Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent class of mental disorders. Social anxiety (sometimes called social phobia) is an anxiety disorder that affects more than 45 million North Americans. It is characterized by feelings of fear and dread when in social environments and can manifest as panic attacks, sleep disturbances, and a variety of anti-social and avoidance behaviors.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health describes social anxiety as when “Doing everyday things in front of people—such as eating or drinking or using a public restroom—causes anxiety or fear. The person is afraid that he or she will be humiliated, judged, and rejected.”
Synthetic drugs and organic plant-based treatments that reduce anxiety are called anxiolytic. Cannabinoids derived from cannabis, including tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD, have demonstrated considerable anxiolytic efficacy and a potential role in the treatment of conditions such as social anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Another class of molecules produced by cannabis that provides significant medicinal efficacy for social anxiety is terpenes.
Terpenes are the aromatic chemicals produced by mature cannabis plants that are responsible for the sometimes pungent odor of many cultivars of the herb. With more than 200 terpenes produced by the cannabis genome (a subset of which manifests in an individual plant), this family of molecules delivers a range of medicinal benefits. Many terpenes have proven promise as effective anti-anxiety agents in a variety of research studies.
Beta-caryophyllene (also known as BCP and caryophyllene) conveys an aroma of spice and pepper. In addition to cannabis, this terpene is also produced by basil, black caraway, cinnamon, clove, copaiba, hops, lavender, oregano, and ylang-ylang.