Over the last few years, cannabis has (slowly) started going through a transformation as it becomes destigmatized and increasingly legalized around the country. There’s more information, research, and interest in it than ever before, and one of the buzziest aspects of the booming cannabis industry is a compound it contains called cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD. The phytocannabinoid, which was discovered in 1940, can be found in many plants but is most commonly extracted these days from cannabis and hemp.
We’re still in the early stages of understanding the full potential, side effects, and benefits of CBD. Or, as J. H. Atkinson, MD, of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego, told us earlier this year: “There is very little data from rigorous scientific research on the therapeutic effects of CBD.” That said, Dr. Atkinson did go on to say that some of the early research does show that CBD could be beneficial in treating anxiety.
Still, finding out what’s real and what’s false about CBD oil and anxiety can be difficult. To clear up some of the confusion, I spoke to Brooke Alpert, RD, a holistic cannabis practitioner, and Cayla Rosenblum, a healthcare informatics specialist at PotBotics, on the topic to see what experts know (and don’t) about the cannabidiol and mental health.
The first thing they both tell me is that should you have anxiety, you should always speak to a qualified medical and mental health professional before incorporating new supplements or products into your routine. There aren’t any known downsides to taking CBD if you have anxiety, at this point, but “the dangers of CBD as a treatment plan comes from patients who take this treatment plan upon themselves” Rosenblum says. So proper oversight is a must.
Beyond that, “since the oversight of CBD products is not as strict as many other pharmaceuticals on the market, it is imperative that patients are well informed about the product they are using and the exact cannabinoids within the products” Rosenblum says adding that things may become more clear and regulated now that CBD products have been legalized.
1. WE’RE IN THE VERY EARLY STAGES OF RESEARCH
Because of the red tape surrounding cannabis, the research currently available on all aspects and compounds is somewhat limited. Most of the clinical trials and studies that have been executed so far have been done on mice and rats or small sample sizes of human subjects.
To prove “a relationship between CBD use and positive benefits on anxiety treatment, the medical community still needs more large scale randomized clinical trials using CBD. However, with new legislation legalizing hemp and CBD products, it is to be expected that these much-needed, large-scale trials will be conducted soon, providing even more clinically based evidence” Rosenblum says.