Best CBD Oil for Anxiety: Benefits and Top Brands for 2021
Anxiety in itself isn’t anything bad. In fact, it’s a healthy reaction that humans have developed over the course of evolution as a protective mechanism against other predators.
Also known as the “fight or flight response,” anxiety can happen from time to time and is completely normal.
However, modern times are putting so much pressure on our shoulders that we are driven into anxiety on a daily basis—even though we face no life-threatening dangers.
Plants and herbs are known for their relaxing properties, but cannabis plants seem extremely helpful in curbing symptoms of anxiety and other stress-related disorders.
But how to find a high-quality product if you’ve never bought CBD oil before? How do you find a reputable brand in the sea of mediocre companies?
5 Best CBD Oils for Anxiety
In this guide, you’ll learn about the best CBD brands on the market today and everything you need to know about the benefits of CBD for anxiety disorders.
After hours of research, we’ve narrowed down this list to the top five vendors so you wouldn’t have to spend the same amount of time comparing prices, reading reviews and trying out all possible CBD oils
Check out the recommendations below.
1. Royal CBD – Top Pick
Our top pick, Royal CBD is a premium brand rooted in California that offers excellent value for money. Considering the wide potency selection of their CBD oil, the way the company processes its products and the effort put into testing its CBD range, it’s hands down top shelf.
Royal CBD oil is available in four strengths: 250 mg, 500 mg, 1000 mg and 2500 mg. Such a wide range of potency options makes this oil suitable for both new and experienced consumers alike.
This is a full-spectrum extract, so you’re getting the entire array of non-psychoactive cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and only trace amounts of THC (below 0.3%).
Unlike many competitor brands, Royal CBD uses carbon dioxide in its supercritical form to extract the CBD oil. The CO2 runs through the plant material under different temperatures and pressure levels, changing its state from gas to liquid. From there, it diffuses into the air, leaving behind a cold, liquid extract.
All Royal CBD products are submitted to independent laboratories for extensive content analysis to ensure they’re safe to consume. The company also offers free shipping, as well as full refunds, for customers who aren’t satisfied with the product.
2. Gold Bee – Runner Up
Gold Bee is a true maverick among other CBD brands. The company offers organic-only CBD oils made from locally sourced hemp grown in Colorado. Although Gold Bee focuses on low-to-mid potency oils (up to 1200 mg of CBD per bottle), their formula has been mastered to perfection.
The guys at Gold Bee even use honey as a sweetener in their flavored versions of CBD oil. If you’re new to CBD, or have some experience but don’t need more than 40 mg CBD daily, their oils are among the best natural remedies for stress. You can also choose from Gold Bee’s high-potency capsules and delicious CBD-infused honey sticks.
3. CBDistillery – Runner Up
CBDistillery has been on the market for about six years now, upholding its reputation as one of the best CBD brands in the world. The company has an impressive selection of CBD oils, available as full-spectrum or pure oil (isolate).
You can choose from five different strengths, from 250 mg to 5000 mg of total CBD. But the best part about CBDistillery is that its products are highly affordable. The company’s mission is to provide education and access to CBD products for everyone who needs them. For example, the 250 mg bottle costs only $20, which is a great deal. For $240, you can get your hands on the maximum potency.
The only downside about this oil is that it’s not made from organic hemp, but considering the affordability of CBDistillery products, this is a minor disadvantage.
All in all, CBDistillery doesn’t sell the best CBD oil out there, but its extracts are without parallel in this price category.
4. NuLeaf Naturals
NuLeaf CBD oil is another veteran company, but unlike CBDistillery, it only makes full-spectrum CBD oil. Despite the modest product line up, the quality of the NuLeaf Naturals CBD oil is top-notch.
The oil is available in different sizes, from 240 mg to 4850 mg. We say “sizes” because each “potency” comes in a different bottle size. You actually get the same strength regardless of the size, so your choice here will be determined by the time you want to get yourself supplied for.
Another great thing about NuLeaf Naturals is that it uses organic hemp for all of its products. Each batch is tested by a certified lab to ensure that they deliver consistent potency and desired effects.
The oil is slightly bitter and nutty in taste because it uses full-spectrum CBD.
5. Charlotte’s Web
Charlotte’s Web is an almost legendary company, established by the Stanley Brothers, whose cannabis oil helped young girl Charlotte Figi come down from several seizures a day to a few attacks a month.
Charlotte’s Web CBD oil is certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority, ensuring it meets the highest quality standards.
