CBD for Anxiety: What the Research Says

CBD for Anxiety: What the Research Says

In a time of increased worldwide anxiety due in part to the events of COVID-19, it’s important to understand what the research says about CBD for anxiety. The benefits of cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, shall outlast the current global pandemic, and understanding its anti-anxiety effect may prove beneficial to your overall well-being.

However, examining CBD research can prove challenging. According to a January 2020 report examining the relationship between CBD and anxiety, written by Michael Van Ameringen et al., “The current evidence is equivocal.” Meaning that much of the current cannabinoid research is ambiguous or open to alternative interpretations. Ameringen et al. go on to say that “More high-quality clinical trials must be published before sound conclusions regarding the efficacy for treating anxiety [with CBD] can be drawn.”

This is not to say that reputable, objective research behind using CBD for anxiety does not exist, and even skeptic researchers such as Ameringen believe in CBD’s potential for an anxiolytic treatment option.

According to another recent study undergone by Scott Shannon et al. with The Permanente Journal:

A recent surge in scientific publications has found preclinical and clinical evidence documenting value for CBD in some neuropsychiatric disorders, including epilepsy, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Evidence points towards a calming effect for CBD in the central nervous system.

Scott Shannon et al.

Scientists are finally starting to take notes on the efficacy of CBD treatment and how it may affect your mental health, leading to an influx of new clinical trials that will continue to shed light on this user-approved cannabinoid. It’s important to understand current CBD research so that you can understand the benefits of CBD and determine whether or not it’s right for your anxiety treatment.

CBD & Mental Health: What You Need to Know

The relationship between CBD and mental health is complicated. Especially when we dissect the scientific and physiological relationship between CBD and mental disorders, we see how truly impactful this cannabinoid can be:

  • At low to intermediate doses, CBD activates the endocannabinoid receptor 5-HT1A.
  • At high doses, CBD activates the antagonism of another endocannabinoid receptor, TRPV1.

CBD’s interaction with these endocannabinoid receptors may prove vital for researchers trying to further understand CBD’s potential anti-anxiety effect. According to Scott Shannon’s research, “The activity of CBD at 5-HT1A receptors may drive its neuroprotective, antidepressive, and anxiolytic benefits.” Additionally, receptor interactions aren’t the only benefit shown by CBD research:

  • CBD has been shown to prevent the breakdown in the brain of anandamide, an endocannabinoid.
  • CBD has been shown to increase overall endocannabinoid receptor activation in the brain, indirectly elevating endocannabinoid levels and metabolism.

Our brains produce their own cannabinoids, called endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids, for short. Endocannabinoids have been shown to produce anxiolytic effects of their very own. Because CBD can sustain the lifespan of anandamide, arguably the most important endocannabinoid, preventing it from breaking down, it can potentially increase the anti-anxiety effect of CBD without directly interacting with the receptors in our brain.

In layman’s terms, CBD can increase the production of natural chemicals within the brain that exhibit anxiolytic behavior. This could lead to reduced anxiety in beings that possess an endocannabinoid system, notably humans and other mammals.

CBD & Specific Anxiety-Inducing Disorders

In The Permanente Journal, what Scott Shannon et al. specifically tried to measure was the distinct effect that CBD had on anxiety and sleep. According to the study, anxiety scores in patients decreased rapidly. “Anxiety scores decreased within the first month in 57 patients (79.2%) and remained decreased during the duration of the study.”

Sleep scores improved as well, but these positive changes in sleep patterns fluctuated throughout the study. This shows that CBD induces more positive change when handling anxiety-related afflictions.

However, Scott Shannon was not the only researcher to study specific mental health disorders in regards to possible CBD treatment.

CBD Case Study: Social Anxiety Disorder, Paranoia, & More

A team led by Clarrisa Laczkovics released a report in the German psychiatric journal Neuropsychiatrie in February of 2020. The report followed an unnamed 16-year-old who suffered from a myriad of mental health conditions, including severe anxiety, depression, narcissistic personality disorder, social anxiety disorder, paranoia, and drug addiction.

According to Laczkovics et al., “Upon treatment with CBD and cessation of the antidepressant medication [previously taken by the teenager], the patient improved regarding depressive as well as anxiety symptoms including simple phobias and symptoms of paranoia and dissociation.”

The report goes on to acknowledge that, through the controlled use of CBD under professional psychiatric guidance, the teenager’s social anxiety disorder improved significantly. The patient voluntarily stopped taking his antidepressant medications and was able to see his mental well-being improve drastically over the course of the study.

Additionally, the patient experienced less-than-usual drug withdrawal symptoms, suggesting further studies between CBD and narcotics cessation are necessary to understand CBD’s expansive potential.


There are over 20 million military veterans living in the United States right now, and an estimated 20% of these veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The symptoms of PTSD can be crippling:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Elevated fear
  • Insomnia
  • Recurrent flashbacks
  • Avoidance of social situations

Long before the U.S. government legalized the use of CBD through the 2018 Farm Bill, veterans were turning to cannabis preparations to overcome their PTSD-related symptoms. Many anecdotal reports showed that veterans were able to control the symptoms of PTSD with cannabis derivatives such as CBD oil, with many patients reporting reduced anxiety, reduced insomnia, and the increased ability to cope with everyday life following military service.

CBD for anxiety correlated to PTSD-related symptoms has been shown to work, according to anecdotal reports by veterans. Madison Wright of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians said it best through her January 2020 study of the relationship between CBD and mental health: “Retrospective studies have found CBD to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms in patients with anxiety disorders and PTSD.”

Anecdotal Evidence to Support the Anti-Anxiety Effect of CBD

Looking back at Madison Wright’s study under the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, her evidence suggests that human trials – both using healthy volunteers and individuals suffering from anxiety-inducing disorders – have shown that CBD may possess potent anxiolytic effects. But the benefits of CBD are difficult to track, as scientists don’t yet know everything this cannabinoid can do.

However, there is one area of research that may teach us more about the anecdotal user experience: social media. Social media outlets are not inherently reliable in terms of research, but they can offer interesting data points into the world of CBD and, more specifically, CBD oil, the most popular CBD product on the market.

The Social Media Research on CBD

The International Journal of Drug Policy released a report in March of 2020, authored by Tung Tran, stating that it’s important to examine the anecdotal social media reports of CBD oil use because “the abundance of anecdotal claims warrants serious scientific exploration moving forward.”

Tran et al. looked at two sources in particular:

  1. The subreddit CBD: The Medical Marijuana and Hemp Cannabidiol Community.
  2. Comments submitted to the FDA regarding the regulation of cannabis-derived products.

The study determined that “CBD is mostly discussed as a remedy for anxiety disorders and pain and this is consistent across both comment sources.” This research shows that, while science can’t yet explain the benefits of CBD, users are already taking advantage of reduced anxiety through CBD oil use.

Research into the Benefits of CBD on Reduced Anxiety

It’s vitally important to stay up to date on CBD research. New studies continue to develop, and the more we learn about this remarkable cannabinoid, the more we can push to better the world. Millions of Americans suffer from anxiety-related disorders. A large percentage more suffer from other conditions that may fall under the benefit of CBD treatment.

Supporting the research is critical, and according to Peter Grinspoon, a medical professional with Harvard Health, “CBD may prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain.” We learn more about this cannabinoid every day. And while many researchers may differ in belief, an overwhelming number seems to at least support that CBD for anxiety is efficacious.

If you believe that CBD is right for you and your anxiety treatment, CBD Choice offers a vast selection of CBD oil, topicals, and other goods. We have something for everyone and are always available to help you find the right CBD product for your needs.

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