Does cannabidiol reduce the severity of anxiety or symptoms of anxiety? New placebo-controlled study says no

A study focused on individuals with extreme anxiety showed that a 300 mg dose of cannabidiol (CBD) did not reduce the severity of their anxiety – the cognitive symptoms of anxiety. This result was consistent with placebo treatment, both after a single dose and after a two-week administration period. The study was published in Psychopharmacology,

Symptoms of anxiety can be classified into emotional, cognitive, physical, and behavioral manifestations. Emotionally, people with anxiety may experience feelings of restlessness, apprehension, or fear. At the cognitive level, persistent worry, racing thoughts, and difficulty concentrating are common symptoms. Physical symptoms include restlessness, muscle tension, fatigue, and disturbances in sleep patterns. Behaviorally, anxiety can lead to avoiding certain situations, nervous habits, or seeking reassurance from others.

Standard treatments for anxiety include psychotherapy and medications. However, psychotherapy is expensive and not always easy to obtain, while existing medications have negative side effects such as sedation and weight gain. That’s why researchers are looking for new convenient treatments for anxiety symptoms that are accessible as well as free from negative side effects.

A promising candidate substance in this regard is cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is a chemical compound obtained from the Cannabis Sativa plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), its counterpart, cannabidiol does not produce a psychoactive “high.” This has led to increased research interest in its potential therapeutic properties, including its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anxiolytic effects.

Study author L. Riley Gourney and colleagues aimed to investigate the effects of cannabidiol on anxiety symptoms in individuals with a high tendency to worry. They compared the effects of a 300 mg oral dose of cannabidiol, a 50 mg dose of the same substance, and a placebo treatment, immediately after the first dose and two weeks after daily administration. They hypothesized that cannabidiol would reduce anxiety symptoms immediately after the first dose and that after two weeks, participants taking cannabidiol would report lower anxiety levels than those receiving a placebo.

The study included 63 participants with a high tendency for anxiety, as assessed using the Penn State Anxiety Questionnaire. The average age of the participants was 29 years, including 32 women, 30 men, and one person who was gender non-conforming. The researchers specifically selected individuals with a high tendency to worry to avoid a ‘floor effect’, where treatments may not reduce anxiety in people who are not initially anxious.

The participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Each group received either 150 mg of cannabidiol, 25 mg of cannabidiol, or a placebo, given twice daily. This resulted in total daily doses of 300 mg cannabidiol, 50 mg cannabidiol, or a placebo, respectively. To ensure uniformity in the number of capsules taken by each participant, the treatment was administered as six soft gel capsules, each containing 25 mg of cannabidiol or inactive ingredients.

To verify adherence to the treatment protocol, participants recorded time-stamped videos of themselves each time they consumed the capsules. The researchers recommended they eat a high-fat breakfast before taking the capsules to increase absorption. The study was conducted in a double-blind manner, meaning that neither the participants nor the researchers directly involved knew which treatment each participant was receiving.

Before the study, after the first day of the study, and at the end of the study period, participants completed assessments of anxiety severity (a brief measure of anxiety severity) and anxiety symptoms (the Anxiety Scale of Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale). Did. -21, DASS-21). After the study, they also completed a brief standardized interview about possible side effects of the treatment.

The results showed that anxiety levels decreased on average during the study period. However, there was no significant difference between the three treatments. The average reduction in anxiety was similar for the 300 mg and 50 mg cannabidiol doses and placebo. The treatment effects persisted after the first day and throughout the two-week study period.

When examining overall anxiety symptoms, no differences were found between the three treatments after the first day. Nevertheless, a comparison of anxiety symptoms at the end of the study showed that physical symptoms decreased in the cannabidiol groups, but not in the placebo group. This reduction was most pronounced in the group taking 300 mg of cannabidiol per day, and it was statistically significant, making the results generalizable beyond the sample.

“Taken together, these findings suggest that 300 mg of oral cannabidiol does not reduce cognitive symptoms of anxiety (i.e., worry) following both acute and repeated administration. Some evidence was obtained for repeated administration of 300mg on physical symptoms of anxiety. The study authors concluded that these findings fit with accumulating evidence suggesting that cannabidiols anxiolytic effects may be relevant to specific symptom domains.

The study sheds light on the effects of cannabidiol on anxiety symptoms. However, it should be noted that the study groups were very small. Because of this, the effects had to be very significant to detect. If weak effects of treatment were present, they may not be detected.

Paper, Effect of cannabidiol on anxiety and worry among high symptom anxiety patients: a doubleblind, randomized placebo controlled trial, L. Riley Gourney, Morgan L. It was written by Ferretti, Sarah Bilsky, Emily Vance, Anna Marie Nguyen, Eric Mann. Parker Williams, and Ellen W. Leinfeldner.

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