THC vs CBD for Anxiety: Are The Effects of Cannabis Helpful? - My Blissful Pet

THC vs CBD for Anxiety: Are The Effects of Cannabis Helpful?


The two most famous cannabinoids are CBD and THC. They have both different and common effects, and one of the more relevant confusions is about using CBD vs THC for anxiety.



Key Takeaways

Aspect CBD (Cannabidiol) THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)
Effect on Anxiety Generally reduces anxiety across various conditions like social anxiety, general anxiety, and depression. Can decrease anxiety at lower doses but may increase anxiety at higher doses.
Psychoactive Properties Non-psychoactive, does not produce a "high." Psychoactive, produces a "high," which can influence anxiety symptoms.
Interaction with ECS Interacts with the endocannabinoid system to create a calming effect on the brain. Activates cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, in the brain, affecting mood and anxiety.
Legal Status in the US Federally legal when derived from hemp with less than 0.3% THC. State laws vary. Considered a controlled substance under federal law, though legalized in several states for medicinal use.
Side Effects Generally considered safe, but some may experience fatigue, changes in appetite, and gastrointestinal discomfort. At high doses, may increase anxiety, cause paranoia, and lead to long-term mood and cognitive side effects.
Recommended Use for Anxiety Often used as a treatment for anxiety due to its anxiolytic properties without mind-altering effects. Should be used cautiously, especially at lower doses, due to its biphasic effects on anxiety.



Anxiety and Its Impact on Daily Life

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by excessive fear, worry, and anxiety that can interfere with daily activities. It can also affect family life, social life, school or working life. Although some anxiety can be a typical response to stress, it becomes a disorder when anxiety doesn't dissipate and can escalate over time.



Symptoms can be physical, like increased heart rate and dizziness, or cognitive, which include persistent worry and fear. The strain on your mental health can extend beyond emotional distress, contributing to physical health issues ranging from chronic insomnia to digestive disorders.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Persistent, excessive worry about various aspects of daily life.
  • Panic Disorder: Recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and intense fear about future attacks.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Extreme fear of social interactions and concern over being judged or embarrassed.
  • Phobias: Irrational fear and avoidance of a specific object, situation, or activity that's generally considered harmless.


THC and CBD for Stress and Anxiety

 CBD vs THC for anxiety

Both THC and CBD can reduce anxiety, but with different results. The next sections will delve into how these substances can make a difference in the lives of those battling anxiety disorders

In short:

And please remember, if you suffer from anxiety, and you feel that you are in danger, please contact your healthcare provider immediately. This article is for educational and informational purposes only. 


CBD Explained: What You Need to Know

In this section, we will look at CBD's properties, and interactions with the body’s endocannabinoid system, and how all of this can help alleviate anxiety symptoms.

Benefits of CBD and Its Properties

Commonly extracted from hemp, a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, CBD is a non-intoxicating compound. It stands out among other cannabinoids for its non-psychoactive properties, which means it doesn't produce the "high" associated with its cousin, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Research suggests that CBD has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and neuroprotective effects, making it an appealing option for those seeking relief from anxiety without mind-altering outcomes.

How CBD Works in the Body for Anxiety Relief

The mechanisms by which CBD can help manage anxiety are complex and multifaceted. CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), which plays a role in regulating mood, sleep, and stress responses. By influencing the ECS and other signaling pathways, CBD has the potential to create a calming effect on the brain, which can alleviate symptoms of anxiety. Unlike THC, the effect of cannabidiol is non-intoxicating.


  1. Interaction with the endocannabinoid system: CBD interacts with the ECS, a complex cell-signaling system that plays a crucial role in maintaining the body's homeostasis. The ECS is involved in various physiological processes, including mood regulation, pain sensation, and immune system function.
  2. Modulation of neurotransmitter systems: CBD has been found to modulate the activity of various neurotransmitter systems, such as the serotonin and glutamate systems, which are involved in the regulation of mood and anxiety.
  3. Inhibition of anandamide inactivation: CBD may produce anxiolytic effects by inhibiting the inactivation of anandamide, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation.
  4. Interaction with 5-HT1A receptors: CBD can interact with 5-HT1A receptors, which are involved in the regulation of serotonin levels and have been implicated in the modulation of anxiety.


