CBD Oil for Anxiety: Does it Work?


Anxiety is a normal human emotion, it is normal to feel anxious before a test, interview, or public speaking event. Anxiety however can become a debilitating condition and significantly affect a person’s quality of life when it becomes excessive, difficult to control, or does not go away.

This is called generalised anxiety disorder or GAD. For a medical diagnosis of GAD the anxiety must have been present for 6 months and must be accompanied by three out of these six symptoms:

cbd oil for anxiety
  • Restlessness

  • Fatigue

  • Poor concentration

  • Irritability

  • Muscle Tension

  • Sleep disturbance

Anxiety disorders including GAD, along with related conditions of OCD and panic disorder, are the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions in New Zealand affecting an estimated 4% of the population.

How is Anxiety Usually Treated?

Psychological and drug treatments are the first line therapies in primary health care with the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors SSRI’s being the most commonly prescribed drugs for these conditions (1).  

SSRI’s however have some downsides. They may take weeks to reach full effect, can increase suicide ideation, may cause sexual dysfunction, and for some people they do not help at all.

Hence there is a need for alternative treatments, or treatments that can be used effectively alongside Psychological treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT which have been shown to lead to lower relapse rates compared to drug therapy.

CBD oil for anxiety

What About Using CBD Oil for Anxiety?

So, is CBD oil effective for anxiety and how does it have an anti-anxiety effect?

The relatively new field of neuro-immunology may have a partial answer.

It has been discovered that patients presenting with anxiety have higher levels of inflammatory markers (2). CBD has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory action so may relieve anxiety by reducing inflammation (3).

CBD has also been shown to bind to serotonin receptors and may bind other receptors, therefore it may have a similar mode of action to antidepressant medications, but with less side effects (4).


What Does the Research Say?

The above data relating to how CBD works comes from test tube and animal based studies. So what is the status of the evidence for a benefit of CBD for anxiety in humans? 

It is still early days but there is a growing body of significant research suggests CBD is beneficial for anxiety.

CBD has been shown  to decrease the anxiety-producing effects of THC when patients smoke marijuana (5).

In a recent trial, CBD significantly reduced the social anxiety associated with a simulated public speaking test in healthy subjects (6). Notably in this trial CBD was as effective as the drug diazepam.



In conclusion, CBD oil is a very safe, non intoxicating, non addictive treatment of anxiety. Whilst the evidence from clinical human trials is small it is positive and it is backed up by a significant body of evidence from animal trials and is worth a try in the holistic treatment of anxiety disorders. Mechanistic studies on how CBD achieves its anti anxiety effect point to a broad array of effects that appear to have a balancing effect on brain inflammation, receptors and neurotransmitters. 

If you, or someone you know is suffering from anxiety please contact one of our specialists here at the Cannabis Clinic to see if CBD oil might be an appropriate treatment option.


Friendly Reminder: The above article is not a substitute for medical advice from a health care professional and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your doctor or other qualified health care professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard medical advice or postpone consultation with your health care professional because of information that you have read on this website.


 1 - https://bpac.org.nz/BPJ/2009/December/anxiety.aspx

 2 - Michopoulos, V., Powers, A., Gillespie, C. F., Ressler, K. J., & Jovanovic, T. (2017). Inflammation in Fear- and Anxiety-Based Disorders: PTSD, GAD, and Beyond. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 42(1), 254–270. doi:10.1038/npp.2016.146

 3 - Pellati, F., Borgonetti, V., Brighenti, V., Biagi, M., Benvenuti, S., & Corsi, L. (2018). Cannabis sativa L. and Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoids: Their Chemistry and Role against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Cancer. BioMed research international, 2018, 1691428. doi:10.1155/2018/1691428

 4 - Ibeas Bih C, Chen T, Nunn AV, et al. Molecular Targets of Cannabidiol in Neurological Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):699-730.

 5 - Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-836.

 6 - Crippa JA, Derenusson GN, Ferrari TB, et al. Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. J Psychopharmacol. 2011;25(1):121-130.




Mike Eyres