Use of cannabidiol in anxiety and anxiety-related disorders

Jessica W SkelleyCrystal M DeasZachary CurrenJonathan Ennis


Objective: Cannabidiol (CBD) has a proposed novel role in the management of anxiety owing to its actions on the endocannabinoid system. The purpose of this systematic review was to evaluate the current evidence on the safety and efficacy of CBD in anxiety and anxiety-related disorders.

Data sources: A literature search was conducted on PubMed, Google Scholar, and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts from database inception through June 2019. A bibliographic search of relevant articles was also conducted.

Study selection: Articles published from case reports, case series, or randomized controlled trials on human subjects were included in the review if they examined the safety and efficacy of CBD therapy in anxiety and anxiety-related disorders.

Data extraction: Two reviewers independently extracted the following data from the articles: year of publication; study design; patient characteristics (sex; type of anxiety disorder; use of concomitant anxiolytic therapy); dosing strategy and route of CBD administration; and safety and efficacy outcomes.

Results: Eight articles were included in the review: 6 small, randomized controlled trials; 1 case series; and 1 case report. These studies examined the role of CBD in the anxiety response of healthy volunteers; in generalized anxiety disorder; in social anxiety disorder; and in the anxiety component of posttraumatic stress syndrome. No articles that evaluated CBD in panic disorder, specific phobia, separation anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder were identified. In the studies, CBD was administered orally as a capsule or as a sublingual spray and as either monotherapy or adjunctive therapy. Doses varied widely, with studies employing fixed CBD doses ranging from 6 mg to 400 mg per dose. Various anxiety assessment scales were used in the studies to assess efficacy, with CBD demonstrating improved clinical outcomes among the instruments. In general, CBD was well-tolerated and associated with minimal adverse effects, with the most commonly noted adverse effects being fatigue and sedation.

Conclusion: CBD has a promising role as alternative therapy in the management of anxiety disorders. However, more studies with standardized approaches to dosing and clinical outcome measurements are needed to determine the appropriate dosing strategy for CBD and its place in therapy.