Updated on February 29, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Help with sleep and anxiety are among the top reasons people seek out cannabidiol (CBD)-based treatments. Anecdotally—and in the clinical experience of many medical marijuana doctors—quality CBD in the right dosage improves symptoms for people struggling with these two issues. But, because of the difficulties of getting approval for medical marijuana studies, there hasn’t yet been enough research to wholly validate those uses.
That’s why it’s worth paying attention to this new study on CBD for anxiety and sleep issues, published in the Permanente Journal. By retrospectively analyzing patient data at a psychiatric clinic, the Colorado-based researchers found that, among 72 adults who had been treated with CBD, 79 percent experienced an improvement in anxiety symptoms within the first month. What’s more, the benefit remained for the duration of the study. And as for sleep, about 67 percent of patients reported improvements within the first month, but their results were more mixed over time—with only some of the participants experiencing continued benefit.
Anxiety and sleep issues are extremely common. An estimated 30 percent of Americans struggle with insomnia at some point in their lives and, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly the same percentage of adults will experience an anxiety disorder. CBD, which in itself does not cause the “high” usually associated with marijuana, could be part of the solution for both of these chronic problems because it seems to affect the central nervous system in addition to a neurotransmitter called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) and the stress hormone cortisol. At higher doses, CBD appears to act like a sedative, which allows people to fall asleep faster and stay asleep more easily.
The study authors note that, though research in a controlled setting is necessary, the results of CBD for patients with anxiety are particularly interesting. It’s also worth noting that only three of the patients studied did not tolerate CBD well; the rest were able to take CBD as recommended by their practitioner without undesired effects.
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