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2023 Study: Cannabis for Anxiety With & Without Pain

Updated: May 9, 2023

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Welcome to the Cannabis Conclusions series. This series provides the conclusion and abstract sections of modern peer-reviewed scientific studies about the efficacy of cannabis and the hundreds of chemical components it produces, including cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes.


Cannabis for Anxiety With & Without Pain Study

A 2023 study entitled "Comparing the Effects of Medical Cannabis for Chronic Pain Patients With and Without Comorbid Anxiety: A Cohort Study" that was published in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics explored the potential of cannabis to deliver relief to chronic pain patients. For clarity, the researchers studied both chronic pain patients who suffer anxiety and those who did not.

An image of a framed poster on an attractive old brick wall that reads "Keep Calm and Carry On" based on the classic World War II era British war poster

"As this is the first study assessing the effects of cannabis-based medicinal products in patients with comorbid anxiety, hopefully it will act to guide further assessments," reported the scientists.


"There is growing evidence on the efficacy of cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) for chronic pain (CP). Due to the interaction between CP and anxiety, and the potential impact of CBMPs on both anxiety and CP, this article aimed to compare the outcomes of CP patients with and without comorbid anxiety following CBMP treatment," wrote the scientists.


Cannabis for Anxiety With & Without Pain Study Results

This study involved 1,254 study participants, all of whom were chronic pain patients and some of whom suffered anxiety. Of these, 711 subjects had anxiety and 543 did not. The study noted "significant improvements in all primary outcomes" in the anxiety group, which featured the greatest improvements of all subjects. However, these benefits were limited to anxiety symptoms. Between the two groups, "there were no consistent differences in pain outcomes."


"Of those suffering anxiety, 26% (322 subjects) had mild anxiety, 16% (201 subjects) featured moderate anxiety, and 15% (188) had severe anxiety."

Of those participants suffering anxiety, 26 percent (322 subjects) had mild anxiety, 16 percent (201 subjects) featured moderate anxiety, and 15 percent (188) had severe anxiety. The mean age of the no anxiety group was 47, while the anxiety cohort featured an almost identical mean age of 45. Interestingly, most of the no anxiety group were employed, while the majority of the anxiety cohort were unemployed. The most common indication in both of the groups was "chronic non-cancer pain."

Man stricken with anxiety sitting on plush sofa with hand over face.

Adverse Events from Cannabis for Anxiety

As is common in studies of this type, some participants experienced mild adverse events. Ninety-one of the no anxiety participants (17 percent) and 138 (20 percent) of the anxiety cohort reported at least one adverse events. The most common negative reaction among participants was fatigue and somnolence (sleepiness) in the no anxiety group and fatigue and dry mouth in the anxiety cohort. The study revealed that adverse events were more common among the anxiety group.


The study concluded that there is a "potential association" between use of cannabis-based medicinal products and improvements in both pain and health-related quality of life among anxiety and pain patients.

Cannabis for Anxiety With & Without Pain Study Conclusions

The study concluded that there is a "potential association" between use of cannabis-based medicinal products and improvements in both pain and health-related quality of life in anxiety and pain patients.


The researchers also observed reduction sin opioid consumption and stated that the CBMP treatments featured an "acceptable adverse events profile in both cohorts," supporting and strengthening the conclusions of prior studies. The study noted its limitations and that its results should be interpreted "with caution." The study's authors called for additional research "to determine that the changes observed [here] were not secondary to confounding factors beyond the control of the study design."

Man with hand over mouth and nose who is suffering anxiety and anguish.

Cannabis for Anxiety With & Without Pain Study — Conclusions Section

The following is the Conclusions section of this important study.


"A potential association between initiation of CBMPs and improvements in pain and HRQoL, as well as reductions in opioid consumption and an acceptable AE profile in both cohorts was found, complimenting previous UKMCR studies. Moreover, CP patients with co-morbid anxiety may achieve better HRQoL outcomes and potentially pain outcomes due to CBMPs’ peripheral and central effects.


There is an "association between CBMPs and improvements in pain and quality of life, as well as reductions in opioid consumption and acceptable safety."

"Due to the pertinent limitations of this study, namely its observational nature, its results should be interpreted with caution. More research is ultimately required to determine that the changes observed were not secondary to confounding factors beyond the control of the study design. As this is the first study assessing the effects of CBMPs in patients with co-morbid anxiety, hopefully it will act to guide further assessment within RCTs."


View the original study.

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