Since marijuana’s legalization in a rising number of states, there is a parallel interest in a cannabis extract called cannabidiol, or CBD, which helps relieve anxiety without giving people the “high” associated with the drug.
CBD does not contain THC, the component of the plant responsible for the mind-altering effects pot can have, NPR reports.
Richard Ferry, the retail manager of Home Grown Apothecary in Oregon, said, “My customers are buying CBD [for] stress relief.” Recreational marijuana is legal under Oregon’s laws, with some restrictions. Ferry added, “CBD has gotten a lot of buzz.” In his shop are CBD products, including capsules and bottles containing liquid CBD that people can drip under their tongues with a dropper.
One report states that the CBD industry has doubled in the past two years, and is now worth around $200 million. But the science is still sketchy. Ferry said, “There’s a lot of confusion about how it [CBD] works and what it does exactly.” So far, the only existing evidence that CBD works to ease anxiety has been from small animal and humans studies that suggest a link between CBD and anti-inflammation or anti-anxiety properties.
Esther Blessing, a psychiatrist and researcher at New York University, said,
I think there’s good evidence to suggest that CBD could be an effective treatment of anxiety and addiction. But we need clinical trials to find out.
The National Institutes of Health is now funding a research collaboration among Blessing and some colleagues to conduct a clinical trial into the effects of CBD on people with post-traumatic stress disorder, and moderate or severe alcohol problems.
Another study, led by Yasmin Hurd, a neuroscientist who directs the Addiction Institute at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, is exploring if CBD can help prevent opioid addicts from relapsing by reducing cravings for drugs.
Blessing said, “Drugs can be non-psychoactive and still have an effect on the brain. CBD does have an effect on the brain, but it seems to affect the brain in possibly medicinal ways.”