A Guide to CBD For Anxiety

Medically Reviewed By Eloise Theisen, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC

Cannabidiol (CBD) can be an effective treatment for social anxiety disorder. However, despite strong beliefs that it may be effective for other anxiety disorders, more research is necessary.

CBD products derived from hemp with less than 0.3% THC are federally legal. However, they are still illegal in some states. CBD products derived from cannabis are considered illegal federally but may be legal according to some state laws. Always check local laws, especially when traveling. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be mislabeled. 

This article explains what CBD is and how it works. It also discusses what research says about CBD and anxiety. Finally, it goes over the possible side effects of CBD.

What is CBD?

Female dripping CBD oil onto her tongue
ArtistGNDphotography/Getty Images

CBD is one of the 200 cannabinoids that naturally occur in cannabis plants, including hemp plants. Unlike the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is not psychoactive. This means that CBD will not cause a person to feel “high.”

The FDA Trusted Source Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Governmental authority Go to source has not approved any over-the-counter CBD products for medical use. This does not definitively mean that CBD won’t effectively help manage anxiety. However, it does mean that CBD products are not regulated by the FDA. As such, it’s important to be careful about what products you use.

Learn about the difference between CBD and THC.

How does CBD work?

Research has shown Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source that CBD has various therapeutic properties. These include:

  • antipsychotic
  • pain relief
  • anticonvulsant
  • antioxidant
  • anti-inflammatory
  • antiarthritic
  • antineoplastic, or cancer-treating, properties

CBD may also interact with receptors that regulate fear and anxiety-related behavior.

What does research say about CBD and anxiety?

Research has shown Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source that CBD may be a promising treatment for social anxiety. While it may be effective in treating other anxiety disorders, more research is necessary to determine how it fits into therapy.

There is potential for CBD to be helpful in treating other conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Research up to this point suggests that CBD shows potential for treating anxiety and other mental health conditions. However, further research in clinical settings is necessary.

Learn more about anxiety.

What are the side effects of CBD?

CBD may have Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source a lower chance of causing side effects than some prescription medications. However, it is not without potential side effects.

Commonly reported side effects of CBD include:

  • diarrhea
  • tiredness
  • loss or change in appetite

Other potential side effects of cannabinoids include:

CBD may cause interactions with other medications you may be taking. Speak with your doctor before starting to use any CBD products.

It’s also important to keep in mind that CBD and other cannabinoid products are not regulated. As such, there have been reports Trusted Source National Cancer Institute Governmental authority Go to source of CBD products contaminated with pesticides and other substances. Due to the lack of regulation, these products may also contain higher levels of cannabinoids than advertised.

Q:

Can CBD be addictive?

Anonymous

A:

There is no evidence to support that CBD is addictive. In fact, it is being studied to help with addictions such as alcohol use and nicotine. The World Health Organization (WHO) Trusted Source World Health Organization Highly respected international organization Go to source has stated that there is no evidence to support CBD as a public health risk. That being said, if you have a history of addiction, it would be best to speak with a knowledgeable healthcare professional to evaluate whether you [have a greater] risk.

Eloise Theisen, R.N., M.S.N., AGPCNP-BC Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

Summary

CBD may be a promising treatment for social anxiety and other anxiety disorders, but more research is necessary. Information on dosing guidelines and the effects of CBD is necessary to know if it’s an appropriate treatment for anxiety.

It’s important to remember that CBD products are not regulated by the FDA. This means they are more likely to be mislabeled or contaminated with other substances.

CBD may have fewer side effects than some prescription medications. However, commonly reported side effects include diarrhea, tiredness, and changes in appetite.

CBD may also cause interactions with other medications you may be taking. Speak with your doctor before using any type of CBD product for the first time.

Was this helpful?
0
  1. Blessing, E. M., et al. (2015). Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/
  2. Brady, K. T., et al. (2019). Can CBD help with my anxiety and depression? https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/cbd
  3. Cannabidiol (CBD): Critical review report. (2018). https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/controlled-substances/whocbdreportmay2018-2.pdf
  4. Cannabis (marijuana) and cannabinoids: What you need to know. (2019). https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijuana-and-cannabinoids-what-you-need-to-know
  5. Cannabis and cannabinoids (PDQ)–Health professional version. (2022). https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/cannabis-pdq
  6. FDA regulation of cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including cannabidiol (CBD). (2021). https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd
  7. Iffland, K., et al. (2017). An update on safety and side effects of cannabidiol: A review of clinical data and relevant animal studies. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/
  8. Skelley, J. W., et al. (2020). Use of cannabidiol in anxiety and anxiety-related disorders [Abstract]. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S154431911930514X

Medical Reviewer: Eloise Theisen, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC
Last Review Date: 2022 Dec 15
View All Anxiety Disorders Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.