Is It Safe to Give Teens CBD?
We are living in an anxiety-riddled world and it’s affecting our children. Last year a poll found nearly half (48 percent) of U.S. teens are worried about experiencing social anxiety in transitioning back to a post-pandemic world while 43 percent reported they are concerned about mental health challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With CBD being big business for treating stress — a survey found more than 60 percent of CBD users were taking it for anxiety — then is it safe for teens?
“The most common reasons American adults report trying CBD are to potentially benefit issues with pain, sleep, stress, or mood,” Dr. Jeff Chen, MD, CEO and Co-founder of Radicle Science, which recently completed history’s largest longitudinal study on CBD, tells SheKnows. “Much fewer studies have been done on why teens are using CBD, but the preliminary results of one study (yet to be published) presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2020 showed that some 40 percent of teens had tried using CBD oil.”
While Dr. Chen says some of the teens reported trying it “just for fun,” others stated their reason to try it was the hope that CBD “can help to treat my medical illness.”
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid in the family of cannabinoids that can be found in marijuana. Unlike THC — which is marijuana’s most active ingredient that leaves you feeling high — CBD is touted for its medicinal usage without leaving you feeling buzzed or addicted.
“CBD is classified as not psychoactive, meaning there is no high involved, and it is not physiologically addictive. Rather, people get used to it and depend on its action,” says Dr. Lynn Parodneck, a medical marijuana expert and medical advisor with TribeTokes.
Why you might consider having your teens try it
“Research has shown that CBD can help with anxiety, inflammation and many other ailments without the potential for abuse,” says Laurel (Lo) Friesen, founder, CEO, and Chief Extractor of Heylo, tells SheKnows.
While there isn’t enough evidence among the scientific community to fully prove that CBD is risk-free, according to Frisen, current research shows that side effects are minimal and the benefits far outweigh the risks.
“Because of this, CBD is a great option for teens to address anxiety, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and other medical needs. Anxiety is rising in the adolescent population and CBD could dramatically improve outcomes without the risks of pharmaceuticals.”
What parents need to know before giving the go ahead
“Parents who are thinking about providing CBD to their children should consult with their primary care doctor to determine if it’s appropriate to take CBD in conjunction with other medications if their teen is currently prescribed any,”says Friesen.
Additionally, Friesen recommends ensuring you’re buying a high-quality CBD product by reviewing test results from the manufacturer as the quality of the product can dramatically impact the efficacy and safety of the product. “High-quality and vetted sources are best. Initially, follow dosing instructions, but continue to monitor your teen to make decisions regarding changes to their dosage.”
Friesen also believes parents should be aware of the potential side effects of higher doses of CBD “so that they can understand how to dial in dosing for their child, the best method of administration, and the best time of day to administer the CBD product.”
If this all sounds a bit too much to take in, Dr. Parodneck recommends working with a trusted physician. “A physician should know how to dose correctly. Additionally, medical marijuana practitioners are trained to dose and understand how this works. They also are aware of all the meds that compete for the cytochrome p450 system in the liver. That said, CBD can be used for just about anyone, but it helps to journal effects.”
As for which types of CBD adolescents should use, Dr. Parodneck says tinctures are recommended “because they can be closely dosed, and gummies are a popular option.”
As for side effects, Dr. Parodneck says because CBD isn’t FDA regulated, “it is important that reliable brands are utilized. Side effects can occur if the dose is too high. Common side effects include diarrhea and sleepiness.”
But is it safe?
According to Dr. Chen, there’s a lack of research when it comes to CBD and teens. “Regardless of what adults or teens report using CBD for, the reality is that there are few rigorous clinical trials on CBD outside of for pediatric epilepsy (a disease for which CBD is FDA-approved to treat). Some preliminary areas where oral ingestion of CBD has demonstrated benefit in at least one blinded placebo controlled clinical trial include: the treatment of social anxiety disorder, opioid addiction, schizophrenia, and sleep disorders.”