The company’s products come from organic, non-GMO plants and are extracted with olive oil.
The oil is available in three concentrations, 300 mg, 750 mg, and 2580 mg, so the potency range is similar to Royal CBD. It has a dark green color and viscous consistency, which is a good indicator of its strength and overall quality.
You can choose between 30 ml and 100 ml bottles.
Almost every list of the best CBD oils on the market includes CBDPure. Unsurprisingly, we won’t break that pattern.
CBDPure is known for producing high-quality CBD products as well as unparalleled transparency. The CBDPure Hemp Oil has been extracted with CO2 and thoroughly filtered from the plant material, so it has a nice golden yellow color. However, it tastes surprisingly tart—a bit worse than other brands.
You can choose between three different strengths: 100 mg, 300 mg and 600 mg. The lowest potency provides 3.3 mg of CBD per serving. However, these are full-spectrum oils, so you get the synergistic effects from all cannabinoids and terpenes—resulting in lower effective doses.
What Is Anxiety?
As mentioned at the beginning, anxiety is a normal human response to dangerous stimuli. The “flight-or-flight” response covers an array of physical reactions, such as a rush of adrenaline, sweating, increased heartbeat and sensitivity to environmental triggers.
When the anxious feeling gets exaggerated compared to the seriousness of the trigger, the anxiety may turn into an anxiety disorder.
Once at that stage, the anxiety deteriorates to the point when a person’s daily function and mental health are heavily affected.
Common Types of Anxiety Disorders
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This is a chronic ailment in which people get anxious for no specific reasons. It’s considered the most common anxiety disorder.
- Phobias: Phobias induce overwhelming fear about a specific situation or object. They often prevent people from engaging in normal situations due to that fear.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: This condition usually occurs when a person is among other people. It triggers an overwhelming worry about social interactions, causing fixation on being judged.
- Panic Disorder: Panic attacks strike randomly and are accompanied by symptoms like breathing difficulty, shaking, dizziness, tremors, confusion and nausea. It can last anywhere between a few minutes to an hour.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
- Dry mouth
- Inability to stay calm
- Feelings of insecurity
- Heart palpitations
- Sleep problems
- Somatic complaints
- Tense muscles
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety disorders are very complex. Usually, there are several factors involved, including:
If you have a family member diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, there’s a risk that you may develop the same condition.
Changes in Brain Structure
Suffering from a traumatic events or genetic changes of the brain may cause an overexaggerated response to potentially neutral triggers. Scientists suggest that the majority of anxiety disorders derive from compromised communication between neurons.
Certain elements of your environment can worsen your anxiety. Some of the stress-inducing factors include chronic stress at work, at school or even at home. Sometimes, things like a bad financial situation or the loss of someone who was very close to you can also contribute to this medical condition.
When you don’t get enough sleep, it can also make your anxiety worse.
Just as traveling to high altitude areas, where the brain gets affected by low oxygen levels.
Sometimes, anxiety can result from another medical condition, prescription medications or health supplements you’re taking, or any other disease than can either change the structure of your brain or cause you to suffer from severe stress.
Can CBD Oil Help With Anxiety?
Dealing with anxiety can be a real pain.
For one, conventional anxiety treatments are very expensive, and their cost is continuously rising. If you want to get those meds prescribed to you, you’ll have to cover the cost by yourself before the insurance covers some part of it.
Not to mention that many prescription drugs used to manage anxiety can lead to a range of negative side effects. Don’t take our word for it, just see the list of contraindications or possible negative reactions on any popular medication, and you’ll see that it’s worse than what they’re trying to solve.
Of course, if you’re meds are helping you, and you don’t feel the need to make any changes, that’s fine. But some people either can’t take medications due to allergies or their anxiety just isn’t bad enough to qualify for prescription treatment.
It’s no wonder that some anxiety sufferers are turning to natural resources for relief.
CBD oil is one of them.
But the question is: Can CBD actually help with anxiety?
Research and a large portion of evidence from people with anxiety suggests that CBD oil may even be a better alternative to pills and shots for anxiety. Compared with those options, CBD oil has a low risk profile and the side effects are nearly nonexistent unless taken in extremely high doses.
How Does CBD Work?
Why is CBD oil a good option to consider as an alternative anxiety treatment?
Because CBD regulates the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is the most important neurochemical network inside the body—it controls vital functions, such as memory, mood, sleep, immune response, cognition, appetite, pain and more.
