, and even alcohol. Ingesting CBD oil through any of these methods is popular because it can help make CBD feel more familiar to new users.
But because the digestive system must break down the CBD before letting it reach the rest of the body, oral ingestion is not the fastest-acting method. However, there are other ways to ingest CBD that let users feel the effects more quickly.
You can apply CBD to your skin in topical ointments and patches. These help release the CBD’s effects rapidly. Vape pens also allow people to inhale CBD into the lungs, where it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.
Want to learn about how each of these delivery methods may be useful for treating anxiety? Keep reading; we’re going to come back to this topic further down in the article.
CBD for Anxiety
In 2015, researchers conducted a wide-ranging review of studies looking at CBD’s uses for various neuropsychiatric conditions, including fear, stress, and anxiety. After reading 49 different studies, they arrived at some thorough observations about how CBD can treat these kinds of conditions.
How does CBD affect anxiety?
They first noted that CBD interacts with multiple neuroreceptors known to regulate fear and anxiety. These include the cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor, the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor, and the transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 receptor (TRPV1). They also found that CBD may either directly or indirectly regulate a number of other receptors.
CB1 receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and they play roles in many different body and brain functions. Their involvement with anxiety is complex, but research has shown that blocking CB1 receptors can cause anxiety, and augmenting them through substances such as CBD can reduce anxiety.
Researchers also saw that THC in large doses can exacerbate anxiety. CBD, on the other hand, has been shown to counteract that and lower anxiety levels. This is why anxiety patients who prefer smoking cannabis may be interested in high-CBD/low-THC strains.
CBD may also help reduce anxiety by interacting with 5-HT1A receptors. These receptors are the target for a prescription anti-anxiety drug called busiprone. The difference is that while busiprone acts directly against 5-HT1A receptors, CBD interacts with them indirectly and may have slightly weaker anti-anxiety effects.
How does dosage impact CBD’s effectiveness for anxiety?
When researchers looked at animal studies they saw an interesting dosage trend. When animals were given low doses of CBD (10mg CBD per 1kg of body mass), they showed reduced signs of anxiety. But when animals were given higher doses (100mg per 1kg of body mass), the CBD had no effect on their anxiety levels.
Further studies suggested that CBD’s effectiveness on treating anxiety exists on a bell curve. This means moderate doses are the most effective and higher doses are ineffective.
Researchers have not found any studies showing that high amounts of CBD could cause or worsen anxiety. This is important because it suggests that when you’re figuring out which dosage of CBD works best for your anxiety, you won’t have to worry about something bad happening if you accidentally take too much CBD.
Can CBD prevent anxiety?
While CBD has been shown to treat anxiety that’s already set in, some studies observed that CBD may help prevent anxiety as well.
Rats who were given CBD before undergoing a stress-inducing situation showed lower heart rate and blood pressure levels than rats not given CBD.
In a different study, people diagnosed with social anxiety disorder received CBD on a regular basis after experiencing a stressful situation and reported reduced levels of anxiety. This study suggests CBD may have potential to help people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Other experiments on rats have demonstrated CBD’s ability to inhibit natural responses to dangerous situations. Normally, you wouldn’t want to hinder your ability to engage in a fight-or-flight response. But people who suffer from panic attacks can feel this kind of response in the face of ordinary, non-threatening stimuli. CBD may help them cope with these situations.
CBD as an Alternative to Anxiety Medications
While prescription drugs can provide targeted, fast-acting relief for anxiety, they have their drawbacks. As mentioned earlier, anti-anxiety drugs have potential for abuse and can become habit-forming. They also often come with a slew of unwanted side effects and can interact with other medications you might be taking.
CBD has a very low potential for abuse and is not habit forming. It is generally well-tolerated by most adults and easy to take in a variety of forms.
Whether you prefer capsules, oral tinctures, transdermal patches, vape pens, or CBD-infused foods and drinks, you can conveniently take CBD for your anxiety in any setting.
CBD for Acute Anxiety
The many different CBD ingestion methods also give you choices depending on the kind of relief you’re seeking.
If you suffer from panic attacks, for instance, you may be interested in getting quick relief by vaping CBD. Vaping CBD will allow your body to absorb it rapidly through the blood vessels in your lungs, meaning the anti-anxiety effects will kick in right away.
Can You Use CBD to Prevent Anxiety?
However, if social situations trigger your anxiety, you could take CBD capsules before entering an environment that you know to be stressful. In that case, the CBD is a preventative treatment.
Transdermal patches can also be used in preventative cases. And since they provide continual CBD exposure over several hours, they may be preferable if you’re unsure when you’re going to encounter stressful situations and want to ready yourself beforehand.
