Taking cannabidiol - the non-intoxicating component of cannabis better known as CBD - may curb the severity of chronic anxiety symptoms in young people, a new study found.
Teens and young adults with treatment-resistant anxiety who were given a single daily CBD pill for 12 weeks reported their symptoms fell by an average of 43%, the Australian youth mental health organization Orygen found in a pilot study. The results among the 31 patients were remarkable, said Paul Amminger, a research fellow at Orygen and professor of youth mental health at the University of Melbourne, who led the study.
“The young people had fewer panic attacks and could do things which they were previously unable to do, like leave the house, go to school, participate in social situations, eat at restaurants, take public transport or attend appointments by themselves,” he said.
CBD comes from the Cannabis sativa plant, but doesn’t contain THC - the ingredient that gives marijuana users a high. Demand for it has created a multi-billion-dollar industry in recent years, with consumers taking over-the-counter versions of it in hopes of improving sleep, treating chronic pain and easing a host of other ailments. The Orygen researchers began studying it in children after earlier work suggested a benefit in adults.
The pill was well tolerated, with mild sedation and fatigue as the most common side effects, Amminger said. Participants aged 12 to 25 were given a starting dose of one 200 milligram capsule per day, which was doubled after a week. Those who didn’t show significant improvement had their dosage increased to as much as 800 mg per day. Everyone was offered biweekly cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, though they hadn’t responded to previous therapy.
The improvement was even greater when the researchers analyzed physician ratings, which showed a 51% decline in symptoms. Still, the findings need to be confirmed with larger, longer studies, they said.
“Cannabidiol is a promising treatment option which appears safe and effective,” said Patrick McGorry, the study co-investigator and Orygen executive director. “We need further research to confirm this and explore its value.”