Can CBD Oil Make Anxiety Worse

April 12, 2019

With the world struggling with the issue of anxiety more too often now, the World Health Organisation has pointed out that it is the sixth largest contributor to anxiety. This indeed has sent chills down the spine more importantly to those who are either themselves affected with anxiety or have the ones suffering from it in vicinity or relations. Given the way the things have been, anxiety is surely going to emerge as a major neurological disorder in future.

CBD oil has been the new call for support for the people these days. It has been all the more attractive for those who like things the herbal way. Also, some of the people, who are tired of the side-effects of certain medications have also found a new ally in CBD oil & other CBD product. However, for most people , CBD oil still remains the first choice since it is the first CBD product to have ever floated in the market & hence is something that people are more known to & ready for.

Many people think if CBD oil also has a cure for anxiety & are also afraid if things get worse. For that case, the question that floats up is – can CBD oil make anxiety worse?

Let?s look for the answer with proper insight into the question.


It is hard to believe but 25% of the American population suffer from an anxiety disorder once in a lifetime which makes it 1 in 4 Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Anxiety, as is defined, is a feeling where an unpleasant state of mind prevails & causes the person extremely afraid of future outcomes. This reflects in their behaviour which is clearly nervous as there is a fear of an anticipated event in the mind always. If it continues for long, the brain?s chemistry & structure change considerably making things all the more worse. As a result of this, the brain either becomes hyperactive or pushes them towards atrophy along with change in the levels of neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine & endocannabinoids) & their receptors.

Anxiety is caused due to the following reasons:

  • Environmental Factors
    Low oxygen levels in high-altitude areas can add to anxiety symptoms. Elements in the environment around an individual can increase anxiety, i.e the external factors which are linked with the brain. Stress from a personal relationship, job, school, or financial troubles can play a great hand in anxiety disorders.
  • Genetics
    It is very much possible that anxiety gets transferred through genes in the family lines. So, there are chances for anxiety disorders in case the family has had a medical history related to anxiety disorders.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms
    When the brain gets addicted to certain elements, stopping them causes anxiety too.
  • Brain Chemistry
    The entire body system runs on the electrical signals in the brain. A little disturbance in it causes anxiety too. Unwanted experiences,traumatic episodes or genetic problems might activate disturbances in brain?s signals which can trigger anxiety disorders that could never have taken place.
  • Medical Issues
    Side-effects from medicines or an underlying problem can cause anxiety. Often, they might happen to alter the brain slowly without our realisation & then suddenly, one day, we might feel symptoms of anxiety suddenly.

During anxiety, the brain triggers the release of the stress hormone called cortisol which prepares the body for a ?fight or flight? situation. The major consequences of the increase in stress hormones are as below:

  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • Digestive problems
  • Weakened immune system
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Muscular tension
  • Endocannabinoid imbalance


Cannabidiol or CBD is one of the 104 components found in the cannabis plant. It is a phytocannabinoid known for its immense medical benefits. Being non-psychoactive, it has garnered a lot of attention compared to THC or tetrahydrocannabinol – its sister compound known for medical benefits too. The only difference between THC & CBD is the fact that THC leads to a high or intoxicated state of mind when consumed due to which, despite good medical benefits, CBD is being preferred the more.

CBD comes from industrial hemp on a legal level but it can be extracted from marijuana too since both are from the cannabis family only. However, since marijuana isn?t that rich in CBD as compared to hemp & also hemp has extremely low concentration of THC in it, hemp is a more preferred road for CBD. Also, CBD from hemp has been legalised due to the same reason of low CBD content.

CBD oil, as the name indicates, is an oil that contains CBD. It is prepared from the industrial hemp leaves & though there are multiple methods of its extraction, yet it is mostly through superficial CO2 extraction where 90% efficiency & guarantee of the most concentrated form of CBD is found. This method entails passing through of CO2 gas under high pressure at low temperatures. This converts the gas to liquid state & thus is made to pass through the plant material where it acts as a solvent & gets the cannabinoids to mix in it without chlorophyll. In the final phase of the process, the collected solution is heated where CO2 vapourizes & only pure CBD oil is left. Since it is a widely used method of extraction for its purity, the process requires well-trained operators & high-cost equipment. This in turn also increases the cost of CBD oil derived from this method apart from the purity factor. But, the purity of? CBD oil from this method is beyond better than any method.


A 2011 study observed that when people with generalized Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) were given 600mg of CBD oil prior to a public speaking test, as opposed to a placebo, the former group experienced significantly lesser anxiety, difficulty & discomfort during their speech. This gives us evidence that CBD has great effect on the people suffering from anxiety.

