Does CBD help with anxiety?
Of all the use cases for CBD, anxiety is probably the strongest across multiple pathways.
We have an in-depth review of CBD and the pathways of anxiety but a quick refresher.
CBD does help with anxiety by supporting our endocannabinoid system which is tasked with balancing key pathways when under duress (stress).
The big pathways tied to anxiety are:
- GABA - our brain's brake pedal
- Serotonin - our master behavior manager and stress response buffer
- Cortisol - our primary stress hormone
- Anandamide - the "balancing" agent of the endocannabinoid system
CBD has been shown in research to support all these pathways in a very specific way…which is critical.
Technically, CBD is called an allosteric positive modulator of GABA and serotonin.
This means that it bolsters them when they're exhausted or down!
A feedback mechanism!
Otherwise, we would see the nasty tolerance, addiction, and other issues that accompany anxiety meds like benzos (see CBD versus benzos).
The side effect profile is night and day between CBD and anti-anxiety meds.
The big difference is tolerance which means a key pathway actually gets worse with using a specific medication or drug. It's the driver behind withdrawals.
We have massive reviews on the following:
- CBD and GABA
- CBD and serotonin
- CBD and endocannabinoid deficiency (anandamide)
In addition, CBD positively affects a range of issues directly tied to anxiety such as:
- Oxidative stress
- Gut inflammation
- Stress response
The key driver behind CBD's effect on anxiety may be anandamide, our "bliss" molecule.
Whereas THC imitates anandamide and boosts function too much and for too long, CBD supports anandamide when low.
This is why you don't see the "high", sedation, cognitive/motor issues with CBD..even at higher doses (600-800mg daily).
Anandamide is a primary stress response buffer when we're stretched (very important with anxiety…essentially, the stress response is exhausted) and CBD supports it WHEN LOW.
There's an immediate effect of CBD for anxiety (GABA) and a longer-term one (serotonin) that builds over about 14 days (similar to SSRIs - see CBD versus SSRIs).
The real star player with anxiety longer term is BDNF, our brain's fertilizer and CBD directly supports BDNF function (See CBD and BDNF).
The lack of side effects or tolerance (CBD isolate only) combined with the support for key stress and repair pathways makes CBD an ideal candidate for anxiety, especially when compared to the available options.
See the full research on CBD and anxiety here.
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.