Does CBD Oil for Anxiety Actually Work?

Mona Jones

From Women's Health

  • CBD has grabbed the zeitgeist by the throat in 2019, i
  • It's a totally legal derivative of the cannabis plant that, no – won't get you high.
  • The global market for CBD laced products is set to stand at $22 billion by 2022.
  • Mona Jones, 25, started using the oil to help soothe her frequent panic attacks and credits CBD oil with giving her a handle on her mental health issues.

Taking CBD Oil for anxiety: how it worked for me

‘I was four years old and at school when I had my first panic attack. They kept happening, but nobody ever really offered me advice on how to deal with it. I’d just be taken out of school and left in library until I calmed down.

As I got older, my anxiety became progressively worse. I struggled with all sorts of issues as a teenager, including anorexia, and I started taking anti-depressants.

Soon after, I started putting on weight, and I thought my drugs could be to blame. Every doctor I spoke to said that weight gain wasn’t a side effect, but it was reason enough for me to start looking into alternative ways of managing my depression.


It took me a while to find out about CBD oil because it wasn’t as big as it is now. This was two or three years ago, and it was quite a controversial topic. People weren’t really sure whether it was legal or not, and it wasn’t really available in the shops. But by this point, I was desperate.

Photo credit: PeopleImages - Getty Images

I was having panic attacks every week, usually triggered by social situations. Even a trip to a local café with my sister would trigger one, and I’d have to shut myself in the toilets until I calmed down.

I was in my third year of uni, and I should have been having the time of my life. But it was easier to stop doing things altogether.

Finding out more about CBD

The more I read about CBD, the more intrigued I became. People on Reddit were saying that CBD had helped them, to the point where it was being talked about like a miracle cure. It was all anecdotal though.

I studied experimental psychology at uni, so I went onto Google Scholar to see if there had been any studies on CBD, and there had. I ordered a bottle of CBD oil made by a brand called Jacob Hooy on Amazon that day, and I started taking it – a few drops under the tongue.

Trying CBD for the first time

The effect was instantaneous. I describe my anxiety as like having 10 voices in my head telling me different things. Within two minutes of taking the CBD oil, those voices switched off. I remember sitting in my garden listening to music and being able to focus on it without being distracting by anything else. It was amazing. After that I started taking every day.

CBD oil benefits

CBD has helped me get my life back. It’s given me the chance to go and do the things that I stopped doing. I’ve also become better at managing my own anxiety in terms of the demands I put on myself – I no longer force myself to do situations that will make me really anxious.

But I also know that if I do have to do something anxiety-inducing, like a talk as part of my job, then I have something that will help me.

There are so many misconceptions around CBD still. Sometimes when I tell people I take it I get a bit of a smirk, like ‘Whey, weed!’. And when I told my mother-in-law, she said: ‘but what if the police find it in your bag?’ The reality is, it’s a coping mechanism.

That said, I’m open-minded to the fact that it could be a placebo. When I first starting taking it, the change was so dramatic that I thought it had to be working. I felt that way for six months or so until I started reading articles suggesting that it could be a placebo.

Now I’d say I’m open-minded, but equally, it doesn’t bother me either way. I’ve found something that helps me. Whether it’s having an effect on the chemical imbalance in my brain or just giving me a promise that I’ll feel better, it’s enough.’

CBD oil for anxiety: what does an expert think?

Dr Saoirse O’Sullivan, Associate Professor in the faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham, explains how CBD works in the body.


‘There’s about 20 different molecular targets for CBD in the body. Some of those targets are beneficial for pain, others for inflammation. One of the main targets is the serotonin receptor, which is largely responsible for things like reducing anxiety. People ask me how one drug can do so many things.

But unlike some medicines – which only act at one site – CBD has many different targets. The fact that CBD is anti-inflammatory explains why it is beneficial in such a range of different conditions (like inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, neuroinflammation and in treating skin conditions) where inflammation is part of the problem of the condition’.

Dr Hazel Wallace previously investigated CBD oil for WH. In it, she offered her thoughts on the state of the current research. Here's what she said


'In addition to its use in the treatment of epilepsy, there is a range of conditions for which CBD has shown some benefit – although the data is limited. This includes; brain-related disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), pain, anxiety, cancer, depression and inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

Many people also choose to take CBD for disease prevention or health promotion on the basis that it has potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and neuro-protective effects.

Yet, while the science is interesting and the potential use of CBD for the treatment of debilitating diseases is exciting, we need to take a couple of things into consideration when weighing up the risks and benefits.

Many of these CBD studies are either done on rats, or on a small group of people who have a specific medical condition (which is very different to taking the same substance just to get the proposed benefits) and, as the trials are very short, we don’t know the long-term effects of these substances.'