It should be noted that CBD’s effects tend to wear off more quickly than those of prescription anti-anxiety drugs. Because of this, it’s easy to cater your CBD dosing to both long- and short-term circumstances. If you feel your anxiety subsiding, you can rest assured the effects of CBD will soon fade away as well. But if you still feel your anxiety, you can continue taking CBD for as long as you need.
Types of CBD Oil Products for Anxiety
Considering how many different ways there are to take CBD, it may not be obvious which methods are best suited for treating anxiety.
And because the FDA hasn’t approved CBD as a treatment for anxiety, doctors often aren’t able to give advice about how to use it or how to find the correct dosage. Additionally, manufacturers aren’t allowed to market their products for health conditions like anxiety.
There’s a lot to consider, so here’s an overview of the many CBD ingestion methods with all their pros and cons.
Sublingual oils are probably the most familiar CBD products. They are what people usually mean when they talk about “CBD oil.” In the most basic sense, these products consist of a carrier like vegetable glycerin, hemp oil, or coconut oil with CBD dissolved in it.
Brands also commonly add essential oils — everything from peppermint and eucalyptus to rosemary and clove — and flavorings, like mint or vanilla. These additions can sometimes provide secondary health benefits or therapeutic effects. Generally, though, they simply offer consumers more varieties.
These oils are perhaps the simplest and most versatile to consume. You take them by placing a couple drops under your tongue and holding them there for about 30 – 60 seconds.
Because it takes time to feel its effects throughout the body, some people find that sublingual CBD oils can be useful for general, low-level to moderate anxiety.
CBD Vape Oils
If you need fast-acting anxiety relief, vaping CBD might be the perfect method.
Most CBD vape juices mix CBD with vegetable glycerin, a clear liquid made from soybean, coconut, or palm oil. When the pen heats up the vape juice, it creates a vapor containing CBD particles. Because the pen does not heat anything to the point where it can burn or smoke, vape pens do not create the carcinogens associated with inhaling smoke.
Your lungs contain many blood vessels, so inhaling CBD vapor is a quick way to get CBD into the bloodstream and move it around the body. This makes vaping CBD an ideal method for those seeking immediate anxiety relief.
However, CBD vapor does not have the same staying power as something like CBD oil. It’s also hard to measure a consistent dose with vape pens, so for these reasons, vaping CBD is best when you need short but quick anxiety relief.
There is a lack of research around the safety concerns around vaping CBD and other e-liquid products. That’s why it may be best to proceed with caution before vaping CBD. Consult with your doctor if you have any underlying respiratory conditions.
Transdermal Patches, Creams, and Gels
Similar to topical products, transdermal CBD applications are applied to the skin. But unlike traditional topicals, they penetrate the skin to reach the bloodstream.
Transdermal products act on the entire body, so you can think of them like other medicated patches. They deliver a steady dosage of CBD throughout the day to continuously treat anxiety. You can also apply transdermal products before going to sleep if you need relief overnight.
Capsules and Softgels
Next to sublingual oils, CBD capsules and softgels are among the most common forms of CBD. As with CBD gummies or other edibles, the digestive system breaks down capsules, allowing the CBD to enter the bloodstream and move around the body.
CBD capsules have a slow onset time before the effects kick in, but if you don’t like the taste of sublingual oils, they’re a great way to get small or large amounts of CBD into your system.
Capsules are also more discreet than oils or vaping. If you are worried about taking CBD in a workplace or out in public, these are a convenient way to make sure you can always get your treatment.
Edibles and Beverages
CBD edibles and beverages have become hugely popular at cafes, restaurants, and cannabis dispensaries everywhere.
The edibles that you’re likely to find at restaurants are usually made by adding pure CBD isolate or a sublingual oil to a baked good after it’s finished baking. Beverages can be made by adding CBD oil to a finished drink or cocktail. Some manufacturers infuse tea leaves or coffee beans with CBD.
Because the doses are pretty low (usually only a couple drops’ worth) they don’t tend to taste much like CBD oil. The flavors from the food stand out more, letting you really enjoy your CBD consumption. The low dosage and bioavailability mean that these are best for addressing mild stress or anxiety.
You’ll also find CBD-infused gummies, candies, and other edibles that contain higher doses. Because you must digest and metabolize CBD edibles before the effects kick in, you can treat them similarly to capsules.
CBD Hemp Flower
Although we tend to only think of getting high when we think about smoking cannabis, there are smokeable (or vape-able) CBD-specific strains designed to minimize the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis.
There are a growing number of cannabis chemovars with high CBD-to-THC ratios. Some of these are even low enough in THC to be legally classified as “hemp.” Smoking or vaping these will provide all the benefits of CBD and without the stereotypical mind-altering effects. High-CBD strains can also counteract the anxiety-inducing effects of THC.
