CBD Studies for Anxiety | Research & Science for CBD
February 29th, 2020
There are many claims about CBD being able to support various conditions and often, it can be difficult to find articles that are backed by science and research.
This article aims to explore a timeline of research studies that have been conducted with the goal of connecting CBD to anti-anxiety properties.
Timeline of CBD & Anxiety Research Studies
- 1982: CBD reducing anxiety presented by THC
- 1990: Antianxiety Properties of CBD with Mice
- 1993: CBD and Human Testing with the Simulated Public Speaking Test
- 2003: How the Brain Reacts to CBD and Human Pathological Anxiety
- 2010: Anxiolytic Effects of CBD and the Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis
- 2011: Effects of CBD on Patients with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
- 2015: Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
- 2016: Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia
- 2019: Large Case Study for CBD Effect with Sleep and Anxiety
Unlike other anecdotal claims, research studies of CBD and the effect on anxiety have been around for years. In fact, the first known reference to cannabis for the relief of anxiety dates to around 1500 BCE in India.
In modern times, one such study dates to March 1982, where researchers tested the response of CBD on the anxiety produced by THC. (Note: Both THC and CBD are cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa plant.)
1982: Action of Cannabidiol on the Anxiety and other Effects produced by THC in Normal Subjects
This research study had the goal of verifying whether CBD reduced anxiety provoked by THC and if that effect could be administered without THC. Eight volunteers received treatments in different sequences, and it was verified that the CBD blocked the anxiety produced by the THC.1
This was one of the first publicly recorded research studies linking CBD to anxiolytic properties that would jumpstart over three decades of studies.
Other notable mentions during the 1980s found in writing and not online include:
Zuardi AW, Karniol IG (1983). Changes in the conditioned emotional response of rats induced by Δ9-THC, CBD and mixture of the two cannabinoids. Arq Biol Tecnol 26: 391–397.
Musty RE (1984) Possible anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol. In: S Agurell, W Dewey, R Willette (eds): The Cannabinoids. Academic Press, New York, 829–844
Musty RE, Conti LH, Mechoulam R (1985) Anxiolytic properties of cannabidiol. In: D Harvey (ed.): Marihuana 84. IRL Press, Oxford, 713–719
1990: Antianxiety Effect of Cannabidiol in the Elevated Plus-Maze
The elevated plus-maze model explores anxiety in animals and how they respond to approaching and avoiding situations. Researchers applied doses of 2.5mg, 5mg, 10mg, and 20 mg/kg of CBD to the rats. While the 20 mg/kg CBD dose was no longer effective, the 2.5mg, 5mg, and 10mg/kg doses showed a significant increase in the entry ratio, which was a measure of anxiety in the study.2
The results indicated that CBD has anti-anxiety properties in the elevated plus-maze but was not effective in extremely high doses.2
While this was a fantastic win for CBD, it was a few years later before it was tested again on human subjects and recorded in a public research study.
1993: Effects of Ipsapirone and Cannabidiol on Human Experimental Anxiety
Four independent groups of 10 healthy volunteers agreed to a simulated public speaking (SPS) test to test the effects of different medications on anxiety in the subjects.3 The individuals were given either placebo or the following medications: diazepam (10 mg), ipsapirone (5 mg), or CBD (300 mg).
The subjects that were given CBD showed decreased anxiety after the public speaking test. The finished results suggested that CBD had anti-anxiety effects on the individuals that dealt with stressful situations.3
2003: Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Regional Cerebral Blood Flow
At this point, it had already been suggested that there were anxiolytic properties of CBD when tested with both humans and animals. Yet, while previous research studies connected CBD with antianxiety effects, it was still unknown how CBD was affecting the brain for those results. Never had a study investigated the effects of CBD on human pathological anxiety and brain mechanisms.
This 2003 study aimed to better understand how the brain reacted to CBD with neuroimaging technology and measuring the cerebral blood flow.
The study used 10 male volunteers split up in two groups of five and were either given an oral dose of CBD (400mg) or placebo. While CBD significantly reduced anxiety and increased mental sedation, it was the neuroimaging that provided the logic behind the results.4
Sure enough, the areas of the brain that normally mediate anxiety saw significant activity when CBD was applied. This study not only helped support the anxiolytic effects of CBD, but it gave more logic with how the brain reacted to the cannabinoid and which receptors mediate the psychological effects of CBD.
2010: The anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol injected into the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis are mediated by 5-HT1A (serotonin) receptors
This study was built to investigate the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) and the role it plays with the anxiolytic effects of CBD. The test was administered to male Wistar rats as they were injected with CBD into the BNST and were exposed to two popular animal modes of anxiety.5
As the researchers suggested, the results gave further support to the idea that the BNST is directly involved in the antianxiety properties of CBD, likely from the activation of 5-HT1A receptors in the brains.
2011: Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients
Over a decade had passed since studies have indicated that CBD had anxiolytic effects on human subjects. It was then time to take the test to one of the most common anxiety conditions, Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).
Like the 1993 study where volunteers were subjected to the simulation public speaking test (SPST), this study aimed to apply the same conditions on healthy patients with a social anxiety disorder.
