Cannabidiol (CBD) has become a highly popular health supplement over the past decade. If you do some research, you will see it can help people in a variety of ways, such as reducing pain or inflammation to more serious issues like relief from the side effects of cancer.
You can certainly find claims that CBD can help reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your mood and overall mental health, but supplements often have claims that outstrip the reality, so you might already be writing off the potential of CBD as a scam. When it comes to claims about CBD and mental health, the truth is that the reality may lie somewhere in the middle.
Let’s start with general mental health issues of stress and anxiety since it affects an estimated 16 million adults in the U.S. according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Part of the problem with claims about how CBD affects anxiety in humans is that it comes from early but incomplete research.
For example, here is an important quote from the National Institute on Drug Abuse on the preclinical and clinical evidence that CBD helps with anxiety: “CBD has shown therapeutic efficacy in a range of animal models of anxiety and stress, reducing both behavioral and physiological (e.g. heart rate) measures of stress and anxiety.”
Some of the studies performed on humans tested CBD with people who have situation-dependent anxiety, such as social anxiety disorder or anxiety from speaking in public. One study performed in Brazil used a group of 57 men split into two groups, one with a mix of CBD doses and another receiving a placebo. The men were given the dose ahead of making a public speech.
The results noted that a 300 mg dose “significantly reduced anxiety during the speech”, but also noted that doses of 150 mg or 600 mg showed no difference with those who had the placebo. This is one of the other issues based on any claims for whether or not CBD can help with anxiety. The early research shows that it potentially does, but it’s not clear exactly how or exactly how much of a dose works best. It also does not touch on the best way to take CBD for mental health. You can use it in its most basic forms, such as CBD pre rolls or oil drops, or things like edibles and vape oil.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Other studies have looked at more severe mental health issues, such as PTSD and anxiety-induced insomnia. There has been a wide variety of studies into the general potential of CBD as a treatment for people with PTSD. There are also some studies that are looking into the specific effects that CBD can have. For example, one study looked into the potential of CBD as a treatment for children with PTSD and insomnia, to help them fall asleep and avoid night terrors.
As the quote from the NIH above notes, all of the existing clinical evidence is from preclinical, smaller-scale trials or animal studies. They also say that rigorous studies are still needed to confirm the clinical viability of CBD for people with anxiety. While the early signs are promising, it has yet to be confirmed by full-scale scientific study.