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 7,387 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.
- You can find reliable CBD oil and other CBD products online here.
- If you’d like to purchase it in person, 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.
- You can find CBD tinctures online here.
- 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
- You can find edible CBD gummy products online here.
- 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 7,387 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.
What Is CBD Oil?
This cannabis extract may help treat nerve pain, anxiety, and epilepsy
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman’s World, and Natural Health.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Meredith Bull, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a private practice in Los Angeles. She helped co-author the first integrative geriatrics textbook, “Integrative Geriatric Medicine.”
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is an extract from hemp plants called Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa . You might be more familiar with cannabis plants because they are grown for marijuana. However, CBD is not the same thing as marijuana.
CBD oil contains CBD that’s mixed with a base (carrier) oil, like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. These are called tinctures. You can get tinctures in different concentrations. The oil can also be put into capsules, gummies, and sprays.
People who support using CBD oil say that it can treat pain and anxiety; can help stimulate appetite and may help manage some types of seizures.
This article goes over what CBD is used for, the possible side effects, and what you should look for if you choose to buy CBD.
CBD vs. Marijuana
CBD is one component (called a cannabinoid ) that’s found in a hemp plant. Marijuana is a separate plant but it’s from the same species that hemp belongs to. Marijuana has CBD and hundreds of other compounds in it.
The main difference between hemp plants and marijuana plants is how much of a compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is in them. Hemp is grown to have less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana has more.
THC is what’s responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis—in other words, it’s what makes you feel “high.”
CBD oil generally does not have THC in it; however, a very small (trace) amount might be in products sold in certain states.
What Is CBD Oil Used For?
We’re not sure exactly how CBD works. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have a strong connection with the molecules in the brain that THC binds to create psychoactive effects. These are called cannabinoid receptors.
Instead, CBD works on other receptors, like the opioid receptors that help control pain. It also affects glycine receptors that control a brain chemical called serotonin which helps control your mood.
People that support the use of CBD claim that CBD oil can treat a variety of health problems, including:
- Chronic pain
- Drug use and withdrawal
- High blood pressure
- Muscle spasms
- Poor appetite
As CBD has gained popularity, researchers have been trying to study it more. Still, there has not been a lot of clinical research to look for evidence in support of these health claims.
CBD is not a safe option for everyone. Talk to your healthcare provider if you want to try it for managing a health condition.
A 2015 review of research that was published in the journal Neurotherapeutics suggested that CBD might help treat anxiety disorders.
The study authors reported that CBD had previously shown powerful anxiety-relieving effects in animal research—and the results were kind of surprising.
In most of the studies, lower doses of CBD (10 milligrams per kilogram, mg/kg, or less) improved some symptoms of anxiety, while higher doses (100 mg/kg or more) had almost no effect.
The way that CBD acts in the brain could explain why this happens. In low doses, CBD might act the same as the surrounding molecules that normally bind to the receptor that “turns up” their signaling.
However, at higher doses, too much activity at this receptor site could produce the opposite effect.
There have not been many trials to look at CBD’s anxiety-relieving effects in humans. However, one was a 2019 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry.
For the study, 57 men took either CBD oil or a sugar pill with no CBD in it (placebo) before a public-speaking event.
The researchers assessed the participants’ anxiety levels using measures like blood pressure and heart rate. The researchers also used a reliable test for mood states called the Visual Analog Mood Scale (VAMS).
The men who took 300 mg of CBD oil reported less anxiety than the men who were given a placebo; however, the men who took 100 mg or 600 mg of CBD oil did not experience the same effects.
CBD oil might help people with substance use disorder, according to a 2015 review published in the journal Substance Abuse.
The review looked at the findings from 14 published studies. Nine of the studies looked at the effects of CBD on animals, and five studies looked at the effects on humans.
The researchers reported that CBD showed promise for treating people with opioid, cocaine, or psychostimulant use disorders.
However, the effects of CBD were quite different depending on the substance. For example, CBD without THC did not decrease withdrawal symptoms related to opioid use.
On the other hand, it did reduce drug-seeking behaviors in people using cocaine, methamphetamine, and other similar drugs.
Some experts suggest that CBD could help treat cannabis and nicotine dependence, but more research is needed to provide this theory.
High Blood Pressure
A 2017 study found that CBD oil may reduce the risk of heart disease because it can lower high blood pressure in some people.
For the study, nine healthy men took either 600 mg of CBD or the same dose of a placebo. The men who took CBD had lower blood pressure before and after experiencing stressors like exercise or extreme cold.
The study also looked at the amount of blood remaining in the heart after a heartbeat (stroke volume).
The stroke volume in the men who took CBD was lower than in was in the placebo group, meaning their hearts were pumping more efficiently.
The study suggested that CBD oil could be a complementary therapy for people with high blood pressure that is affected by stress and anxiety.
However, there is no evidence that CBD oil can treat high blood pressure on its own or prevent it in people at risk. While stress can complicate high blood pressure, it does not cause it.
In June 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD oral solution called Epidiolex.
Epidiolex is used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy in children under the age of 2: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. These are very rare genetic disorders that cause lifelong seizures starting in the first year of life.
Other than for these two disorders, CBD’s effectiveness for treating seizures is not known. Even with Epidiolex, it’s not clear if the anti-seizure effects are from CBD or another factor.
However, there is some evidence that CBD interacts with seizure medicines like Onfi (clobazam) and raises their concentration in the blood. That said, more research is needed to understand the link.
Possible Side Effects
Clinical research has shown that CBD oil can cause side effects. The specific side effects a person has and how bad they are varies from one person to the next and from one type of CBD to another.