When the body is in homeostasis—a fancy word for chemical balance—it can stay in good health.
However, if there are imbalances in your neurochemicals, they may give rise to anxiety. It also works the other way round; when you suffer from a traumatic event, your receptors and neurons get out of whack, and your body starts to seek something that would restore that balance.
This is where CBD starts to shine.
CBD and the 5-HT1A Receptor
CBD is a 5-HT1A agonist. In other words, 5-HT1A works a serotonin receptor and is responsible for the way your body absorbs serotonin.
It’s also the target of the most popular antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, which belong to the group of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).
SSRIs can block the reuptake of serotonin, increasing the brain’s ability to transfer more signals, improve mood and curb anxiety. CBD has a similar effect on 5-HT1A.
CBD and Hippocampal Neurogenesis
Your hippocampus is the region in your brain that modulates several functions. One of them is the ability to regenerate neurons. CBD can help stimulate the hippocampus and thus improve its functioning.
This is particularly important for patients diagnosed with anxiety, as they often show smaller hippocampus plasticity. By stimulating the regeneration of neurons, there’s a chance that fearful behaviors will be minimized.
CBD and GABA
Australian scientists have found that CBD is a “positive allosteric modulator” of the GABA-A receptor in the brain.
In simple terms, GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the human central nervous system. It works as the handbrake for our brain to slow the nervous system down when we get too agitated. The sedating effects of Valium and other benzodiazepines are triggered by their interaction with the GABA-A receptor.
By modulating this receptor, CBD can amplify the natural calming effect of GABA and reduce anxiety.
CBD and Anandamide
Anandamide is one of the two main endocannabinoids (produced inside your body). It has almost the same structure as THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.
Anandamide is also known as “the bliss molecule,” as it controls feelings of happiness, euphoria, and keeps us in emotional stability—on top of many other functions. CBD helps keep the levels of anandamide at the right level, reducing mood swings and emotional outbursts.
Studies on CBD Oil and Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the best studied areas when it comes to using CBD oil.
A 2010 study on social anxiety showed that CBD has the potential to reduce symptoms in people diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder. The substance also changed the way the patients reacted to anxiety—of course, in a positive way.
In a 2014 study, scientists concluded that CBD has anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. Although the study was conducted on rat models, it gave an interesting insight into the management of anxiety disorders in humans.
CBD was also highlighted in this 2015 report published in Neurotherapeutics as the next potential treatment for anxiety disorders and its symptoms.
It’s worth noting that all of the above studies examined high-quality pure CBD oil. This is particularly important for our next section.
What Determines the Quality of CBD Oil?
CBD oil isn’t regulated by the FDA in the United States. Even though it may be more effective in managing anxiety disorders than conventional treatment options, it’s still considered a health supplement—not a medication.
Similar to other food supplements, it may be difficult for consumers to know if the CBD oil they’re using is actually pure.
You could be taking CBD-laced oil full of synthetic additives and you wouldn’t even know it because supplements aren’t subject to obligatory lab testing, unlike prescription anxiolytics.
If you want to make sure that you’re getting exactly what you’re buying, you’ll need to learn how your oil was manufactured. This includes the following elements:
Cannabis plants have the ability to absorb anything from their environment. When grown in contaminated soil and treated with pesticides, they will yield weak and contaminated extracts.
If you want a pure and potent oil, always buy from companies that use organic hemp plants, preferably those cultivated on American farms.
Brands have different extraction methods and ways of processing CBD extracts. As much as possible, choose brands that employ supercritical CO2 extraction, as it’s considered the safest and the most effective way to obtain CBD oil.
Avoid companies that use toxic solvents such as butane or propane, as they carry a high risk of contamination due to the unpurged residue at the bottom of the oil.
Third-Party Lab Tests
Trustworthy CBD oil brands should proudly publish third-party lab results on their websites or attach them to the product’s package. Third-party testing ensures that your oil contains exactly what’s written on its bottle—they analyze the potency of CBD and look for common contaminants in the end product.
Getting a CBD product tested by an independent laboratory will serve as evidence of its quality.
How to Use CBD Oil for Anxiety
One of the most common questions about using CBD oil for anxiety is “How much CBD oil should I take?”
There are no official guidelines because everybody reacts differently to CBD. Factors such as the individual’s age, weight, severity of symptoms and lifestyle choices can affect your effective dose.
- Take basic measurements such as your weight and height.
