We get this question often.
For good reason.
As you work with countless people for CBD, one thing becomes apparent.
Anxiety is definitely one of the top three reasons that people try and continue with CBD.
There's also a large number of them that don't have the best introduction to CBD.
We'll walk through a few common reasons for this.
Some people even claim that CBD increases their anxiety.
This can generally be fixed with two critical changes and we'll get into those below.
We'll also touch base on the highlights of CBD's effect on anxiety from our comprehensive look at CBD and anxiety (4383 words with dozens of CBD studies..we're not playing around with anxiety!)
A recent report came out that showed anxiety and depression are now the biggest concern for teens and young people.
This is nothing short of an epidemic.
But back to the question at hand...can CBD increase anxiety?
Can CBD increase anxiety
The research is pretty clear on CBD isolate (by itself) and anxiety.
It has a powerful anti-anxiety effect in the body.
There can be many different causes of anxiety in the body.
CBD appears to address many if not all of them:
- GABA and Glutamate imbalances (see CBD for GABA here)
- Hormone imbalances
- Too much or too little neuron mass in specific areas (Amygdala)
- Too much activity in fear specific areas (Amygdala and DPAG)
- Histamine release in the brain
If this all sounds Greek, get the translation at our CBD Benefits for Anxiety article.
It will walk through how they all work.
The key point is this…
There are dozens of NIH studies showing CBD has a powerful anti-anxiety effect across multiple pathways.
The studies are on CBD BY ITSELF!
CBD Isolate is the common term for this on the market when you're looking for CBD.
It's one of the reasons we focus on Isolate.
That's where the research is!
Let's look at where things can go wrong and actually increase anxiety.
There are three common reasons that usually take care of it.
THC's effect on anxiety (even small amounts in CBD full spectrum)
THC up to .3% is allowed to be in CBD products legally.
The problem is that up to 70% of people with allergy and histamine issues are allergic to THC.
Check out CBD versus THC for anxiety here.
In the research, THC actually has been shown to increase anxiety above a certain level.
This is separate from the anxiety effects of addiction to THC or even normalization (need more and more to feel the same effect).
New research is showing that the brain adjusts to the heightened feelings that THC brings about to where you feel worse when it's not present.
This is the heart of addiction and withdrawal and can definitely display itself as anxiety.
Aside from this aspect, allergic responses to the THC can also cause the anxiety effect.
Many full spectrum brands have THC up to .3%.
That's why you can fail a drug test if using full-spectrum CBD.
But isn't full-spectrum so much better for you?
Not in the research.
Learn all about Full Spectrum versus CBD Isolate for the full story before we buy into the marketing and sales hype.
As for this article, yes...THC can increase anxiety especially if you have allergy issues and/or at higher levels.
This brings up a bigger reason as to why CBD might increase anxiety.
Histamine response from full-spectrum CBD can increase anxiety
No one's really talking about this and yet, it's about 40-60% of the population.
That's the rough number for people who have allergy or histamine issues.
Histamine is what is released when you have an allergic response.
In the brain, it's extremely excitatory.
In fact, it's the chemical behind "wakefulness" and focus.
What if we take focus and wakefulness and crank it up to 11 (to my fellow Spinal Tap fans)?
That would feel a lot like anxiety or mania depending on the situation.
There's a direct tie between histamine release and anxiety in research (see the comprehensive guide here).
Let's quickly talk about Full Spectrum CBD.
This is basically all the plant material with added CBD.
If you have histamine or allergy issues, all that plant material is probably going to lead to a histamine response.
Enough of a response can actually cause anxiety.
A histamine response bares all the telltale signs of anxiety.
- Increase heart rate
- Constriction in the body (blood vessels, airways, chest tightening)
- Sweaty palms
- Elevate blood pressure
Histamine is the "heavy" that carries out the instructions of anxiety.
Many people who see an increase in anxiety from taking CBD find that it goes away when they change to CBD isolate.
It's literally that easy.
It's also very frustrating to us because we know that many people suffering from anxiety will miss out on CBD's effect because full-spectrum is being pushed to everyone.
Personally, we had to try three brands before settling on one that worked.
That's why we created IndigoNaturals! We wanted the best CBD with the least side effects...especially for the 40-60% of the population with allergy issues.
Check out Is Full spectrum CBD better than CBD Isolate here for the full story.
Once we addressed that issue, there's one more culprit for CBD increasing anxiety.
Bad quality CBD can increase anxiety
There is so much crap CBD out there on the market.
We have some legitimate brands (most are full-spectrum) but the market is littered with garbage CBD:
- Not 3rd party tested
- Unverified or too little actual CBD levels
- Bad processing (butane, propane, etc)
- Contaminants, heavy metals, pesticides, mold, bacteria, etc
- There's bad stuff coming from China (who knows what's in there)
Literally 100's of fly-by-night CBD brands have entered the market.
Bad news and it hurts the entire industry.
Look...we built IndigoNaturals to address all these issues because our entire families use it.
Even our teenage kids. (See CBD and teenage anxiety).
You better believe it's 3rd party tested free from:
- 100% THC FREE
- Heavy Metals
We source organically grown in the US (Colorado) industrial hemp via an FDA registered farm with CO2 processing (the cleanest).
We actually test TWICE!
Both at the initial oil extract level and for the finished product.
Like we said, my two sons use it!
The above requirements are mandatory for any CBD product.
Any contaminant or chemicals in CBD can definitely increase anxiety.
There's a huge tie in between anxiety and gut bacteria (See CBD and probiotics for anxiety).
Pesticides alone can wreak havoc down there where 90% of your serotonin and lots of your GABA is actually made.
Three common reasons CBD can increase anxiety
So those are the three key reasons:
- Bad reaction to THC (even minimal amounts)
- Histamine response to plant material in full spectrum
- Bad reaction to poor quality or contaminated CBD
Avoid those three and we have seen no research showing an increase in anxiety due to CBD Isolate.
There is some research that at very high levels, CBD will trigger another pathway called PPAR which might have an anxiety effect with offsets the positive effect.
The only other consideration is the base oil.
We use MCT oil (extract from coconut oil) which is the cleanest on the system.
If you have allergies to the base oil, that may also be an issue.
The two other base oils are olive and hemp which might also cause issues in terms of histamine response (see item #2 above).
Master overview of CBD and anxiety pathways to look at various aspects we can directly affect.
Links to CBD and anxiety research with dozens of anxiety-specific topics.
Always work with a doctor or naturopath with any supplement!
The information provided here is not intended to treat an illness or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.