How To Use CBD Oil For Anxiety 2021: Does It Work?

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Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

How To Use CBD Oil for Anxiety

Anxiety is common with our high-paced modern lifestyle and even more so with the fall-out from the COVID fiasco. Economic and other stressors are widespread and impact negatively on people’s health. Fortunately, CBD(Cannabidiol) is here for the rescue. 

CBD is an active compound found in Cannabis sativa (Marijuana) plants. This non-psychoactive cannabinoid interacts with human bodies via a signaling system for regulating the psychological and physical effects of marijuana. 

CBD oil is well known for relieving anxiety. A study[1] showed a significant reduction in anxiety levels in patients diagnosed with generalized social anxiety disorders (GSAD), OCS, and social anxiety.

CBD can enhance the quality of your sleep and manage anxiety. The use of CBD decreases anxiety scores and shows improvement in sleep quality. Improvement in sleep quality over time can reduce anxious feelings.

It can be tough to figure out how much CBD dosage you should take, as CBD isn’t currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and there is no official recommended dosage. Most human studies use CBD dosages anywhere between 20 and 1,500 milligrams (mg)[2] per day.

Let’s understand and read more about the role of CBD oil in addressing anxiety issues, how to use it, risks and side effects, and is CBD oil good for arthritis?

Does CBD Help Anxiety & Depression?

A common question that comes to the mind of CBD users is – does CBD help anxiety? The answer is yes. CBD can help with anxiety[3] symptoms by targeting multiple independent mechanisms involved with constant activity or hyperactivity in the nerves. Cannabidiol has been shown to boost Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain — which plays a key role in calming down the brain. It serves as a blocking agent for the reconsolidation of persistent anxiety-causing memories.

CBD also works to regulate serotonin[4] and dopamine (hormones promoting positive feelings) production, relax tight and stiff muscles in the neck and shoulders, promote restorative sleep, and bring down cortisol levels in the blood. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone.”

A study also reports that CBD oil is helpful in relieving pain and stiffness and improving physical function in arthritic patients[5]. However, more research is needed to study the effect of CBD oil on chronic arthritis.

The benefits of Cannabidiol for anxiety[6] require about thirty to forty minutes to take effect depending on product choice and method of administration and lasts around four or five hours.

The best CBD oils for anxiety disorders are made from a full-spectrum and organic hemp extract and provide a relatively high concentration of CBD per bottle (at least 500 mg per ounce).

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How To Use CBD Oil For Anxiety?

CBD oil tinctures and oils are most effective when taken orally, under the tongue. Measure your required dosage with a dropper and squeeze a few drops under your tongue for around twenty seconds prior to swallowing it. Taking the product under the tongue allows it to enter the bloodstream, immediately bypassing the digestive system.

Usually, the label of CBD oil mentions the volume of CBD in the container. The recommended serving may not always be listed; however, it is the amount of CBD/ml. Ideally, start with a lesser dosage to see its effectiveness and slowly increase, if needed.

Healthcare professionals and research institutes are yet to determine the exact recommended dosage for CBD therapy. However, according to research conducted in 2019[7], on fifty-seven males, there was a remarkable reduction in anxiety after administration of about 300 to 600 mg of CBD. The kind of CBD product used and the way it is administered also play a vital role in its effectiveness. 

Some commonly used methods for CBD administration are:

  • Capsule form
  • Oil form
  • Sublingual spray form
  • Vapor oil form or cannabis flowers
  • Edible form

Having an understanding of how to use CBD oil for anxiety also helps largely to identify how quickly these cannabinoids start becoming effective. Usually, the orally taken CBD starts showing the effect in the first half-hour to a couple of hours. Vapour CBD oils or cannabis buds are almost instantaneous. Adding CBD sublingually, the second most absorbable way to get your CBD dose will show effects within minutes.

Oral CBD products can be taken any time to relieve anxiety – best recommended at the beginning of the day. Vaping can be used for an immediate relaxing mood, usually preferred by those under tremendous pressure, such as giving a business presentation to a large audience. 

How To Choose the Best CBD Oil For Anxiety?

There are heaps of options available in the market for CBD oils. However, one of the questions that bother CBD users is – how to choose the best CBD oil for anxiety?[8] There are certain considerations. 

Choose a product tested by a third party for its authenticity and safety purposes. These results are publicly revealed through COA’s (Certificate of Analysis) and are performed by most reputable CBD retailers. This type of certificate ensures the potency and purity of a product.

Check the COA against the label on the product to ensure it has the content mentioned on the certificate. Also, validate it does not have hazardous contaminants, including pesticides, molds, or heavy metals. 

Choice of the product will determine the effectiveness, with full-spectrum CBD often being more effective than broad-spectrum CBD or CBD isolates. However, each individual is unique in their response to the varying CBD products.

Once you’ve identified quality CBD products, the final selection comes down to individual preference and choice. For those feeling anxious during the night and keeping them awake, CBD with melatonin is very effective. However, if anxiety follows you during the day, you might be fine taking small doses of low potency CBD and increasing as and when needed.