- Determine the severity of your anxiety on a scale from 1 to 10.
- Start your supplementation with one drop of CBD oil.
- Increase your dosage slowly by, say, two drops each day for a few weeks and write the effects down. Monitor how you react to CBD with every single dose.
- Don’t rush it. Sometimes, the effects of CBD are almost immediate, but for most people, dramatic changes in the way you feel become noticeable after a few days or weeks.
- Consult your doctor before buying any CBD product. This will help you make sure that there are no drug interactions between CBD and other medications if you take them together.
- A study on social anxiety reports that 600 mg is an effective dose in relieving the condition. However, there are also studies that recommend taking much lower doses to improve the symptoms.
- If you suffer from severe pain and sleep problems , you may need to take higher doses of CBD because it affects these areas of your well-being as well.
- Some people dislike the taste of CBD oil and feel uncomfortable with taking the supplement in this form. If you’re one of them, opt for other formats, such as capsules, vape oils, or CBD gummies .
Possible Side Effects of CBD Oil
CBD oil is considered generally safe and poses no threat of addiction, according to the World Health Organization.
- Dry mouth
- Temporary drop in blood pressure
- Sedation (in high doses)
- Diarrhea (from large amounts of oil)
The main risk about using CBD oil for anxiety is the lack of regulation by the FDA. Without regulation, you’re putting yourself at risk of exposing yourself to synthetic cannabinoids or toxic additives in your extract without even knowing it.
Another potential concern is the aforementioned interaction between CBD and medical drugs. CBD engages with them in a similar fashion as grapefruit juice. With that in mind, we suggest that you talk to your doctor first, particularly if you have any other ongoing medical conditions.
If your doctor gives you the green light, you can start looking for CBD oil online or locally.
Final Thoughts on Using CBD Oil for Anxiety
Managing anxiety with CBD oil has become popular these days. With a growing body of evidence backing the positive effects of CBD on an individual’s mental health, it’s not surprising that more and more people are turning to CBD for help.
If you’re planning to buy CBD oil online or in local shops near you for your anxiety symptoms, make sure it comes from a reputable brand that’s open about its manufacturing practices and has lots of positive reviews.
CBD oil is also effective in managing other functions, such as blood pressure, sleep cycle and glucose levels.
The Best CBD Oil Brands for Anxiety & Depression
In the past several years, CBD has become a popular and natural way for people to help manage their anxiety. What is the best CBD for anxiety? And how does CBD help with anxiety? In this article, we highlight our favorite brands of CBD for anxiety and provide important background information on how to use CBD oils to help manage anxiety and depression.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it is one of the active ingredients found in cannabis. Though CBD is a critical component in medical marijuana, most commercially available CBD products are derived from the hemp plant. These products are said to offer a range of personal health benefits, and one of the most significant of those benefits is relief from anxiety.
A Harvard report notes that CBD is commonly used as a way to manage anxiety symptoms, and that those who struggle with various mental health concerns may use CBD to help them combat sleeplessness.
But what does the science really say about using CBD oil for anxiety and depression? And for those who wish to use CBD products to help with anxiety, what are the best CBD for anxiety brands out there?
Does CBD Help for Anxiety?
Studies show that, while CBD doesn’t necessarily alter a person’s baseline anxiety level, it may be useful for reducing experiential anxiety. Indeed, research points to CBD as a potentially effective way to address the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additional research indicates that CBD “has a promising role as alternative therapy in the management of anxiety disorders,” though more clinical testing is needed to verify safe dosage levels.
Based on the available evidence, CBD may potentially help manage the symptoms of anxiety, though it is not a cure. Be sure to consult with your primary care physician or mental health care provider before taking CBD for anxiety and depression if you have any questions or concerns.
Best CBD Oil for Anxiety in 2022
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall – CBDistillery Strongest Full Spectrum – Spruce
- Best Full Spectrum – NuLeaf Naturals
- Best Organic – Cornbread Hemp
How We Chose CBD Product for Calming
When creating our list of the best CBD oils for anxiety and depression, we compared brands and products ib six specific categories.
- Type of CBD — Does the brand use full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate?
- Strength — How many milligrams of CBD does the oil contain per recommended dose?
- Source — Where does the get the hemp used in their hemp extract? Is it grown in the U.S.?
- Flavor — Do they offer multiple flavors, and if so, do they use natural flavoring instead of artificial flavors?
- Transparency — Is the product tested by an independent third-party lab and do they make the results easy to access?
