In 2015, the National Institute of Health allotted $21.2 million of its $111 million cannabinoid research budget towards projects exploring the medicinal potential of these compounds. These projects proposed to manipulate the body’s endocannabinoid system, either by modifying endocannabinoids or with phytocannabinoids from the cannabis plant.
While the primary psychoactive phytocannabinoid, delta 9-THC, has acknowledged medicinal value, cannabidiol (CBD) is widely known for its broad range of potential medicinal uses. In recognition of CBD’s vast potential, over $9 million in grants were awarded in 2015 to fund CBD-specific medicinal research.
Much of this research has centered around the treatment of epilepsy, with studies showing that CBD has significant potential for treating the condition in children at high doses. A daily dose over 600 mg reduced seizure frequency by 39%. While this is a far greater amount than you’d find in many of the CBD consumables available at your local dispensary, many retail CBD products with lower levels of the cannabinoid are reported to be effective at treating anxiety, pain, and a host of other disorders, either through self-experimentation or anecdotal reports.
So why not crank up the CBD dose to reduce your anxiety? If a little is good, shouldn’t a lot be better? It turns out that for CBD, the answer is no; CBD’s medicinal efficacy might require a particular dose range. Call it a “Goldilocks Zone,” where there’s not too much CBD but not too little, either.
Intriguingly, this Goldilocks Zone differs for each disorder. For instance, CBD appears to treat anxiety at relatively low doses compared to the high doses used to treat epilepsy.
Similar CBD doses in humans have been shown to be effective at reducing anxiety in individuals with generalized social anxiety disorder, and low to moderate doses are effective at reducing stress and improving performance in a simulated public speaking event. These positive effects are associated with a restoration of normal brain activity in key regions associated with anxiety and emotional dysregulation.
The positive effects of CBD in treating anxiety are experienced at about 25% of the dose used to treat epilepsy. That higher effective dose level reflects additional CBD brain targets beyond those active in treating anxiety.