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Mental Health

Everything You Need to Know About CBD Oil for Anxiety

CBD oil (a.k.a. Cannabidiol) has been dominating medical headlines – and the feeds of Instagram health influencers – this year as the new wellness trend to try. While it’s reportedly been effective in treating medical ailments ranging from acne and anxiety to Parkinson’s disease, the trendy CBD fad still has its fair share of skeptics. CBD oil has faced a lot of scrutiny over the past few years, with most people citing the fact that cannabidiol is one of the key ingredients in the drug marijuana.

However, according to Project CBD, cannabidiol is actually a “non-psychoactive cannabis compound that counteracts the psychoactivity of THC.” Basically, when you use CBD Oil, you experience the relaxation associated with smoking or using marijuana, but do not experience the “mind-altering” sensation of being high.

Thus, CBD Oil has become a popular antidote to many physical and mental health conditions—including anxiety. While the effects of CBD oil on the body haven’t undergone long-term scientific studies, the short-term studies have indicated its success in being a supplementary treatment to a range of anxiety disorders.


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Anxiety disorders—including, but not limited to social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders—are typically treated with a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and prescribed medications. These prescribed medications—Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRI’s—are meant to produce higher levels of serotonin in the brain, thereby reducing anxiety. However, these anxiety medications are often hit-or-miss. It can take a while for a person to find the right combination that works for their needs, as certain anxiety medications have a numbing effect that people find distasteful.

College junior Maya said that while “CBD Oil helps me relax and not [dwell on] a lot of the little thoughts I have, like going to eat by myself or going somewhere where there are large groups. I may use it to help my anxiety, but it might not be able to replace traditional medicine for some people.” Maya went on to explain that one of the main reasons she believes people don’t explore CBD Oil is because of the association it has with marijuana. 

While nothing can replace the importance of talking to a doctor about treatment options to ease your anxiety, CBD Oil has emerged as a completely natural alternative to supplement treatment. If the idea of CBD Oil appeals to you, but you’re still confused as to how it’s not marijuana or how it’ll exact reduce your anxiety, we’ve got your comprehensive guide to understanding this rise in wellness.

How it works

If you’re not completely clear on the separation between CBD and THC, you may not understand how CBD Oil can work without making you high. The important distinction is that CBD Oil does not contain THC—or if it does, it’s at such low levels that the CBD “balances it out.” The absence or near absence of THC eliminates the possibility of you getting high—which is a relief. Researchers have found that in people with anxiety disorders, THC actually exacerbates their anxiety and paranoia. Boston University senior Emma elaborated on this finding.

“In my experience, CBD has much more of a calming effect in comparison to THC. For my friends, my sisters, and myself we use CBD oil to combat the feelings of anxiety and stress. It’s as if an overwhelming sense of calm comes over us, and finally, we are at peace.” Emma said.

And science reflects that. Researchers have found that CBD Oil affects the brain’s response to serotonin, and brain scans of CBD Oil users demonstrate that there were changes in blood flow to the brain in areas linked to anxiety once people started using CBD.

Though the use of CBD Oil is fairly new, fans like Emma strongly recommend it for the reasons showcased above, reiterating: “For individuals who are stressed and/or anxious, I recommend using CBD products over THC products.”

How it reduces anxiety

You may be wondering: How does all of this relate to my anxiety? How can it help? Ultimately, CBD Oil is used as a treatment to address various symptoms of anxiety disorders. According to Healthline, using CBD Oil can “reduce stress, decreasing physiological effects of anxiety (such as heat flashes, increased heart rate), improve symptoms of PTSD, and induce sleep in cases of insomnia.” This is attributed to the fact that CBD Oil “transmits serotonin,” which creates feelings of calmness and relaxation—slowing down anxiety symptoms and allowing you to catch your breath.

HelloGiggles writer Angelica Florio best explains this in an article detailing her first experience trying CBD Oil for her anxiety. Describing her anxiety on a scale from 1-10, Florio noted that when took the CBD Oil, it lessened her anxiousness in situations where she’d normally be a “full-blown 10.” Though she commented that she didn’t think CBD Oil could replace her medication, Florio said that using the oil “eliminated a factor in the anxiety equation,” and allowed her body to just relax. Her experience illustrates that CBD Oil can provide both the body and mind a sense of calm that is not usually present in a person who struggles with an anxiety disorder. 

Where to get it

If you’re under 21 and you want to buy CBD at a state-licensed dispensary, the law still applies as if you were consuming illegal substances—you cannot get CBD Oil. However, if you are 21 and over or the product has less than .3 percent THC, depending on your state’s legislation, you can shop around online to find the CBD Oil treatment perfect for your needs no matter your age. Additionally, you can also browse your local smoke shops for pure CBD Oil.

If you’re new to using CBD Oil, either ask for a recommendation from your doctor or do your research! Some of the Internet’s favorites include Pure Kana, Green Roads World, Elixinol (which is FDA-approved!), CBD Essence, and CBD Pure.  

The ever-growing fad of CBD Oil is not without its faults, however. The marijuana and CBD industry is well-known for its history of racial inequality, and the ACLU states that black and brown people are four times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana-related offense than a white person. If you’re considering using recreational marijuana or CBD Oil for anxiety, please be aware of the laws in your state and consider fighting for the rights of the people of color incarcerated for minor marijuana offenses. 

How to use it

There are multiple ways to consume CBD Oil, and it is completely up to you which way you prefer—vaping or swallowing are the most effective ways to absorb the CBD into your bloodstream and feel the effects almost instantaneously.

If you decide to vape CBD Oil, you’ll need two things: a vape pen and CBD juice, both of which you can purchase online if you are of 21 years of age. Vaping is a convenient option way to ingest CBD Oil, and it’s one of the quickest—inhaling CBD Oil means it reaches your bloodstream instantaneously. Your anxiety will lessen shortly after.

However, you can also swallow the CBD Oil. The most popular ways to consume CBD Oil are through eating CBD-infused edibles or using tincture to drop some oil underneath your tongue. While swallowing increases the wait time for CBD Oil’s effects, it also increases its longevity—you’ll be feeling less anxious for hours longer compared to if you vape.

Personal preference is key here. If you prefer immediate relief from your anxious thoughts, vaping is likely the path you’ll choose—but if your patience wins out and you’re hoping for a longer period of calm, look into to buying some gummies or tincture.

While it is not legal across the United States, it is clear that many college students are turning to CBD Oil to supplement treatment for their anxiety disorders. Check out an extensive list here to see whether CBD Oil is easily accessible in your state. And most importantly, remember to always contact your doctor or a medical professional before trying out any new treatment options.

Maddie is a senior majoring in journalism and public relations in the College of Communication at Boston University. Hailing from suburban Philadelphia, Maddie is incredibly happy to be back in Boston for her fourth year. This year, she's looking forward to spending all of her money on brunch, downing lots of coffee, and of course, writing and editing at Her Campus. Outside of Her Campus, Maddie is involved with her sorority and exploring all of Boston.
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