24 total SAD patients received either a single 600mg dose of CBD or a placebo before the test.6
The volunteers who were pretreated with CBD showed a significant reduction in cognitive impairment, discomfort, and anxiety while the placebo group expressed higher discomfort and anxiety. The study suggests that not only does CBD have antianxiety properties, but it could be an effective treatment with reducing anxiety in patients with a social anxiety disorder (SAD).6
2015: Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
This review aimed to determine the potential of CBD as a treatment for anxiety-related disorders by assessing evidence from multiple preclinical, human experimental, and clinical studies.
While existing research studies strongly support CBD as a treatment for anxiety-related disorders, few studies have explored proper dosage.
The review goes on to state that the evidence already supports CBD being used as a remedy for social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when applied in high doses.7
In conclusion, the review emphasizes the value of CBD in the treatment of anxiety disorders and suggests a need for further study to better understand the effectiveness of the medication.7
2016: Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic stress often promotes anxiety and sleep disorders and can contribute to impaired focus and behavior. This case study had a single patient; a ten-year-old girl who was presented with these symptoms. She was sexually abused and had minimal parental supervision under the age of five and developed posttraumatic stress.8
During an initial evaluation in 2012, she was diagnosed with PTSD secondary to sexual abuse. The main issues with the child included outbursts at school, suicidal thoughts, self-destructive behaviors, insomnia, and anxiety. This was 6 months following the death of her father in a motor vehicle accident, around the time her grandparents gained custody.
While modern pharmaceuticals provided partial relief, the results were not long-lasting and were certainly not a long-term solution. They also carried extreme side effects for the child.
The patient was reevaluated in 2015 where she displayed the same symptoms as her initial presentation three years earlier. At the time, she was taking the following medications to assist with her sleep and anxiety: melatonin, magnesium, and diphenhydramine (Benadryl). While the medications were providing slight improvement, she was still having to deal with anxiety, insomnia, and outbursts at school.
Two months later, CBD oil was recommended as an additional treatment to assist with her insomnia and anxiety. The trial included CBD supplements (25mg) that were administered before bedtime and 6 mg – 12 mg of CBD spray to deal with stressful situations during the day.
Within two months of taking the CBD oil, the patient’s sleep score dipped below the threshold for a sleep disorder and her SCARED (Screen for Anxiety Related Disorders) score was below the anxiety disorder level. Within five months, she was sleeping in her own room most nights and was not having the outbursts at school. Unlike the other medications, there were no side effects reported with the CBD oil as well.
This research study suggests that CBD oil is an effective treatment to reduce anxiety and insomnia related to PTSD.8
2019: Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series
Recent evidence supported the calming effect for CBD in the central nervous system and its ability to assist with anxiety and insomnia.
The objective of this study was to put the supporting evidence to the test with a clinical population.9
The case series consisted of 72 adults with 47 patients dealing with anxiety and 25 patients dealing with poor sleep. The results were clear and within the first month, 52 patients (79.2%) had decreased anxiety and the effects remained during the whole study duration. The results also reported that sleep scores were improved in 48 patients (66.7%) but had fluctuated over the course of the whole study.9
The study concluded that while CBD may prove to be an effective treatment for anxiety-related disorders, more controlled clinical studies are needed.
Finding the right CBD Oil for Anxiety or Insomnia
At 43 CBD Solutions, we understand that many people deal with anxiety, insomnia, and other stress-related disorders.
That’s perfectly normal and you are not alone.
We work with many people that use CBD oil as part of their health regimen to assist with anxiety and we are here to help with any questions or concerns to help you find the right treatment.
If you are considering CBD for treatment in a stress-related disorder, please consult your doctor first. If it seems like the right approach for your health, then we recommend going with a brand that has organic ingredients and public third-party lab testing, so you are aware of exactly what goes inside your body.
43 CBD Solutions offers cannabinoid profiles and third-party testing for all CBD products to stay true to ourselves, our customers, and to nature. Check out our CBD shop to see if there is the right product for you.
- Zuardi, A.W., Shirakawa, I., Finkelfarb, E. et al. Action of cannabidiol on the anxiety and other effects produced by δ9-THC in normal subjects. Psychopharmacology 76, 245–250 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00432554
- Guimarães, F.S., Chiaretti, T.M., Graeff, F.G. et al. Antianxiety effect of cannabidiol in the elevated plus-maze. Psychopharmacology 100, 558–559 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02244012
- Zuardi, A. W., Cosme, R. A., Graeff, F. G., & Guimarães, F. S. (1993). Effects of ipsapirone and cannabidiol on human experimental anxiety. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 7(1_suppl), 82–88.
- Crippa, J., Zuardi, A., Garrido, G. et al. Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Regional Cerebral Blood Flow. Neuropsychopharmacol 29, 417–426 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.npp.1300340
- Gomes, F.V., Resstel, L.B.M. & Guimarães, F.S. The anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol injected into the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis are mediated by 5-HT1A receptors. Psychopharmacology 213, 465–473 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-010-2036-z
- Bergamaschi, M., Queiroz, R., Chagas, M. et al. Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients. Neuropsychopharmacol 36, 1219–1226 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2011.6
- Blessing, E.M., Steenkamp, M.M., Manzanares, J. et al. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics 12, 825–836 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
- Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016;20(4):16-005. doi:10.7812/TPP/16-005
- De Gregorio D, McLaughlin RJ, Posa L, et al. Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain. Pain. 2019;160(1):136–150. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001386
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