Breaking CBD news came when this promising pilot study was carried out by Australia’s Orygen charity, conducted on 31 young people aged 12 to 25 years, all of whom had a diagnosed anxiety disorder and failed to show significant improvement after attending at least 5 sessions of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). The participants of the Orygen pilot study were considered to have “treatment-resistant, long-standing severe to very severe anxiety.”
Participants took CBD capsules daily for 12 weeks, and their progress was measured in two ways: by self-reported scales and by a clinician-rated scale, which involved both the clinicians and participants filling out questionnaires to assess symptoms such as panic attacks, situational anxieties, worrying, and flashbacks.
The pilot study saw an average 42.6% reduction in these symptoms at the end of the 12-week period.
What dose of CBD was used to treat anxiety?
The pilot study used a progressive method for determining each participant’s dosage.
The young people started on a dose of 200mg per day, which was then increased to 400mg after one week. Those who did not show a significant improvement in their anxiety symptoms had their dosage increased by 200mg increments, up to a maximum dose of 800mg per day. So essentially, by the end of the 12 weeks, all participants were taking between 400mg and 800mg of CBD per day.
All participants were offered five sessions of CBT, which took place over the 12 week span.
Were there any side effects for anxiety patients taking CBD?
Perhaps the most exciting finding comes from the comparison between CBD and existing treatments for anxiety.
These severe anxiety disorders are often treated with antidepressant medications like SSRIs, which have numerous side effects (including sexual dysfunction, which can affect up to 73% of those taking SSRIs) and only work for about half of patients who attempt to use them.
The CBD, on the other hand, caused no adverse neurological or psychiatric effects in the study—in fact, no significant side effects were reported among the 31 participants. The most common side effects reported were mild sedation and mild fatigue, but the researchers note that these only occurred while doses were increased, and the effects subsided within days as the participants adjusted to their new dosage.
Side effects which are not uncommon for patients taking SSRIs—including suicidal thoughts, irritability, and sleep problems—were not found in the CBD study, which marks the compound as a promising potential treatment with fewer side effects than our current range of treatment options.
What makes CBD a promising treatment for anxiety disorders?
Cannabidiol is non-intoxicating—meaning that it doesn’t cause alterations in thinking or perception, it can’t get you “high,” and it’s not addictive. In fact, CBD has been used in other research trials to treat addictive behaviours, and has been found to reduce some of the adverse and intoxicating effects of THC—the component of cannabis which is responsible for its mind-altering properties.
So, given its excellent safety profile and its short list of mild side effects, paired with the fact that there have been no historical reports of overdose, CBD presents a unique and much less risky option for those with treatment-resistant anxiety.
Still, this was an open-label pilot study, which the researchers note is “limited by its design.” The results are encouraging, but at this time, researchers cannot rule out whether the effects achieved were caused by a placebo effect until more research is conducted.
The next step in investigating this potential treatment is a randomised controlled trial, which is considered the gold standard in testing a potential treatment. The study’s researchers say that the trial will need to be carried out with a much larger group of participants—around 200 to 250 young people—to determine whether they can say with any certainty that this is (or is not) a viable treatment option.
Can CBD help with anxiety?
CBD is fully legal in the UK and can be found in many in-person and online shops.
The conclusions from this study may lead you to believe that you can treat your anxiety at home with a regimen of CBD capsules. And while these may work for you, it’s important to note that this study has not stated with any certainty that CBD is an effective treatment for anxiety—only that it shows promise.
So, if you’re looking for an at-home remedy for your chronic anxiety, you can of course try a daily dose of CBD to see if it helps, but you should check with a healthcare professional—such as your GP or pharmacist—to ensure that CBD is safe for you, particularly if you’re currently taking any prescription medications or if you have any existing medical conditions.
If your anxiety symptoms are severe and you’re grappling with suicidal thoughts or impulsive behaviours, you should first seek help from a professional before attempting any at-home treatments to ensure that you and those around you are safe. A healthcare professional can help you decide the best course of treatment, which may or may not include supplementing with CBD. When in doubt, always ask.
We’ve seen a number of studies and trials of late testing CBD’s effectiveness in treating various anxiety disorders, including Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The results of the research are promising thus far, but we have yet to hear a clear answer as to whether or not CBD is truly a viable option for the clinical treatment of anxiety.
This is partly because CBD dosage is difficult to navigate, given the fact that everyone processes, metabolises, and reacts to CBD differently. Many researchers state that until a universal dosage is established for each condition it’s being used to treat, it will be difficult to employ CBD in clinical settings.
As such, you should take these studies and interpret them as possibilities rather than fact. And, as always, please consult a healthcare professional before starting a regimen of CBD, especially if you’re taking prescription medications or have any existing health conditions.