What does science say about CBD and anxiety?

In a double-blind randomized placebo controlled trial in 24 patients with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), half received 600mg of CBD, while the others were given a placebo. The effects of the CBD treatment and the placebo were evaluated during a simulated public speaking test (SPST) which tends to induce anxiety.

The effects were measured using several parameters including the Visual Analogue Mood Scale (VAMS) and the Negative Self-Statement scale (SSPS-N). Physiological measures like blood pressure, heart rate, and skin conductance were also monitored. 

Results indicate that CBD significantly reduced anxiety induced by simulated public speaking:, suggesting that CBD would be a potential alternative for the treatment of anxiety.

These preliminary results indicate that a single dose of CBD can reduce the anxiety-enhancing effect provoked by SPST in SAD patients, indicating that this cannabinoid inhibits the fear of speaking in public, one of the main symptoms of the disorder. (Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 May; 36(6): 1219–1226)


The science of CBD in pets

CBD vs THC for anxiety in pets


CBD is used in pets too, often successfully to address issues including anxiety, separation anxiety, joint pain and inflammation. Research suggests that CBD may also help for acute events caused by car rides, or stressful events like fireworks or loud gatherings.

Dog and cats are not much different than humans, they can use nonprescription CBD products safely. However, THC is toxic to dogs and cats, and you must find products that are THC free to avoid side effects.

The Legal Status of CBD in the United States

The legal landscape of CBD in the United States can seem like a patchwork of regulations that vary from state to state. Under federal law, CBD derived from hemp with less than 0.3% THC is legal; however, state laws may impose additional restrictions. Below is a table illustrating the legal status of CBD across several key states:

State Legal Status of CBD
California Legal, with some restrictions on food additives
New York Legal, but requires lab testing and proper labeling
Texas Legal, with a state-regulated program
Florida Legal, with regulations similar to federal standards
Ohio Legal, but state licensing for retailers is required


It is critical for you to stay informed about the legalities in your state when considering CBD vs THC for anxiety. Recent shifts in legislation reflect a growing acceptance of CBD's medicinal properties, yet be aware of local laws that can change over time.


The Effects of THC on Anxiety

THC stands out among other components of cannabis due to its intoxicating effects and ability to activate the brain's cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2.

Positive THC Effects on Anxiety: In some individuals, THC induces a sense of calm and relaxation, helping with anxiety or stress, and acting as an anxiolytic aid. This is partly due to the release of pleasure molecules that may generate feelings of tranquility, thus temporarily relieving symptoms of anxiety.

Negative THC Effects on Anxiety: Conversely, THC can also increase anxiety and fears. This is true when someone takes cannabis products that contain high levels of THC, THC can cause adverse effects and negative emotional experiences.

  • Anxiogenic responses: THC has the potential to heighten the user's response to stress, which could result in a more intense experience of anxiety.
  • Anxiolytic effects: For some, especially at lower dosages, THC could suppress anxiety, offering a sense of calm and improved stress management.

It's important for you to know the dual nature of THC. Consider carefully the dosage and your personal susceptibility to psychoactive substances to avoid unwanted responses and in harnessing THC's anxiolytic potential where it exists.


Scientific Research on CBD vs THC for Anxiety

The realm of cannabinoid research has made significant strides in recent years, particularly in the study of CBD and THC's impact on anxiety. This section delves into the robust body of scientific literature exploring the anxiolytic effects of these two prominent cannabinoids. By examining evidence from clinical trials and studies, we gain a clearer understanding of their potential roles in anxiety management.

Comparative Studies Comparing CBD and THC for Anxiety

The research comparing the efficacy of CBD and THC in treating anxiety is burgeoning. Comparative cannabinoid research often assesses both cannabinoids' in various anxiety conditions. A notable example is a study from the Journal of Psychopharmacology, where both substances were evaluated in a simulated public speaking test, a common experimental model for gauging anxiety-related behaviors. CBD consistently showed a decrease in anxiety, while THC's efficacy was more variable among subjects.