While Heather Hanks, MS CAM, says CBD is “generally very safe” it needs to be watched on a case-by-case basis “as the activation of the endocannabinoid system affects everyone differently,” citing one study that found that CBD significantly reduced social anxiety disorder (SAD) in teens, “but the researchers did not look at side effects of CBD.”
Ultimately, says Dr. Chen, “We need many more and much larger studies on these areas before making any definitive conclusions. Lastly, there are preclinical studies demonstrating potential benefits of topical CBD for acne, but human studies are still lacking.”
What can teens take instead?
Hanks suggests turmeric for those who want an alternative to CBD but with similar benefits. “I like turmeric because it has been studied for many years now and is safe to use as recommended by a health professional. Interestingly, some spices, including turmeric, may stimulate the endocannabinoid system, similar to CBD. This anti-inflammatory response seems to be what helps heal anxiety in people.”
She also recommends adopting other healthy habits into your teen’s life as well.
“Many teens don’t eat a balanced diet or get proper amounts of exercise. These elements are key in helping your teen feel your best. Taking a CBD supplement alone may help, but consider that it will help more when combined with other healthy habits.”
Before you go, check out our favorite mental health apps to give brains a little more TLC:
The Best CBD Oil Brands for Anxiety & Depression
In the past several years, CBD has become a popular and natural way for people to help manage their anxiety. What is the best CBD for anxiety? And how does CBD help with anxiety? In this article, we highlight our favorite brands of CBD for anxiety and provide important background information on how to use CBD oils to help manage anxiety and depression.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it is one of the active ingredients found in cannabis. Though CBD is a critical component in medical marijuana, most commercially available CBD products are derived from the hemp plant. These products are said to offer a range of personal health benefits, and one of the most significant of those benefits is relief from anxiety.
A Harvard report notes that CBD is commonly used as a way to manage anxiety symptoms, and that those who struggle with various mental health concerns may use CBD to help them combat sleeplessness.
But what does the science really say about using CBD oil for anxiety and depression? And for those who wish to use CBD products to help with anxiety, what are the best CBD for anxiety brands out there?
Does CBD Help for Anxiety?
Studies show that, while CBD doesn’t necessarily alter a person’s baseline anxiety level, it may be useful for reducing experiential anxiety. Indeed, research points to CBD as a potentially effective way to address the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additional research indicates that CBD “has a promising role as alternative therapy in the management of anxiety disorders,” though more clinical testing is needed to verify safe dosage levels.
Based on the available evidence, CBD may potentially help manage the symptoms of anxiety, though it is not a cure. Be sure to consult with your primary care physician or mental health care provider before taking CBD for anxiety and depression if you have any questions or concerns.
Best CBD Oil for Anxiety in 2022
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall – CBDistillery Strongest Full Spectrum – Spruce
- Best Full Spectrum – NuLeaf Naturals
- Best Organic – Cornbread Hemp
How We Chose CBD Product for Calming
When creating our list of the best CBD oils for anxiety and depression, we compared brands and products ib six specific categories.
- Type of CBD — Does the brand use full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate?
- Strength — How many milligrams of CBD does the oil contain per recommended dose?
- Source — Where does the get the hemp used in their hemp extract? Is it grown in the U.S.?
- Flavor — Do they offer multiple flavors, and if so, do they use natural flavoring instead of artificial flavors?
- Transparency — Is the product tested by an independent third-party lab and do they make the results easy to access?
- Customer Experience — What are customers saying about the product and if it has helped them manage stress and anxiety?
Learn more about each of the CBD oils on our list below.
Our Complete Reviews & Opinions
Best Overall: CBDistillery
CBDistillery is known for high-quality, pure CBD products, and their full spectrum oil is a great choice to help you relax. All of their products are third-party lab tested and confirmed to be safe and effective. We like their Relief + Relax CBD oil because it is a full spectrum oil that provides plenty of additional active cannabinoids and plant compounds like CBG, CBC, and terpenes to give you the full benefits of the entourage effect.
