Updated on January 3, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
As the most common mental illness in the United States, anxiety disorders need prompt attention from doctors. While there are many types of anxiety disorders, they all can cause restlessness, apprehension and other intense feelings of unease.
We’re always looking for reliable and safe treatments for anxiety disorders. Let’s learn about research showing that marijuana can fit the bill.
A major component of marijuana called CBD relieves anxiety for many medical cannabis patients. Since CBD is so prevalent in cannabis — especially indica strains — it works to make users feel at ease. While weed makes some patients feel more anxious, it proves very useful for folks who react well to cannabis.
Das et al. looked at CBD’s ability to help people with anxiety disorders experience fear extinction. When fear extinction happens, someone’s distress responses to a feared experience decrease after increased exposure. Previous research showed CBD helped rats learn fear extinction, so they wanted to see if it did the same for humans.
To answer their questions, the scholars took a Pavlovian approach using electric shocks. They put 48 subjects through a process where they were conditioned to associate a colored box with the electric shocks. Some participants received a CBD dosage before or after their fear extinction, and Das’ team observed their changes in fear.
They found that CBD helped the subjects at all stages of their fear responses. CBD allowed them to reinforce their fear extinction and delay new fear responses without adverse side effects. Das et al. concluded that CBD could serve as a supplement for anxiety therapy related to fear extinction.
Cameron et al. wanted to expand on research indicating that nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, could help PTSD patients with insomnia, nightmares and chronic pain. Since they found no research on its potential to treat patients in correctional facilities, they decided to examine inmates prescribed with nabilone treatment.
The researchers analyzed data on 104 male inmates who received nabilone for their mental illnesses. They only looked at patients who took nabilone in powdered form with water to reduce the chance of including subjects who abused the drug. Also, they tracked the medications that the inmates discontinued when they began using nabilone.
The team discovered that nabilone had huge potential for improving the medication regimens of inmates with PTSD and related symptoms. Nabilone greatly relieved the inmates’ insomnia, nightmares and other PTSD symptoms. Since it worked so well, the patients could stop using other drugs that had greater potential for abuse and side effects.
Bergamaschi and a group of scientists decided to explore CBD’s potential for relieving social anxiety symptoms. Since doctors and patients have difficulty treating social anxiety disorder with standard medication, they wanted to aid in the search for new remedies.
A total of 36 participants in the study — 24 with a social anxiety disorder and 12 without — went through a public speaking simulation and had their reactions recorded. Half of the subjects with social anxiety disorder received CBD, while the other half received a placebo. All 12 members of the healthy control group didn’t receive any medication at all.
CBD greatly reduced the patients’ anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort with their performance. In fact, they had similar results to those of the healthy control group, meaning CBD largely relieved their symptoms. This study indicates that CBD could work as an incredibly useful solution for social anxiety disorder.
With more knowledge comes more questions. Do you need more information about treating your anxiety with cannabis medicine? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
Two of our resources should help you the most. Our condition guide can give you a primer on marijuana and anxiety. To get answers to questions specific to your situation, you should meet with a capable medical marijuana certified doctor.