Yes, full-spectrum CBD products can cause or worsen anxiety in some people. Here’s why it affects anxiety differently and what you can do about it. Many people find that calming CBD products can help relieve panic attacks. But not everybody has the same experience. So, can CBD cause panic attacks? does cbd oil cause rebound anxiety? our culture is becoming more open-minded and accepting towards cannabis, and we think that is a really good thing. research on cannabis, especially cannabidiol
Can Full-Spectrum CBD Cause Anxiety?
In short: yes, full-spectrum CBD can cause anxiety in some susceptible individuals. Although research has shown that pure cannabidiol (CBD) can relieve anxiety, this isn’t necessarily true for full-spectrum CBD.
If you’re sensitive to THC due to certain risk factors, you can get more anxiety or even a panic attack from taking a large enough dose of a full-spectrum CBD product.
Read on to learn how full-spectrum CBD can cause anxiety and what you can do about it.
Table of Contents
Research on CBD and Anxiety
Unlike its cousin THC, CBD can’t cause anxiety or any other mind-altering effects. On the contrary, multiple human studies have demonstrated that pure CBD can relieve various types of anxiety:
- In a 2011 Brazilian study, CBD capsules improved anxiety caused by public speaking in people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) (1)
- In a similar 2019 Japanese study, pure CBD oil improved anxiety in teenagers with SAD and avoidant personality disorder (2)
- In another 2019 study done in Colorado, CBD capsules improved anxiety scores in almost 80% of the study participants (3)
- The researchers of a 2020 review paper concluded that “CBD has a promising role as alternative therapy in the management of anxiety disorders” which include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), SAD, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (4)
Why Full-Spectrum CBD Can Cause Anxiety
If pure CBD has been shown to relieve anxiety, then why is full-spectrum CBD different?
It’s because full-spectrum CBD is a whole-plant hemp extract. Since hemp is a variety of cannabis that contains small amounts (0.3% or less) of THC, this means full-spectrum CBD can have THC.
THC is the main compound responsible for the cannabis high. Its potential side effects include increased anxiety, paranoia, and panic attacks.
There’s some evidence that THC has a biphasic effect on anxiety, meaning that low doses can reduce anxiety, while higher ones can make it worse (5). On top of that, multiple factors can influence how you respond to THC.
According to research, some people have a higher chance of getting anxiety from THC due to: (6)
- Personality traits
- Infrequent use
- History of previous anxiety reactions
- Presence of anxiety disorders or symptoms
- Basal anxiety levels
- Being female
- The environment and the context in which the THC is consumed
This means that for a minority of people, ingesting even small amounts of THC — such as the kind found in full-spectrum CBD products — can actually cause anxiety, panic attacks, and related side effects.
How Much THC is in Full-Spectrum CBD Products?
Full-spectrum CBD products can legally contain up to 0.3% THC, so roughly speaking, a full-spectrum CBD oil can contain as much as 3 milligrams (mg) of THC per one milliliter (ml) of liquid.
For example, here’s a third-party lab report of a high-quality full-spectrum CBD oil showing that the THC content is about 1.6 mg/ml of oil or about 0.17% (a bit below the 0.3% legal cutoff for hemp).
With this in mind, we can estimate that 1 ml (one full dropper in most cases) of your average full-spectrum CBD oil will contain 1-3 mg of THC. Even if you were to take two full droppers, this would only add up to 2-6 mg. This doesn’t seem like much, and for most people, it isn’t.
But for individuals who are highly sensitive to THC due to the risk factors we discussed earlier, this can be enough to cause or worsen anxiety.
My Experience With Anxiety From Full-Spectrum CBD
I’ve personally experienced an uncomfortable high and anxiety that lasted for 3 hours after taking roughly 80 mg of full-spectrum CBD oil. If I had to estimate, it contained about 3-4 mg of THC.
At first, I was surprised because full-spectrum CBD products had always relieved anxiety for me.