- CBD: Full Spectrum
- Strength: 33 mg CBD per serving (1000 mg per bottle)
- Hemp source: Colorado
Why buy: We love this strong full spectrum CBD oil for anxiety because it is sourced from non-GMO, U.S. Hemp Authority Certified hemp grown in Colorado. Taking CBD Relief + Relax in the morning may be a great way to support a sense of calm throughout the day.
Strongest Full Spectrum: Spruce
Spruce CBD oil checks all of the right boxes: it’s all-natural, made from USA-grown hemp, and is backed by rigorous third-party lab testing. You can get this lab-grade CBD oil tincture in a range of potencies, ranging from 750 mg to 2,400 mg per bottle. We like that Spruce CBD oil is all-natural, organic, vegan, gluten-free, and contains no artificial flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners. Note that Spruce products may be too strong for entry-level customers.
- CBD: Full Spectrum
- Strength: 25 mg to 80 mg of CBD per serving
- Hemp source: Kentucky and North Carolina
Why buy: We love that Spruce offers some of the strongest full spectrum CBD products, including their extra strength formula with 80 mg of CBD per serving. We recommend it for experienced CBD users looking for powerful relief from feelings of anxiety and stress.
Best Full Spectrum: NuLeaf Naturals
NuLeaf Naturals CBD oil is about as natural as a CBD tincture can get. It’s made from organic hemp, it’s additive- and pesticide-free, and it’s carefully lab-tested by independent third-party labs. This Colorado-grown, full spectrum CBD offers the full benefits of hemp extract in a natural, organic product. It may be taken daily to help you manage stress and feelings of anxiety by promoting a sense of calm and wellness.
- CBD: Full Spectrum
- Strength: 30 mg of CBD per serving (1800 mg per bottle)
- Hemp source: Colorado
Why buy: We love this strong full spectrum CBD oil because of its simplicity. It contains organic full spectrum hemp extract and organic virgin hemp seed oil. NuLeaf Naturals also provides a consistent concentration of CBD across all bottle sizes to make dosing easier.
Best Organic: Cornbread Hemp
To make their Distilled CBD Oil, Cornbread Hemp extracts CBD only from hemp flowers. This distillation allows the oil to maintain a full spectrum of cannabinoids, with a CBD-to-THC ratio of 27:1. Lower in THC than their Whole Flower oil, this product is better for finding comfort during the day while staying focused and alert. Cornbread Hemp CBD is USDA organic and offers a cleaner tasting oil than some whole plant extracts.
- CBD: Full Spectrum
- Strength: 50mg per 1mL serving
- Hemp source: Kentucky
Why buy: We love this Cornbread Hemp Distilled CBD Oil because it uses whole flower CBD extract for a cleaner product and milder taste. It may be a great way to help ease anxiety during the day without drowsiness or loss of focus. Plus, it’s USDA-certified organic with third-party, ISO certified lab tests on every batch.
Using CBD to Help With Anxiety & Depression: What the Research Says
As cited above, initial research has found that CBD has the potential to help manage the symptoms of anxiety in a variety of cases.
There is also clinical evidence to suggest that CBD can be a tool for managing panic attacks. Panic disorder (PD) impacts about five percent of the total global population, making the anxiolytic effects of CBD products potentially impactful on a widespread level.
There is even clinical evidence that CBD may help minimize the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), a nervous condition that can be debilitating. Currently, OCD is treated primarily through cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants, but the recovery rate is exceedingly low. The prospect of CBD as an alternative intervention is potentially game-changing.
But how exactly does CBD impact those with anxiety conditions? The short answer is that products from the cannabis plant tend to have a strong, reactive effect with the endocannabinoid system, a molecular system that regulates many core functions of the body, including emotions. Cannabinoids can bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system and modify the way they function, yielding a range of possible health benefits.
In fact, one study notes that “modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system turned out to hold therapeutic promise in a wide range of disparate diseases and pathological conditions, ranging from mood and anxiety disorders, movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis, to name just a few.”
While CBD may potentially help to manage stress and anxiety, it is not intended as a cure for anxiety or depression.
