Cannabidiol (CBD) has for some time now been used by the adult population to reduce their levels of anxiety, being found in the form of food supplements derived from industrial hemp.
Studies in animals seem to indicate that cannabidiol produces this effect whether in its acid form (CBDA) or neutral form (CBD), although it seems a stressor must be present for cannabidiol to show its anxiolytic potential (Rock EM et al., 2017).
In recent years, some controlled clinical trials have been carried out in humans, the results of which reinforce the idea that this cannabinoid may be useful in patients suffering from different types of disorders in which anxiety is the main symptom.
In one of such clinical trials, 48 healthy individuals learned to relate the presence of a certain color with an unpleasant stimulus (an electric shock). Individuals who received 32 mg of CBD after the presence of this color was no longer accompanied by an electrical discharge (known as extinction learning) saw the stress of anticipation caused by this color disappear more quickly in comparison with the rest of the subjects (Das RK et al., 2013).
It is surprising that such low doses of CBD show “anti-stress” effects in adults, but the truth is that similar doses (40-50 mg) demonstrated CBD’s usefulness in a series of cases with 136 patients who managed to improve their anxiety with the use of cannabidiol (Shannon S. 2017). Even so, it seems that the medium doses (over 300 mg) are more effective than low or high doses (Zuardi AW et al., 2017).
It was precisely at high doses (600 mg) that a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study demonstrated CBD’s usefulness in a specific (and quite frequent) type of anxiety disorder, i.e., Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder (Bergamaschi MM et al., 2011).
The use of somewhat lower doses (400 mg) to treat Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder also found positive results in another clinical study, and which also associate CBD’s anxiolytic effect with its capacity to alter blood flow in some regions of the brain (Crippa JA et al., 2010).
CBD can also be effective in treating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or at least be recommended for its treatment based on the results obtained in pre-clinical studies with animals (Campos AC et al., 2012) and clinical observations in humans (Shannon S. et al., 2016).
Panic attacks are also presented as being susceptible to relief with the use of this molecule (Uribe-Mariño A et al., 2011).
We can therefore conclude that the apparent absence of side effects (so far), its favorable legal status, the fact it can reduce anxiety levels without causing drowsiness (a side effect of most anxiolytics currently used in clinical practice), and the results of research in different types of anxiety disorders all combine to help place CBD in a privileged position as a future reference regulator for controlling excessive stress and/or anxiety levels.
Dr. Javier Pedraza,
Specialist in Family and Community Medicine
Consultant in treatments with cannabis and derivatives