Some common side effects people report from using CBD include:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in mood
- Dry mouth
CBD oil may also increase liver enzymes, which is a marker of liver inflammation.
People with liver disease should talk to their healthcare provider before taking CBD oil. They may need to have their liver enzymes checked regularly if they are using CBD.
Can You Use CBD If You’re Pregnant?
You should not use CBD oil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Even though the effects of CBD are not fully understood, it does pass through the placenta.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) further states that pregnant people should not use marijuana because of the potential risks to a developing fetus.
Do not drive or use heavy machinery when taking CBD oil—especially when you first start using it or switch to a new brand. Remember that some products do contain THC, even in small amounts.
CBD oil can interact with medications, including many that are used to treat epilepsy. One of the reasons for this has to do with how your body breaks down (metabolizes) drugs.
Cytochrome P450 (CYP450) is an enzyme your body uses to break down some drugs. CBD oil can block CYP450. That means that taking CBD oil with these drugs could make them have a stronger effect than you need or make them not work at all.
Drugs that could potentially interact with CBD include:
- Anti-arrhythmia drugs like quinidine
- Anticonvulsants like Tegretol (carbamazepine) and Trileptal (oxcarbazepine)
- Antifungal drugs like Nizoral (ketoconazole) and Vfend (voriconazole)
- Antipsychotic drugs like Orap (pimozide)
- Atypical antidepressants like Remeron (mirtazapine)
- Benzodiazepine sedatives like Klonopin (clonazepam) and Halcion (triazolam)
- Immune-suppressive drugs like Sandimmune (cyclosporine)
- Macrolide antibiotics like clarithromycin and telithromycin
- Migraine medicine like Ergomar (ergotamine)
- Opioid painkillers like Duragesic (fentanyl) and alfentanil
- Rifampin-based drugs used to treat tuberculosis
Always tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), herbal, or recreational drugs.
The interactions between these medications and CBD are often mild and you might not have to change your treatment.
However, in some cases, you might have to change medications or space out your doses to avoid a reaction. That said, never change or stop medication without talking to your provider.
Dosage and Preparation
There are no guidelines for using CBD oil. Each product works a bit differently, depending on the form.
For example, putting the oil under your tongue can produce effects more quickly than swallowing a capsule that needs to be digested.
Here are a few ways that you can take CBD oil:
- Placing one or more drops under your tongue and holding it there for 30 to 60 seconds without swallowing. You can also use a spray that is spritz in your mouth/under your tongue.
- Taking a capsule or chewing a gummy
There’s no “correct” dose of CBD oil. How much you take and the form you choose will depend on your needs and what you hope to get for effects. The average dose range is from 5 mg to 25 mg.
Most oils come in 30-milliliter (mL) bottles and include a dropper cap to help you measure.
That said, it’s hard to figure out the exact amount of CBD per milliliter of oil. Some tinctures have concentrations of 1,500 mg per 30 mL, while others have 3,000 mg per mL or more.
How to Calculate CBD Dose
To determine an exact dose of CBD, remember that each drop of oil equals 0.05 mL of fluid. This means that a 30-mL bottle of CBD oil will have about 600 drops in it.
If the concentration of the tincture is 1,500 mg per mL, one drop would have 2.5 mg of CBD in it. The math to figure that out looks like this: 1,500 mg ÷ 600 drops = 2.5 mg
What to Look For
CBD oil comes in different forms: isolates, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum.
- Isolates contain only CBD
- Broad-spectrum oils nearly all of the components of the plan (e.g., proteins, flavonoids, terpenes, and chlorophyll), but does not have THC oils have all the compounds including THC (up to 0.3%)
Alternative medicine practitioners believe that the compounds provide more health benefits, but the is a lack of evidence to support these claims.
Remember that CBD oils are unregulated. There’s no guarantee that a product is what it claims to be on its packaging. You also can’t know for sure that it’s safe and effective.
A 2017 study reported that only 31% of CBD products sold online were correctly labeled. Most had less CBD in them than was advertised, and 21% had significant amounts of THC.
If you are interested in buying CBD products, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Buy American: Domestically produced CBD oil might be a safer option than those that have been imported.
- Go organic: Brands certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are less likely to expose you to pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
- Read the product label: Even if you choose a full-spectrum oil, don’t assume that every ingredient on the product label is natural. CBD products can also have preservatives, flavorings, or thinning agents in them. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, ask the dispenser what it is or check online.
Hemp plants can be grown for different purposes. Some species are made for marijuana but others are used to make CBD products.
Unlike marijuana, CBD oil does not “get you high.” Instead, it may help relieve stress, anxiety, drug withdrawals, and nerve pain.
While there are many claims about the health benefits of using CBD oil, the evidence is lacking. A lot of studies were done with animals, not humans.
If you want to try CBD oil, you should learn about the different dosages and preparations first.
You should also know that the products are not regulated, which means you can’t know for sure that a product will work and be safe.
Before you use CBD oil, talk to your provider. If you take certain medications or have a health condition, you may not be able to use these products.
Frequently Asked Questions
It would be hard to overdose on CBD oil. Research has shown that human tolerance for CBD is very high. One study reported the toxic dose would be about 20,000 mg taken at one time.
It depends on where you live, the type of product, how it was sourced (e.g., is it from hemp or marijuana), and its intended purpose (medical or recreational). In many states, you must be 18 or 21 to buy CBD oil. Check your state’s laws.
Not necessarily. While the names are sometimes used interchangeably, hemp oil can also refer to hemp seed oil, which is used for cooking, food production, and skincare products.
CBD oil is made from the leaves, stems, buds, and flowers of the Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa plant. It should contain less than 0.3% THC.
Hemp oil is made from the seeds of Cannabis sativa and does not have TCH in it.