Anxiety and Panic Attacks: Does CBD Work Against Anxiety?


In case you're wondering if CBD oil can help with anxiety and panic attacks, here's a little disclaimer:

CBD oil, unlike medical CBD used in studies, is regulated as a cosmetic in Germany. Since it cannot be sold as a dietary supplement due legal regulations, it should not be swallowed. In other countries such as the UK, however, CBD is already approved as a dietary supplement and can be consumed. To avoid confusion, we explicitly state that our statements refer to CBD in general and not to specific oils or products.

On the legal position of CBD in the Therapeutic Products Advertising Act:

There are numerous studies that provide evidence that CBD has various therapeutic properties and can provide support for many ailments. Since cannabidiol is currently covered by the Therapeutic Products Advertising Act, we are not allowed to make any therapeutic claims at this point. We would also like to point out that our products are not considered as medical preparations.

According to estimates, 25 percent of all people in the world suffer from an anxiety disorder at least once. This makes anxiety disorders the second most common mental illness after depression. Anxiety and panic attacks can have an extremely negative impact on the daily lives of those affected. Not infrequently, they have an enormously high level of suffering and go in search of support from nature. Therefore, this article deals in detail with the causes and symptoms of an anxiety disorder, the treatment options as well as herbal remedies. It also explores the question of whether CBD can help against anxiety.

Causes, symptoms and differentiation of anxiety state and panic attack
Anxiety: What happens in the body?
Anxiety states and panic attacks: What's the difference?
Getting rid of panic attacks and anxiety
Anxiety disorders: What can people with anxiety actively do against anxiety?
Natural remedy for anxiety: The calming effect of CBD
CBD against anxiety - defeat anxiety with CBD oil?

Fear is part of life and is even essential for survival. It warns and protects against danger. For those affected, however, the fear reaction gets out of hand and takes on a pathological character.

There is a fine line between everyday worries and fears, and it is often not possible to clearly distinguish between the two. Many anxiety patients develop an extreme fear of certain situations, objects, animals, etc., which are not threatening to other people. In some cases the fear seems to come "out of the blue", so that not even a trigger can be identified.

A major problem is that most anxiety patients avoid anything that might in turn trigger anxiety out of fear of the anxiety. As a result, they withdraw more and more from life, so that eventually problems arise in their partners, friends and even at work.

Causes, symptoms and differentiation of anxiety state and panic attack

How anxiety and panic attacks develop is not finally clarified. There are different theories about this. When fear manifests itself, it is basically a natural process in the body and prepares it for fight or flight. So once fear was really essential for survival.

When it comes to the causes, the following factors may play a role in the development of fear:

  • Genetics: anxiety patients:often have anxiety disorders in family members. Therefore, it is possible that genetic factors may be partly responsible in the development of the disorder.
  • Neurobiology: The origin of anxiety is mainly about chemical and biological processes in the body. An imbalance between different neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and norepinephrine) in the brain could trigger anxiety attacks.
  • Psyche: Various psychological factors are usually involved in the development of an anxiety disorder. These can be, for example, long periods of stress or traumatic experiences involving emotional and physical violence.

Anxiety: What happens in the body?

Basically, fear develops according to a certain pattern in the body. The sensory organs perceive something and this information is passed on to the brain. Here, the cerebral cortex interprets the information, taking into account past experiences, and evaluates it as life-threatening.

In seconds, the information is then sent to the limbic system, which consists of the hippocampus and the amygdala (tonsil nucleus) and is a very old part of the brain. This is where various functions of memory, drive, learning, digestion, reproduction and most importantly emotions are controlled.

The fear reactions are triggered by the hypothalamus, in that this area of the brain signals the adrenal medulla to release various messenger substances such as adrenaline, cortisone, cortisol and noradrenaline - the so-called stress hormones. After this, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are automatically activated, with the sympathetic nervous system being responsible for triggering the symptoms of anxiety and panic. The following then happens in the body:

    • The heartbeat speeds up, the coronary vessels dilate, and blood pressure rises. Blood vessels in the skin and internal organs constrict. The heartbeat speeds up, the coronary vessels dilate, and blood pressure rises. Blood vessels in the skin and internal organs constrict.
    • As the muscles are supplied with more blood, they tense up. The body is primed for the fight-or-flight response. To be prepared for possible injury, the blood thickens.
    • Breathing becomes faster as the bronchial tubes dilate. As a result, the body receives more oxygen.
    • To make more energy available, the metabolism speeds up. Blood sugar levels and blood fat levels rise.
    • The body temperature rises and the pupils dilate.
    • Digestion, the urge to urinate and defecate, and the sex drive are shut down, as they are not useful for either fight or flight.

