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CBD May Help Regulate Emotions And Reduce Social Anxiety

Cannabidiol, or CBD, makes up approximately 20-40% of cannabis but, by itself, it is not psychoactive or intoxicating and does not make people ‘high.’ Also, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) it is not detrimental to health and does not create a dependency. WHO states: 

“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” (WHO) 

Animal studies also suggest CBD may have certain health benefits including anti-inflammatory effects and alleviating pain though more research is needed to find out if humans experience similar benefits. There is also increasing evidence that CBD can improve sleep and reduce general anxiety due to its calming effect on the central nervous system. 

One study (Shannon et al. 2019) involved 103 adults who had their levels of anxiety and insomnia measured before and after treatment with CBD. Some dropped out of the study leaving a final sample of 72 adults presenting with anxiety or poor sleep. 

Results showed that nearly 80 percent experienced significant falls in their level of anxiety within one month of starting CBD treatment and that, also within a month, sleep improved for nearly 70 percent. Whilst the researchers concluded these results were encouraging, they also emphasized the need for further research. 

Of particular interest is that CBD may, too, help people to regulate emotions. 

As we have seen in other posts, emotional dysregulation is often a symptom of severe and protracted childhood trauma, particularly if that trauma has led us to develop an associated disorder such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) or complex PTSD. 

It appears that CBD may reduce anxiety by changing the signals sent from the amygdala (part of the brain associated with fear) to the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex* (parts of the brain associated with rationality) having the effect of reducing activity in the amygdala and boosting the brain’s ability to think calmly and logically. 

Recent studies have shown that there could be a benefit of CBD in social anxiety disorder (Masakata, 2019) too, as it seems to reduce self-consciousness and our concern about what others think of us. 


The body already creates its own version of CBD called anandamide. Our brain cells release it so as to dampen down other types of brain signals. In the brains of individuals with PTSD, there may be less anandamide. This means there is the potential for an extreme activation of the stress and fear pathways because the brain is unable to restrict those messages and it seems CBD may help to rectify that problem, thus keeping us calmer.