Researchers at the University of Nottingham have found a compound in cannabis that could help to treat anxiety.
Review of research into Cannabidiol (CBD) – a major nonpsychoactive compound found in cannabis – suggests it could also be used to treat substance abuse disorders.
More studies are still needed to determine the psychological, pharmacological and brain mechanisms involved.
The review was carried out by a team led by Dr Carl Stevenson, a behavioural neuroscientist in the School of Biosciences at the university.
It looked at the results of previous studies that have investigated Cannabidiol’s effects on fear and drug memory processes.
Dr Stevenson said although cannabis is best known for the ‘high’ it causes, it also contains chemicals, like Cannabidiol, with possible useful, medical properties.
He said: “This chemical isn’t linked to the cannabis ‘high’ and it is safe for people to use so it might be helpful for alleviating certain symptoms of these disorders without having the unwanted side effects of cannabis.”
Dr Stevenson’s review suggests there are still questions about how CBD treatment would be administered and the effects of chronic CBD treatment on patients’ emotional memory processes.
He says research into the effects of CBD on addictive drug memory processing is still in its infancy.
He said: “Understanding how Cannabidiol regulates emotion and emotional memory processing may eventually lead to its use as a treatment for anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders.
“The published literature makes CBD a potential candidate for testing as a pharmacological support to psychological therapies or behavioural interventions used in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias.”