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Does CBD oil really help anxiety?

Two of our writers go head-to-head on their experiences of using the latest wellness craze to combat stress

Andy Warhol famously said: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” What he didn’t expand on is that, in the future we’re living in, every wellness product is also famous for 15 minutes. Every few months there seems to be a new cure-all craze popping up – the most recent being CBD oil.

CBD, AKA cannabidiol, is one of the chemical compounds found in cannabis. CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you high, but it could have a range of health benefits – including the one we’ve seen emphasised almost everywhere, the alleviation of stress and anxiety. Wellness obsessives have jumped on the news, infusing CBD into everything and anything they can get their hands on – creams, vapes, cocktails. You name it, it’s probably got CBD in it.

With prices for CBD products skyrocketing, and fans gushing about its benefits, we thought it was time to investigate. Here, two writers debate the supposed benefits of CBD oil.


Text Brit Dawson

First things first: I’m not going to deny that CBD oil can have medical benefits, because that’s literally true. A 2018 study by King’s College professor Philip McGuire found that CBD can alleviate psychosis in people with schizophrenia, while a 2015 review summarised that CBD has potential for treating anxiety disorders. It’s important to note though, that these are studies conducted by actual science guys in white coats, administered with a hypothesis and a qualitative method (yes, I just Googled ‘science terms’), and not a coffee shop in west London your mate from CSM suggested you try.

As McGuire told The Guardian, the products available in shops/cafes “contain quite small amounts of CBD that might not have large enough concentrations to have any effects.” This is expanded in a very helpful video by Vox, which reveals that a few drops of CBD in a drink gives you around five-ten milligrams. The video explains that “you’d need 30 times that to reach the amount of CBD that researchers have found to have stress-relieving results.”

“Basically what’s happening here, guys – *hits blunt* – is we’re letting The Man into our peripheries, slowly drip-feeding us a new fad”

As someone who used CBD oil until I took a bit too much one morning and convinced myself I was high at my desk (we have a laugh, don’t we), I can’t say I noticed much, if any, difference in my mood. During a particularly anxious few weeks, I hoped CBD might chill out my overthinking mind, and ideally help me sleep better. Initially, I started having two drops in the morning and two before bed, taking it religiously to convince myself it was working. The only time I felt anything was when I took about six drops one morning and had a wavy few hours at work. But, given CBD doesn’t get you high, I’d argue that was placebo.

Basically what’s happening here, guys – *hits blunt* – is we’re letting The Man into our peripheries, slowly drip-feeding us a new fad. This bogus trend follows in the footsteps of steaming your vagina, – bad idea, BTW – and ‘weight loss’ tea that does nothing other than make you shit yourself. Put simply, it’s just a way for companies to capitalise on our ever-dwindling mental health, and a way for ‘influencers’ to earn obscene amounts of money through #sponcon. I hate to be the bearer of bad news – I guess you can always have a CBD latte to take the edge off.


Text Dominic Cadogan

While the phrase ‘CBD’ had been, quite frankly, aggressively marketed to me for months, I initially assumed it was just a fad that would pass by quicker than I’d have a chance to give it a second thought – just like when we all pretended to tolerate fidget spinners.

Then one day, here at the Dazed office, I was having a conversation with two colleagues who were both taking it for anxiety and recommended it to me. With fashion month looming – the most anxiety-inducing, sleep-depriving time of year for me – I decided: ‘if not now, when?’

On the first day of taking it, I squirted a few drops under my tongue as instructed – I thought it tasted like dried leaves if I’m totally honest – and went about my day. I’m not sure what I thought would happen; maybe I thought I’d feel stoned all day (I didn’t). That’s the point with CBD though – in my humble, completely feelings-led and absolutely not scientific, opinion – it’s all about the small things.

After a week of taking it, I noticed a more positive change in my general demeanour and attitude. A chronic overthinker, instead of immediately thinking the worst, my inner dialogue was joined by (yet) another voice, but this one was calm and considered – “he will text back, he’s just busy”, “you’re doing a great job”, and “no, they’re not laughing at you” it responded to all my worries.

“After a month on CBD, my friends started joking that I appeared to have retired my immediate reaction to snatch the wig of anyone who came anywhere in my vicinity”

Have you ever been to a fashion event alone? I can vouch that it often goes something like this: standing in a corner, fixated on your phone, pretending to frantically send emails before ducking out after 10 minutes. On CBD though, I breezed around the room, and even managed to make polite small talk to strangers without stuttering once. A miracle! After a month on CBD, my friends started joking that I appeared to have retired my immediate reaction to snatch the wig of anyone who came anywhere in my vicinity.

The scientific studies referenced above say CBD can help with anxiety, pain, acne, sleep – and while we may not be taking huge doses, the general consensus among the people I know who’ve taken it is that it makes you feel ‘mellow’. What’s not to like about that? I’m no idiot – the likelihood of something that good being sold for £19.99 in Holland & Barrett is pretty slim. It’s far more likely that it’s all a placebo effect, but honestly, who cares? If it works for you, it works for you. Remember, I too was a naysayer until I came through drippin’.