Have a public speaking engagement you’re a bit stressed about, or about to board a plane despite your claustrophobia, recent viewing of Final Destination, and crippling aversion to paying $20 for bad WiFi? Pop some CBD—you’ll be in the same situation, but you’ll feel better, a researcher contends.
Earlier this year, a researcher based in the UK found a lack of evidence for earlier contentions that cannabis use by itself may create anxiety disorders. Now, a second researcher believes there’s ample evidence to support the idea that cannabidiol—or CBD, the magic cure-all compound in marijuana—may help solve anxiety.
Carl Stevenson is a neuroscientist and researcher at the University of Nottingham. Stevenson is the co-author of a new review of existing marijuana-related research. When all the resulting data from studies conducted on humans is compiled, there’s evidence to suggest CBD reduces fear by changing brain activity, as Live Science reported.
And once fear dissipates, anxiety does as well.
“Anxiety” is a broad term that includes trauma-induced bouts of panic stemming from PTSD as well as “phobias” of public speaking, water or other fears that by themselves may appear irrational.
In a 1993 review published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, test subjects who were administered cannabidiol had less anxiety “when subjected to a social phobia,” Live Science reported. Another study published in 2011 found that cannabidiol also cut down anxiety in people fearful of public speaking.
Though known in cannabis circles for years as the non-psychoactive cannabinoid with significant medical benefits, CBD has catapulted to mainstream fame over the past four years since its star turn in a 2013 CNN documentary. Since then, U.S. states that still outlaw cannabis have passed laws allowing for access to low-THC, high-CBD oils and tinctures.
CBD is also enjoying growing acceptance among medical professionals and policymakers as a palliative for disorders including anxiety and PTSD. Though the VA still clings to the notion that marijuana may make PTSD worse, it also admits that several studies using oral CBD reduced clinical anxiety in research participants.
One problem is that most CBD-related research has been performed not on people, but on rodents like rats and mice. (The landmark study supporting anecdotes claiming that cannabis may also fight cancer was also performed on rats.)
The two studies that Stevenson’s review cites are two of the very few clinical studies performed on humans. Though the brains of rats and humans do have similarities—some of us more than others—more human-based research, such as studies into cannabis and PTSD underway in the United States, are necessary to draw an ironclad conclusion.
But there’s nothing stopping you from popping a CBD capsule or taking a drop of tincture before your next stressful situation—aside from draconian marijuana laws.