Study Summary: CBD Buffers Anxiety of Delta-9 THC

Updated: Nov 21

An October 2022 study entitled "Cannabis Containing Equivalent Concentrations of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) Induces Less Anxiety than THC-dominant Cannabis" that was published in the journal Psychopharmacology investigated the relationship between CBD and THC and how a combination of the two cannabinoids might better serve many consumers compared to products dominated by THC and very little CBD.

The study reported that delta-9 THC "can cause anxiety in some users" and that CBD, which conveys anxiolytic (anxiety preventing or reducing) qualities, may serve to buffer the anxiety and paranoia sometimes conveyed by potent doses of THC, especially among novice consumers and those of particular predispositions.


The Study

"CBD has anxiolytic properties, suggesting that cannabis products containing CBD in addition to THC may produce less anxiety than THC-only products," reported the study's authors. They noted that the research to date on this topic has been "inconclusive and could conceivably depend on moderating factors such as baseline anxiety levels in users."


"The research examined the effects of vaporized cannabis in three forms: THC dominant, CBD dominant, and THC/CBD equivalent cannabis."

The design of this study was that of a placebo-controlled, randomised investigation that included "26 healthy recreational cannabis users." The research examined the effects of vaporized cannabis in three forms: THC dominant, CBD dominant, and THC/CBD equivalent cannabis. Participants were given 13.75 mg THC, 13.75 mg CBD, a mix of 13.75 mg of CBD and the same amount of THC, or a placebo.


The study cohort comprised 10 males and 16 females featuring an average age of 23. "The frequency of cannabis use in the three months prior to study entrance was 11 times," noted the researchers. The participants were recruited through advertisements in university buildings, social media posts, and word of mouth. All underwent a medical screening by a certified physician to access their general health and gather bodily fluid samples.


Results

The study revealed that both THC and THC/CBD "significantly increased self-rated anxiety compared to placebo" and that anxiety levels were "significantly lower" after CBD/THC than after THC alone. It noted that, when anxiety levels were low, "CBD completely counteracted THC-induced anxiety." However, when anxiety was high, CBD was not found to counteract THC-induced anxiety.


"Overall, the study demonstrated that the THC/CBD-equivalent cannabis induces less state anxiety than THC-dominant cannabis," reported its authors.

"Overall, the study demonstrated that the THC/CBD-equivalent cannabis induces less state anxiety than THC-dominant cannabis," reported the study's authors. They stated that THC "may have a bimodal effect on anxiety," with low doses decreasing anxiety and more potent doses increasing anxiety. It also revealed that the dynamics behind the interaction of CBD and THC are dependent "on the order of administration and the route of administration."


Conclusions

"The present study showed that CBD partially blocked THC-induced anxiety when the two substances were delivered in equivalent concentrations, which is in line with previous studies," reported the researchers. However, they emphasized that "no clear THC/CBD dose–response relationship has been established yet."


"The present study showed that CBD partially blocked THC-induced anxiety when the two substances were delivered in equivalent concentrations."

The scientists explained that their data "might suggest that increasing the CBD-to-THC ratio would be even more effective in counteracting the THC-induced effects," but that other research has demonstrated that a CBD-to-THC ratio of 5:1 "did not augment the anxiogenic-like behavior of THC" and that it also did not "accentuate the THC effects compared to a ratio of 1:1."


View the original study.


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