Is CBD oil just the latest craze or can it really help us live happier, less stressful lives? Anecdotal evidence certainly suggests the cannabinoid promotes a sense of calm. CBD is also safe to take with few side effects and may provide a natural option for those looking to support everyday mental wellness.
Research Supporting CBD’s Mental Health Benefits
Anxiety affects about 20% of the population and is the most common mental health disorder in the United States. It’s no wonder that people may be seeking natural alternatives to cope with anxiety: A 2019 Gallup Poll found that 14% of Americans use CBD and in another poll, nearly 40% of CBD users say they use it for anxiety and claim it is very effective.
Promising research explores CBD’s proposed mental health benefits, including:
- Retrospective Case Series on Anxiety and Sleep (2019) - A large retrospective case series published in Permanente Journal involved using CBD for anxiety and sleep complaints as an adjunct to usual treatment. Nearly all 103 patients received 25mg/d of CBD in capsule form. If anxiety was the main complaint, the patient was dosed in the morning after breakfast and if sleep was the main problem, dosing was every evening after dinner. Anxiety and sleep quality was documented monthly.
- In the final sample of 72 adults, anxiety scores decreased in the first month in 57 patients (79.2%) and remained this way for the duration of the study. Sleep scores also improved in the first month in 48 patients (66.7%) but went up and down over time.
- Systemic Review on CBD and Mental Health Conditions (2020) - According to a systemic review published in the Journal of Cannabis Research including case reports, open-label trials, case series, non-randomized and randomized, researchers found there was moderate evidence to support the use of CBD to alleviate social anxiety disorder, schizophrenia and other disorders. There was less evidence that it could help with conditions like anxiety, insomnia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and Tourette syndrome.
- Plant-Derived Isolates for Psychiatric Disorders (2019) - Another systematic review assessed the data from all case studies and clinical trials involving medicinal marijuana or plant-derived isolates for major psychiatric disorders. Researchers concluded that as evidence is just starting to emerge, it is currently premature to recommend cannabinoid-based interventions for psychiatric disorders.
- The review did find some support for CBD’s ability to reduce social anxiety with mixed but mainly positive evidence for its use in schizophrenia. Case studies did suggest that medical cannabis may be beneficial for improving sleep and post-traumatic stress disorder. The preliminary findings of the research did not show any benefit of CBD in mania or THC therapeutics for depression.
- What these reviews suggest is that further large-scale research must be done to establish the efficacy of using CBD oil for mental health conditions.