Studies on CBD for Stress and Anxiety

What does the latest research say?
Nicole Richter Nicole Richter / Updated on March 26, 2019

CBD for Stress and Anxiety

Of all the different conditions that CBD is known to help treat, issues arising from stress and anxiety are some of the most common reasons people take CBD.

Though it requires an extremely high dosage, CBD is able to help both suppress negative thought patterns, as well as low mood, thanks to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system.

However, though there is an ample quantity of different scientific data and completed studies to demonstrate the usefulness of CBD to help treat stress and anxiety, it always important to keep checking and rechecking information through new studies.

Scientific consensus is rarely a permanent thing, so it is vital that we keep checking for new proof of CBD’s usefulness.

So, let’s take a look at the most recent data to figure out whether or not it is still worthwhile to use cannabidiol to help treat stress and anxiety.

What Do Previous Studies Conclude About Stress & Anxiety?

Before we can look into the most recent studies reports on stress and anxiety, it is important to consider what the current scientific consensus is focused on. The best way to do this is to look at the most frequently cited sources and see what they have to say about the effectiveness of CBD in treating stress and anxiety.

By far the most commonly cited source is the study in the Journal of Neurotherapeutics by Blessing et al. The researchers looked at a myriad of different preclinical trials, as well as epidemiological studies and other experiments wherein humans were actively being used to determine if there was any specific consensus on CBD being used to treat anxiety.

The review found that in virtually every study conducted, it was found that CBD was able to act as a stand-in for regular anxiolytics medication, except without any of the inherent drawbacks associated with using those drugs.

Though the precise mechanics weren’t entirely clear in the myriad of studies, it was found that CBD, if taken in acute doses, was able to help mitigate issues arising from anxiety. It worked as well as or better than regular anti-anxiety medication, making it a useful option to consider for those that struggle with chronic anxiety.

How about stress? One study that is frequently cited is by Campos et al., involving an astronomical number of different researchers from the Institute for the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. In the study, they exampled the effect that CBD had on chronically stressed mice.

By dosing different groups of mice with varying doses of CBD, they also came to the conclusion that a high dose of CBD allowed mice that were frequently undergoing stress, both physical and mental, to relax and showed a significant reduction in both heart rate and general stress reactions.

This study also discovered some of the ways in which CBD helps; by endocannabinoid-mediated signaling, the hippocampus of the mice was stimulated into both relaxing and calming the mice. This is one of the first studies that actually looked into the mechanisms behind CBD effectiveness on stress and anxiety, so it makes sense why it is so frequently cited.

These are easily the two most well known and well-cited studies conducted into CBD and stress and anxiety, but what about more recent studies? Has there been any effort in recent years to explore the effectiveness of CBD on this difficult to treat mental issues?

Are There Any Recent Studies?

One study conducted as recently as 2018 was a composite piece into the use of CBD in treating patients who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly known as PTSD. This study, published the Journal for Frontiers in Neuroscience by Rafael M. Bitencourt and Reinaldo N. Takahashi, details every step of the process, from the initial stages of the research, all the way to the confirmation in human trials.

The study found that CBD helped in emotional memory processing, allowing for regulated, medicinal dosages of CBD to be an effective treatment for PTSD. Additionally, the study highlighted the fact that conventional medication that is used to treat PTSD is continuously limited, which makes incorporating CBD into the list of approved pharmacological treatments for PTSD a high priority.

The study also focused around the recent efforts that have been conducted into the use of CBD to alter significant aspects of aversive memories in humans, essentially helping to rewire people’s brains after they had suffered a traumatic incident and allow them to process the condition.

This is fundamentally linked to CBD’s ability to help treat stress and anxiety, as these issues often share the same cause, as well as similar symptoms. By being able to not only help a PTSD patient process the traumatic experience that initially caused them to suffer, but it is also able to help calm their nerves and mental state, acting as a regular anxiolytic medication and provide them with some kind of normalcy.

However, recent studies aren’t entirely positive on the matter of CBD and stress and anxiety. One study published the Journal of Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience by Kasten et al. explores the adverse reactions of acute cannabinoid use on both humans and mice, as well as their anxiety-like ramifications.

The study concluded that, in large doses and with a high frequency, consistent cannabinoid intake caused a considerable quantity of symptoms that were remarkably similar to anxiety.

A big problem with this study is that it did not differentiate between THC and CBD, essentially saying that both cannabinoids were precisely the same. As multiple studies have shown, it is CBD that is able to act as both an anxiolytic and an anti-paranoia antidote to the effects of high THC content, so it is likely that Kasten et al.’s results were somewhat skewed by their lack of recognition of the usefulness of CBD.

Finally, one more study was recently completed as recently as January 2019, published in The Permanente Journal by Shannon et al. In the study, they looked at the effects CBD had on anxiety and sleep, using a series of different case studies.

The study monitored 72 adults who reported anxiety or poor sleep, dosing them regularly with CBD. The results demonstrated that in almost 80% of patients, general anxiety scores decreased within the first months, and they remained decreased for the entirety of the study.

Additionally, sleep scores also improved within the first month for two-thirds of the patients, but then continued to fluctuate throughout the study.

This is incredibly useful to consider, as it not only shows that CBD helps those with anxiety but the anxiety scores of the patients who did not even report any anxiety to begin with noticed a reduction in their anxiety. This means that CBD not only helps suppress anxiety in those that suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but also in the general population – often times, you are more anxious or stressed than you realize, so it is fantastic to know that CBD can help makes thing better, even if only a little bit.

So, What is the Scientific Consensus on CBD for Stress and Anxiety?

Generally speaking, the scientific consensus on any one drug is always going to be split into different camps. A big part of the scientific method is about ensuring that each and every single conclusion reached as a result of studies and research is constantly challenged and questioned; it is far better to question a truth endlessly than to incorrectly accept a single scientific falsehood.

While this does pose some irritation when trying to defend evolution, when it comes to CBD this is entirely a good thing. In the face of constant criticism of CBD usage from those that fear any product that results from the cannabis plant, it is important to demonstrate complete transparency and acceptance of facts and the scientific method.

However, that being said, the overwhelming majority of studies that have been conducted into CBD’s use in treating both stress and anxiety have been extraordinarily positive.

Studies have repeatedly shown that CBD is effective at helping reduce levels of stress, as well as helping suppress anxious thoughts, thereby helping treat those that suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Thanks to recent studies, however, we now know that CBD could be useful in helping treat regular people who do not even think they have anxiety.

The critical problem with talking about stress and anxiety is that we all know that everyone struggles with them at some point in their lives, but they frequently don’t classify it as actual anxiety or issues with stress until something astronomically bad happens. It usually takes either a suicide attempt or a genuine mental breakdown to get your everyday stress or anxiety classified as an actual medical condition.

This would imply that the best way to help treat stress and anxiety is to make it so fewer people ever reach that point of complete breakdown. One of the ways to achieve that is to mitigate as much everyday stress as possible, and just generally help people relax and not feel stressed.

Thanks to recent studies, we now know that CBD could be useful in this regard, helping those that don’t consider themselves as stressed or anxious people actually be able to process their feelings and just generally not feel as anxious.

The situation with people that struggle with stress and anxiety on a clinical level is still the same – CBD is still useful in helping treat you, as long as it is taken in a high dose.

But thanks to recent studies, which we know about by being remaining skeptical and willing to look into new data, we now know that even more people could be using CBD to help themselves deal with their problems.

It turns out that it pays to be scientifically curious!

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