CBD and anxiety studies

CBD and Anxiety – Multiple Studies Are Summarized

CBD and anxiety have received the attention of researchers for quite some time. Initially this started as a side component stemming from studies done on THC, the psychoactive compound of cannabis.

Recently, more and more evidence has come to the forefront and more studies are being done on the effects of CBD on anxiety and the mechanisms behind it.

The following studies are from most recent to oldest and are summarized to give an idea of what and how CBD and anxiety are being studied and reviewed.



CBD Does Not Dampen Responses to Emotional Stimuli in Healthy Adults.
Jun 2017 | Lab study | [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28861510]

Brief summary:

Not all studies are positive showing amazing things about CBD – this is one of them. It simply presents the evidence, which in this case may make a case for CBD only being effective for anxiety when there is some underlying cause.

The aim of this study was to analyze the potential of cannabidiol to reduce negative mood responses in humans as a part of producing anti-anxiety behavior.

38 healthy, drug-free participants consumed oral CBD (300, 600, and 900 mg) or a placebo before completing several behavioral tasks to assess reactivity to negative stimuli.

Results: “CBD did not dampen responses to negative emotional stimuli and did not affect feelings of social rejection. The high dose of CBD (900 mg) marginally reduced attentional bias toward happy and sad facial expressions, and produced a slight increase in late-session heart rate. CBD did not produce detectable subjective effects or alterations in mood or anxiety. “ – direct quote.


end study summary



CBD regulation of emotion and emotional memory processing: relevance for treating anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders.
Oct 2017 | Review paper | [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28268256]

Brief summary:

This review concludes that cannabidiol treatment reduces anxiety in both animals and humans. Other studies reviewed indicate that fear memory is reduced as well. In addition, CBD produces an enduring reduction in learned fear expression (reaction to fear based on memory of previous experience).

This makes CBD a potential candidate for testing as a pharmacological adjunct to psychological therapies or behavioural interventions used in treating PTSD and phobias.


end study summary



Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report.
Oct 2016 | Case study | [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27768570]

Brief summary:

“These symptoms were present in our patient, a ten-year-old girl who was sexually abused and had minimal parental supervision as a young child under the age of five. Pharmaceutical medications provided partial relief, but results were not long-lasting, and there were major side effects. A trial of cannabidiol oil resulted in a maintained decrease in anxiety and a steady improvement in the quality and quantity of the patient’s sleep.” – direct quote.


end study summary



Antidepressant-Like and Anxiolytic-Like Effects of Cannabidiol: A Chemical Compound of Cannabis Sativa.
Jun 2014 | Review paper | [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24923339]

Brief summary:

This review examines multiple studies of animal models relating to cannabidiol and its effects on anxiety and depression. One of the findings was that for anxiety, CBD did not use the common CB1 and CB2 receptors, but rather the 5-HT1A neuro-receptor.


end study summary



neurogenesis: the growth and development of nervous tissue

anxiolytic: a drug or agent that helps to reduce anxiety


The anxiolytic effect of CBD on chronically stressed mice depends on hippocampal neurogenesis: involvement of the endocannabinoid system.
Jul 2013 | Lab study | [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23298518]

Brief summary:

The purpose of the study was to examine the possible hippocampus area of the brain and its neurogenesis. To do this the study subjected mice to chronic stress and injected them with CBD repeatedly after each stress test.

Results demonstrated that cannabidiol increased hippocampal generation and neurogenesis – as seen in cultures. CBD also was implicated in the increased production of anandamide, an endocannabinoid produced by our own bodies.


end study summary



Cannabidiol in Humans—The Quest for Therapeutic Targets
May 2012 | Review paper | [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3763649/]

Brief summary:

This review searched for studies involving human trials, both healthy and disease related.

It found some conflicting data on whether CBD inhibits or enhances the effects of THC when both are administered – for those trials addressing that aspect.

“Finally, preliminary clinical trials suggest that high-dose oral CBD (150–600 mg/d) may exert a therapeutic effect for social anxiety disorder, insomnia and epilepsy, but also that it may cause mental sedation.” – direct quote.


end study summary



CBD as an anxiolytic drug.
Jun 2012 | Review paper | [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22729452]

Brief summary:

Objectives of this review were to describe studies of cannabidiol and its effects on anxiety including how it works.

Results of studies reviewed showed that there was an reduction of anxiety involving animal models and in healthy human volunteers when CBD was administered. The conclusion of the review was that continued research of cannabidiol and its effect on anxiety was warranted.


end study summary



CBD reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naive social phobia patients.
May 2011 | Clinical trial | [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21307846]

Brief summary:

This limited clinical trial examined 36 patients, 24 with social phobia and 12 of whom had never been treated for anxiety (healthy). They were looking at basic anxiety related reactions to public speaking, a known activity that results in heightened anxiety for patients being treated for social phobia..

Of the 24 patients with social anxiety, 12 received CBD and the other 12 a placebo – none of these subjects were aware they were being treated for social phobia. !2 other healthy patients were set as a control group.

Pretreatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in their speech performance, and significantly decreased alert in their anticipatory speech – for those treated with CBD. The placebo group presented higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, discomfort, and alert levels when compared with the control group.

Comparisons between the CBD treated group and the control (healthy) showed similar scores, showing little difference. The results indicated that a single dose of CBD can reduce the anxiety provoked by public speaking in social phobia patients.


end study summary



Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of CBD in generalized social anxiety disorder.
Jan 2011 | Clinical trial | [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20829306]

Brief summary:

In a double blind trial using 10 subjects suffering from social phobia, oral doses of cannabidiol were given. Cerebral blood flow at rest was measured for all patients by neuroimaging.

This trial is similar to a trial done in 2004, except this trial uses social phobia patients, whereas the 2004 trial used healthy subjects. Of the 10 patients, 5 were given CBD and the other 5 a placebo. Then this was done again in a second session but the opposite treatment was given from the first session.

Results showed that relative to placebo, CBD was associated with significantly decreased anxiety. This suggests that CBD reduces anxiety in social phobia patients and that this is related to specific areas of the brain.


end study summary



The anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol injected into the bed nucleus of the striaterminalis are mediated by 5-HT1A receptors.
Feb 2011 | Lab study | [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20945065]

Brief summary:

The aim of the study was to investigate the role of an area of the brain (bed nucleus of the stria terminalis) with respect to effects of cannabidiol and the involvement of the cannabinoid receptor 5-HT1A.

Rat subjects received injection of CBD directly into the specific area of the brain and were given conflict tests to measure anxiety levels.

The 5-HT1A receptor was shown to be the likely receptor for CBD. and results were positive that CBD had anxiety reducing effects on the specific area of the brain injected.


end study summary



Effects of CBD on regional cerebral blood flow.
Feb 2004 | Clinical trial | [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14583744]

Brief summary:

This study (clinical trial) used neuroimaging to investigate whether CBD has any effect on anxiety.

10 healthy volunteers were divided into 2 groups of 5 individuals and then tested in two sessions, each session was one week apart. In the first session, one group was given an oral dose of cannabidiol and the other group was given a placebo. In the second session, each group was given the substance that was not given in the first session (CBD and placebo were switched).

“CBD significantly decreased subjective anxiety and increased mental sedation, while placebo did not induce significant changes.” – direct quote.


end study summary


If you found this article about studies on CBD and anxiety interesting, you may like this compilation on CBD and cancer studies.

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