An intriguing study from the United States has found that low dose CBD decreased anxiety in mental health patients with an anxiety diagnosis. It seemed to help sleep as well, but less so.
Much existing cannabis research has been in Israel and Europe. Restrictive Federal laws in the U.S. have prevented widespread study of the potential uses of cannabinoids. Some clinician/researchers at a holistic mental health clinic in Colorado recently published a retrospective case study of patients with anxiety and sleep disturbance who had been prescribed CBD as part of their treatment. The setting is a little unusual. The authors described it this way:
Wholeness Center is a large mental health clinic in Fort Collins, CO, that focuses on integrative medicine and psychiatry. Practitioners from a range of disciplines (psychiatry, naturopathy, acupuncture, neurofeedback, yoga, etc) work together in a collaborative and cross-disciplinary environment. CBD had been widely incorporated into clinical care at Wholeness Center a few years before this study, on the basis of existing research and patient experience.
While the setting is unusual, there aren’t too many places where you could study the use of CBD in multiple patients. The authors reviewed the cases of 103 patients who had been administered CBD over the previous year. 82 of the patients had a documented anxiety or sleep disorder.
According to the authors:
These results demonstrated a more sustained response to anxiety than for sleep over time. Patient records displayed a larger decrease in anxiety scores than in sleep scores. The sleep scores demonstrated mild improvement. The anxiety scores decreased within the first month and then remained decreased during the study duration.
Doses in the study were relatively low, ranging from 25mg per day to 175mg per day of CBD taken orally. Sleep quality was measured using the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index and anxiety was measured using the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale. Some patients reported drowsiness during the first 2 weeks of treatment and this side-effect diminished over time.
The authors caution appropriately that these results might be due to placebo. Future studies will need to compare low dose CBD to placebos in double-blinded studies. This study is an interesting first step that confirms many of the anecdotal reports of CBD’s effectiveness for anxiety.
Reference: Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: A large case series. Perm J 2019;23:18-041. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/18-041