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New Study Suggests CBD Could Help Treat Anxiety and Substance Abuse Disorders

A new study from researchers at the University of Nottingham has found evidence that CBD has therapeutic potential for the treatment of anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders.

A growing body of evidence indicates that cannabidiol (CBD) possesses therapeutic potential for treating anxiety and substance abuse disorders, according to a new research review. A team of researchers from the University of Nottingham, led by behavioral neurologist Dr. Carl Stevenson, examined the available studies that have investigated CBD’s effects on fear and drug memory processes.

Persistent emotional recurrences and inadequate treatments can lead to anxiety and drug use relapses, Stevenson and his team explain. But they discovered evidence that CBD, the main non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the seeds, stalk and flowers of marijuana and hemp, effectively reduces the expression of fear and drug memories. The findings suggest that CBD could disrupt fear recollection and help those with phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as reduce the risk of relapse in those overcoming substance abuse disorders.

“Converging lines of evidence have established that acute CBD treatment is anxiolytic in both animals and humans,” Stevenson’s study concludes. “A growing number of preclinical studies also indicate that this drug reduces fear memory expression when given acutely. Importantly, CBD produces an enduring reduction in learned fear expression when given in conjunction with fear memory reconsolidation or extinction by disrupting the former and facilitating the latter. This makes CBD a potential candidate for testing as a pharmacological adjunct to psychological therapies or behavioural interventions used in treating PTSD and phobias.”

Studies indicate that CBD’s anti-anxiety and fear-reducing effects are related to its interaction with 5-HT1A receptors, however Stevenson explained that more studies are needed to truly determine the psychological and pharmacological mechanisms of CBD that are beneficial for emotional memory processes.

“Understanding how cannabidiol regulates emotion and emotional memory processing may eventually lead to its use as a treatment for anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders. The published literature makes CBD a potential candidate for testing as a pharmacological support to psychological therapies or behavioural interventions used in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias,” said Stevenson.

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Just last month, researchers from the University of Birmingham found CBD to be potentially beneficial for PTSD and anxiety disorders. In their animal study, 10mg injections of CBD effectively reduced freezing behavior in fear-conditioned rats. CBD was found to both acutely inhibit fear expression and produce longer lasting reductions in fear.

The FDA has not approved CBD, but the non-psychoactive compound is still available to purchase and consume. CBD derived from marijuana is federally regulated and available to qualified patients in the 28 states that have passed comprehensive medical marijuana laws. CBD derived from imported hemp is excluded from federal law and legal to buy and use in all 50 U.S. states.

“Cannabis is best known for the ‘high’ caused by the chemical Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) but it contains many other chemicals with potential medicinal properties, including cannabidiol. This chemical isn’t linked to the cannabis ‘high’ and it is safe for people to use so it might be helpful for alleviating certain symptoms of these disorders without having the unwanted side effects of cannabis,” said Stevenson.

You can read Stevenson’s entire study, “Cannabidiol regulation of emotion and emotional memory processing: relevance for treating anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders,” at Wiley Online Library.

Learn more about CBD and discover more about what previous studies have discovered regarding its effects on anxiety and substance abuse disorders by visiting our education page.

Post by Eve Ripley

Eve is a writer specializing in cannabis education and editorials related to cannabis industry news.

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