To review and describe studies of the non-psychotomimetic constituent of Cannabis sativa, cannabidiol (CBD), as an anxiolytic drug and discuss its possible mechanisms of action.
The articles selected for the review were identified through searches in English, Portuguese, and Spanish in the electronic databases ISI Web of Knowledge, SciELO, PubMed, and PsycINFO, combining the search terms “cannabidiol and anxiolytic”, “cannabidiol and anxiolytic-like”, and “cannabidiol and anxiety”. The reference lists of the publications included, review articles, and book chapters were handsearched for additional references. Experimental animal and human studies were included, with no time restraints.
Studies using animal models of anxiety and involving healthy volunteers clearly suggest an anxiolytic-like effect of CBD. Moreover, CBD was shown to reduce anxiety in patients with social anxiety disorder.
Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is one of the most common anxiety conditions with impairment in social life. Cannabidiol (CBD), one major non-psychotomimetic compound of the cannabis sativa plant, has shown anxiolytic effects both in humans and in animals. This preliminary study aimed to compare the effects of a simulation public speaking test (SPST) on healthy control (HC) patients and treatment-naïve SAD patients who received a single dose of CBD or placebo. A total of 24 never-treated patients with SAD were allocated to receive either CBD (600 mg; n=12) or placebo (placebo; n=12) in a double-blind randomized design 1 h and a half before the test. The same number of HC (n=12) performed the SPST without receiving any medication. Each volunteer participated in only one experimental session in a double-blind procedure. Subjective ratings on the Visual Analogue Mood Scale (VAMS) and Negative Self-Statement scale (SSPS-N) and physiological measures (blood pressure, heart rate, and skin conductance) were measured at six different time points during the SPST.