Anxiety Attack? Don't Panic—Try CBD Instead

A new research review adds support to ever-increasing anecdotal evidence that the marijuana compound can help reduce anxiety and phobias.

Photo Credit: Blablo101/Shutterstock.com

Do you suffer from anxiety or phobias? If you do, CBD could help, a new research report suggests. 

CBD (cannibidiol) is a compound in marijuana. Unlike its more well-known sister, THC, it doesn't get you high, but is increasingly known for having medicinal benefits, including reducing seizures in epilepsy. It has also been touted as helping with anxiety and PTSD as well, among other conditions.

In this new study, a review by researchers at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom of previous studies conducted that had examined the use of CBD in humans, that claim gets some support.>

A key component of anxiety is fear, and while the number of studies on humans examining the issue is small, they suggest that CBD dampens people's fear by altering the activity of certain regions of the brain.

In one small-sample study of 40 people, CBD was found to reduce anxiety in people subjected to stressful situations. In another small study, this one with 24 subjects who all suffered from social phobia, researchers found that CBD helped reduce anxiety induced by tasking them with public speaking.

The notion that CBD reduces anxiety is supported by a larger number of animal studies, the researchers said. In some of those studies, researchers induced anxiety in rats by exposing them to threatening stimuli and found that CBD seemed to lower the anxiety the animals experienced.

"Converging lines of evidence have established that acute CBD treatment is anxiolytic in both animals and humans," the researchers concluded. "A growing number of preclinical studies also indicate that this drug reduces fear memory expression when given acutely. Importantly, CBD produces an enduring reduction in learned fear expression when given in conjunction with fear memory reconsolidation or extinction by disrupting the former and facilitating the latter. This makes CBD a potential candidate for testing as a pharmacological adjunct to psychological therapies or behavioural interventions used in treating PTSD and phobias."

In other words, it looks like CBD can help you chill out, and without all the nasty side effects of pharmaceutical anti-anxiety drugs, such as the benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, et al.) But more research is needed the researchers said, as they are wont to say. 


Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.

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