But after doing some research, it made total sense. I’ve smoked cannabis in the past and stopped using it after I began to get anxiety even from a few puffs. I also found many other reports of people who experienced anxiety and even panic attacks from full-spectrum CBD products.
Like other susceptible individuals, I’m so sensitive to THC that even the small amount present in full-spectrum CBD can make me feel anxious.
Using Full-Spectrum CBD for the First Time? Start Low
If you plan on using a full-spectrum CBD product and think it might make you anxious (especially if you have existing anxiety issues), be sure to follow the “start low and go slow” approach to cannabinoids recommended by clinical researchers (7).
Start with a small 5-10 mg dose of CBD and wait for two hours to see the effects. If you don’t notice anything, you can try a higher dose, again stopping for two hours to see if you notice any difference.
Use this method to find the full-spectrum CBD dose that provides you with anxiety relief or whichever benefit you’re looking for.
Alternatives to Full-Spectrum CBD
If you’ve already experienced anxiety from full-spectrum CBD products, you have four options.
First, you can simply lower your dose. In my case, I found that as long as I kept my full-spectrum CBD oil doses below about 70 mg, I still got the calming effects and none of the anxiety.
Another option is to switch to a different brand. After trying various full-spectrum CBD oils I’ve noticed more pronounced THC-related effects from certain brands.
These two choices are ideal because full-spectrum CBD provides the greatest benefits thanks to the “entourage effect” produced by all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other active compounds working in synergy (8). So even though THC is the issue, it’s nice to have a little bit for that extra boost to the entourage effect.
But if you want to play things safe, you can also go with broad-spectrum CBD products. This type of extract contains the same ingredients as full-spectrum CBD but removes THC (undetectable traces might remain). This way, you can maximize the entourage effect while avoiding THC.
The last option is to use CBD isolate products, which contain only pure CBD and nothing else. But this isn’t ideal since you won’t be getting the synergistic benefits of all the other cannabinoids and terpenes found in full and broad-spectrum CBD.
Pure CBD can’t cause anxiety because it’s a non-intoxicating compound that has anxiety-relieving effects. However, full-spectrum CBD can potentially cause or worsen anxiety symptoms, depending on your sensitivity to THC.
While most people will be fine, some are so sensitive to THC that even a small amount is enough to trigger anxiety.
That’s why you should always check the third-party lab test reports (called Certificates of Analysis) to see the precise levels of THC in your product.
Keep in mind that although THC comes in two forms, delta-9 and delta-8, we’re mostly concerned about delta-9 because delta-8 is less psychoactive and naturally found in much smaller quantities (unless you’re using delta-8 products).
An example of a third-party Certificate of Analysis (CoA) showing that a full-spectrum CBD oil contains 1.6 mg of THC per ml.
There’s little regulation in the CBD industry, so it’s common for products to contain more or less CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids than advertised on the label.
You should never buy CBD from companies that fail to provide third-party test reports since they help you confirm that the CBD and THC levels are accurate and you’re getting your money’s worth.
Besides, these tests can also verify that there are no contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals.
Gleb is a freelance writer from Vancouver, Canada specializing in CBD and cannabis. He’s read thousands of studies on CBD and other supplements, helping him translate complex science into plain language. Gleb has tried and reviewed dozens of CBD brands and products, written third-party testing reports, and knows the CBD industry inside and out. When not writing, he likes to kickbox, travel, and tell everyone how awesome intermittent fasting is.
Can CBD Cause Panic Attacks?
We think of CBD as calming, soothing, and relaxing – and as product descriptions show, so do brands. But not everybody has the same tranquil experience with CBD products. Can CBD cause panic attacks? It’s not such a crazy question.
But it’s not necessarily common, either. In this post, we will explore if CBD can cause panic attacks and why you may have one after using tincture oils, concentrates, or other products. We will also look at how to avoid panic attacks.
Let’s start with a swift response to the original question before analyzing the specifics of CBD products and panic attacks.
The Quick Answer
Some people experience panic attacks after using CBD products, but this seems rare. Full-spectrum CBD carries increased risk due to the presence of THC.