- Customer Experience — What are customers saying about the product and if it has helped them manage stress and anxiety?
Learn more about each of the CBD oils on our list below.
Our Complete Reviews & Opinions
Best Overall: CBDistillery
CBDistillery is known for high-quality, pure CBD products, and their full spectrum oil is a great choice to help you relax. All of their products are third-party lab tested and confirmed to be safe and effective. We like their Relief + Relax CBD oil because it is a full spectrum oil that provides plenty of additional active cannabinoids and plant compounds like CBG, CBC, and terpenes to give you the full benefits of the entourage effect.
- CBD: Full Spectrum
- Strength: 33 mg CBD per serving (1000 mg per bottle)
- Hemp source: Colorado
Why buy: We love this strong full spectrum CBD oil for anxiety because it is sourced from non-GMO, U.S. Hemp Authority Certified hemp grown in Colorado. Taking CBD Relief + Relax in the morning may be a great way to support a sense of calm throughout the day.
Strongest Full Spectrum: Spruce
Spruce CBD oil checks all of the right boxes: it’s all-natural, made from USA-grown hemp, and is backed by rigorous third-party lab testing. You can get this lab-grade CBD oil tincture in a range of potencies, ranging from 750 mg to 2,400 mg per bottle. We like that Spruce CBD oil is all-natural, organic, vegan, gluten-free, and contains no artificial flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners. Note that Spruce products may be too strong for entry-level customers.
- CBD: Full Spectrum
- Strength: 25 mg to 80 mg of CBD per serving
- Hemp source: Kentucky and North Carolina
Why buy: We love that Spruce offers some of the strongest full spectrum CBD products, including their extra strength formula with 80 mg of CBD per serving. We recommend it for experienced CBD users looking for powerful relief from feelings of anxiety and stress.
Best Full Spectrum: NuLeaf Naturals
NuLeaf Naturals CBD oil is about as natural as a CBD tincture can get. It’s made from organic hemp, it’s additive- and pesticide-free, and it’s carefully lab-tested by independent third-party labs. This Colorado-grown, full spectrum CBD offers the full benefits of hemp extract in a natural, organic product. It may be taken daily to help you manage stress and feelings of anxiety by promoting a sense of calm and wellness.
- CBD: Full Spectrum
- Strength: 30 mg of CBD per serving (1800 mg per bottle)
- Hemp source: Colorado
Why buy: We love this strong full spectrum CBD oil because of its simplicity. It contains organic full spectrum hemp extract and organic virgin hemp seed oil. NuLeaf Naturals also provides a consistent concentration of CBD across all bottle sizes to make dosing easier.
Best Organic: Cornbread Hemp
To make their Distilled CBD Oil, Cornbread Hemp extracts CBD only from hemp flowers. This distillation allows the oil to maintain a full spectrum of cannabinoids, with a CBD-to-THC ratio of 27:1. Lower in THC than their Whole Flower oil, this product is better for finding comfort during the day while staying focused and alert. Cornbread Hemp CBD is USDA organic and offers a cleaner tasting oil than some whole plant extracts.
- CBD: Full Spectrum
- Strength: 50mg per 1mL serving
- Hemp source: Kentucky
Why buy: We love this Cornbread Hemp Distilled CBD Oil because it uses whole flower CBD extract for a cleaner product and milder taste. It may be a great way to help ease anxiety during the day without drowsiness or loss of focus. Plus, it’s USDA-certified organic with third-party, ISO certified lab tests on every batch.
Using CBD to Help With Anxiety & Depression: What the Research Says
As cited above, initial research has found that CBD has the potential to help manage the symptoms of anxiety in a variety of cases.
There is also clinical evidence to suggest that CBD can be a tool for managing panic attacks. Panic disorder (PD) impacts about five percent of the total global population, making the anxiolytic effects of CBD products potentially impactful on a widespread level.
There is even clinical evidence that CBD may help minimize the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), a nervous condition that can be debilitating. Currently, OCD is treated primarily through cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants, but the recovery rate is exceedingly low. The prospect of CBD as an alternative intervention is potentially game-changing.
But how exactly does CBD impact those with anxiety conditions? The short answer is that products from the cannabis plant tend to have a strong, reactive effect with the endocannabinoid system, a molecular system that regulates many core functions of the body, including emotions. Cannabinoids can bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system and modify the way they function, yielding a range of possible health benefits.
