Targeting the endocannabinoid system to treat anxiety-related disorders

Nachshon Korem, Tomer Mizrachi Zer-Aviv, Eti Ganon-Elazar, Hila Abush, Irit Akirav

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in the control of emotions, and its dysregulation has been implicated in several psychiatric disorders. The most common self-reported reason for using cannabis is rooted in its ability to reduce feelings of stress, tension, and anxiety. Nevertheless, there are only few studies in controlled clinical settings that confirm that administration of cannabinoids can benefit patients with a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are considerable encouraging preclinical data to suggest that endocannabinoid-targeted therapeutics for anxiety disorders should continue. In this review, we will describe data supporting a role for the endocannabinoid system in preventing and treating anxiety-like behavior in animal models and PTSD patients. Cannabinoids have shown beneficial outcomes in rat and mouse models of anxiety and PTSD, but they also may have untoward effects that discourage their chronic usage, including anxiogenic effects. Hence, clinical and preclinical research on the endocannabinoid system should further study the effects of cannabinoids on anxiety and help determine whether the benefits of using exogenous cannabinoids outweigh the risks. In general, this review suggests that targeting the endocannabinoid system represents an attractive and novel approach to the treatment of anxiety-related disorders and, in particular, PTSD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-202
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by De Gruyter 2016.


  • anxiety-related disorders
  • cannabinoids
  • endocannabinoid system
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology


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