Anxiety and panic attacks are almost certainly caused by another substance in the product, not the CBD. This could be another cannabinoid, a non-hemp plant extract, or even an impurity. No research suggests that pure CBD causes anxiety.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the most concentrated non-intoxicating component of the cannabis plant. The naturally-occurring cannabinoid does not produce psychoactive effects but modulates the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to enhance wellbeing.
Cannabis scientists began gradually learning about CBD during the 20th century, but the cannabinoid has seen an explosion of interest since the early 2010s. Millions now use federally legal hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC.
Sought-after CBD products include tincture oils, e-liquids, vape cartridges, capsules, edibles, concentrates, topicals, and flower. But there are almost endless possibilities, as one look at the flourishing U.S. hemp market will show you.
Types of hemp-derived CBD extract
To understand the risk of anxiety and panic attacks after taking CBD, we need to run through the different types of hemp extract used in CBD products.
CBD-isolate: If you only care for CBD, products with CBD-isolate extract are your best bet. Not only are they cheaper, but they will also spare you any drug test nightmares and reduce the likelihood of side effects.
The hemp extract itself doesn’t contain any other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids, although some brands choose to add compounds separately. Check the ingredients list of a CBD-isolate product before purchasing.
Full-spectrum CBD: This is typically the best hemp extract to improve your wellbeing. Full-spectrum CBD promotes the entourage effect, a synergy that makes cannabinoids more potent than if consumed separately.
However, full-spectrum means you get every hemp component and therefore a tiny amount of THC. Per federal law, this must be less than 0.3%, but even that much has the potential to cause side effects and positive drug tests.
Broad-spectrum CBD: Products made with broad-spectrum hemp strike the perfect balance for many. They are THC-free, but you don’t lose out on other cannabinoids and terpenes that make CBD more beneficial than when taken in isolation.
If full-spectrum CBD is causing side effects or you are nervous about surprise drug tests, use broad-spectrum CBD.
Can Too Much CBD Cause Panic Attacks?
Anxiety and panic attacks are rare side effects but not unheard of, with some products more likely to give you these issues than others. And if you are anxiety-prone, other CBD-induced side effects could make you a little edgy.
However, no scientific evidence suggests pure CBD causes anxiety and panic attacks. Therefore, if you experience these after using a product, it’s more likely due to another substance present, whether that is THC or another extract.
Users who report panic attacks after “taking CBD” have often consumed a full-spectrum CBD product. But what makes this type of hemp extract problematic?
The problem with full-spectrum CBD
Full-spectrum CBD is a fantastic hemp extract for amplified therapeutic benefits and the entourage effect, but it’s not without its downsides – specifically, the inclusion of THC.
The 2018 Farm Bill caps delta-9-THC levels in hemp products at 0.3%, but that can still be a pesky amount. Any concentration of THC can trigger side effects if you have extra sensitive cannabinoid receptors.
Unfortunately, anxiety and paranoia are among the most common and notorious THC side effects. The brain-twisting psychoactive properties can cause hallucinations, mess with your senses, and even screw with your perception of time.
So, while full-spectrum CBD is often touted as the gold standard extract in hemp-based CBD products, this is a subjective statement. If you have an unhappy relationship with marijuana, avoid full-spectrum CBD as a precaution.
Moreover, according to researchers, untested CBD products often exceed the legal THC limit. Not only are such products Schedule I drugs, but they generate effects more akin to traditional marijuana than CBD.
Can CBD Cause Panic Attacks? (Reddit Opinions)
We have looked at the science, but what about first-hand experiences with CBD and panic attacks? I stumbled across some intriguing anecdotes when searching Reddit.
On the r/CBD subreddit, u/Encendi shared a story about nearly having a panic attack after taking full-spectrum CBD tincture oil. Others chimed in, suggesting the THC in the oil could be the culprit or that the perceived panic attack was psychosomatic.
