“Can CBD help with my anxiety?” that’s probably a question you’re pondering even more now, in this strange and unprecedented time we face in the wake of the pandemic and unrest. In the best of times, there is a clear link between constant stress and daily mild anxiety (1), and now, more than ever, it’s worth having options in our toolkit to help us better cope with the effects of everyday anxiety and stress.

In general, feeling anxious can be an understandable response to many of the stressful events that life throws at us. The effects of stress can also affect the body, including headaches, muscle tension, and difficulty sleeping.

Mild daily anxiety is complex and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but the growing number of early studies of cannabidiol (CBD) bodes well for its use as a supplement for those struggling with daily stress and anxiety.

So far, most of the research on CBD and human anxiety has been focused on social anxiety disorder (SAD), but we can learn a lot from the scientific literature that helps support the idea of ​​using CBD to deal with stress from occasional anxiety, as this article is about.

Why is CBD helpful for anxiety?

Our own endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a key role in modulating the way we respond to anxiety and fear, and in managing stress. (2) In fact, the ECS appears to guide, supervise, and direct many of the other physiological systems in our body so that they work in harmony to maintain dynamic, optimal balance.

However, prolonged exposure to stress can have a detrimental effect on the ECS. Over time, prolonged stress will weaken the activity of CB1 receptors, which are involved in processing emotions. (3) It will also increase the level of the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) enzyme that breaks down the endocannabinoid anandamide, so we have less of this natural helpful substance in our system. (4)

When the ECS is not functioning optimally, it can cause anxiety and an inability to let go of negative memories or experience pleasure. One study even found an inverse relationship between anandamide levels and the severity of anxiety; namely, the lower the level, the worse the anxiety. (5) This is not so much of a step as to think that elevating low levels of anandamide could potentially help us feel less anxious. This turned out to be the case, at least in an animal study where scientists found that blocking FAAH in mice whose levels of anandamide had been lowered due to stress-induced anxiety reversed the deficiency and reduced anxiety behavior. (6) Our friend CBD has been shown to keep anandamide in our system longer using similar mechanisms. (7)

The more is known about the ECS, the greater its importance appears to be. The ECS not only works by activating its CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, but it can also interact, in a potentially helpful way, with other neurotransmitter systems. For example, low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are associated with both depression and anxiety. (8) And research suggests that CBD interacts with receptors that support normal serotonin levels. (9) Moreover, a study in mice shows that anandamide works closely with oxytocin. , a natural substance known to enhance our willingness to participate and socialize, behaviors that are often unimaginable when we feel anxious. (10)

While CBD helps with daily stress, it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


CBD has been studied for its effects on anxiety for several years. Most of the studies are preclinical or animal studies, but CBD and human anxiety studies have increased significantly in recent years and the evidence is positive. (11)

A 2015 scientific review found CBD to have significant potential to help with daily or occasional anxiety. (12) The amygdala is an area of ​​the brain known to be crucial in processing intense experiences that trigger our fight-or-flight response. Sometimes we are unable to fully process terrifying experiences that happened in the past, and we may become more prone to anxiety in the future, even in the absence of any obvious trigger. One study found that increasing the levels of anandamide in the amygdala of mice helped them forget about the horrific events. (13) What’s more, CBD had the same effect in humans in a study of 48 volunteers. (14)

CBD’s potential to help with anxiety goes beyond the endocannabinoid system itself. Animal studies indicate that CBD interacts in different ways with the serotonin neurotransmitter system and has been shown to block the negative effects of terrible memories through this mechanism as well. (15,16) In one study, CBD also supported normal heart rate and reduced stress levels in rats under stressful conditions ((17) This prompted the researchers to suggest that it was.

This is significant evidence for considering the use of CBD as an additional support for anxiety and everyday stress in humans. (18.19)

Several studies show that CBD can support the normal formation of new neurons in the brain’s hippocampus area, which is believed to further enhance its anxiety-promoting effects. (twenty)

The results of brain imaging studies confirm that CBD supports areas of the brain related to emotional and cognitive processes and memory. Brain images of healthy people given CBD suggest that the feeling of relaxation they reported correlated with activity in the limbic and paralimbic areas of the brain. (21) In another study, similar changes were seen in brain imaging in people with anxiety when taking CBD. They also reported significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety. Placebo-treated patients did not show the same effect on brain imaging and did not report significant changes in occasional anxiety. CBD has again been observed to affect the limbic and paralimbic regions of the brain. (22)

A randomized, controlled study conducted in 2011 recreated a situation that could cause anxiety in most people, namely public speaking. The participants were divided into the CBD or placebo group. Their level of situational anxiety was measured using subjective self-assessments and objective physiological measures (eg, heart rate and blood pressure). The CBD pretreated group showed significantly less anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort during public speaking compared to the placebo group. (23)


CBD research typically uses isolate forms. This makes translating the amounts used in the research into something practical and applicable to CBD rich full spectrum cannabis extracts. It is known that much larger amounts of CBD isolates are needed to achieve the desired effect. This was verified in a research meta-analysis that looked at studies using high-CBD extracts versus CBD isolates. The results showed that patients successfully managed moments of stress thanks to significantly lower amounts of CBD when CBD is part of a full-spectrum cannabis extract. (24)

Animal studies have shown a significant benefit in using CBD in a certain amount, with little benefit in smaller or larger amounts. (25) Put simply, this means that once you find the portion that best suits you and your lifestyle needs, you won’t get much benefit by taking more or less than that amount. Each of us has a personal sweet spot based on our body chemistry, and finding that spot forms the basis of a beneficial CBD wellness routine.


A 2017 review of preclinical and clinical studies that analyzed CBD for various forms of situational anxiety confirmed how promising the evidence was, and also declared the need for further clinical trials. (26) Most clinical trials of CBD regarding the situation or occasional anxiety were small and short-lived, but the findings were convincing enough to inspire more clinical trials. Several of these studies are currently in preparation. One looks at the effectiveness of using 25 mg of CBD from full-spectrum hemp extract as soft gel capsules over a twelve week period. (27)

Another will evaluate CBD’s effects on occasional anxiety by using whole-plant CBD sublingual (under the tongue) tincture three times a day for four weeks. Additionally, a Phase II clinical trial will look at CBD for social anxiety as endocannabinoid levels change. (29)

Summarizing everything

Research on CBD for situational and occasional anxiety enhances what has been known about the endocannabinoid system for some time, namely that one of its main goals is to maintain physiological balance by helping to recover from the effects of all kinds of stress. (30) Numerous studies show that the ECS communicates with regions of the brain that modulate mood, motivation, memory, and how we experience stress. CBD seems to support all of these activities. It also helps promote the optimal functioning of the ECS in several ways, including by acting on FAAH, the enzyme that breaks down anandamide, our own endocannabinoid, when our supply of this natural wellness substance is exhausted. In addition to the ECS, CBD supports the serotonin neurotransmitter system and the activation of oxytocin, a substance that “holds social bonds together.”

For all of these reasons, trying full-spectrum CBD-rich hemp extracts for occasional anxiety can be an excellent approach to self-care, especially when it’s part of a comprehensive plan that includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress-relieving practices.