Anxiety in people and pets can be disruptive, even debilitating. Separation anxiety, noise phobias triggered by thunder or fireworks, and fear of strange people, animals, or situations are all too common in pets. Areas of the brain (such as the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus) involved in mood, stress, and fear are rich in cannabinoid receptors. CB1 receptors are known to be involved in mediating fearfulness and anxiety. Mice bred without CB1 receptors, or mice in which other drugs block the CB1 receptors, are constantly fearful and anxious. In contrast, cannabinoids boost CB1 receptors and produce a calming, or anxiolytic, effect.
CBD is known to help treat many human mental health problems, including anxiety. In a 2012 review of studies examining CBD’s effect on anxiety, the authors noted that “recent studies have shown that CBD exerts inherent anxiolytic effects, both in rodent models [157,198-201] and, more recently, in patients affected by social phobia [202,203]… CBD has been shown to reduce amygdalar responses to fearful stimuli ; this mechanism may be essential for the anxiolytic effects of this compound in social phobia .
Furthermore, CBD has been shown to elicit antipanic effects through the activation of 5-HT1A receptors in the dorsal periaqueductal gray, a critical area for the modulation of emotional reactivity to stress [208,209].”6 A 2014 review concluded that “the anxiolytic and antipsychotic properties of CBD stand out. CBD’s anxiolytic effects are apparently similar to those of approved drugs to treat anxiety.”7