On the same subreddit, u/Mischievist reported a massive panic attack after consuming 35mg of CBD gummies. Fellow CBD users advised checking the type of extract before purchasing and starting with a low dose when trying a new product.
Finally, we have u/apex_f7’s story, also from the r/CBD subreddit. They had previously taken tincture oils successfully but suffered a panic attack after smoking CBD flower lasting for two hours. Reddit users hinted at the same offender: the THC.
Of course, your average Redditor isn’t an expert, but first-hand stories of bad CBD experiences are invaluable. We can study them together and search for patterns – in this case, it’s full-spectrum hemp that comes up with regularity.
CBD Products and Panic Attacks
Thus far, we have assessed CBD and panic attacks from a general perspective. Let’s drill down on the risks associated with various CBD products.
Can CBD oil cause panic attacks?
It depends. CBD-isolate and broad-spectrum CBD pose hardly any danger, with panic attacks only coming due to weird reactions and impure, untested tinctures.
However, full-spectrum CBD oil could cause such complications. I must stress that panic attacks and anxiety from taking any form of CBD remain rare. But if it’s going to happen with tinctures, it will be with this type of product.
Can smoking CBD cause panic attacks?
Yes, smoking CBD flower is more likely to cause panic attacks than any other CBD product type by nature of the cannabinoid composition. Raw hemp flower is inevitably full-spectrum – you cannot grow CBD-isolate or broad-spectrum buds!
Therefore, CBD nugs will undoubtedly have some THC, although hopefully less than 0.3%. However, many CBD flower products also have substantial concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).
THCA is a precursor of THC and a regular in raw hemp and cannabis. When smoked, non-intoxicating THCA decarboxylates into psychoactive THC. Combined with the already-active THC, this could be enough to set off a panic attack.
Don’t smoke CBD joints if you have anxiety or suffer from cannabis-induced anxiety. I know you may want to enjoy an authentic cannabis experience, but it’s not worth it if your authentic experience means a heightened risk of panic attacks.
Can CBD dabs cause panic attacks?
You might think that highly-potent CBD concentrates – such as shatter, crystals, and wax – are prime candidates for panic attacks. But these products are relatively safe, with the strongest dabs often THC-free to allow for even greater CBD concentration.
That said, full-spectrum wax and similar products may cause issues. Dosing with concentrates is tricky, and it’s easy to ingest or inhale much more than planned. And given the sky-high concentration, you could unwittingly consume a chunk of THC.
How to Avoid Panic Attacks with CBD
Even if you are prone to panic attacks, there is no reason why your CBD experience should end up in disarray. With informed purchases and sensible usage, you can stay anxiety and panic attack-free when dosing with CBD products.
Use THC-free CBD products
Neutralize the risk of side effects by using third-party tested, THC-free CBD products. Thankfully, that only rules out full-spectrum CBD products.
You are good to go with CBD-isolate and broad-spectrum CBD. Even products that mix CBD with CBG or CBN are okay, provided there’s no THC lurking!
Whatever you buy, ensure it comes with a corresponding third-party certificate of analysis (COA). Untested products may have traces – or even hefty quantities – of THC, and you would have no way of knowing until trying.
Furthermore, unapproved CBD products may also contain dangerous impurities or even less CBD than stated. Third-party testing keeps you safe and stops scammers in their tracks.
Manage your dosage
The higher your dosage, the more likely side effects are, especially with full-spectrum CBD. Therefore, managing your intake, particularly when using a new product, is a measure that limits the risk of anxiety attacks.
Double-check what hemp extract is in your product, the serving size, and whether any ingredients could impact the effects (i.e., MCT oil). Use this information and consume accordingly, always taking a lower dosage if unsure.
Let me put your mind at rest: pure and natural CBD comes with no overdose or dependency risk. A 2011 study published in Current Drug Safety found that CBD doesn’t become toxic until you ingest nearly 20,000mg of CBD oil per day.
