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Using CBD Oil for Anxiety: Does It Work?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a type of cannabinoid, a chemical found naturally in cannabis (marijuana and hemp) plants. Early research is promising regarding the ability of CBD oil to help relieve anxiety.

Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another type of cannabinoid, CBD doesn’t cause any feelings of intoxication or the “high” you may associate with cannabis.

Learn more about the potential benefits of CBD oil for anxiety, and whether it could be a treatment option for you.

The human body has many different receptors. Receptors are protein-based chemical structures that are attached to your cells. They receive signals from different stimuli.

CBD is thought to interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are mostly found in the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, respectively.

The exact way CBD affects CB1 receptors in the brain isn’t fully understood. However, it may alter serotonin signals.

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, plays an important role in your mental health. Low serotonin levels are commonly associated with people who have depression. In some cases, not having enough serotonin may also cause anxiety.

The conventional treatment for low serotonin is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), such as sertraline (Zoloft) or fluoxetine (Prozac). SSRIs are only available by prescription.

Some people with anxiety may be able to manage their condition with CBD instead of an SSRI. However, you should talk to your doctor before making changes to your treatment plan.

Several studies point to the potential benefits of CBD for anxiety.

For generalized anxiety

For generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that CBD has been shown to reduce stress in animals such as rats.

Study subjects were observed as having lower behavioral signs of anxiety. Their physiological symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heart rate, also improved.

More research needs to be done, specifically on humans and GAD.

For other forms of anxiety

CBD may also benefit people with other forms of anxiety, such as social anxiety disorder (SAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It may help treat anxiety-induced insomnia as well.

In 2011, a study researched CBD’s effects on people with SAD. Participants were given an oral dose of 400 milligrams (mg) of CBD or a placebo. Those who received CBD experienced overall reduced anxiety levels.

Multiple recent studies have shown that CBD can help with PTSD symptoms, such as having nightmares and replaying negative memories. These studies have looked at CBD as both a standalone PTSD treatment as well as a supplement to traditional treatments like medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

For other neurological disorders

CBD has also been studied in other neurological disorders.

A 2017 literature review on CBD and psychiatric disorders concluded that there isn’t enough evidence to tout CBD as an effective treatment for depression.

The authors did find some evidence to suggest that CBD could help with anxiety disorders. However, these studies were uncontrolled. This means that the participants weren’t compared to a separate group (or “control”) that might have received a different treatment — or no treatment at all.

Based on their review, more human tests are needed to better understand how CBD works, what the ideal dosages should be, and if there are potential side effects or hazards.

A 2016 study found that CBD can have antipsychotic effects in people with schizophrenia. Moreover, CBD doesn’t cause the significant debilitating side effects associated with some antipsychotic drugs.

If you’re interested in trying CBD oil for your anxiety, talk to your doctor. They can help you figure out a starting dosage that’s right for you.

However, the nonprofit National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) does advise that very few commercially available products contain enough CBD to replicate the therapeutic effects seen in clinical trials.

In a 2018 study, male subjects received CBD before undergoing a simulated public speaking test. The researchers found that an oral dose of 300 mg, administered 90 minutes before the test, was enough to significantly reduce the speakers’ anxiety.

Members of the placebo group and study subjects who received 150 mg saw little benefit. The same was true for subjects who received 600 mg.

The study only looked at 57 subjects, so it was small. More research, including studies that look at female subjects, is needed to determine the appropriate dosage for people with anxiety.

CBD is generally considered safe. However, some people who take CBD may experience some side effects, including:

  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight

CBD may also interact with other medications or dietary supplements you’re taking. Exercise particular caution if you take medications, such as blood thinners, that come with a “grapefruit warning.” CBD and grapefruit both interact with enzymes that are important to drug metabolism.

One study on mice found that being gavaged with, or force-fed, CBD-rich cannabis extract increased their risk for liver toxicity. However, some of the study mice had been given extremely large doses of CBD.

You shouldn’t stop taking any medications you’re already using without talking to your doctor first. Using CBD oil may help your anxiety, but you could also experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking your prescription medications.

Symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • irritability
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • fogginess

Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.

In some parts of the United States, CBD products are only allowed for specific medical purposes, such as the treatment of epilepsy. You may need to get a license from your doctor to be able to purchase CBD oil.

If cannabis is approved for medical use in your state, you may be able to purchase CBD oil online or in special cannabis clinics and dispensaries. Check out this guide to 10 of the best CBD oils on the market.

As research on CBD continues, more states may consider the legalization of cannabis products, leading to wider availability.

Find out what the research says about CBD oil and anxiety. Also get the facts on how it affects other disorders and its legal status.

Is CBD oil addictive?

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Contents

  1. Is CBD oil addictive?
  2. CBD could help fight addiction
  3. CBD oil side effects
  4. Drug interactions

There’s a growing amount of research pointing out the benefits of CBD. Studies have shown that CBD provides anti-inflammatory and seizure-suppressant properties, as well as the ability to reduce social anxiety.

Outside the United States, countries across the globe have started allowing cannabidiol (CBD) to be used legally inside their borders. In Canada, following the passage of The Cannabis Act, which legalized adult-use cannabis, both hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD are available in all provinces. The European Union (EU) has also established regulatory guidelines for hemp-derived CBD oil, allowing the cultivation of hemp as long as the THC content does not exceed 0.2%. A number of South American countries have also loosened restrictions against CBD oil and medical marijuana in general. Both Mexico and Brazil currently allow CBD products to be imported for certain medical conditions, while other countries, such as Chile, have already established full-scale medical marijuana programs.

Despite growing acceptance and recognition of CBD’s potential benefits, concerns remain about the cannabinoid’s power to cause addiction. This may be due to confusion between non-intoxicating CBD and its intoxicating counterpart, THC. Because of the way CBD interacts with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, it doesn’t have the psychoactive effects of THC. In fact, CBD basically blocks THC’s access to those receptors found throughout the nervous system, thereby reducing some of THC’s effects.

Is CBD oil addictive?

Because CBD doesn’t produce the high associated with THC, it’s potential for abuse is considered limited by scientists. A March 2017 study published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence examined details of a previous study where researchers administered various oral dosages of CBD to frequent marijuana users alone and in combination with smoked marijuana. The researchers determined that CBD had as much likelihood for abuse as the placebo in this study.

A 2011 study concluded that CBD has a better safety profile compared to THC and other cannabinoids. Researchers found that high doses of CBD of up to 1,500 milligrams per day were well-tolerated by the human subjects. Compared with THC, CBD did not impair motor or psychological functions, nor did it alter the heart rate, blood pressure, or body temperature.

Since THC can be addictive and numerous CBD products contain varying levels of THC, the question of whether CBD oil is addictive can depend on where the CBD comes from.

CBD oil can be sourced from both hemp and marijuana. CBD derived from hemp has little to no trace of THC. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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CBD derived from hemp plants contains little to no THC (less than 0.3% according to federal law in the U.S.), and therefore should not put an individual at risk of developing cannabis withdrawal symptoms that might come from heavier THC intake.

Marijuana-derived CBD is extracted from marijuana plants that are usually grown for their intoxicating properties. Unlike hemp-extracted CBD, marijuana-derived CBD oil often contains levels of THC that exceed the federal 0.3% limit. In the event the CBD oil has particularly high levels of THC, an individual could possibly experience cannabis withdrawal symptoms if the oil was used to excess. CBD oil with THC levels above 0.3% is only available in states with medical or adult-use cannabis legalization.

While all signs suggest that CBD is not addictive, someone who takes large amounts of CBD on a daily basis could experience side effects. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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While CBD doesn’t produce the same addictive effects as THC, it’s possible that someone who takes large amounts of CBD on a daily basis could experience side effects such as changes in sleep, inflammation, and anxiety if they quit suddenly.

