Public speaking is consistently reported as one of America’s biggest and common phobias – if you’ve had to do it at some point in your life, you’ll most likely understand why. When under the eyes of hundreds if not thousands of people, sweaty palms, shaky hands and a shortness of breath are symptoms that occur all too often.
There’s nothing worse, and such anxiety can come despite meticulous preparation and initial confidence. But a non-intoxicating compound found in the cannabis sativa plant may just have the answer for the perils of public speaking. That compound is CBD.
Researchers who have studied the connections between cannabidiol (CBD) and public speaking believe that the fear brought on by it can be “significantly reduced” with just a single dose.
CBD products are similar to THC, in that it is a cannabinoid that is similar to endocannabinoids and works in the endocannabinoid system – but the crucial difference is that it is not psychoactive. In terms of public speaking, this is excellent, as it’s hard to see how a THC-induced high would make anybody more comfortable with a public speaking task. In fact, it would probably just make them even more anxious.
Lawmakers all over the planet are looking at CBD more keenly than they ever have THC, giving hope for advocates of medical marijuana solutions. The realization of CBD’s stunning potential came fairly recently, but research is moving at a rapid rate.
A 2011 study looked at the effects of CBD in participants who had never tried treatment for their social phobia. The research on these treatment-naïve patients received little publicity, due to the public’s unawareness of CBD and the lack of medical and recreational cannabis laws at the time – back in 2011, not even Colorado had legalized recreational pot. But seven years on, it’s worth reassessing this study.
Several Brazilian universities, including the National Institute for Translational Medicine and the University of Sao Paulo, helped collaborate on the study. Participants with social anxiety disorder were subjected to a simulation public speaking test (SPST), after being given a dose of CBD. These patients, too, had never undergone treatment for their anxiety.
The study found that pretreating participants with CBD helped to quell anxiety and reduce cognitive impairment. The patients were more comfortable with their speech performance, and experienced reduced anticipatory speech alert. It’s understandable how much of a difference this collection of effects could have. And to leave everybody in no doubt that this reduction in anxiety was thanks to the CBD and not a placebo effect, the patients who were administered with a placebo instead of CBD endured much higher anxiety levels across the board during their SPST.
If you reside in a state where marijuana or CBD is legal, then this evidence about the compound’s ability to medicate anxiety – a mental disorder that is notoriously difficult to treat – is ground-breaking. Legislators have also picked up on the wondrous, and largely side effect-free properties of CBD, enacting ‘CBD-only’ laws. In the grander picture of medical cannabis, CBD-only laws are restrictive, but they are an encouraging start for sceptical states.
CBD is manufactured in several forms, most notably oils, edibles and creams. In states with advanced medical marijuana laws, high-CBD cannabis flower is also available. However, if you are in a legal state and want to use cannabis to treat anxiety, ensure that your chosen product has limited amounts of THC.
The next logical step is for more studies to be conducted to confirm what scientists first discovered in 2011. Until then, if you have a big speech to make, consider some CBD alongside preparation and any other anxiety reduction tactics you may employ.