In fact, one study notes that “modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system turned out to hold therapeutic promise in a wide range of disparate diseases and pathological conditions, ranging from mood and anxiety disorders, movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis, to name just a few.”
While CBD may potentially help to manage stress and anxiety, it is not intended as a cure for anxiety or depression.
How to Choose CBD Oil for You
When you’re looking for the best CBD for depression and anxiety, it’s important to choose a product that is safe, effective, and natural. Here are some important things to keep in mind when shopping for CBD.
What to Look For
Always look for the following pieces of information when comparing CBD oils for anxiety: type of CBD, hemp source, strength, and lab testing. Below are more details on what each of these mean and why they matter.
Type of CBD
There are actually three different types of CBD extract, including full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. We typically recommend full spectrum products as the most effective, as they allow you to benefit from the full entourage effect of the hemp extract. However, if you undergo drug testing for work or are sensitive to THC, broad spectrum products offer many of the same benefits without the THC. This can also be important for those who find that THC negatively impacts their anxiety.
The quality of the CBD is directly related to the source of the hemp used in a product. Always look for brands that use hemp grown in the U.S.A. We also recommend brands that use either USDA organic hemp or hemp grown using organic farming practices. This ensures that the plants do not contain any pesticides and or artificial fertilizers.
It’s important to know the concentration of CBD in a product so that you can take the appropriate dosage level. For those new to CBD, it’s generally recommended to start with a lower dose, 10 mg or less, and slowly increase the amount as you are comfortable to find the right level of relief. Extra strength products, with 30 mg or more per serving, are recommended for those who know how CBD will affect them. You can read more about the strongest CBD oils here.
Only purchase CBD oils for anxiety that undergo independent third-party lab testing for quality and safety. This is critical to ensure that the product contains the correct levels of CBD and cannabinoids, and that it is free from toxins, heavy metals, or other harmful substances. The brands we recommend all make their lab test results available through QR codes on the product label or on their site.
How to Read Labels
When you check the label of any CBD product, look for information on the four key factors listed above. Labels should clearly state the type of CBD and if it was made with U.S. grown hemp. To evaluate the strength of the product, look for both the amount of CBD per bottle, usually in milligrams per 30 mL, as well as the amount of CBD per serving, usually in milligrams per 1 mL dropper.
Quality products should also include lab-testing certification and a way for you to verify the results for yourself. You can also look for industry certifications and seals from the USDA, Leaping Bunny, the GMO Project, and the U.S. Hemp Authority. Finally, take time to check the list of ingredients to make sure that you are not allergic to any of them. Most CBD oils use a carrier oil like hemp seed oil, olive oil, or MCT coconut oil.
How to Use
For most CBD oils, take a dose once or twice per day, depending on the amount. Some oils work better for daytime use and can be taken in the morning, while others are better suited for nighttime use to help you fall asleep. Again, if you are new to CBD, start with a low amount and slowly increase it to find the correct level to provide relief.
The amount of CBD needed may vary from person to person based on their level of anxiety and other health concerns. One thing that holds true across the board is that using CBD consistently is best for improving stress levels, as the compound builds up within the body, amplifying its effect. In other words, CBD may help you manage anxiety symptoms, but don’t expect it to take effect immediately.
Safety & Side Effects
According to the Mayo Clinic, CBD is generally well-tolerated. There are, however, some mild side effects that can occur. These often result from taking too much CBD, and can include:
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
While CBD may be a great option to help supplement your anxiety management, it is not meant to cure or treat anxiety. If you are suffering from severe anxiety and depression, the best thing to do is speak with your primary care physician or a mental health professional. They may recommend things like cognitive behavioral therapy, journaling, exercise, yoga, or prescription medications to help.
If approved by your doctor, CBD for depression and anxiety may work with these other approaches to help you find relief and better manage stress.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, copywriter, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. As a writer and independent reviewer of CBD products, Josh covers the relationship between cannabis-based products and the human body. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
Medically Reviewed By:
PharmD Scientific Advisor, Medical Reviewer, and Clinical Pharmacist
Adjunct Faculty, UMKC School of Pharmacy
CBD Oil for ADHD? Despite Scarce Research, Patients Are Trying It
Early research suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may help patients with epilepsy. It is also believed to relieve pain, anxiety, mood disorders, and even acne. But what about ADHD or ADD? So far, research linking CBD oil to ADHD symptom relief does not exist. That isn’t stopping patients from trying it.
