This article was originally published in CBD Health and Wellness’ March/April 2020 Issue. 

Anxiety can manifest in multiple forms, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, neuroticism, stress susceptibilities, and related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). [1] It’s no secret that CBD has drawn significant interest as a potential treatment for anxiety, owing to its broad neurological effects because of its interactions with a variety of receptors in the brain. But what is still unclear is if genetics determine which CBD blends we should actually use to treat our anxiety.

How are genetics linked to anxiety disorders?

While every type of anxiety manifests in anxious behavior, the underlying reasons for anxiety can vary. Specific genes are associated with different causes of anxiety, meaning we showcase anxious behavior for different reasons because of variations in our genes [2]. 

Let’s consider PTSD, for example. The chances of experiencing PTSD are encoded on the CNR1 gene and the FAAH gene, both of which are responsible for helping to encode CB1 receptors, which are crucial parts of our endocannabinoid system. However, are those same genes associated with neuroticism just because it produces the same behavior as PTSD? While both anxiety disorders lead to similar actions, the answer is still no.

The gene variation for neuroticism looks very different than the one for PTSD. So, even though two people display the same symptoms of anxiety, the genes associated with their behavior could be entirely different.  

Which CBD blends work for different types of anxiety?

Because the root causes of anxiety can vary based on our genes, the way we approach CBD oil should cater to the underlying reasons for our anxiety. However, to find customized CBD oils, we first have to put anxiety into two different categories: low-energy states and high-energy states.

Low energy states are displays of anxious behavior that manifests because of conditions like introversion, depression, and social anxiety. HTR2A, GRS2, OXTR, RGS2, COMT, and TPH2 genes are commonly associated with low-energy states, which means carriers of these genes should choose cannabis blends that elevate their mood. In fact, ideal CBD oils should have mood-enhancing terpenes such as linalool, limonene, beta-caryophyllene, and cannabinoids such as CBD, CBC, and THC. 

In contrast, high-energy states such as PTSD, neuroticism, panic disorders, and stress susceptibility, require a slightly different CBD blend. If we carry PDE4D, PTRD, COMT, CNR1, FAAH, and FKBP5 genes, all of which are associated with high-energy states, an effective CBD oil should have THC, CBD, limonene, beta-caryophyllene, and nerolidol, owing to its anxiolytic activity. [3] 

Find out which CBD blends will mitigate your anxiety

Getting more perspective on the causes and sources of our anxiety will help us get the most out of CBD oil. As research on the therapeutic properties of cannabis increases, there will likely be a wealth of information out there to help us make the best choices. But until that happens, we must lean on the information we already know about our genetics and use that to determine the best CBD oils to purchase for our anxiety.  


(1)    Bandelow, B.; Michaelis, S.; Wedekind, D. Treatment of Anxiety Disorders. Dialogues Clin. Neurosci. 2017, 19 (2), 93–106.

(2)    Donner, J.; Pirkola, S.; Silander, K.; Kananen, L.; Terwilliger, J. D.; Lönnqvist, J.; Peltonen, L.; Hovatta, I. An Association Analysis of Murine Anxiety Genes in Humans Implicates Novel Candidate Genes for Anxiety Disorders. Biol. Psychiatry 2008, 64 (8), 672–680.

(3)    Kamal, B. S.; Kamal, F.; Lantela, D. E. Cannabis and the Anxiety of Fragmentation—A Systems Approach for Finding an Anxiolytic Cannabis Chemotype. Front. Neurosci. 2018, 12.

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