CBD relieves anxiety. But there’s a nuance: It likely affects men and women differently

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CBD is “effective in reducing anxiety symptoms in patients with anxiety disorders and PTSD,” says a literature review conducted at the Univ. of Toronto.

What’s more, this finding isn’t new: “The initial clinical studies examining the effects of CBD on anxiety were performed in the 1980s, when it was demonstrated that CBD could attenuate the anxiogenic [anxiety-causing] and psychoactive effects of THC in healthy volunteers.”

And it’s backed up by: (1) brain imaging studies that show CBD modifies blood flow in specific brain structures associated with anxiety, including the amygdala, the area that can cause fear and loathing, and (2) years of animal study evidence that “strongly supports the anxiolytic [anxiety-reducing] role of CBD.”

So we have a verdict: CBD reduces stress. But there’s a catch: The researchers think CBD affects men and women differently.

They reason as follows: (1) Women experience anxiety disorders at twice the rate of men, their symptoms are more severe and they have higher rates of related disorders such as depression (2) men and women “may respond differently to psychotropic medication,” in general (3) in both animals and humans, “THC has differential effects in males and females” (4) the “pharmacokinetics of CBD [how it’s broken down and absorbed in the body] differ between males and females” (5) studies on sex difference haven’t been done: “to our knowledge no clinical studies have yet to explore sex and/or gender differences in CBD as a potential treatment for anxiety,” and therefore (6) “it is crucial to conduct research studies examining sex and gender differences in use of CBD as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders.”

Why does this matter? “Anxiety disorders have the highest lifetime prevalence of any mental illness worldwide.” Standard drug therapies such as benzodiazepines only work about half the time, say the authors, and they come with unwanted side effects such as feeling ‘drunk,’ and you can become addicted to them.

CBD, on the other hand, besides being effective, is “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.” For example, it doesn’t get you stoned or give you the munchies, it has “no potential for abuse or dependence,” and “chronic uses and high doses of up to 1500 mg/day are reportedly well tolerated in humans.”

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