So, chill out! Sure, drowsiness, diarrhea, and nausea can occur with regular dosages, but these will all pass as the CBD wears off. And any anxiety and paranoia triggered by full-spectrum CBD will subside within a few hours of consumption.
Remember that some CBD products kick in at different rates. If you are familiar with gummies, fast-acting vape cartridges and joints could take you by surprise. Make a mental note of this beforehand if trying a new product.
Can CBD Cause Panic Attacks to Go Away?
If you suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and know about CBD, you will have likely heard it can help relieve these issues. Good news: the right product used correctly can do just that!
But don’t take my word for it when you can take it from scientists who have spent months, if not years, researching this specific topic!
The authors of this 2015 study in Neurotherapeutics found that CBD has “considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.”
An earlier paper published in Neuropsychopharmacology argued that CBD may combat social anxiety symptoms. Notably, the study involved a whopping 600mg CBD-isolate powder, an indication that CBD is well-tolerated in high, purified doses.
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does cbd oil cause rebound anxiety?
our culture is becoming more open-minded and accepting towards cannabis, and we think that is a really good thing. research on cannabis, especially cannabidiol (cbd), is expanding with it, as people continue to ask new questions and set out in search of answers. we recently had a specific question come to mind and went looking for as much information as we could find on the matter: does cbd oil cause rebound anxiety?
because of the way cbd interacts with the human body, it does not cause rebound anxiety. rebound anxiety occurs as a bodily response to the withdrawal of a substance or medication. cbd does not affect the pathways of the brain that are related to dependence, and thus cannot create this response.
that’s not to say the relationship between cbd and rebound anxiety is black and white, however. predisposed conditions to anxiety, dependence to substances, and interactions with other medications also matter. now is also a good time to share some good news with you: cbd may be helpful in mitigating rebound anxiety from other medications.
what causes rebound anxiety?
in order to find out what causes rebound anxiety, let’s start with a working definition. according to anxieties.com, “rebound is the temporary return of greater anxiety symptoms after withdrawal from medication than you experienced before [taking] the medication.”
rebounds can happen when the effects of any substance wears off. one common example of this occurs when feeling the “crash” in the afternoon from your morning cup of coffee. but that does you no good if you’re feeling the debilitating effects of anxiety, so let’s keep on track: in order for rebound anxiety to occur, there must be some element of dependence that is present in the first place.
benzodiazepines (xanax, klonopin, valium, ativan, etc) are frequently used to treat anxiety, but they can be habit-forming and long-term use can lead to physical dependence while benzos have been proven effective at alleviating symptoms of anxiety, they are not a sustainable solution due to their long-term side effects. they also do not solve the underlying root of the problem.
taking benzodiazepines result in a physical level of dependence developing as the substance is consumed. as such, withdrawal effects to varying degrees are inevitable, especially within prolonged users. when withdrawal effects are experienced, there is potential for a rebound to occur, bringing with it even further-heightened feelings of anxiety that one is now stuck battling.
cbd and rebound anxiety
cbd is another increasingly-popular way to address the symptoms of anxiety as a whole, and much research has been done to back its efficacy. it is believed that cbd can help inhibit the brain’s receptors that are linked to anxiety, which results in the anxiety response either not occurring or happening at ea much lower level of intensity. as such, cbd can help with rebound anxiety, and can furthermore be helpful for many other forms of anxiety such as generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder.
nobody wants to deal with anxiety, and rebound anxiety can only compound the situation: the lack of the previous solution (anti-anxiety medication) has now contributed to an even higher state of anxiety. enter cannabidiol: not only can cbd help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, but it is also effective at helping with physical addiction to various substances.
cbd has been shown to help with withdrawal symptoms of alcohol, opiates, and more. even further, studies now believe the endocannabinoid system (ecs) as a whole may help subdue addictive urges . cbd helps regulate the ecs, and even at large doses is both safe and non habit-forming.
for these reasons, cbd may attack rebound anxiety on both the mental and physical battle fronts. you may need to experiment to find an effective dosage for your own personal body chemistry, but a sublingually-applied tincture, especially one formulated with other calming adaptogenic herbs will quickly arm you with more ammunition to get through the attack.
