The relationship between cannabis and anxiety is an interesting one. Large concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is often tied to bouts of paranoia and anxiety, but it’s been well-documented that cannabidiol (CBD) can counteract this affect.
With that said, a group of Brazilian researchers published an article in the 2011 Journal of Psychopharmacology that further investigates the relationship between cannabidiol (CBD) and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). Their results suggest that CBD could offer a way for people suffering from SAD to help manage their symptoms.
Affecting 12% of Americans in their lifetime, Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is the most common form of anxiety and one of the most psychiatric disorders in general. It is also referred to as social phobia.
By definition, Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by intense fear in one or more social situations. In turn, this fear can cause distress to the point that it impairs daily functioning.
Interestingly enough, people who suffer from SAD experience anxiety that can be triggered by “perceived or actual scrutiny” from others. For some this only happens in specific situations, but others may have to deal with this anxiety constantly.
In order to test the relationship between cannabidiol (CBD) and anxiety, the Brazilian research team recruited 10 people with a diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). They then used functional neuroimaging to gauge the amount of bloodflow in various parts of the brain, noting the effects of CBD.
In the first session, half received an oral dose of 400 mg of cannabidiol (CBD) and the other half were treated with placebos. These roles were reversed in the second session so that all 10 particpants were treated with CBD at some point.
“These results suggest that CBD reduces anxiety in SAD and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas.” - Dr. J.A. Crippa
According to the results of the study, cannabidiol (CBD) was associated with a significant decrease in subjective anxiety. Cerebral bloodflow after CBD treatment also seems to point to an anxiolitic (anti-anxiety) effect in the areas of the brain that control emotions.
Expanding on what this could all mean is Dr. J. A. Crippa, who led the Brazilian research team. “These results suggest that CBD reduces anxiety in SAD and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas,” Crippa explains.
While the results of this study are promising, it should be noted that the sample size (10 participants) is far too small. More research will be needed in the future to determine the ideal dosages of CBD to reliably treat Social Anxiety Disorder in humans.