How to Choose CBD Oil for You
When you’re looking for the best CBD for depression and anxiety, it’s important to choose a product that is safe, effective, and natural. Here are some important things to keep in mind when shopping for CBD.
What to Look For
Always look for the following pieces of information when comparing CBD oils for anxiety: type of CBD, hemp source, strength, and lab testing. Below are more details on what each of these mean and why they matter.
Type of CBD
There are actually three different types of CBD extract, including full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. We typically recommend full spectrum products as the most effective, as they allow you to benefit from the full entourage effect of the hemp extract. However, if you undergo drug testing for work or are sensitive to THC, broad spectrum products offer many of the same benefits without the THC. This can also be important for those who find that THC negatively impacts their anxiety.
The quality of the CBD is directly related to the source of the hemp used in a product. Always look for brands that use hemp grown in the U.S.A. We also recommend brands that use either USDA organic hemp or hemp grown using organic farming practices. This ensures that the plants do not contain any pesticides and or artificial fertilizers.
It’s important to know the concentration of CBD in a product so that you can take the appropriate dosage level. For those new to CBD, it’s generally recommended to start with a lower dose, 10 mg or less, and slowly increase the amount as you are comfortable to find the right level of relief. Extra strength products, with 30 mg or more per serving, are recommended for those who know how CBD will affect them. You can read more about the strongest CBD oils here.
Only purchase CBD oils for anxiety that undergo independent third-party lab testing for quality and safety. This is critical to ensure that the product contains the correct levels of CBD and cannabinoids, and that it is free from toxins, heavy metals, or other harmful substances. The brands we recommend all make their lab test results available through QR codes on the product label or on their site.
How to Read Labels
When you check the label of any CBD product, look for information on the four key factors listed above. Labels should clearly state the type of CBD and if it was made with U.S. grown hemp. To evaluate the strength of the product, look for both the amount of CBD per bottle, usually in milligrams per 30 mL, as well as the amount of CBD per serving, usually in milligrams per 1 mL dropper.
Quality products should also include lab-testing certification and a way for you to verify the results for yourself. You can also look for industry certifications and seals from the USDA, Leaping Bunny, the GMO Project, and the U.S. Hemp Authority. Finally, take time to check the list of ingredients to make sure that you are not allergic to any of them. Most CBD oils use a carrier oil like hemp seed oil, olive oil, or MCT coconut oil.
How to Use
For most CBD oils, take a dose once or twice per day, depending on the amount. Some oils work better for daytime use and can be taken in the morning, while others are better suited for nighttime use to help you fall asleep. Again, if you are new to CBD, start with a low amount and slowly increase it to find the correct level to provide relief.
The amount of CBD needed may vary from person to person based on their level of anxiety and other health concerns. One thing that holds true across the board is that using CBD consistently is best for improving stress levels, as the compound builds up within the body, amplifying its effect. In other words, CBD may help you manage anxiety symptoms, but don’t expect it to take effect immediately.
Safety & Side Effects
According to the Mayo Clinic, CBD is generally well-tolerated. There are, however, some mild side effects that can occur. These often result from taking too much CBD, and can include:
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
Additionally, CBD can potentially interact with certain prescription medications, like blood thinners and certain forms of statins. Always check with your doctor if you plan to start using CBD alongside any prescription medications. No CBD product has been approved by the FDA to treat anxiety or depression, so be sure to do your own research on any product you choose to purchase.
While CBD may be a great option to help supplement your anxiety management, it is not meant to cure or treat anxiety. If you are suffering from severe anxiety and depression, the best thing to do is speak with your primary care physician or a mental health professional. They may recommend things like cognitive behavioral therapy, journaling, exercise, yoga, or prescription medications to help.
If approved by your doctor, CBD for depression and anxiety may work with these other approaches to help you find relief and better manage stress.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, copywriter, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. As a writer and independent reviewer of CBD products, Josh covers the relationship between cannabis-based products and the human body. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
Medically Reviewed By:
PharmD Scientific Advisor, Medical Reviewer, and Clinical Pharmacist
Adjunct Faculty, UMKC School of Pharmacy