do note, though, that the conditions for rebound anxiety must include withdrawal. cbd can be effective at treating rebound anxiety when one is not actively consuming anti-anxiety medication, but it is important to realize that it should not necessarily be taken in conjunction with medications.
cbd and anti-anxiety medications
taking cbd and benzodiazepines such as xanax (alprazolam) at the same time can put one at risk of experiencing heightened, out-of-proportion effects from either substance. cbd inhibits the same system of enzymes that the liver uses to metabolize benzodiazepines, meaning effects are likely to be prolonged. this puts one at a higher risk for side effects such as overdose, sedation, or suicidal thoughts.
the same goes for other benzodiazepines like ativan (lorazepam) and klonopin (clonazepam): combining cbd with these medications can increase risk especially of sedation and impaired thinking/judgment/motor coordination. antidepressants such as tca’s and maoi’s should also not be taken with cbd, as they are also affected by the same processes in the liver as benzodiazepines.
on the other hand, ssri’s such as zoloft (sertraline) are likely to exhibit no adverse reactions when taken with cbd. however, the presence of both results in more competitive effects, leading to decreased effects on both the pharmaceutical and natural sides. therefore, using both ssri’s and cbd together is likely to result in a less effective outcome than taking either individually.
are there any other adverse effects when taking cbd for rebound anxiety?
cbd does have known side effects, though they are extremely mild compared to many other available medications that are used to treat anxiety. common side effects associated with cbd include reduced appetite, drowsiness, fatigue, and dry mouth (though a few of these could also be desired effects for some cbd users). diarrhea is also a rare side effect, though that may also be due to impurities in other components of a given cbd product.
prescription blood thinners and over-the-counter medications such as advil (ibuprofen) and aleve (naproxen), both of which slow blood clotting, are also affected by the same liver enzyme processes as benzodiazepines. this can result in higher levels of medications remaining in the bloodstream, which can further lead to issues such as excess bleeding.
lastly, prospective and/or new mothers should consult with their doctors about any potential issues with using cbd to treat anxiety, or anything else for that matter. although cbd is nontoxic and safe to consume even in large doses, there is no conclusive information on how cbd may affect breastfeeding or a developing fetus.
comparing the side effects
if looking into possible solutions for rebound anxiety, cbd provides one obvious benefit over switching to another pharmaceutical medication: it is all-natural and non-habit forming. exploring cbd as an option can prevent relapse from the chemical that is causing the rebound, and it also makes it possible to not need to replace one pharmaceutical substance with another, thereby potentially reducing further risk toward future rebounds.
as already mentioned, cbd’s side effects are relatively mild compared to other pharmaceutical options. for example, xanax has a list of side effects that is over 20 symptoms long, including, but not limited to drowsiness, sleep and memory problems, irritability, diarrhea, vomiting, and dry mouth. many of cbd’s side effects are also present with xanax, though the list of side effects for xanax far exceeds anything that cannabis comes close to matching.
grogginess, headaches, and depression are other side effects of benzodiazepines. regarding depression, antidepressants often exhibit many of these same side effects. additionally, further side effects from various antidepressants include irritability, anxiety, and sexual problems such as decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
we are not here to denounce the role of modern medicine in our world: however, there is also an undeniable chance that a never-ending cycle of pharmaceuticals may not ever solve the problem. as we just saw, anti-anxiety medications can cause depression, and antidepressants can cause anxiety. cbd, on the other hand, has been shown to potentially help with both anxiety and depression and a whole lot more.
there is no easy, one-size-fits-all solution to rebound anxiety, or to any other form of anxiety, either. regular cbd usage may be able to help, though. if you have any further questions, drop us a line and we will be happy to see how we may be of further assistance.
from the bottom of our hearts, we support your journey and hope we can help, whether it be through providing knowledge and information, or via our 100% organic, third-party lab tested cbd products.