Despite its current federal illegality, cannabis continues to demonstrate enormous promise as a treatment option for a variety of illnesses and ailments. While much of the research into cannabis has focused on one specific cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the only psychoactive cannabinoid present in cannabis – more recently researchers have begun experiments looking into the potential medical benefits on the second-most common cannabinoid present in cannabis: cannabidiol (CBD).
To help those curious learn more about cannabis and its potential benefits to health and wellness, we are publishing a series of brief blog posts detailing specific areas in which CBD has been shown to provide benefits to patients.
Second up in this series: how CBD can potentially help alleviate anxiety.*
Most people who consume cannabis for the first time typically report feelings of anxiety. The cliché of a marijuana “stoner” feeling paranoid that the police are just outside the door getting ready to burst into the room have been played out in popular culture for decades. Therefore, it may seem counterintuitive that cannabis, and CBD in particular, can potentially help reduce anxiety among consumers.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 20% of American adults suffer from anxiety disorder, with 22.8% of those cases classified as “severe.” In several studies over the past several years, researchers have investigated the effect of CBD on patients suffering from anxiety and found some very promising results.
For example, one small double-blind study conducted in Brazil investigated how the consumption of CBD affected patients afflicted with generalized social anxiety. Participants not only self-reported significant decreases in anxiety, but the researchers followed up with brain scans which demonstrated cerebral blood flow patterns consistent with an anti-anxiety effect. Another small study sought to compare the performance between healthy control patients and patients with social anxiety disorder during a simulated public speaking test. Patients who received a CBD pretreatment reported reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance, while the placebo group experienced higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort.
CBD has also been found to reduce some of the negative side effects associated with THC consumption. Occasionally, even the most experienced cannabis consumers can accidentally indulge too much. In those cases, the consumption of CBD has been shown to help counterbalance the anxiety, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), hunger, and sedation caused by THC.
One area that has received a fair amount of media attention concerns the use of CBD to treat the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With many veterans returning home displaying signs of PTSD, the ability for some to turn to CBD as an alternative to more traditional treatment options has proved enormously beneficial. In Israel, one of the pioneers of marijuana research, the country’s Ministry of Health has tested both CBD and THC at various ratios to treat PTSD, and has found the results so encouraging that there is currently a successful program run at Abarbanal Hospital in Israel where patients suffering PTSD are treated with cannabis.
If you’re interested in learning more about how CBD can potentially help those suffering from PTSD, we invite you to check out this video from our friends at MERRY JANE. The inaugural episode in their series, Deflowered, follows conversations with veterans who discuss using cannabis and CBD to help with their symptoms.
*LivWell makes no claims regarding the health or medical benefits of cannabis.