CBD for Anxiety

By Andrew Ward Updated March 15th

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

Scores of individuals suffering from anxiety and anxiety-related disorders are considering CBD as a possible way to relieve their symptoms.

Using CBD for anxiety may be the right decision for you. But, before diving in, be sure to understand the basics, from how to use CBD for anxiety to what the perfect method of consumption and dosage is for you.

Today, CBD research shows promise for many patients seeking relief from anxiety. Here's what you should know before making any decisions for yourself.

The Complete Guide to Medical Cannabis for Stress & Anxiety

Find natural, lasting relief with our comprehensive (and completely free) patient’s guide to medical cannabis for stress and anxiety.

What is CBD?

CBD is one of the hundreds of compounds found inside the cannabis plant. CBD is considered an essential component of the plant's medical capabilities, with many turning to CBD for anxiety treatment.

The second most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis, only behind THC, CBD is typically derived from the hemp plant, with additional natural and synthetic sources available in some instances.

what is CBD
CBD comes in many convenient forms.

Is CBD Legal in the US?

While many believe CBD was made legal in the U.S. under the 2018 Farm Bill, that isn't exactly the case. Like THC, CBD remains under the rules of each state and their Controlled Substances Act (CSA). While most state CSAs follow federal guidelines, some states do continue to prohibit hemp.

medical cannabis doctor
Yes, CBD is legal in the US, but some states have differing rules.

Types of CBD

Medical cannabis is a largely customizable experience, catering to the needs of each patient. While some may prefer or need the entire plant profile, others may find themselves seeking a more distilled or isolated medical treatment.

full spectrum vs broad spectrum
Full spectrum CBD contains some THC. Broad spectrum CBD is THC free.


Proponents of the Entourage Effect believe that the optimal consumption experience stems from the combined effects of a strain and all of its compounds. They believe that the medicinal value of the final product is affected by various components of the whole flower, such as:

  • CBD,
  • THC,
  • various other cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, and CBC,
  • terpenes,
  • and other compounds.

For instance, adherents of the entourage effect believe that finding the right balance of CBD to THC may help relieve symptoms of anxiety or aid sleep.

Full-spectrum CBD extracts as much of the plant profile as possible. Keep in mind that trace amounts of THC will be found in full-spectrum CBD oil, potentially affecting some people with upcoming drug screenings.


Broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD oil overlap in just about every way, except for THC. It serves as a worthwhile option for anyone seeking the full range of the plant without the THC.

To be clear: full-spectrum CBD oil contains trace amounts of THC; broad-spectrum CBD oil does not.

CBD Isolate

Isolates sit on the other end of the spectrum. As the name suggests, CBD is isolated to a singular compound, leaving a white powder rather than an oil. CBD isolates might be an option for you if you prefer to focus on a particular compound rather than the whole plant. It's also ideal for on-the-go mixing into edibles or beverages.

full spectrum vs cbd isolate
CBD isolate is pure CBD in its crystalline form.

What is Anxiety, Exactly?

Anxiety comes in many forms and can often be mislabeled or thrown into a group with everyday worries we all face. We each have our own struggles, but anxiety disorders disrupt our lives emotionally, physically, and behaviorally so much that we can't function as we typically do. Feelings associated with anxiety disorders include restlessness, fears of self-consciousness or fear of judgment, or feelings of impending doom. The severity can sometimes grow into a panic attack.

what is anxiety
Anxiety disorders disrupt our lives so much that we can't function as we typically do.

Most individuals experiencing symptoms of anxiety have general anxiety disorder. However, some may have other anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder (SAD), panic disorder, or other non-anxiety classified disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Common anxiety symptoms include

  • Fatigue,
  • Headaches,
  • Irritability,
  • Muscle aches or tension,
  • Rapid, racing heart,
  • Stomachaches,
  • Sweating,
  • Trembling or twitching,
  • Trouble swallowing‍.

What We Know About CBD for Anxiety Treatment

As millions seek relief, many have found themselves asking if CBD is good for anxiety. Federal prohibitions in the U.S. and beyond stifled research for decades. However, some countries like Israel have pushed on. More have joined the research in recent years, with the U.S. providing insights to some extent as well.

CBD for anxiety
A 2015 study concluded that CBD interacts with CB1R and 5-HT1A receptors, among other receptors that help regulate a person's fears and behavior when under anxiety.

You'll need to hold off if you're waiting for conclusive lab findings to confirm if you should use CBD oil, gummies, or otherwise for anxiety. But many medical cannabis patients swear by its use, and anxiety is considered a qualifying condition for medical cannabis in many states.

A substantial review from researchers in 2015 concluded that CBD interacted with CB1 and 5-HT1A receptors, among other receptors that help regulate a person's fears and behavior when under anxiety. Researchers found that the clinical evidence "strongly supports the potential of CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders.”

