By Eric Stober
While using cannabis can be an enjoyable experience for many, for some it can lead to anxiety and paranoia.
Research is coming in, though, that shows one component of cannabis can potentially offset these bad trips — cannabidiol, or CBD.
CBD occurs naturally in cannabis and has little to no psychoactive effects, compared to weed’s main psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
A landmark study in 2019 by the University of Western Ontario found for the first time how CBD blocks the psychoactive effects of THC.
According to the study, THC can cause anxiety or paranoia when it triggers the brain’s extracellular-signal regulated kinase (ERK) in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that regulates our memory and plays a role in our fight-or-flight response.
The study found that rats given THC had more activated ERK and exhibited more anxious behaviour and sensitivity to fear-based learning.
However, rats given both THC and CBD had normal levels of activated ERK, were less anxious and sensitive to fear-based learning, and essentially acted like the control rats.
CBD on its own had no effect on the ERK pathway.
The study concluded that CBD blocks THC’s ability to overstimulate the ERK pathway, thus preventing THC’s negative side-effects.
“Our findings have important implications for prescribing cannabis and long-term cannabis use,” head researcher and UWO medical professor Steven Laviolette said in a statement. “For example, for individuals more prone to cannabis-related side-effects, it is critical to limit use to strains with high CBD and low THC content.”
Luckily, there are many strains available that either have equal ratios CBD to THC, or are CBD-dominant. Some options include Solei’s Balance, Tweed’s Penelope or Tantalus Labs’ Harlequin if extra-sensitive to THC’s effects.