    Symptoms in anxiety disorders

    The following anxiety symptoms may arise from the physical processes mentioned previously:

    • Palpitations or racing heart
    • Shortness of breath
    • Trembling or shaking
    • Sweating, hot flashes or cold shivers
    • Dizziness
    • Numbness or tingling sensations
    • Lightheadedness
    • Tightness in the throat and chest
    • Nausea

    All of these symptoms are a completely normal reaction to anxiety. However, sufferers rate them as life-threatening because they develop thoughts and feelings such as fear of dying, going insane, losing control, or fainting, among others. In addition, there may be a feeling of uncertainty and unreality.

    Anxiety and panic attacks: What is the difference?

    Medical professionals distinguish the following mental illnesses:

    • Generalized anxiety disorder: excessive worry or fear about life events that might occur.
    • Panic disorder and agoraphobia: Anxiety or acute anxiety attacks triggered by certain situations or objects, such as being in large crowds or confined spaces.
    • Phobias (social anxiety): These include, for example, fear of taking an exam or of negative evaluations by other people.
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: compulsions, such as compulsions to control, order, wash, or repeat.
    • Hypochondria: Fear of serious illness.

    A state of anxiety can develop into a full-blown panic. Such an anxiety attack can occur suddenly without a trigger or as a result of a specific situation. Anxiety patients then often experience a fear of death. This state can last from a few minutes to several hours. Usually, panic attacks do not last longer than 30 minutes.

    Get rid of panic attacks and anxiety

    Conventional anxiety disorder treatment usually involves cognitive behavioral therapy. Medications such as antidepressants are usually used only as a supportive tool. Their effect on anxiety disorders is controversial and they are often associated with significant side effects.

    Herbal remedy for anxiety

    If anxiety patients:in search of alternatives to medication, they usually encounter a wide range of herbal remedies that are said to have a calming and anxiety-relieving effect. These include:

    • Valerian: Studies find evidence that valerian extracts presumably bind to the GABA receptor via different mechanisms and promote the accumulation of GABA. This messenger substance (GABA = y-aminobutyric acid) is important in stress and anxiety. However, the data on the anxiety-relieving effect of valerian is sparse.
    • Lavender: In empirical medicine, lavender has long been used for calming purposes. However, here, too, the available studies are rather sparse. Only in animal studies lavender extracts, depending on the dosage, showed calming effects.
    • St. John's wort: The yellow medicinal plant is said to have a similar effect as an antidepressant, which is why it can be used for mild depressive moods and inner restlessness. Although numerous studies exist, the results are not conclusive. In addition, an effect can only be expected after two to three weeks of use.
    • Hops: Hops have been used for many centuries as a natural remedy for mood disorders such as restlessness. So far, however, effects have only been demonstrated in animal studies. Hops are often a component of combination preparations with valerian and lavender, although there are insufficient studies to confirm their efficacy.

    Anxiety disorders: What can people with anxiety actively do about anxiety?

    For anxiety patients, it is particularly important to have help with anxiety - especially in acute cases. After all, an anxiety attack is extremely stressful and disturbing. In order to be able to cope with the acute anxiety, the following measures are useful:

    • A breathing exercise can be very helpful. This should be done by breathing in slowly through the nose. Then hold the breath for two or three seconds and exhale slowly and for a very long time through the mouth. It is best to repeat this breathing exercise for two to three minutes until a certain calmness is felt in the body.
    • Many anxiety patients are helped by talking to their anxiety, as in something like this: "It's good to have you back. I feel you. I know you won't hurt me. I am healthy. Go ahead and vent and then I'll let you go."
    • It can also help to shift attention away from the inside to the outside: "What am I seeing right now? What smell am I noticing? What am I hearing?" etc."
    • Doing what is called the traffic light exercise can also be helpful: This involves tensing all the muscles of the body several times for about 10 to 15 seconds and then releasing them.

