Cannabis compound may help treat anxiety and substance abuse disorders

10 Mar 2017 12:24:52.680

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A review of research into the therapeutic potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) - a major nonpsychoactive compound found in cannabis - has shown there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that it could help in the treatment of anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders. However, more studies are needed to determine the psychological, pharmacological and brain mechanisms involved.

The British Journal of Pharmacology review, carried out by a team led by Dr Carl Stevenson, a behavioural neuroscientist in the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham, looked at the results of studies that have investigated cannabidiol’s effects on various fear and drug memory processes.

Dr Stevenson said: “Cannabis is best known for the 'high' caused by the chemical Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) but it contains many other chemicals with potential medicinal properties, including cannabidiol. 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.”

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Dr Stevenson’s review of published research suggests there are still questions about how CBD treatment would be administered and the effects of chronic CBD treatment on our emotional memory processes. He points out that research into the effects of CBD on addictive drug memory processing is still in its infancy.

Dr Stevenson 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”. 

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK for research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


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Note to editors: More information is available from Dr Carl Stevenson, in the School of Biosciences,on +44 (0) 951 6055,

Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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