Reading the CBD label and making sense of it could be a bit of a struggle until you have familiarized yourself well with the terms used. Bearing in mind that if you’re after some terrific results for all the phytocannabinoids and terpenes to be effective, you will need to try a few options.

There are some common indicators – quality, safety, and transparency that help identify the best CBD products. Products in this literature ensure:

  • Authentic evidence of third party testing done by a laboratory that meets ISO 17025 compliance standards;
  • Products are U.S. grown hemp;
  • THC content is less than 0.3 % according to the COA;
  • There is a permissible limit of pesticides, molds, and heavy metals as per the COA which vary by state.

In addition to this, it is important to check:

  • Certifications (US hemp authority certified) held by the company and process for manufacturing
  • The potency of the product
  • Ingredients used for manufacturing
  • Indication for trust and reputation of the brand, including:
  • Reviews from the customer
  • Companies FDA certification status
  • Claims made by the company and its authenticity

Potential Risks & Side Effects

The side effects of CBD are negligible to non-existent. Though it is often well-tolerated, CBD can cause side effects[9], such as reduced appetite, dry mouth, diarrhea, weight loss, temporary drop in blood pressure, drowsiness, fatigue, and high liver function blood tests. 

The same liver enzymes metabolize CBD as certain drugs, so it can elevate or decrease the blood levels of some drugs. CBD should be taken by consultation or used with caution by people other medications such as:

  • Warfarin (blood thinner)
  • Antihistamines
  • Antiretrovirals
  • Some statins (atorvastatin and simvastatin)
  • Certain antidepressants
  • Certain antipsychotics

Less common side effects are decreased sperm count, altered coordination, cough and red eyes. Sometimes the side effects are related to the delivery method and the CBD dosage, so before discontinuing CBD, consider changing the delivery method or reducing the dosage. 

Final Thought

Managing anxiety with CBD oil is gaining a lot of popularity globally. With a growing body of evidence backing the positive effects of cannabidiol on an individual’s mental health, it’s not surprising that more and more people are turning to CBD for help.

Before you purchase CBD oil online or in local shops near you for your anxiety symptoms, make sure it comes from a reputable brand that’s open about its manufacturing practices and has lots of positive reviews.

CBD oil is beneficial in helping with other health issues as well according to preliminary studies[10] –  such as regulating blood pressure, glucose levels, and sleep cycle. CBD is a wonderful choice if you want to live a healthy and happy life.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does CBD Oil Take To Work For Anxiety?

CBD begins to work within thirty minutes to two hours or sooner, depending on the route of administration. If vaping or taking sublingually, the effects are almost instantaneous.

How Does CBD Oil Help With Anxiety?

CBD affects G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in the central nervous system that manage pain, as well as glycine receptors that regulate serotonin. The way that these receptors are affected by the intake of CBD gives some people a calming effect.

In How Many Ways Can CBD Be Used?

CBD can be used in five ways:
– Inhalation — raw hemp flower or vape pens & oils
– Topically — in the form of CBD creams, lotions, and patches
– Internally — CBD capsules, oils, and gummies
– Injection — intravenous injection or intraperitoneal  
– Intrarectally or Intravaginally —  CBD suppositories

What Does CBD Feel Like?

It does not make you high as it is non-psychoactive. However, it could give a mild sensation that is “fuzzy”. The calming effect CBD gives makes you feel as if you are hovering in mid-air. You feel very light.

What Are The Benefits of CBD?

Some of the health conditions CBD may help with include:
– Reduces inflammation and pain
– Safeguards the brain
– Boosts mental health
– Protects heart
– Supports reproductive health
– Supports healthy skin
– Regulates hormones & metabolism

Is CBD Oil Safe or Addictive?

Generally, CBD is well tolerated and safe. CBD from a reputed brand has extremely low levels of THC, and hence it is not addictive.

What Strength Should CBD Be Taken for Anxiety?

CBD ranging from 300 to 600 mg should be taken 1-2 times every day to reduce anxiety symptoms. Further study needs to be conducted to find optimum dose ranges for the different CBD formulations.

Is it Possible to Take Too Much CBD?

CBD beyond 1,500 mg a day could have possible side effects like – diarrhea, weight changes, changes in appetite, fatigue, and changes in liver function.


+ 10 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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  3. ‌Shannon, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente Journal, [online] 23. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2021].
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  5. ‌Shmerling, R.H. (2020). Does CBD help with arthritis pain? – Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/does-cbd-help-with-arthritis-pain-2020041019418 [Accessed 16 Nov. 2021].
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Written by:

Amita Fotedar, Ph.D.

Medically reviewed by:

Dr. Amita Fotedar is an experienced research consultant with a demonstrated history of working in elite research institutes such as the UNDP. She has a PhD in Life Sciences, and a Post Graduate Diploma in International Studies from International Pacific University (New Zealand Campus), and has also achieved certification in Climate Studies from Harvard University. She has done a MicroMasters specialization in Sustainable Energy from The University of Queensland (Australia). She is also a co-founder and research consultant for a New Zealand-based sustainability and environmental services entity. Dr. Amita Fotedar firmly believes in the mantra of "health is wealth" and has a special interest in health and wellness topics. She is a freelance writer and covers health related topics, and is a leader author for many health publications and websites

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