It’s possible to avoid THC when using a CBD product but the combination of CBD and THC is known to produce an entourage effect, boosting therapeutic benefits while subduing negative side effects. For instance, in a 2010 study involving patients with cancer pain, researchers found that the combination of THC and CBD was more effective in treating the pain than the THC and placebo combination.

CBD could help fight addiction

Evidence suggests that CBD could also be used to help combat the adverse effects of THC, such as cannabis withdrawal symptoms. In a 2013 report, researchers administered CBD to a 19-year-old woman with cannabis withdrawal syndrome over a ten day period, which effectively resulted in reduced withdrawal symptoms. Another study, conducted in 2010 and published in Neuropsychopharmacology, examined a total of 94 cannabis users to see what role CBD-to-THC ratios played in reinforcing the effects of drugs and implicit attentional bias to drug stimuli. Compared with smokers of low-CBD strains, the study found that smokers of high-CBD strains showed reduced attentional bias to drug and food stimuli, as well as lower self-rated liking of cannabis stimuli. The research team concluded that “CBD has potential as a treatment for cannabis dependence” and could offer a potential treatment for other addictive disorders.

Existing research also demonstrates that CBD oil could help thwart addiction to other dangerous substances, such as tobacco or opioids. A 2013 study published in Addictive Behaviors looked at the effectiveness of CBD as a way to reduce tobacco cigarette consumption. Observing a total of 24 tobacco smokers, researchers gave half of the subjects an inhaler of CBD and the other half a placebo, instructing them to use the inhaler when they felt the need to smoke. Over a week long period, those treated with CBD reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by 40%, while those with the placebo showed no notable difference.

CBD has potential as a treatment for cannabis dependence. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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CBD has also demonstrated the potential to curb the use of other addictive substances. In a preclinical animal study published in Neuropsychopharmacology on March 22, 2018, researchers applied CBD gel to lab rats that had a history of voluntary alcohol or cocaine use and showcased addiction-like behavior. The study concluded that CBD was effective in reducing drug use in the rodents, and also reduced common side effects of drug dependency, such as anxiety and impulsivity.

This non-intoxicating cannabinoid has also shown promise in human models. A May 2019 study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that CBD could be effective in reducing cravings associated with heroin addiction. To conduct the study, researchers recruited 42 adults who had been using heroin for an average of 13 years. The subjects were divided into three groups: one group was given 800 milligrams of CBD, another 400 milligrams of CBD, and another a placebo. Compared with the placebo, those who were administered CBD significantly reduced both the craving and anxiety induced by the drug cues.

CBD oil side effects

While CBD doesn’t produce the kind of intoxicating effects THC is known for, it’s important to consider any possible CBD oil side effects.

According to Mayo Clinic, the U.S.-based nonprofit academic medical center, CBD use can potentially cause adverse effects, including dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. In an investigation on CBD hepatotoxicity in lab mice, researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences found that the cannabinoid elevated the risk for liver toxicity. The epilepsy medication Epidiolex, which is currently the only FDA-approved CBD product on the market, has some side effects that are similar to those of other hemp-derived CBD products.

CBD is effective in reducing drug use, and also reduced common side effects of drug dependency, such as anxiety and impulsivity. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Most CBD oil side effects, such as drowsiness and fatigue, are similar to hemp oil side effects, even though this hemp fiber-derived product usually doesn’t contain any CBD or THC. With its low potential for addiction and abuse, CBD’s withdrawal effects should be minimal. But each person must weigh the potential risk versus benefits for themselves.

Drug interactions

One other area of concern is the potentially adverse effect that CBD could have on certain prescription medications such as blood thinners.

A 1993 study found that CBD blocked a family of enzymes called cytochrome P450, which are responsible for eliminating 70% to 80% of pharmaceutical drugs from the system. Researchers found that CBD blocked these enzymes from being broken down and metabolized in the liver. While this blockage could enable patients to take lower doses of prescription drugs, it could also cause a toxic buildup of pharmaceutical chemicals in the body.

Is CBD oil addictive? Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Is CBD oil addictive? CBD could help fight addiction CBD oil side effects