Vaping has increased in popularity over the years, and some people are finding that vaping with CBD oil has helped relieve symptoms of anxiety and other mental health disorders. This article highlights the risks and benefits of vaping CBD oil and what the research shows about its effectiveness in calming the nervous system.
CBD oil has been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms, however, research is limited on what dose and form of CBD is best.
Vaping CBD oil has been found to cause more lung damage than vaping nicotine.
The 2018 Farm Bill took CBD off the controlled substance list, fast tracking the marketing of many CBD products, including vapes.
THC is the chemical in marijuana that gets you "high," not CBD.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in several varieties of the cannabis plant, including marijuana. While CBD is found in both hemp and non-hemp plants, it is not the compound that gives a “high.”
Because CBD does not alter your behavior or feelings, its research has been overlooked compared to research into THC, which is the compound in cannabis that does provide a "high".
A small 1981 Brazilian study jump-started awareness of the health benefits of CBD. Still, it wasn’t until 2011, when its antiepileptic properties were brought to the forefront, that CBD became part of the wellness conversation.
Today, CBD is marketed and sold in various forms, including:
- Oil (used in vape pens and diffusers)
- Creams and lotions
- Edibles and gummies
How CBD can help anxiety
Studies have shown that CBD might alleviate symptoms of anxiety and other neuropsychiatric disorders. Still, research is limited, and effective dosing parameters have not been established.
One study found that oil containing 300 mg of CBD significantly reduced teenagers' social anxiety over four weeks.
While the exact mechanism of action is unknown, some limited evidence from animal studies suggest that CBD may interact with serotonin receptors in our endocannabinoid system (complex network supporting neuronal activity) that controls mood and a sense of happiness.
While there are many active clinical trials investigating CBD and anxiety, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved CBD, in any form, as a safe and effective tool for mental health disorders. However, the FDA has approved Epidiolex, which contains purified CBD, to as an adjunctive therapy for certain seizure disorders.
Should you use a vape pen for anxiety?
Vape pens, or e-cigarettes, became popular in 2007 as a new way to consume marijuana. Vape pens are favored above traditional pot cigarettes because they can be used discreetly and are thought to produce smaller amounts of toxic substances when vaped at lower temperatures.
The safety and possible long-term side-effects are unknown. Although, some studies analyzed a potential harm to lung health.
One study concluded that vaping CBD resulted in significantly more lung tissue damage than nicotine.
Since CBD is not regulated by the FDA, vaping oils on the market may be marketed under false pretenses.
If you vape CBD oil, purchase it from a reputable source, and talk with your doctor to ensure it will not interfere with other medications you are taking.
Other benefits of CBD vape pens
In addition to reducing anxiety, CBD has been found to possibly improve or alleviate other neurological disorders and medical conditions, including:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Chronic pain
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
However, most research studies looking into CBD have used oral forms of CBD, so the effectiveness of vaping CBD in treating these conditions is currently unknown.
How to use vape pens
Vaping experts suggest using CBD vape juice or cartridges instead of CBD oil tinctures because they are unsuitable for inhalation.
Other suggestions on how to use vape pens include:
- Fill the vape pen cartridge or tank with CBD vape juice and attach to the pen.
- Wait 5–10 minutes for the liquid to be absorbed.
- Start at the lowest setting (3.3–3.8 volts).
- Take small puffs to gauge its effect.
- Breathe normally when using the pen — you do not need to hold your breath.
Tips on using vape pens
If you decide to use a CBD vape pen, consider the following factors:
- Body weight. Typically, a smaller person should use less CBD .
- Dosage. Always start with a low dose to see how it affects you.
- Speed of effect. Vaping is absorbed into the bloodstream quicker than oral forms of CBD.
- Inhalation. The longer you inhale, the more CBD you absorb.
- Tolerance. Note your dosage and amount of puffs to establish desired tolerance.
Side effects and risks
CBD and the long-term effects of vaping are not well understood. While there is limited research on potential side-effects, some studies have shown that vaping can harm your lungs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns of the risk of developing e-cigarette- or vaping-use-associated lung injury (EVALI) from vaping. EVALI causes severe inflammation and damage to your lungs.
Symptoms of EVALI include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Stomach pain
Also, just the process of vaping may produce toxic chemicals that could affect lung health.
Other side effects of vaping CBD might include:
- Popcorn lung (build up of scar tissue)
- Heart and lung disease
- Compromised immune system
- Liver damage
- Interference with other medications you might be taking
Are CBD vape pens legal?
CBD was legalized in the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act, which removed hemp from the federal Controlled Substances List, paving the way for an influx of new CBD products claiming to promote health and wellness.
Marijuana and THC are legal in 23 states.
How to purchase a vape pen?
Vape pens come in different shapes, colors, and sizes. You can purchase a refillable pen or a disposable pen. Vape pens are sold online and in brick-and-mortar vape shops and dispensaries.
Important things to consider when purchasing a CBD vape pen include:
- Potency. The vape pen should have minimal levels of THC (less than 0.3%).
- Quality. The products should have undergone quality lab testing.
- Cost. Pens range from $50–120, not including cartridges.
- Reputability. Purchase your vape pens from a reputable shop.
- Additional chemicals. Research the chemicals that are in the CBD that you are buying.
CBD is a promising compound currently being researched for its effectiveness in possibly reducing anxiety and other neuropsychiatric disorders. However, research is limited and not regulated by the FDA as a medical tool. Vaping CBD may help with anxiety symptoms, but health experts do not recommend it. If you vape CBD, you should start in low doses and build up your tolerance. Make sure to buy products from reputable sources and consult your doctor to determine if they will interfere with your medications.
- The Permanente Journal. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series.
- Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of cannabidiol.
- Frontiers in Psychology. Anxiolytic Effects of Repeated Cannabidiol Treatment in Teenagers With Social Anxiety Disorders.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products.
- Thorax. Not all vaping is the same: differential pulmonary effects of vaping cannabidiol versus nicotine.