Medical research shown shown that a chemical produced by the cannabis sativa plant reduces anxiety. This constituent of cannabis is called cannabidiol, or just CBD.
Cannabis has many constituents, but by far the most well known is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the constituent which gets the user ‘high’. CBD however, has completely different effects from THC and is becoming more and more popular as multiple studies suggest that this substance is an anxiolytic, which means that it reduces anxiety and panic. CBD also diminushed the psychoactivity of THC, meaning that it can helps people that are using medical marrijuana to counter the unwanted “high” associate with THC present in that treatments.
CBD was discovered in 1940 by Dr. Roger Adams at the University of Illinois. At that time, cannabis was only known for its psychotropic constituent THC, so studies were mainly focused there. As a result, there was little done to explore and study the effects of CBD for many years. More recently, studies on CBD have been done first on animals and then on humans to determine exactly what CBD does in the body. Medicine has discovered that CBD does have many medicinal benefits, and we are starting to hear about them.
One of the pioneer study in 1993 compared CBD with Ipsapirone, diazepam and a placebo. Ipsapirone is an anxiolytic drug often used in research. Diazepam is a drug used to reduce anxiety in patients by working on chemicals in the brain that are unbalanced in people who suffer from anxiety. The study tested the different drugs and CBD on a set of healthy people. The subjects were subjected to a simulated public speaking test in order to create a stressful environment in which scientists could verify if CBD was anxiolytic. By measuring subjects’ heart ratea, blood pressure and skin conductance, the study showed that only Ipsapirone decreased anxiety during public speaking, CBD decreased anxiety that occurred after the test, and diazepam was effective before and after the test, but not during the test. The study suggested that CBD and Ipsapirone had anxiolytic properties.
A more recent study in 2004 investigated the effects of CBD on regional cerebral blood flow by doing single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans on the subjects. This scan gives doctors three pieces of information: areas of the brain that work well, areas of the brain that are low in activity, and areas that are high in activity. Doctors can then determine if the subject needs specific medicine to regulate certain areas that need to be balanced. Since in this case study, the test itself was stressful, it was a good way to test CBD. The results showed that CBD reduced anxiety, according to blood flow, and was compatible with regular blood flow.
In more than one study, it was also discovered that the effects of dosage levels act in a U-shaped curve. Small dosages of 100mg of CBD were ineffective, dosages of 300mg to 600mg were most effective and treatments over 900mg of CBD were also ineffective.
In 2009, another study made the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), which produces more images with higher resolution and gives a clearer image of the levels of activity in the brain, to see if CBD had anxiolytic effects. They tested 15 healthy people and the results showed that CBD did reduce the anxiety caused by the stress of the FMRI.
A Brazilian study done in 2010 found that Cannabidiol has therapeutic potential with antipsychotic, anxiolytic, and antidepressant properties, in addition to being effective in treating other conditions on subjects with psychiatric disorders and in healthy subjects. These findings suggest that CBD may be effective is treating patients with anxiety as a mental illness.