    It is important for anxiety patients to internalize that it is not the physical symptoms that trigger panic, but their personal evaluation of the symptoms. The less panic thoughts are produced, the less panic is felt.

    Natural remedies for anxiety: The calming effect of CBD

    The hemp plant can produce over 100 different cannabinoids as well as numerous other substances such as terpenes (aromatic substances) and flavonoids (secondary plant substances). Themost important cannabinoids include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). While THC induces an intoxicating effect, CBD does not have this effect. However, both have therapeutic potential, although research around cannabidiol (CBD) is still in its infancy. According to current studies, CBD can have anxiety-relieving and calming effects.

    After ingestion of CBD, the cannabinoid binds to cannabinoid receptors, which are located almost throughout the body and belong to the so-called endocannabinoid system. This is a kind of regulatory system and influences various biological processes, such as pain perception and emotions, but also sleep, appetite and the immune system. In this respect, it can be assumed that CBD could help against anxiety.

    Studies on the effect of CBD on anxiety disorders

    Here is an overview of various studies on CBD for anxiety disorders:

    • Clinical studies suggest that cannabidiol (CBD), the non-addictive component of cannabis, interacts with the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor and thus may have anxiety-relieving effects. These receptors are mainly located in the brain and are activated by the neurotransmitter serotonin ("happy hormone"). Rats given CBD for seven days were found to have reduced anxiety-like behavior.
    • One study states that CBD has an interesting pharmacological profile and that anxiety-reducing effects in rodents depend on dosage, administration period (acute or chronic), and route of administration, among other factors. Again, the link is to the 5-HT1A receptor. According to the researchers, the promising results would support the development of large-scale studies to further investigate CBD as a potential new drug for the treatment of anxiety disorders.
    • Also of interest is a large retrospective case series in a psychiatric hospital that included the clinical use of CBD for anxiety and sleep disorders as an adjunct to usual care. Here, the study included monthly documentation of anxiety and sleep quality in 103 adult patients. Sleep and anxiety scores were recorded at baseline and after CBD treatment. The study found that anxiety levels decreased in about 80 percent of patients. From this, the researchers concluded that cannabidiol (CBD) could be beneficial for anxiety-related disorders.

    CBD against anxiety - conquer anxiety with CBD oil?

    CBD products, such as the well-known CBD oil, must not be compared with the CBD that is used in studies. Because here, researchers use only CBD extracts from THC-rich cannabis in pharmaceutical quality or else synthetic CBD in very high dosages. On the other hand, the product CBD oil is produced from the low-THC commercial hemp and can vary extremely in quality depending on the manufacturer. In this respect, the study results cannot be transferred one-to-one to freely available CBD products. Nevertheless, CBD oil can have a positive effect on the body.

    CBD oil against anxiety

    Many users who take CBD oil against stress, inner turmoil and anxiety attacks report positive experiences. When buying CBD oil, however, it is important to make sure that the products are of high quality. Attention should be paid to the following quality characteristics, among others:

    • Origin of the hemp (preferably organic cultivation).
    • CBD extraction by means of the gentle CO2 extraction process
    • Carrier oil (preferably organic hemp seed oil, organic sunflower seed oil or MCT oil)
    • Laboratory analysis by an independent laboratory


    Is CBD anxiety-relieving?

    Although the studies are not (yet) clear, there are many indications that CBD could have an anxiety-relieving and calming effect. In this respect, CBD oil for anxiety would be a helpful option for anxiety patients. However, to get the anxiety attacks under control for good, CBD oil should only be seen as a support or companion for everyday life and not as a "cure".

    Can CBD trigger panic attacks?

    It is not clear whether CBD can trigger anxiety and panic attacks. From experience, it is known that CBD can be rather anxiety-relieving and calming. To avoid side effects, users should always follow the dosage guidelines. Since CBD may interact with certain medications, it is recommended to consult with a health care professional before taking CBD.

    What to take for anxiety?

    Anxiety is usually not life-threatening and does not need to be treated with medication. Even if anxiety patients hope for quick help, it is important to get therapeutic support. CBD oil against anxiety can certainly support, but not replace a therapy.