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Is CBD an effective treatment for anxiety?



CBD could offer an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs to help people manage anxiety

Anxiety is the world’s most common mental health condition, with a 2017 study revealing that 3.8 percent of the global population suffer from the disorder.

This figure is only expected rise as COVID-19 continues to cause uncertainty, drive unemployment and leave many people feeling isolated. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 49 percent of the UK population in June 2020 reported feeling anxious or worried in the last two weeks due to the pandemic.

Although more work needs to be done to understand the science behind CBD as a treatment for anxiety, many people have turned to cannabidiol to help manage their condition. In fact, a 2019 Gallup Poll discovered that 37 percent of CBD users take the supplement for anxiety.

CBD may have the potential to change serotonin signals in the body through the interaction with CB1, a receptor found in the central nervous system.

Low serotonin levels are generally linked with depression, however there is also evidence that it could be a cause of anxiety.

In conventional mental health care, cases of low serotonin are treated with a category of anti-depressant medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). These include sertraline (Lustral) and fluoxetine (Prozac).

Although anti-depressants are a proven treatment that can have a life-changing impact on people suffering with depression and anxiety, many users complain of adverse side effects, including insomnia, dizziness and sexual issues.

Consequently, some people have looked for alternatives, such as CBD, to manage their condition. However, if you are considering changing your treatment, you should first consult your doctor.

There are various forms of anxiety with different symptoms and causes. Some of the most common conditions are generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Most clinical research involving CBD to date are conducted on animals rather than humans, however there are studies that show the potential for CBD as a possible alternative or supplement treatment for anxiety.

Social anxiety disorder is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as an “intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others”. It is a common mental health issue which can make it difficult meet new people, speak in meetings or even eating and drinking in front of people.

In a relatively small yet insightful double-blind study from 2019, researchers gave 300mg of CBD (or a placebo) to thirty-seven Japanese teenagers suffering from social anxiety.

The results found that the group who received CBD experienced a significant reduction in anxiety and concluded that “the results indicate that CBD could be a useful option to treat social anxiety”.

CBD can be consumed in a number of different ways. The most popular CBD product on the market is CBD oil. Other administration methods include capsules, edibles and vaporised oil. The primary difference between these is the speed at which the CBD takes effect.

The effects of will set in almost immediately if smoked or vaped. If taken orally, the effects will be felt within 30 minutes to two hours.

Dosing CBD for anxiety isn’t a cut and dry process. Studies have used a wide range of doses, from 25mg to 600mg. The lack of clinical research makes it difficult to provide an accurate dosage guideline.

If you’re considering trying CBD to help manage your anxiety, we recommend being cautious. Start with a low dose and increase it if necessary.

Some of the key factors that you should take into consideration are your body weight, metabolism, severity of your condition and the concentration of the particular product you are using. It is always important to consult a doctor before making any changes any current treatment.


Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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