Verified Medically reviewed by Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D. Updated on January 5, 2022
UPDATE: On November 25, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a revised consumer update regarding safety concerns about cannabidiol (CBD) products. Due to limited research data, the FDA is unable to declare CBD products safe, according to the updated statement. The FDA warns that CBD can cause liver damage, increased drowsiness, and a number of other side effects. The impact of daily CBD use over a sustained period of time is unknown. Likewise, the FDA says there is insufficient research on the effect of CBD on the developing brain, on fetuses, and on the male reproductive system. The FDA has approved only one CBD product, which treats two rare forms of epilepsy. In late November, it issued warning letters to 15 companies for illegally selling products containing CBD.
These days, it’s tough to find an online community or social media group not singing the praises of cannabidiol (CBD) oil. This helps to explain why so many people are exploring its benefits for diseases and disorders ranging from Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons to PTSD and, yes, attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). Though research suggests that CBD oil may benefit patients with epilepsy and other disorders, any such claims around ADHD are only that: claims.
What Is CBD? Does It Help ADHD?
CBD is a product of the marijuana (cannabis) plant with the high-inducing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) compound removed, which means it is not psychoactive. CBD — often in the form of an oil, a tincture, or an edible — has been rumored to reduce anxiety, a common symptom among those diagnosed with ADHD symptoms. No one, though — not even the drug’s most hardcore advocates — claims CBD is a treatment for ADHD.
According to Mitch Earleywine, professor of psychology at SUNY-Albany and an advisory-board member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), there is “no published data, let alone randomized clinical trials, [that] support the use of CBD for ADHD.”
Even so, word of CBD’s potential benefits — proven or otherwise — are often enough to compel some patients with ADHD to experiment. Dr. John Mitchell of the Duke University ADHD Program says that one of his patients, an adult woman with ADHD, tried CBD. Twice. On her own. Without his approval or supervision.
“I bought one vial for $50 that contained 30 gel tablets, and I took all of them over a few weeks,” says Mitchell’s patient, who preferred to remain anonymous. “I’d never tried CBD or any type of cannabis before, and I felt no changes. But I didn’t have any adverse effects, either.”
Anecdotally, this outcome appears common for half of those trying CBD on their own — regardless of the quantity, quality, or type used. The other half claim some positives with regard to CBD and ADHD: “I was able to relax” or “I felt less manic” are common refrains. The problem, as Dr. Mitchell and the broader community of ADHD and CBD researchers point out, is a dearth of studies around CBD. No single research team has yet studied the possible effects — good or bad — of CBD oil for ADHD symptoms specifically.
“There are anecdotes that CBD may help with ADHD,” says Dr. Robert Carson, an assistant professor of neurology and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University who co-authored a 2018 study on the efficacy of CBD on epilepsy, “but this is true for many other symptoms or diseases. Thus, there may be patients whose ADHD symptoms improve after adding CBD, but we cannot generalize that anecdote more broadly. Secondly, the cases we’re most likely to hear about are the one where somebody had a great response — not the 10 who did not.”
“I am not aware of any scientific or clinical data that would speak to the safety or efficacy of using CBD in the treatment of ADHD,” says Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., a member of John Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit. “There is no scientific basis from which CBD should be recommended for use as a treatment for ADHD, nor is there any data that could speak to which product or dose would be appropriate.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends treating ADHD in children and adolescents aged 6 to 18 with FDA-approved medications, plus parent training in behavior modification and behavioral classroom interventions. Likewise, research confirms that “stimulant medications are most effective, and combined medication and psychosocial treatment is the most beneficial treatment option for most adult patients with ADHD.” All ADHD treatment decisions should be made in consultation and coordination with a licensed medical provider.
Is CBD Legal? Is It Safe?
To date, 33 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form; 10 other states and Washington, D.C., have adopted laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Even so, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration considers CBD, like all cannabinoids, a schedule 1 drug — making it as illegal as heroin and ecstasy. Despite this, one cannabis industry expert predicts that CBD products alone will comprise a nearly $3 billion market by 2021.
With all that profit on the horizon, why so few studies? At least partially to blame is the legality of CBD; it’s difficult to attain a federal grant to study a federally illegal drug. Politics also come into play, as do lingering public perceptions of cannabis as a gateway drug that may lead to serious mental disorders, lethargy, or both.
Nevertheless, Dr. Mitchell feels that “The perception that [CBD] can have a negative effect has gone down because it’s becoming more available.”
