Can CBD Actually Make Anxiety Worse?
If you're a Reddit CBD board junkie like me, you see it all the time.
"I took CBD for my anxiety and it made it worse!"
That's going the wrong direction and completely contrary to everything we've read in dozens of NIH studies on the matter.
How could CBD possibly make anxiety worse?
There are a few suspects and we usually figure out the culprit after putting on our Sherlock hat.
There are two common (unfortunately) root causes for CBD making anxiety worse for people and we'll look at both below...
We'll also quickly touch base on the research for CBD and anxiety to make sure it even works there at all.
The most frustrating issue for us is this…
Many people who could reduce suffering from CBD are going to miss out.
We went to a friend's house and she brought out a small box with mostly full CBD bottles.
Different brands (some were well known). Different types.
None of it worked.
In fact...it made her anxiety worse.
There are millions of people who will have the same introduction to CBD.
Look...we found CBD originally out of necessity due to anxiety!
Raging 24/7 anxiety as a result of hormones plummeting from perimenopause.
Our personal story is here but anxiety's written all over it.
Let's get started.
We'll begin with the research behind CBD and anxiety.
Everything we do is based on research.
Research shows that CBD should make anxiety better, not worse
If you want the full 4000+ word overview of CBD's effect on anxiety go here.
Otherwise, we have personally read 100's of NIH and other studies on the matter.
Of all the traits that CBD has, its effect on anxiety is probably the most clear-cut.
Let's just touch base on a few pathways CBD affects directly:
- CBD directly supports the 5HT pathway which governs serotonin (where SSRI's work)
- CBD directly supports the GABA pathway (where benzo's work)
- CBD directly reduces neuroinflammation (key to neuron death and brain mass loss)
- CBD directly calms the immune response (key to above and damage in the brain)
- CBD directly affects the gut (where the immune response control resides)
- CBD directly affects histamine response (another source of inflammation in the brain)
- CBD boosts our own endocannabinoid system which directly affects anxiety
Again, check out the research on CBD for anxiety here.
It's actually quite beautiful (especially if you're suffering).
There are about 15-20 specific studies referenced and those are just a segment of what's out there for CBD and anxiety.
As we said, this is one of the most researched and powerful examples of CBD's effects on a given issue.
Not once...is there a study where CBD makes anxiety worse.
THC (it's a chemical cousin) can increase anxiety and that shows in studies.
THC pushes activity too hard and too long at the same receptor that anandamide uses. CBD works in a feedback mechanism to support when low!
Not CBD...unless we get into very very high levels. Beyond 1500mg (tested safely) daily.
So why the disconnect between studies of CBD in the body across a range of results and what some people are saying on the Reddit boards about CBD making their anxiety worse?
Now, we're trading anxiety for anger.
THIS is why we crafted IndigoNaturals the way we did.
The two reasons CBD can make anxiety worse
We've actually interacted with many of the Reddit posters.
We ask two questions:
- Do you have allergy or histamine issues?
- What brand of CBD were you using which made anxiety worse?
Invariably, the answer is there and the problem can be solved.
A quick review.
Histamine and allergic reactions to full-spectrum can make anxiety worse.
40-60% of the population has allergy issues.
This number goes up as we get older for women (since progesterone is dropping).
Histamine is just the chemical that controls the allergic reaction in the body.
However, in the brain, it's a whole other animal.
Histamine is a very powerful neurotransmitter that governs alertness, wakefulness, and focus.
It's excitatory by nature!
The 40-60% above (worse for women and if you're over age 40) can release too much histamine.
A histamine storm.
If we crank alertness, focus, and wakefulness up too high, that's basically anxiety!
Think about it.
What happens when you take an antihistamine?
Drowsy. Calm. Relaxed.
Hey, we would love to gather data on who's taking Tylenol PM and why.
Most likely, it's women, over age 40, in some stage of perimenopause or menopause.
Check out our article on CBD and perimenopause anxiety to understand why.
It's not the Tylenol or pain relief they're after.
They're using it to sleep and bring down anxiety!
Every single night.
This despite the effects on the liver, ability to remove toxins, and tie to dementia (for the anti-histamine):
Why does this matter for the type of CBD you use?
The vast majority of what is being pushed on the CBD market is full- spectrum.
This is basically hemp oil with CBD added back in.
You might as well add CBD to ragweed!
There are 100's of substance in there that a sensitive histamine system will respond to.
One of the side effects of histamine release…
Histamine literally eats up GABA, the primary "brake" pedal for the brain (and target of benzos - see benzos versus CBD).
We've dealt with countless people who switch to CBD Isolate (not with hemp or olive oil) and it goes away.
That was actually part of our personal journey as well.
We have 4 of the biggest brands on the market sitting in a drawer somewhere.
Bad allergic reactions to all of them.
CBD by itself is calming for the histamine system.
Learn more about CBD and histamine here.
That's half the equation as to why CBD might make anxiety worse. It's why we focus on CBD isolate (CBD by itself) in MCT oil (from organic coconut oil).
Let's get to the other question.
What Brand of CBD you use can make anxiety worse
The full spectrum issue above usually takes care of it.
Then there's the other thing...really bad CBD products.
We can't count the number of brands on the market.
Come up with a pseudoscience/nature word and throw CBD behind it.
There's probably a brand with that name.
Then we come across the people who buy "CBD" on Amazon.
CBD products are not allowed to be on Amazon so who knows what you are putting in your body.
There are so many Chinese knock-offs for CBD products.
If the recent recall of actual BP medications is any indication, those can actually be really bad for you.
Solvents. Contaminants. Pesticides. Bacteria. Mold.
Yes, you can have an adverse effect to these and anxiety can be the brain's inflammatory response to poison essentially.
Remember that the histamine system is there to get bad things out of us very quickly.
Hence the sneezing, coughing, redness, itching, etc.
Now apply that to your central nervous system.
Once a person sends us the brand, we research it.
Here's what we usually find:
- They don't have 3rd party testing for the above issues OR they actually fail some (amazing they publish it)
- They have very little CBD in the product or use misleading language (diols, phytocannabinoids, etc)
- They are full-spectrum and will hit the 40-60% of the population like a lead weight
Many of the biggest brands have the full spectrum /allergy issue.
Then there are many smaller brands that are really bogus products.
Here's the final wrap-up.
- Real CBD Isolate (by itself) in MCT oil should not make anxiety worse.
- Real CBD brands will 3rd party test their product and make sure it's organically grown in the US with CO2 extraction
Our testing is at the top of every page.
Everything else has a good chance of making anxiety worse.
We're happy to research your brand.
Just email us or list below and let us know what effect it's having.
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.