Using CBD for anxiety, depression, and other mental conditions is now common enough that you can be pretty sure your friends and co-workers won’t look askance at you when you pull out your tincture. Your doctor, however, may or may not be entirely convinced.
The most recent study on CBD as a treatment for anxiety (published in Innovare Journal of Medical Science) may not be enough to convince a truly skeptical doctor, but it does clarify what we already know. In fact, while the article focuses on research from the last couple of years, the authors actually begin with a historical statement:
“Cannabis has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years in Asia. Numerous physical, psychological, and emotional benefits have been attributed to cannabis since its first reported use in 2,600 BC in a Chinese pharmacopeia.”
The long history of cannabis-based medicine is uncontroversial, but not so its current use for mental health conditions. Despite a long list of individual studies in recent years, mainstream science is still a long way from a consensus on CBD’s value as a treatment for mental health disorders.
That’s fair enough. The science community is notoriously slow at jumping on a bandwagon, and scientific consensus is built on many studies – and especially multiple large-scale (placebo-controlled, double-blind) clinical trials.
Those larger studies are beginning to happen, but until they’ve been completed and peer-reviewed, there are lots of lingering questions about how effective CBD can be to treat mental illness.
The current study in question isn’t one of those large-scale, placebo-controlled trials. It’s a meta-analysis, in which the authors look back over the many studies that have already taken place (all kinds of studies) and evaluate the data in relation to CBD for anxiety, depression, panic attack, and dementia.
Of the 76 papers reviewed for this meta-analysis, stress and anxiety showed the biggest impact from CBD therapy, with depression also showing improvement.
It’s worth noting, before digging into the research results, that the company that funded the research, Nutritional Supplements, both manufacturers and delivers nutritional supplements – including those with CBD. This is a clear potential conflict of interest, but its publication in a peer-reviewed journal signals a level of transparency and accountability for the results.
The methodology of the researchers was to search for all studies conducted worldwide on the impact of CBD on a whole slew of conditions, including depression, sleep, panic attacks, dementia, inflammation, metabolism, behavior, Parkinson’s disease, and psychiatric illnesses.
That’s a long list, and since they included both animal and human studies, 76 articles fit the criteria. Of these, several studies in humans showed promising results with the use of CBD as a therapeutic treatment. And among the most successful was CBD as a treatment for anxiety and stress. According to Dr. Marcelo Ferro, lead author and biochemist with Nutrition Formulators, Inc.:
“After spending 10 months reviewing the research, I was surprised at how many people with anxiety and depression could be helped by incorporating CBD into their lives, but I was also aware how important it is to do more research, especially on the impact of CBD on liver function.”
As Ferro notes, depression is another area of mental illness that showed improvement from a CBD treatment according to the review. Researchers found that clinicians using CBD as an alternative therapy for depression saw a 66.6% improvement in patients’ symptoms.
According to Adolfo Graubard, Nutrition Formulators, Inc. Chief Executive Officer, “This is just a stepping-stone to understanding more about the amazing CBD compound, how it may be helpful to so many, but also what additional information we need to know so that people can use it as safely as possible.”
CBD’s impact on the liver remains a question for CBD researchers. And other burning questions raised by the study have to do with dosage. The studies that were included in this meta-analysis used doses of CBD that ranged from 50mg to 600mg (daily). So clearly, we have a long way to go before we know what an optimal dose looks like for people struggling with mental health.