This is not a perception shared by all of Dr. Mitchell’s peers, who note professional resentment and stigma regarding funding for cannabis research. “There’s a lot of political opposition coming from the business and scientific communities,” asserts Dr. Jacob Vigil, director of the University of New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Research Fund. “It’s still highly stigmatized, and we need more studies.”
The studies done on CBD and ADHD to date amount to… practically nothing. One 2011 study showed that, among a group of 24 people with social anxiety disorder, the half who’d taken CBD were able to speak in front of a large audience. In 2015, researchers in Germany examined the relationship between cannabis (CBD and THC) and ADD in 30 patients, all of whom said they experienced better sleep, better concentration, and reduced impulsivity while using the cannabis products. Finally, a 2017 study looking at CBD oil and ADHD in adults found that the oil improved some symptoms, but that more studies were needed to confirm its findings.
The Dangers of Experimenting with CBD for ADHD
The Netherlands’ self-professed “cannabis myth buster,” Arno Hazekamp stated in a recent paper, “While new CBD products keep entering the market virtually unchecked, effective regulatory control of these products has stayed far behind. As a result, unknown risks about long-term effects remain unaddressed, especially in vulnerable groups such as children.”
“During [a person’s] development, I worry about cannabinoids, both CBD and THC,” says UCLA’s Evans. “There are adenosine receptors (and CB2 receptors) on the microglia that are critical for brain development, and CBD inhibits adenosine uptake. This may be a beneficial factor for epilepsy and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, but who knows for ADHD.”
And while CBD may potentially benefit some patients with ADHD, “One is doing an experiment on oneself by taking CBD for ADHD,” Evans adds. “CBD is anti-inflammatory and I’m not sure there is good evidence mechanistically that for ADHD it might be helpful.”
It’s also unknown how CBD may interact with other medications. “CBD in any form is a drug, and thus has a potential for side effects or interactions with other drugs, specifically those metabolized through the liver [CBD is metabolized by the same enzyme in the liver that metabolizes many other medicines and supplements],” Carson says. “And with other ADHD medications that have sedating qualities, such as guanfacine or clonidine, there may be additive effects that may not be beneficial.”
Also potentially harmful is the non-standard and wildly fluctuating amount of CBD in most CBD products, even those labeled as “pure CBD oil.” Some such products may also contain other ingredients — pesticides, additives, herbs, and even THC. “CBD alone has multiple actions on the cells in the brain and we don’t know which ones are clearly responsible for its known benefits,” Carson says. “It gets more complicated when we have less purified products that also include THC and CBDV [cannabidivarin].”
Dangers may also exist in the method of delivery. CBD is packaged and consumed in oils, tinctures, or edibles — each one absorbed differently by a person’s body. “The labeling in this industry,” says Vigil of UNM, “is horrific.”
‘Natural’ Doesn’t Necessarily Mean ‘Safe’
Once CBD enters the body, no one yet knows how it works. Its long-term effects are a mystery. Exactly how does CBD work — in the brain and over many years? As Dr. Carson bluntly puts it: “We don’t know and we don’t know.”
None of this will stop some people from self-medicating with CBD or trying it on their children. “Apparently there are products offering about 30mg of CBD per dose,” Earleywine says. “I rarely see published work with humans that shows much of an effect below 300mg, which… would get quite expensive… So it’s probably a waste of time and money.”
“The bottom line,” Evans says, “is that there is a dearth of research on all cannabinoid actions — because of its schedule 1 classification — and no clear scientific evidence I can find to endorse or not endorse CBD use for ADHD.”
Perhaps because researchers have documented no negative links between CBD and ADHD, some “patients go through trial and error with CBD,” Vigil says. “First they go on the Internet, where they start with an isolate CBD. Then they try the vanilla products — only to find they get more benefits when they add THC.
“They do that because cannabis is so variable that patients are forced to experiment. Also because clinical trials can’t really tell you anything about the decisions that patients actually make in the real world. And finally because there’s not going to be a uniform solution for everybody.”
“Families need to think very hard about potential risks versus benefits for treating other disorders, including ADHD,” Carson advises. “So please discuss what you are thinking about doing with your child’s physician. In the absence of good data, a dose of 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight per day is where most patients start when using CBD for epilepsy — and this seems to be well tolerated. But if the side effects from any medication are worse than the problem was to begin with, that patient might be on too much.
“I like to remind families,” Carson adds, “that just because something is natural does not mean it is safe.”