CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of over 100 different cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant, Cannabis sativa. Taken as a supplement to support health and well-being by millions of people, there is good evidence that it can also help combat anxiety.
Mental health disorders caused by stress and anxiety are increasing around the world and are often treated with strong prescription drugs. In this article, we’ll take a look at whether using a quality CBD supplement offers a better way to deal with anxiety and its symptoms.
Note: All information in this article is made in good faith and supported by medical articles where possible. You should always seek medical advice from a healthcare professional when you are experiencing chronic pain, illnesses or disorders.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol is one of several therapeutic compounds found in the cannabis plant. It is not psychoactive (unlike the other known compound derived from cannabis, THC) and can be safely taken in reasonable doses without unwanted side effects by the majority of people.
It is known to support the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) – the body’s own chemical messaging system – and may play a beneficial role in maintaining good physical, mental, reproductive and emotional health.
How does CBD help with anxiety?
Research shows that CBD can contribute to good mental health and although the exact process by which it does this is not fully understood, there is good evidence that it can positively affect our anxiety:
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- Stress response
- Emotional balance
- How CBD helps with anxiety
CBD does this by supporting the ECS in its work regulating our nervous and hormonal systems.
A key study found that CBD works by affecting levels of important neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, as well as the “happiness molecules” 2-AG and anandamide.
Serotonin is produced by the body and is closely involved in several important physiological and mental processes, such as the regulation of our sleep/wake cycle (the circadian rhythm), mood, behaviour and digestion.
5 Advantages of CBD over other medications for anxiety
Here are some good reasons to consider CBD as an alternative to prescription drugs:
1. CBD has fewer side effects
A common way of dealing with anxiety is to increase the concentration of serotonin in the body through the use of prescription drugs. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed drugs for the treatment of anxiety disorders.
Unfortunately, there are some serious side effects associated with this approach, such as:
- Feelings of agitation
- Constipation or loose bowels
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Reduced vision
- Dryness of the mouth
- Excessive sweating
- Sleep disorders
- Suppression of sex drive and erectile dysfunction
- Problems in achieving orgasm
This is a very long list! Side effects from taking CBD are much rarer and the most common side effect is appetite suppression or mild drowsiness.
2. CBD is not addictive and does not promote dependence
Cannabidiol is not addictive and has only mild side effects, unlike SSRIs, which are associated with a host of unpleasant side effects. And, although SSRIs are not proven to be addictive, they can cause severe withdrawal symptoms when people stop using them.
The other drugs prescribed for severe anxiety, the benzodiazepines, are considered highly addictive and should be used with caution. CBD offers an effective, natural alternative to both of these types of drugs, with no known health risks, so we believe the choice is clear.
3. CBD is a natural alternative
CBD is a 100% natural product derived from the cannabis plant, Cannabis sativa, and can be safely taken by people who are sensitive to prescription medications and who want to seek a more holistic approach to managing their anxiety.
4. Rapid onset of relief
CBD has the added advantage of having a rapid action. Prescription drugs can take several weeks to start working effectively, while CBD has been reported to act within minutes to hours of consumption – this is great news for those suffering from acute anxiety or panic attacks.
5. Flexibility in administration
One of the reasons why CBD works for so many people is the fact that it can be taken in so many different forms. Traditional stress medications usually come in the form of pills and this is not ideal for everyone.
CBD, on the other hand, can be taken as oils, capsules, edibles and even vapes, so there is a product for everyone, regardless of their preferences.
What the evidence tells us about CBD and stress
There is plenty of evidence to support claims that CBD can help people with various anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders come in many forms, but two of the most common are social anxiety disorder (SAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A 2011 study found that it helped with public speaking
Participants in a social anxiety disorder (SAD) test that simulated a public speaking test (SPST) performed better when taking a CBD supplement than when taking a placebo.
It was found that CBD significantly relieved the “nerves” of the test group and their anxiety levels were found to be similar to those of the study control group (who did not suffer from SAD).
A 2015 review found that it can relieve symptoms of several disorders
Of the 49 studies analysed, evidence was found that CBD benefits people suffering from OCD, panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
A 2018 study found that CBD can help PTSD sufferers
This recent study showed that CBD can alleviate symptoms of PTSD, such as mental replay of harmful thoughts and memories and sleep disturbance due to nightmares.
A 2019 trial found that a higher dose does not always have a greater effect
This trial compared the effectiveness of different doses of CBD in combating anxiety and found that the effectiveness of different doses varied widely.
Another 2019 study found that CBD reduced symptoms of anxiety
This study found that in a test group of 11 participants (all of whom suffered from PTSD), 10 out of 11 experienced reduced anxiety symptoms after taking cannabidiol.
How to use CBD oil for anxiety
CBD can be taken in a variety of forms, from candies and powders to capsules, sprays and oils, so there is an easy to take supplement for anyone suffering from anxiety. It can even be used topically in the form of lotion, oil or cream.
CBD by mouth
An oral supplement, such as an oil or capsule, is a great way to take CBD because it is both convenient and effective, as the effect is usually felt within half to two hours.
One of the most popular ways of taking CBD is in the form of gum and peppermint. They are discreet – you just pop one in your mouth as needed – and can be taken anywhere, as they look like regular candy.
However, they do not have as fast an effect as CBD oils, so they are not the best supplement to take in cases of acute need, such as agoraphobia and anxiety attacks.
One of the fastest ways to experience the beneficial effects of CBD is by vaping it. Vapourisation is certainly effective, but there are concerns about the other chemicals present in some vapours and how heating affects them, so more research is needed into the long-term health effects.
Three DNH products that can help with anxiety
CBD Oil 8%
For people taking CBD for the first time, we would recommend our signature 8% CBD oil. A full spectrum product, it contains 825mg of cannabidiol per 10ml, enhanced by a wide range of natural terpenoids, terpenes and other cannabinoids – it’s CBD exactly as nature intended.
CBDactive+ is a unique product that increases bioavailability up to 100%. It offers 10x more full-spectrum CBD compared to regular hemp oil products due to its special water-soluble composition – meaning you get more efficacy and even better value for money.
And because CBDactive+ is hydrophilic and not lipophilic (like the majority of supplements), it works faster, providing even greater effect on the mind and body.
CBG oil 3% (with CBD)
The last product we recommend for dealing with anxiety is one you might not expect: The CBG oil. Our CBG oil is a 1:1 blend of pure CBD and cannabigerol (CBG), which delivers a punch that destroys stress and works very well for people experiencing acute stress and its symptoms.
Frequently asked questions
What dose should I take of CBD for anxiety?
There is some debate about what the standard dose of CBD should be to combat anxiety and more research needs to be done, but a fascinating study in New Zealand found that a dose between 300mg and 600mg reduced anxiety symptoms in a group of people suffering from SAD.
What are the side effects of CBD?
CBD is generally well tolerated by the vast majority of people, however, there are some potential side effects associated with its use, such as
- Suppression of appetite
- Disorders in the stomach
Note: Due to insufficient research, CBD has not been shown to be safe for use during pregnancy or during breastfeeding and we do not recommend prenatal or postnatal use.
Will CBD “fix” me?
Pure cannabidiol has no psychoactive properties whatsoever and therefore will not get you “high”. It is worth noting that CBD products are regulated by law and are not allowed to contain significant amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).