Study Says CBD Alone Does Not Enhance Mood or Anxiety

By Kristin Brandis | June 17, 2017

A new study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research shows that cannabidiol (CBD) has virtually no emotional or behavioral effects on healthy test subjects, even when given emotional stimuli.

The study attempted to determine the validity that CBD can help treat anxiety or “negative mood.” The authors acknowledge that:

“No controlled clinical studies have demonstrated its ability to reduce negative mood or dampen responses to negative emotional stimuli in humans.”

Participants consisted of 38 healthy adults and were divided into three groups and received 300mg, 600mg or 900mg of orally-administered CBD. They were then subjected to an array of psychological tests designed to elicit both positive and negative emotional responses.

Ultimately, there was no significant change in mood when subjected to negative emotional stimuli or social rejection. The group that received 900mg experienced a slight increase in heart rate. The researches concluded that more study is needed in order to understand how CBD would work in a clinical setting.

There are a couple of details about the study that experienced medical cannabis patients and regular cannabis users may criticize.


This study did not use THC in combination with CBD, which is what many medical marijuana products use in order to achieve the “entourage effect,” which enhances the effects of cannabinoids when administered together. Without the scientific and research communities to definitively support the evidence, feedback from medical cannabis patients indicates the effects of CBD alone are minimal at best, and reforms that support CBD-only programs have had little success in providing patients with relief.

Second, the doses of CBD administered in each group were massive. It was unclear how the researchers settled on these particular doses, or if the amount of the doses could have affected the results of the study.

In situations where CBD has been effective, THC has been present. A patient survey conducted by Care By Design in 2015 dispelled the common thinking that “more is better,” and lower ratios that contained at least 25 percent THC were more effective in treating pain, migraines, PTSD and mood disorders.

But this study could be helpful in dispelling the dangers of CBD to those who are skeptical about any sort of cannabinoid treatment. Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder, but only a third actually receive treatment. Acute anxiety disorders like PTSD affect a large number of veterans, with 30 percent of Vietnam veterans suffering from PTSD, 10 percent of veterans from Desert Storm, and 11 percent of Afghanistan veterans afflicted with the condition. Clearly, there is a need for effective anti-anxiety solutions.

Many medications that are used to treat anxiety come from a family of drugs called Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” that have a tranquilizing effect that can be so strong that patients will forego the treatment in response to the negative side effects. For patients with PTSD or acute anxiety disorders, it can become a choice between a zombie-like state and the full-force of their illness. Knowing more about CBD is important for scientists and researchers looking for alternatives that have fewer side effects, even if this particular study did not involve the THC that seems necessary when using a CBD treatment.

Kristin Brandis

Kristin Brandis is a freelance writer and medical marijuana patient from the Pacific Northwest.

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