Getting CBD by smoking hemp flower has a similar effect to vaping CBD oil. That’s because the CBD is also getting into the body through the lungs. However, because smoking cannabis involves burning the plant material, it creates carcinogens that can be dangerous to inhale. As such, this method is not right for everyone.
Dry herb vaporizers are an alternative way to enjoy CBD hemp flower. This type of vaporizer heats the plant material without burning it, creating vapor instead of smoke.
How to Find the Right Dosage
While it’s important to understand the varieties of CBD hemp oil products available and what they can and cannot for your treat anxiety, it’s just as important to know how much to take.
Currently, doctors do not prescribe CBD. This is partly because most doctors haven’t thoroughly studied CBD, but also because there isn’t enough known about CBD to develop accurate and consistent dosage regimens. However, the general sentiment is to “start low, go slow, and stay slow.”
Doctors may recommend CBD, but it’s up to patients to figure out the dosages that work best for them. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
What does relief look like to you?
To start, you should think about the issues you want to address with CBD. Get an idea of what treatment or relief looks like to you.
If you’re looking for relief for mild anxiety, CBD may be a great option. But if you have long-term, debilitating anxiety, you may be expecting too much from CBD.
Know what you’re taking
You should also consider the concentration of CBD in the product you choose. All reliable CBD products have their concentration listed clearly on the label. The concentration refers to the total amount of CBD in a product, measured in milligrams per serving.
It’s difficult to say which amounts will work best for you, so it’s safest to begin with a lower dose and gradually increase until you find something that feels best to you. As a bonus, finding your lowest effective dose will also help you save money over time.
Generally speaking, lower concentrations can be between 5 – 15 milligrams of CBD per milliliter of product, while higher concentrations can go all the way up to 50 or 60 mg/mL.
One paper suggested that oral doses of CBD between 300 – 600 milligrams can reduce multiple kinds of anxiety. However, this number isn’t a universal guide, and you should not assume that this amount is right for you.
CBD affects everybody differently, so lower concentrations may feel high to some people while higher concentrations may feel low to others.
Heavier people tend to need higher concentrations but that’s not always the case, so take your time in testing which concentration is best for you.
Find your frequency
Finally, you’ll have to figure out how often to take CBD.
Like figuring out the right concentration, your dosing frequency is a personal preference. It’s best to begin by taking it infrequently. Once you’re familiar with how CBD affects you, you can gradually start taking it more often.
If you suffer from frequent anxiety or panic attacks, you may find that you need to take CBD every couple of hours, or even as much as every hour. But if you’re treating mild anxiety, you may find that you only need it a few times a day or only when symptoms arise.
Side Effects and Safety Concerns
Although the World Health Organization declared CBD to have a generally good safety profile, there are some issues to be aware of when taking CBD.
The first is that CBD may interact with other medications and make the effects of those drugs feel either more or less intense than normal.
Before beginning to take CBD for anxiety, talk with your doctor. They can work with you to make sure you won’t experience unexpected interactions with any other medications you’re taking.
The second main concern with CBD is whether or not it can make you fail a drug test. Because CBD does not show up on drug tests, it might seem obvious that CBD poses no risk for failing a drug test. Furthermore, the amount of THC present in full-spectrum CBD products is generally too low to show up on drug tests.
However, it’s not unheard of for people taking CBD to fail a drug test. Even people taking CBD isolate, with no THC in it, have stories of failing drug tests. There is a possibility that the digestive system can turn CBD into a THC-metabolite that can show up on drug tests. So no matter how expensive or cheap a CBD product is, manufacturers cannot guarantee that their CBD products won’t cause you to fail a drug test.
To address claims that their products have caused users to fail drug tests, many CBD brands have started adding disclaimers about drug tests.
So, is CBD the key to fighting anxiety and stress?
Although more research is needed, both animal and human models have demonstrated CBD’s potential to treat a variety of anxiety disorders. CBD can be used to relieve anxiety both in the moment and as a preventative or on-going treatment for things like social anxiety disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.
Most importantly, the evidence indicates that CBD does not aggravate anxiety symptoms. THC, the other principal cannabinoid in cannabis, can trigger and exacerbate anxiety. But CBD will not only mitigate the anxiety-inducing effects of THC, but also reduce anxiety.
Depending on the severity and circumstances of your anxiety, CBD offers an array of options. From oral tinctures and gel capsules, to vape pens and transdermal patches, you have many options to design a customized CBD regimen that works best for you. And unlike prescription anti-anxiety medications, CBD does not have the potential for abuse or to become habit-forming. Plus, the side effects of CBD are relatively minor and unobtrusive compared to the side effects of prescription anti-anxiety meds.
You have to decide whether CBD is right for treating your anxiety, as some cases may require stronger medications or supplemental therapy. But hopefully this article has given you enough information to make the best decision for yourself.