Hemp oil and anxiety - What are the risks & benefits?

Hemp oil and anxiety - What are the risks & benefits?


Sam North is an experienced cannabis consultant and writer who provides education and guidance for businesses, commercial projects, and private clients. With over 5 years of industry experience, Sam is passionate about the potential of cannabis to help restore balance and well-being into people's lives.

Hemp oil can be a slightly confusing subject, especially for patients just beginning their medicinal cannabis treatment.

A quick Google search shows that there really is no consensus on what hemp oil actually is. Some sources use the name interchangeably with hemp seed oil, whereas others refer to it as full-spectrum hemp oil made from the whole, food-grade, non-intoxicating version of the Cannabis Sativa plant (i.e. hemp).

Either way, hemp oil is a safe dietary additive that has been studied for its potential to reduce symptoms of anxiety and improve overall health. Let’s have a look at the risks and benefits associated with hemp oil in all of its forms, and how it might be beneficial when dealing with anxiety.

Understanding hemp oil

Before we jump straight into the guts of the subject, let's quickly run through how hemp oil and hemp seed oil differ from one another.

Hemp oil – CBD oil derived from hemp plants

Cannabis and Hemp are two varieties of the Cannabis Sativa plant. The main distinction between the two is that hemp plants contain less than 0.2% THC, the main psychotropic cannabinoid in cannabis strains (the compound that makes you 'high').

Hemp is one of the oldest known cultivated crops and has been used for its fibre, oil, and nutritious seeds for thousands of years. Hemp oil is extracted from the entire plant, and as such is regarded as a full-spectrum oil.

Does hemp oil get you high? 

No, thanks to the fact that hemp oil contains very little to no THC. Hemp oil is a safe dietary supplement, and you won’t feel any psychoactive effects from taking it. It does contain a wide range of secondary cannabinoids and terpenes, with some hemp oils offering up to 18% CBD (cannabidiol). 

CBD is widely seen as an exciting new natural remedy which may have the potential to be implemented in conjunction with conventional pharmaceuticals and therapy to treat anxiety, pain, and inflammation without any of the psychoactive side effects attributed to THC.

Hemp seed oil

Hemp seed oil, on the other hand, is extracted from only the seeds of the hemp plant. It may contain trace amounts of CBD, but at such minuscule levels that it has no therapeutic effect.

Hemp seed oil is mostly composed of healthy fats and is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, linolenic acids, tocopherols, and linoleic. Hemp seed oil has been shown to boost cardiovascular health, improved skin and hair quality, and promote the immune system.

Does hemp seed oil help with anxiety?

No. At the time of writing, there have been no scientific results showing any efficacy of hemp seed oil as a treatment for anxiety.

OK, so now we that explained, for the rest of the article we are going to focus on hemp oil that contains CBD derived from the entire hemp plant, as we are interested in its potential to reduce anxiety.

How does full-spectrum hemp oil help with anxiety?

As mentioned above, hemp oil derived from the entire hemp plant will contain CBD (along with other secondary cannabinoids), and terpenes. While the study of the exact mechanisms behind how both CBD and terpenes help with anxiety reduction is still in the preliminary stages, there is evidence to suggest that the two work together to create a range of synergistic effects.

CBD may work by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body, which is responsible for regulating sleep, appetite, pain levels, and mood. It is essentially there to keep the body in homeostasis (balance), and if this balance is thrown out, anxiety levels may rise.

The ECS is made up of cannabinoid receptors which respond to the presence of cannabinoids, such as those found in full-spectrum hemp oil. By interacting with these receptors, and by reducing the rate at which our own endocannabinoids break down, CBD is believed to help regulate the ECS, resulting in reduced anxiety.

CBD has also been shown to interact with the system that produces serotonin and may be able to push up serotonin levels. Serotonin is a fascinating neurotransmitter, as it is associated with producing feelings of well-being and happiness. When our serotonin levels drop, it can lead to anxious feelings and thought patterns.

Terpenes, meanwhile, are organic compounds found in plants that impart flavour and odour.  They are thought to play a role in the therapeutic benefits of hemp oil, as terpenes may increase the bioavailability and efficacy of CBD, as well as provide their own therapeutic benefits. Some terpenes, such as Myrcene, Limonene, and Beta-caryophyllene have been widely studied for their antianxiety effects.

Does hemp oil come with any risks?

When taken in appropriate doses, hemp oil generally carries very little risk of side effects. However, depending on the level of CBD present in the oil, and your personal medical history, it is always best to consult with your physician before taking any hemp oil products.

Factors to consider

While hemp oil has been shown to be a safe and effective additive to any anxiety reduction routine, there are still several factors that need to be taken into account, such as:

  • Determining the quality of the hemp oil
  • Knowing your own body and its reactions to CBD
  • Finding an appropriate dosage for your needs

While hemp oil is totally non-psychoactive, it is still highly recommended to source your products from a trusted, legal, and reliable supplier. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution when it comes to taking hemp oil for anxiety, so it is essential that before making any changes to your current treatment plan, you first consult a qualified healthcare professional.

There is evidence supporting the fact that CBD seems to reduce anxiety in a wide range of doses, and in differing ways. In a recent retrospective study, participants were offered between 25 mg to 75 mg of CBD per day (considered to be a low dose) which resulted in close to 80% of participants reporting a reduction in anxiety levels. The study also found that continued administration of CBD for four weeks or longer resulted in further reductions in anxiety symptoms.

Another paper investigated how higher doses could potentially help reduce the anxiety people felt around public speaking. Respondents were given a dose of between 300 mg to 600 mg of CBD, with the lower end producing a reduction in anxiety once the public speaking had been conducted. The higher end offered a lower level of anxiety during and after speaking publicly.


Hemp oil, specifically full-spectrum hemp oil containing CBD, holds promise as a safe and potentially beneficial additive for reducing anxiety symptoms. While hemp seed oil offers other health benefits, it has not been proven effective for anxiety treatment. When considering hemp oil for anxiety, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, determine the quality of the product, understand individual reactions to CBD, and find an appropriate dosage. While there is evidence supporting the anxiety-reducing effects of CBD at varying doses, further research is needed to fully understand its mechanisms and optimal usage.

In the UK, only specialised doctors are permitted to prescribe medicinal cannabis products. Here at Releaf, we believe that access to medical cannabis is important. That's why we offer tailored monthly packages based on your cannabis prescription, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection. 

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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