Objectives: To review and describe studies of the non-psychotomimetic constituent of Cannabis sativa, cannabidiol (CBD), as an anxiolytic drug and discuss its possible mechanisms of action.
Method: The articles selected for the review were identified through searches in English, Portuguese, and Spanish in the electronic databases ISI Web of Knowledge, SciELO, PubMed, and PsycINFO, combining the search terms "cannabidiol and anxiolytic", "cannabidiol and anxiolytic-like", and "cannabidiol and anxiety". The reference lists of the publications included, review articles, and book chapters were handsearched for additional references. Experimental animal and human studies were included, with no time restraints.
Results: Studies using animal models of anxiety and involving healthy volunteers clearly suggest an anxiolytic-like effect of CBD. Moreover, CBD was shown to reduce anxiety in patients with social anxiety disorder.
Conclusion: Future clinical trials involving patients with different anxiety disorders are warranted, especially of panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorders. The adequate therapeutic window of CBD and the precise mechanisms involved in its anxiolytic action remain to be determined.