Over the last few decades, anxiety has grown into a silent epidemic—the most common mental disorder in the world. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that about 18.1% of American adults struggle with some form of anxiety.
Moreover, some other studies estimate that about 33.7% of all people worldwide will be affected by a form of anxiety at some point during their lifetime.
There is a growing trend in cannabidiol (CBD) usage to alleviate anxiety, with varying data from scientific studies.
CBD and anxiety: current scientific evidence
Although the global scientific community doesn’t have enough data to proclaim CBD as a universal remedy for anxiety disorders, the available results are quite encouraging.
- In 2019, a study on 72 adults suffering from anxiety and sleep disorders researched whether a month of CBD would alleviate their condition. 79.2% reported lower anxiety levels and 66.7% reported improved quality of sleep
- A survey from 2018 discovered that most people take CBD for one of these 3 conditions: anxiety, depression, and pain. In terms of effectiveness, 36% of participants said CBD helps them ”very well”—and just 4.3% reported CBD doesn’t help them a lot
- Another recent study from 2018 confirmed that cannabidiol could alleviate the anxiety seen in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This effect could be particularly appreciated by veterans, law enforcers, and rescue teams
- Panic attacks are a common component of anxiety disorders, and a study from 2017 reported that CBD could be effective against them as well!
- Going a bit further into the past, a review from 2015 reported that oral CBD doses ranging from 300 to 600 mg were effective in calming down experimentally induced anxiety and social anxiety disorder (SAD)
- An even earlier animal study, back from 2013, looked into the possible mechanism of action behind the anti-anxiety effect of CBD. The results suggested that CBD may increase the levels of anandamide in the hippocampus. Anandamide is the body’s own ”feel-good” cannabinoid, and the hippocampus is a key component of the human limbic system—the part of the brain that controls and regulates emotions.
In general, scientists report that there are many unclear details in the matter of how CBD helps with anxiety, but the most common effects and theories include the following:
- CBD adjusts the human body’s endocannabinoid system, as well as the activity of the brain’s serotonin and glutamate receptors
- CBD seems to somewhat modify the blood flow in certain parts of the brain, resulting in lower anxiety and panic levels
- CBD increases the levels of several endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by the human body), some of which show a feel-good effect (including the ”runner’s high”, for example)
The bottom line
Although many people are currently taking CBD to calm down their anxiety with high reported satisfaction rates, the available studies aren’t enough to recommend CBD as a universal cure for this disorder at the moment.
The current evidence is highly encouraging but more trials are needed to shed light on the full range of effects that CBD has on the human brain, mind, and emotions.