Research Studies on Anxiety and CBD

Research Studies on Anxiety and CBD

CBD is used for a wide variety of reasons, but one of the most common reasons that individuals report using CBD products is for stress and anxiety. 

But you may be wondering: exactly how does CBD work for anxiety, and how do those benefits manifest themselves? Is there scientific proof that CBD can actually reduce stress?

Here at Proleve, we’ve got the answers you’re looking for. Read on for an in-depth overview of research studies on anxiety and CBD. 

How Does CBD Work for Anxiety?

CBD produces all of its benefits--including its benefits for anxiety--by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a network of receptors and neurotransmitters that spreads throughout the body and brain, and it’s responsible for regulating our most important bodily functions, including: 

  • Stress
  • Sleep
  • Cognition
  • Mood
  • Inflammation
  • Pain

And much more. 

CBD works within the ECS by binding with two types of receptors:

  • CB1 receptors, which are located in the brain’s central nervous system, and impact mood, anxiety, stress, sleep, cognition, neurological health, and more.
  • CB2 receptors, which are located on immune system cells in the internal organs, tissues, muscles, skin, and elsewhere in the body.

CBD’s benefits for anxiety come from its interaction with CB1 receptors in the brain, which are involved in nearly every aspect of our mental health. By binding with these receptors in the brain, CBD helps regulate the production of certain neurotransmitters, while soothing regions of the brain where overactivity can lead to anxiety.

But don’t just take our word for it. Read on to learn more about what researchers and scientists have discovered while investigating CBD’s benefits for anxiety.

CBD and Anxiety: What the Science Says

Scientific studies have revealed that CBD works to reduce anxiety in a variety of different ways, including:  

Anandamide: Balancing the ECS

Within the ECS, CBD is thought to increase levels of anandamide. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter associated with reduced stress and improved mood, and higher levels of anandamide. The brain produces anandamide naturally, but our bodies also produce an enzyme--known as FAAH--that can destroy anandamide before our bodies can utilize it.

Researchers suggest that CBD inhibits FAAH to prevent this from happening, boosting anandamide levels. And as research has shown, increased anandamide translates to reduced anxiety.

Increasing GABA

CBD may also reduce anxiety by increasing GABA levels in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps to reduce over-excitability in certain regions of the brain--areas where overactivity can otherwise lead to undue anxiety and stress. Although the body produces GABA on its own, our natural supply can sometimes become depleted due to natural physiological processes. 

Luckily, researchers suggest that CBD can inhibit these processes to increase GABA levels, while enhancing GABA’s interaction with GABA receptors. In doing so, it allows GABA to work more effectively to reduce anxiety and stress. 

Boosting Serotonin

CBD is also believed to influence serotonin levels. Serotonin is a naturally-occurring neurotransmitter known for its positive impact on mood, and for its ability to manage anxiety levels. 

Studies have shown that CBD could reduce anxiety by interacting with a type of serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A. CBD interacts with these receptors to enhance serotonin signaling, and may allow the brain to utilize this neurotransmitter more effectively--and allowing us to feel its benefits for mood and anxiety as a result. 

CBD may also increase serotonin by helping the body produce more anandamide, since increased anandamide has been suggested to correlate to higher serotonin levels.

Research Studies on CBD and Anxiety

As we’ve shown, CBD is thought to reduce anxiety by regulating certain neurotransmitters and  activities in the brain that are intimately involved in the way we experience stress. But how does that brain activity manifest itself for a person actually experiencing anxiety, or experiencing anxiety reduction with the help of CBD? Below, we’ve summarized some key studies reflecting how CBD’s benefits for anxiety manifest themselves in human patients.

CBD and Social Anxiety 

In a 2011 study on CBD and social anxiety, researchers found that CBD reduced stress levels in individuals struggling with social anxiety. CBD was shown to decrease overall anxiety levels in stressful social situations such as public speaking, and found that in these situations, those who received CBD suffered less from discomfort, poor performance, and other issues typically caused by SAD. 

CBD and Generalized  Anxiety Disorder

In a 2019 study entitled "Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series," researchers found that CBD also appeared to help individuals with generalized anxiety disorder. In the study, patients diagnosed with GAD were administered CBD on a daily basis over the course of three months. Over the course of this timeframe, scientists regularly assessed anxiety levels and sleep quality.

Within the first month, researchers observed major reductions in anxiety levels in nearly 80% of participants. This reduction in anxiety remained steady and consistent throughout the duration of the study, while an improvement in sleep was also observed.

CBD & PTSD-Related Anxiety

Other studies have demonstrated CBD’s ability to reduce anxiety levels in people diagnosed with PTSD. In a 2020 case study, researchers found that CBD offered relief from anxiety, while also reducing anxiety-related PTSD symptoms such as nightmares. 

During the study, 11 patients with PTSD were administered CBD on a daily basis alongside their regular psychiatric care routine. In 91% of patients, CBD was shown to significantly reduce anxiety, as well as stress-related sleep disturbances. Moreover, none of the patients exhibited significant side effects.

CBD and Brain Imaging: Anxiety & Emotional Processing

Researchers have also examined CBD’s impact on anxiety at an in-depth level through neuroimaging, or, brain scans detecting activity related to anxiety. In a 2009 neuroimaging study, researchers examined the ways in which CBD changed brain activation during emotional processing. Using MRIs, researchers found that CBD significantly reduced activation in areas  of the brain where this activity can cause anxiety during emotional processing tasks--or, emotional responses. 

CBD and Stress: How Proleve CBD Can Help

If you’re looking to reduce stress with CBD, Proleve has products that can help. Our CBD oils are long-lasting, and they’re a great option for stress relief around-the-clock. This type of long-lasting CBD product can help reduce overall anxiety, while allowing CBD to balance the mind to prevent stress levels from escalating in the first place.

If you’re looking to take your anti-stress routine up a notch, consider adding our CBD gummies to your existing routine. CBD gummies are great-tasting and easy to use on-the-go, making them  a perfect option for as-needed stress relief when traveling, at work, or in other stressful scenarios.