What to Know About CBD Oil for Stress Relief Treatment

person taking CBD oil

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Cannabis sativa, commonly referred to as cannabis, is a plant that contains over 60 compounds known as cannabinoids. Among these compounds is cannabidiol (CBD) which, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), doesn’t produce psychoactive effects.

CBD has become a widely used product over the past several years. The FDA has only approved it in one product to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome or tuberous sclerosis complex in patients one year or older. However, research is examining CBD’s impact on various ailments that are psychiatric, neurodegenerative, inflammatory, and cancerous in nature.

Some studies indicate that CBD oil can effectively treat stress and anxiety. It does so by acting on the endocannabinoid system, a neural network that is part of the central nervous system, which plays a role in modulating cognitive and physiological functions. Here’s what the findings on CBD oil for stress and anxiety have shown so far. 

Stress-Related Benefits of CBD Oil 

CBD shows promise in alleviating symptoms of anxiety disorders. In a 2020 review, researchers examined a series of clinical trials, a case series, and a case report.

Optimal Dosage for Stress Relief

Doses varied widely from between 6 mg and 400 mg, participants showed improved clinical outcomes in various anxiety assessment scales. cbd was generally well tolerated. 

Symptom Relief in Young People

One trial noted that CBD could lead to symptom relief in young people with treatment-resistant moderate-to-severe anxiety. Thirty-one participants between the ages of 12 and 25 took CBD for twelve weeks, titrating it to a maximum dose of 800 mg. At the conclusion of the study, participants reported significant improvements in anxiety and overall functioning, with no serious adverse effects reported.  

CBD can also improve certain measures of acute stress, such as participants’ heart rate variability (HRV)—a physiological marker of stress.

Of note, participants who went into the study believing that CBD could alleviate their stress did indeed have greater changes in HRV. 

Possible Side Effects

CBD, though generally considered safe, can also have side effects. These may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Mood changes
  • Appetite changes
  • Diarrhea 

Specific side effects and their intensity can vary from person to person based on the amount of CBD taken. It’s best to start with a smaller dose and increase it as you determine your tolerance. 


There are some cases in which you would want to refrain from consuming CBD oil.

If You Have Allergies

Individuals with allergies to cannabidiol or sesame oil should refrain from using CBD. 

A History of Drug and Alcohol Use Disorders

Additionally, those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse should proceed with caution with CBD. Though CBD can’t make users “high,” it may still have addictive properties. Physicians can assess the risks and benefits of using CBD for individuals with prior or ongoing substance use.

If You Already Take Benzodiazepines

Furthermore, those who take benzodiazepines to manage symptoms of a mental health condition may need to titrate down on their medications prior to taking CBD. Simultaneous use of CBD and benzodiazepines may cause significant sedation. 

Always Speak to Your Doctor First Before Trying a New Drug

Individuals who take CBD with certain medications can experience liver damage. If you are currently taking medications, check with your doctor before starting CBD to ensure there aren’t any potential drug reactions. 

If you are experiencing adverse effects, it’s important to seek medical care immediately. 

Dosage and Preparation

Research suggests that CBD is generally safe in doses up to 600 mg. However, specific dosage tolerance can vary from individual to individual based on physiological factors (e.g., weight, height, age, overall health) and how long they’ve been using CBD.

Some people may find that 600 mg is too much, while others can tolerate that amount well. Listen to your body and look out for any side effects.

CBD comes in three main forms:

  1. Isolate: contains only CBD
  2. Full-spectrum: contains CBD and other cannabinoids, including THC
  3. Broad-spectrum: contains CBD and other cannabinoids, excluding THC

Some individuals may choose to take full-spectrum products due to the “entourage effect.” This is a theory that poses different compounds in cannabis work synergistically to create different beneficial effects. Broad-spectrum CBD products can also offer the benefit of multiple cannabinoids, without THC’s psychoactive effects. 

Forms of CBD

Furthermore, CBD can be taken in many forms. Some of the most common are:

  • Oral: includes capsules, sprays, and tinctures (drops that can be swallowed or placed beneath the tongue)
  • Topical: includes creams and roll-on gels (often used on painful areas of the body, as they have a more local effect)
  • Edibles: includes beverages, gummy candies, and baked goods
  • Inhaled: taken in through vaping oil (this method can pose certain health risks, however) 

What to Look For in a CBD Product

CBD, though widely available over-the-counter, online, and in stores, is not regulated by the FDA. This means that products differ in what they contain, and thus vary in how effective they may be and what side effects are possible.

Also, check your state laws before you buy CBD products. Hemp-derived CBD containing less than 0.3% THC is legal by federal law, but state laws may vary. 

Look for the Following

When you're in search of a CBD product, look out for the following:

  • Labeling: Inaccurate labeling is common. One finding that examined 84 CBD products sold on the internet found that 26% contained less CBD than reported, while 43% contained more. In addition, THC was detected in 21% of the samples, potentially leading to positive drug test results. If you have a preexisting mental health condition, mislabeled products may make your symptoms worse. 
  • Drug testing: Since full-spectrum CBD products contain THC, you may receive positive results on drug tests you take.  
  • Contraindications: If you have a preexisting health condition or are on prescription medications, CBD can produce adverse effects. Always check with your healthcare provider before you add CBD products to your regimen. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I use CBD if I’m pregnant?

    The research on CBD use in pregnancy is very limited. Physicians encourage pregnant and breastfeeding women to abstain from CBD use.

  • Can kids use CBD?

    Current evidence has only shown to alleviate epilepsy symptoms in children, though some parents administer it for kids’ impulsive behavior, stress, and sleep problems. There is not enough research to support CBD’s benefits versus risks in children.

  • Can CBD show up on drug tests?

    Pure CBD is not likely to show up on drug tests, though hemp products with trace amounts of THC can lead to positive drug test results.

14 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Brina Patel
Brina Patel is a freelance writer from Sacramento, California. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as an applied behavior analysis therapist for children on the autism spectrum. She leverages her own experiences researching emotions, as well as her personal challenges with chronic illness and anxiety, in her storytelling, with the hope of inspiring others to take better charge of their overall wellness and understand themselves on a deeper level.