In 1993 Zuardi and colleagues performed one of the first studies on the anti-anxiety effects of CBD . In this study, subjects had to give a speech while they were filmed. Subjects who had received CBD experienced significantly less anxiety while doing this. An additional advantage was that CBD had no anesthetic effect, in contrast to diazepam (a traditional anxiety inhibitor, which was also examined in this study).
In 2009, Fusar-Poli and co-workers conducted a study in which subjects were asked to look at pictures of faces with an anxious expression . The subjects did this on three separate occasions, each time they were given a different substance: THC, CBD or a placebo. It was found that subjects responded less anxious to the pictures when they had received CBD than when they were given a placebo. When they had received THC they were just as anxious as when they were given a placebo.
CBD has been extensively studied for its effects on anxiety symptoms, as well as for its effects on social anxiety. Social anxiety is a pretty common fear, in which of course varying gradations are possible. For example, many people feel tense in situations where they are being judged, like when giving a presentation or when they are being interviewed for a job. When social anxiety is negatively affecting people in their daily functioning it may become a disorder, for example when people start avoiding social contact with colleagues or classmates, out of fear of blushing, stuttering or being perceived as incompetent.
Several studies that researched CBD as a substance to counter social anxiety showed positive results. CBD does decrease social anxiety (in comparison to a placebo). This is confirmed by both subjective data (subjects reporting how anxious they are), and physiological data (various body functions such as heart rate and respiration). A Brazilian study examined how anxious subjects were when they had to speak to an audience . No difference was found in this study between healthy subjects and those suffering from social anxiety disorder when they were given CBD.
Advice for the use of cannabinoids against anxiety
Several clinical studies have shown that CBD may have a positive effect on symptoms of (social) anxiety. The doses given to subjects in these studies varied greatly (from 32mg to 600mg). When you are considering the use of cannabinoids for stress or anxiety symptoms, it is advisable to start with a low dose and build up slowly until you experience the desired effect. If you are already under treatment for your symptoms, consult your doctor or psychiatrist first. Click here to read more about safe use of cannabinoids.
- Zuardi, A.W., Cosme, R.A., Graeff, F.G., Guimaräes, F.S. (1993). Effects of ipsapirone and cannabidiol on human experimental anxiety. J Psychopharmacol., 7: 82-8
- Fusar-Poli, P., Placentino, A., Carletti, F., et al. (2009). Functional atlas of emotional faces processing: a voxel-based meta-analysis of 105 functional magnetic resonance imaging studies. J Psychiatry Neurosci., 34(6): 418–432.
- Crippa, J.A., Derenusson, G.N., Ferrari, T.B., et al. (2011). Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. J Psychopharmacol. 25: 121-30.