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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