This can be credited to the joint operation between CBD & the ECS. CBD interacts with the receptors within the human body?s of Endocannabinoid System (ECS) which is involved in maintaining homeostasis in many physiological functions such as sleep, pain, memory, digestion & immune functions.

There are 65 target points for CBD throughout our body. Studies of late have suggested that CBD counters anxiety by stimulating the neurotransmitter systems & neural regeneration. The explanation is as below:

  • Serotonin:
    Serotonin is the ?happy hormone? & its role is to maintain mood & social behaviour. The role of this neurotransmitter is hence extremely complex. Extremely low levels of serotonin lead to depression (& that?s how the happy hormone can turn things really serious), a decrease in it leads to anxiety. Where serotonin is & what it binds to determines the course of the secretion & though it has a minimum of 14 different receptors, CBD specifically binds to 5-HT1A which is believed to have the strongest role in anxiety disorders. Buspirone – the anti-anxiety drug binds substantially to this receptor as concluded in the anti-anxiety experiment on rats exposed to stressful stimuli.
  • Endocannabinoids:
    The human body is a natural producer of cannabinoids which are used throughout our body & brain by the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system or the ECS has numerous roles to play including those of maintaining homeostasis in the various physiological functions like sleep, pain, memory, digestion & immune functions. ECS helps to keep our bodily functions balanced. Chronic stress may deregulate this system thus derailing the body?s physiological processes. CBD is considered to help restore the balance of the endocannabinoid system by influencing the ions, receptors, enzymes in it & preventing overstimulation & understimulation of the CB2 receptors, thus maintaining the body?s production of endocannabinoids to the best balanced level. As studies estimate, CBD activates the HT1A receptor which is a target for antidepressant & anti-anxiety drugs.Rodent experiments have shown that CBD curbs OCD & other anxious behaviors by acting on the endocannabinoid system, which is highly involved in processing and forgetting our fears ? vital for extinction learning.
  • Neural Regeneration:
    Chronic stress can be disastrous. It doesn?t allow us to forget things & keeps the red light for emergency active which in turn disturbs our focus. However, that?s not what we need as we don?t run into dangers every day & every time. This gives it the ability to shrink the brain in size whilst damaging the neurons. But, certain areas of the brain remain capable of regeneration. CBD oil helps in hippocampal neurogenesis, i.e. neural regeneration in the hippocampus (region of the brain associated with cognition & memory). CBD oil helps to build new connections by inducing the growth of new neurons thus growing our brain & achieving neural regeneration. This means that CBD could help counterbalance the brain damage caused by chronic stress.

Studies on anxiety were done on rodents. Human experiments were also done but since human experiments include many legal restrictions & are costly, it is tested on animals & concluded on the results. There were however two studies that were done on both & they have been elaborated below:

  • Less Anxiety Vs Stress
    The subjects? anxiety levels were studied in response to stress around them. In one example, a rodent placed in boa constrictor after a little dose of CBD made the rodent look for alternatives of escape & safeplace to hide instead of coming to a standstill. In a similar situation for humans, public speaking was the boa constrictor & people with doses of CBD showed more confidence & fluent speaking as compared to a placebo group suffering from SAD.
  • Extinction Learning
    For people suffering from Post Traumatic Anxiety Disorder or PTSD, CBD oil has proven extremely beneficial especially in case of Extinction Learning. Subjects are exposed to some harmless triggers which are similar to the painful triggers that they once faced & are hence trained to face it again. The duration the subjects take to forget the triggers is what is taken is noted. Rodents freezed when expecting an electric shock & human subjects too anticipated an electric shock based on a visual cue. Doses of CBD showed immediate impact as nobody froze up while expecting the shock. The catch was that this effect persisted also after 2 days (when CBD effect had worn off).


Anxiety has grabbed both humans & animals alike. While it helps humans especially in case of PTSD & SAD, it helps animals as well to ease them down. It is highly beneficial to counter separation anxiety in animals which makes it even more strong as a therapeutic agent. The fact that anxiety disorders impact 18% of the American population annually, has given CBD oil a chance to prove itself. Rightly so, it is helping better the condition of those with anxiety as they report better sleep, better focus & better life quality. This gives us an idea of how greatly CBD oil can make a difference in anxiety & hence it is wrong to say that CBD oil can make anxiety worse. Instead, it has a healing touch on anxiety & enables people to have a normal life free from the constant anxiousness which doesn?t allow them to enjoy life well. If you had this query & now feel satisfied with the answer (which you should), then befriend CBD oil, it?s going to help you big time!

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