How Cannabidiol (CBD) Works for Treating Anxiety

 Photo Credit: Leafly

Photo Credit: Leafly

Various animal studies and human experimental, clinical, and epidemiological studies suggest CBD has powerful anti-anxiety properties, and when administered acutely, it seems both safe and well-tolerated. This suggests the cannabinoid could be helpful for the treatment of panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and mild to moderate depression. Many pharmaceutical medications known as SSRIs work to target serotonin receptors to reduce anxiety and depression. Like SSRIs, CBD may be able to support signaling through serotonin receptors, and in one animal study, Spanish researchers found CBD enhanced 5-HT1A (a subtype of serotonin receptor) transmission ad affected serotonin faster than SSRIs.

Brain scans of those who suffer from depression or anxiety often show a smaller hippocampus, which is an area of the brain known for its role in memory formation and cognition. Treatments of depression are often associated with neurogenesis within the hippocampus. One animal study found consistent administration of CBD promoted neurogenesis in the hippocampus, suggesting it may help treat anxiety and depression. in a small double-blind study, Brazilian researchers found patients afflicted with generalized social anxiety reported significant decreases in anxiety after CBD consumption. These claims were validated through the support of brain scans that showed cerebral blood flow patters consistent with anti-anxiety effects. Another small study found patients with social anxiety disorders reported less anxiety while performing public speaking tests after the use of CBD. These findings were supported by indicators relating to heart rate and blood pressure.

This information has been provided by Leafly and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.