Study Cannabinoid Main Findings Impact on Anxiety
The Permanente Journal, 2019 CBD Reduction in anxiety scores for majority of the participants Anxiolytic
Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2011 CBD & THC Differing responses, with CBD generally reducing anxiety and THC results varying CBD Anxiolytic, THC Variable
Neuropsychopharmacology, 2017 THC Low doses potentially anxiolytic, higher doses likely anxiogenic Dose-dependent


In conclusion, the contrasting nature of CBD and THC in relation to anxiety underscores the importance of nuanced understanding and careful consideration when it comes to cannabinoid research. The evidence supports CBD's role as an anxiolytic agent, with fewer associated risks in comparison to THC. As research evolves, so too does our comprehension of these complex substances and their potential to contribute to anxiety management strategies.


Pros and Cons of Using Cannabis Products for Anxiety

The use of cannabis as a treatment for anxiety is common, yet, there are pros and cons. 


CBD vs THC for anxiety pro and cons


Benefits and Limitations of CBD

While CBD is generally considered safe, the regulatory landscape of CBD products varies, which may affect the quality and consistency of products on the market. Variability in product quality and concentration due to limited regulation

  • Potential interactions with other medications
  • Effectiveness varies from person to person
  • Lack of standardized dosing guidelines


Side Effect Incidence Management Strategy
Fatigue Common Adjust dosage; consider timing of doses
Changes in Appetite Less common Maintain a balanced diet; monitor weight changes
Gastrointestinal Discomfort Variable Take with food; lower dosage; try a different formulation
Dry Mouth Rare Increase fluid intake; use saliva substitutes


It is essential to consider these factors within the context of your health and treatment goals. As research continues to evolve, so will our understanding of how to best harness CBD's benefits while mitigating its risks. Consulting with a healthcare provider familiar with CBD can provide guidance tailored to your individual needs and conditions.

Potential Benefits and Risks of THC

THC could exacerbate symptoms of anxiety or lead to the development of anxiety-related side effects in some users, particularly with high or frequent doses.

  • Risk of Increased Anxiety: High doses of THC, like when using a lot of marijuana, or individual sensitivity may result in heightened anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Long-term Side Effects: Chronic use of THC may contribute to the onset of long-lasting mood and cognitive side effects.

While the intoxicating experience might be soothing for some, for others, it can lead to undesired effects, such as paranoia or a heightened sense of nervousness.


Psychoactive Effect How It Manifests Potential Impact on Anxiety
Euphoria Feelings of extreme happiness and relaxation May reduce anxiety but can also lead to an unrealistic sense of well-being
Altered Perceptions Changes in the perception of time and space Can induce anxiety if the user feels a lack of control
Increased Heart Rate Accelerated heartbeat soon after consumption May mimic physical symptoms of anxiety, potentially worsening it
Mood Swings Rapid changes in emotion Might destabilize individuals with anxiety disorders


To navigate the intersection of THC side effects and its potential benefits, you should consider starting with a low dose and adjusting based on your personal experience and tolerance. Always consult a healthcare professional to see whether you are a suitable candidate for the use of medical cannabis.


Dosing and Administration: How to Use CBD and THC for Anxiety

The correct dosage of CBD and THC is often subjective. Yet, there are general guidelines important for maximizing the beneficial effects while minimizing any potential side effect.

Finding the Right Dose for CBD

We always suggest starting from the lowest CBD doses, and gradually increase it while monitoring your body's response. A starting dosage of CBD as low as 5-10 mg per day is generally considered safe.

Body weight, metabolism, and the severity of anxiety can affect how much CBD you may need to take before seeing any effect.

Finding the Right Dose for THC

The correct dose of THC for anxiety follows a similar principles as CBD: start as low as possible. Even better, due to its intoxicating properties, even small amounts of THC can have side effects on people that are sensitive. A common recommendation is to start with 1 mg per day, and cautiously adjust the dose while still keeping it under 2mg per day would be best.

THC has biphasic effects on the body and mind: low doses may help alleviate anxiety while higher doses might exacerbate it. That is why you never want to take too much products containing THC. Because of these different effects, it is best to use products with a THC content as low as possible. 


Administration Methods

There are multiple methods to use hemp-derived THC and CBD products. Since CBD and THC are two of the most common compounds, any form of administration will have, or should have, the concentration of each on the label.

