Research Roundup: Can CBD oil help anxiety?

Research Roundup

Can CBD oil help anxiety?

Cannabidiol is a compound derived from cannabis plants. It may help people with anxiety reduce their symptoms with few or no side effects, and is legal for medicinal use under federal law.

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While a good bit of research on cannabis products has looked at the use of marijuana, CBD oil as a standalone product has begun receiving more attention as its availability and popularity has increased. For cannabis itself, having anxiety is considered to be a risk factor for consumption. But studies show that CBD oil in isolation may actually be useful for helping patients struggling with anxiety. Considering the additional stress and isolation we all are experiencing due to COVID-19, we though it might be a good time to look at the available research surrounding CBD oil as a possible resource for folks who might be struggling to contain their rising anxieties.


Although there are fewer studies on cannabidiol specifically, the preliminary research is promising. In 2010, a relatively small study found that CBD oil effectively reduced symptoms of social anxiety in people who had been clinically diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (SAD). For the study, researchers used brain scans of the participants that showed changes to blood flow to the regions of the brain associated with anxiety. This showed that treatment with CBD oil not only made the patients feel better, but also seemed to fundamentally change how their brains were responding to anxiety.


Another study completed in 2011 supported the findings that CBD helps to reduce social anxiety. This research narrowed the focus to anxiety specifically related to public speaking, but like the 2010 study the participants were all previously diagnosed with generalized social anxiety disorder.


Researched published in 2014 using an animal model suggested not just anti-anxiety properties, but also showed antidepressant effects. The study used a variety of experiments that are generally accepted to be effective in looking at behavior and the impact of medicines using laboratory animals including a forced swimming test, elevated plus maze, and Vogel conflict test. Specifically they demonstrated non-activation of neuroreceptors CB1 and CB2. Most of the studies demonstrated a good interaction between CBD and the 5-HT1A neuro-receptor.


A 2015 meta-analysis widened our understanding of the breadth of anxiety experiences that CBD oil may help to treat. It concluded that CBD oil is a promising treatment for numerous forms of anxiety, including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and even more extreme conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. The report included a caveat however that while most studies have shown CBD oil to be effective in giving patients short-term relief, more research was needed on the long-term effects of CBD oil consumption.

CBD oil not only made the patients feel better, but also seemed to fundamentally change how their brains were responding to anxiety.

Overall, given the relatively low-risk and mild presentation (or even complete absence of) negative side-effects, it seems CBD oil should be towards the top of the list for giving recommendations for patients struggling with anxiety. Of course, other natural treatments such as exercise and healthy diets should not be neglected–as they are still strongly supported as effective means to reduce stress and anxiety while also delivering the myriad other healthy results that exercise and diet can produce. But CBD oil can certainly be another powerful component of an all-natural and low-risk regimen for treating anxieties–even clinical anxiety disorders. Chiropractors should, as always, do as much research as they can and consider other patient-specific factors before making their recommendations to their patients. But the research seems to support CBD oil as a great choice and a natural fit for chiropractic’s approach to overall wellness without resorting to dangerous and addictive chemical treatments.

Looking for high quality CBD oil products? Visit our sponsor Stirling Oils today! We’d like to thank Stirling Oils who are a proud sponsor of Carolina Chiropractors and their contributions help us to keep following our mission to bring valuable training, information, and resources to chiropractors in North Carolina!