The study indicated that CBD might be beneficial for symptoms of anxiety disorders,1 such as:

The studies began to increase as CBD acceptance grew. A 2019 study found that over 79% of patients analyzed saw a reduction in anxiety symptoms in the first month of use.2 The following year, an audit of 400 New Zealanders prescribed CBD reported improvements in non-cancer and mental health patients' pain, depression, and anxiety symptoms. Analysts reported no adverse effects during the study.3 In another 2020 examination, researchers concluded that CBD is promising for anxiety symptoms, saying it had an encouraging role as an alternative option for managing anxiety disorder.4

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How to Use CBD for Anxiety

CBD can be consumed in many ways, each with varying onset and effect length times. It is important to consult your doctor before beginning to use CBD products for anxiety. Each individual has a unique endocannabinoid system; thus, cannabinoids may affect individuals differently. Below, we have included examples of CBD product types and their potential onset and effect length times based on the current data.5


cbd oil
CBD oil is often administered sublingually to aid absorption.

CBD oil is typically administered using a dropper. Oil is administered either under the tongue (sublingually) or ingested through the digestive system. Sublingual application may be best for anyone seeking rapid results, with onset times typically taking between 15 and 45 minutes and effects lasting six to eight hours.

CBD oil traveling through the digestive tract will instead take effect like an edible, with onset times varying between 60 minutes and two hours. However, depending on the dosage, its effects may last between six and eight hours.

CBD Gummies

cbd gummies
CBD gummies are a favorite for anxiety.

People using edibles, like CBD gummies, aren't likely seeking immediate effects. Rather, they are typically interested in longer-lasting, more substantial effects. Patients may wait 60 minutes to two hours to see their effects set in, but those effects may last between six and eight hours, as mentioned above.

CBD Capsules

cbd capsule
CBD capsules are slower to set in and last much longer than other consumption methods.

Capsules follow a similar path to traditional edibles. These longer-lasting, slower-to-set-in options may begin taking effect in 60 to 180 minutes, with the effects lasting six to eight hours in most instances.

Sublingual Spray

Unlike CBD oil, sublingual sprays do not provide patients with the option of how they want to consume their CBD. Instead, a sublingual spray offers one application method, which should provide effects in just a few minutes. Results can last up to eight hours.

cbd sublingual spray
Sublingual spray works like sublingual drops, but may be easier for some to dose.

Cannabis Flower

Smoked and vaped cannabis products are another choice for those seeking near-instant effects. Once consumed, patients should begin to experience results in a matter of minutes, with effects lasting between one to three hours depending on the cultivar and dosage. In some cases, effects may last several hours.

cbd flower
CBD flower can be smoked or vaped, just like THC containing flower.

CBD Dosage for Anxiety

The previously mentioned 2019 review also provided insight into the potential of CBD for various types of anxiety, like Social Anxiety Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder. Their review found that dosages of 300mg CBD were effective in helping relieve symptoms. In another 2019 study, researchers concluded that a similar dosage of 300mg CBD was a way to reduce anxiety symptoms in 57 male subjects.6

Remember that dosage will alter depending on the product and the chosen consumption method.

Risks and Side Effects of Using CBD for Anxiety

Research has shown that CBD is relatively safe for most consumers, with few experiencing any adverse side effects. That said, a number of individuals may experience adverse reactions,7 including:

We recommend speaking with your trusted medical professional before using CBD. This is especially true if you take any other medications, as CBD may interact with enzymes critical to metabolizing your medications.

NuggMD physicians are always happy to help! You can talk to a physician from the comfort of home between 8AM and 10PM daily, including weekends, with no appointment needed.

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  1. Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-836. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1 ↩︎
  2. Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041 ↩︎
  3. Gulbransen G, Xu W, Arroll B. Cannabidiol prescription in clinical practice: an audit on the first 400 patients in New Zealand. BJGP Open. 2020;4(1):bjgpopen20X101010. Published 2020 May 1. doi:10.3399/bjgpopen20X101010 ↩︎
  4. Skelley JW, Deas CM, Curren Z, Ennis J. Use of cannabidiol in anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. 2020;60(1):253-261. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.japh.2019.11.008 ↩︎
  5. MacCallum CA, Russo EB. Practical considerations in medical cannabis administration and dosing. European Journal of Internal Medicine. 2018;49(49):12-19. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2018.01.004 ↩︎
  6. Linares IM, Zuardi AW, Pereira LC, et al. Cannabidiol presents an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve in a simulated public speaking test. Revista brasileira de psiquiatria (Sao Paulo, Brazil : 1999). 2019;41(1):9-14. doi:https://doi.org/10.1590/1516-4446-2017-0015 ↩︎
  7. Iffland K, Grotenhermen F. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 2017;2(1):139-154. doi:https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2016.0034 ↩︎

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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