The Science Behind Using CBD as Treatment for Anxiety-Related Issues

    by Kara Potter / January 5, 2019

    Anxiety-related disorders affect a very large segment of our population at 40 million adults (18% of our population) 18 and over in the US according to the National Institute for Mental Health.  Although many of those under 18 also suffer from anxiety, for the purposes of this article, we exclude this population.  Digging further into those suffering from anxiety-related issues who are 18 and over, we see that nearly 56% of this population has moderate or severe level of anxiety.  With such a large population suffering from meaningful anxiety-related issues, big pharma and medical professionals have developed numerous drugs to treat these types of disorders that include SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Prozac and Zoloft and tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax. 

    While these drugs can be effective for many patients, some do not see the results desired and can experience negative side effects like nausea, weight gain, decreased libido, insomnia, and drugs such as Valium or Xanax can be highly addictive.  More often than not, we see that these drugs prescribed as a first line of response rather than more natural or holistic remedies.

    CBD oil is not the only answer by any means, but increasing levels of evidence in animal and human studies, suggest CBD can have powerful anti-anxiety properties.  One study cites that “overall, preclinical evidence supports systemic CBD as an acute treatment of General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

    What Does CBD Do In My Body To Help With Anxiety-Related Issues?

    CBD can exert several actions in the brain that explain why it could be effective in treating anxiety.  Although there are now ongoing studies that will give us longitudinal results from CBD and anxiety in humans, it is important to note that the majority of the medical studies available today are pre-clinical, which means they are completed on animals.

    First, let’s start with the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor.  This receptor is important because anxiety and depression can be treated with medications that target the serotonin system. This is why drug companies developed SSRIs like Prozac and Zoloft. SSRIs work by blocking reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, which helps brain cells transmit more serotonin signals and can reduce anxiety and boost mood when prescribed properly.

    Similar to SSRIs, CBD has been seen to boost similar signaling through serotonin receptors. In one study, researchers found that CBD enhances 5-HT1A transmission and may affect serotonin faster than the SSRIs on the market today.  “The fast onset of antidepressant action of CBD and the simultaneous anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect would solve some of the main limitations of current antidepressant therapies.”  

    Second, let’s look at the hippocampus.  This area of the brain plays a critical role in a variety of functions which include the formation of memory and cognition.  Brain scans of patients suffering from depression or anxiety often show a smaller hippocampus, and successful treatment of depression is associated with the birth of new neurons in the hippocampus. Another study on CBD found that repeated administration may help the hippocampus regenerate neurons, which is the basis for treating anxiety or depression.  

    Although these studies cited above were animal-based, there have been human-based studies that are seeing similar results.  In another study with 24 subjects, researchers used patients suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder perform a simulated public speaking test. Participants reported significantly less anxiety - findings supported by objective anxiety indicators like heart rate and blood pressure. Researchers concluded, “CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance,” whereas the placebo group experienced “higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort.”

    Finally, with our own Relief Scout customers, we have collected results on a variety of use cases for CBD providing relief from anxiety-related issues.  For instance, one user - female, age 34 - takes a CBD tincture before a drive where there will be significant amounts of traffic. She states that the results and relief she gets are significant and her ability to handle the stressful heavy traffic is greatly improved.  Another user - male, age 36 - with social anxiety disorder, takes a vape when feeling stressed for more immediate results and experiences a significant improvement in his ability to handle social situations.

    Whether you are looking to try CBD for your Anxiety-related issue as a first line of defense or really just want to get off of your prescription medication, it is likely worth a shot.  However, 3 things to remember before you do so…

    • Talk to you Doctor first about CBD and get their thoughts on whether you should try taking it
    • Take it as a learning experience and give it some time.  You might try it at first with a certain dosage, but will likely need to increase or decrease that dosage to get the desired results
    • Don’t worry about overdosing or getting high - One study even states that you can take up to 1500 mg/day orally with no side effects

    For a customized, safe CBD product recommendation, with guidance on dosage based on your body characteristics, type of anxiety, and level of anxiety visit

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    Kara Potter

    Kara Potter

    Kara has over 8 years in the corporate world and has shifted her focus to raising awareness of CBD after observing a family member find exceptional relief from it. She enjoys spending time with her two daughters, two dogs, and husband when not advocating for the incredible power of CBD.


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