The most common methods of using cannabis products are:

  • Oral ingestion: Oils, capsules, edibles
  • Sublingual administration: Tinctures, sprays
  • Inhalation: Vaping, smoking
  • Topical application: Creams, lotions

For anxiety, sublingual, inhalation and vaporized CBD or THC have a fast absorption. Oral ingestion may take longer before taking effect because it has to get to your intestine first. Topical administration isn't typically used for anxiety as its effects are localized. Choosing the right method for you may depend on how quickly you need relief and how long you wish the effects to last.

Administration Method Onset of Effects Duration of Effects Considerations
Oral Ingestion 30 minutes to 2 hours 4 to 6 hours Easy to dose, longer to take effect, convenient for ongoing maintenance
Sublingual Administration 15 to 45 minutes 2 to 4 hours Faster absorption, avoiding digestive system, easier to titrate dose
Inhalation Immediately to a few minutes 1 to 3 hours Quick relief, harder to dose precisely, potential respiratory risks
Topical Application Varies greatly Varies greatly Localized relief, not typically used for anxiety


By experimenting with different methods and doses within recommended guidelines, you can tailor your use of CBD and THC to fit your anxiety management needs. Remember that individual experiences can vary, and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, patience and a willingness to adjust your approach are key to finding effective cannabinoid therapy for anxiety.



Using CBD or THC can uniquely influence your mood. CBD generally makes you calmer, while THC at higher doses can make you anxious. That is the reason why the debate on CBD vs THC for anxiety has a dilemma. Do you use only products like CBD oil without any THC? Or do you use products that contain both?

Both have potentials for the treatment of mood disorders and anxiety. Yet, there is a slight advantage of hemp-derived CBD products over the combination of marijuana and CBD. Products containing more THC than CBD may make your anxiety worse. Thus, this suggests that THC may be best if left out if you are particularly sensitive to these compounds. 



What is the difference between CBD and THC when it comes to managing anxiety?

CBD is known for its anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects without causing a "high," while THC may have both anxiolytic and anxiogenic (anxiety-inducing) effects and is psychoactive, resulting in the "high" associated with cannabis.

How does CBD work to alleviate symptoms of anxiety?

CBD is believed to influence anxiety relief by interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system and modulating neurotransmitter activity, although exact mechanisms are still being studied.

Are there potential side effects to using CBD for anxiety?

While CBD is generally considered safe, some users may experience side effects such as fatigue, changes in appetite, and diarrhea. It's important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.

Can THC exacerbate anxiety symptoms in some individuals?

Yes, THC can potentially increase anxiety and cause paranoia in some individuals, especially in higher doses. The response to THC is highly individualized, and finding the right balance is critical.

What are the legal considerations for using CBD and THC in the United States?

CBD derived from hemp with less than 0.3% THC is federally legal; however, individual state laws vary significantly. THC is still considered a controlled substance under federal law, though several states have legalized it for medicinal and recreational use.

What recent scientific research supports the use of CBD or THC for anxiety?

Several studies and clinical trials have suggested that CBD has anxiolytic properties, while the evidence is mixed for THC, indicating it can be either anxiolytic or anxiogenic depending on dosage and individual factors.

How do personal experiences with CBD and THC inform their use for anxiety?

Testimonials from users often provide anecdotal evidence about the effects of CBD and THC on anxiety, with many reporting relief from CBD and varied responses to THC. These experiences underscore the importance of personalization in treatment.

Why is it important to analyze the pros and cons of using CBD and THC for anxiety?

Evaluating the benefits and potential risks is crucial as it helps individuals weigh the therapeutic effects against side effects and legal constraints, thereby guiding a more informed decision about their treatment options.

How does one determine the right dose of CBD or THC for anxiety?

The right dose varies per individual and is influenced by factors such as body weight, the severity of anxiety symptoms, and individual tolerance. It's often recommended to start with a low dose and gradually increase it until the desired effects are achieved, in consultation with a healthcare professional.

What are the methods for administering CBD and THC?

CBD and THC can be administered through various methods including oils, tinctures, capsules, edibles, vaporizing, and topicals. Each method has its own onset time and duration of effects, which should be considered when deciding on a treatment approach.

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