How Does Medical Marijuana Treatment For Stress Relief Work?
Everyone feels anxious and stressed at some point in life.
Maybe you are unable to give your family extra time. Maybe you aren’t happy spending time with a terrible co-worker. Maybe one of your loved one is ill.
Whatever the reason is, it’s your life, and you have to make it exciting and worry-free.
Medical marijuana for stress relief has become a hot topic nowadays. With scientific evidence that the herb can help make people less stressed, more patients are opting for it as an alternative treatment.
What is stress? How do cannabinoids work for patients with stress and other related conditions? What do medical researchers have to say? What are the best marijuana strains for stress relief? Let’s learn.
What is Stress?
Stress is a feeling, which a patient has when dealing with problems related to finances, relationships, work, etc. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), stress is the response of body and brain to any demand.
In America, stress is one of the major problems. Approximately one-third of Americans are living with extreme stress.
Some of the common symptoms of stress are-
- Back or chest pain
- Muscle spasms
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Erectile dysfunction
- Trouble sleeping
Stress can also lead to emotional reactions such as-
- Lack of concentration
What causes stress? It’s different for everyone. What makes you stressed may not even bother your friend.
Some of the major life events that cause stress are-
- Moving to a new location
- Relationship problems
- Financial problems
- Work overload
- Driving in heavy traffic/fear of accident
Medical researchers have found that certain medical conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, and depression can also lead to stress.
Medications For Stress Relief
There’s a wide range of medications work by managing stress-related symptoms. The ones prescribed by professional physicians are-
Sedatives slow down the central nervous system, thus promoting relaxation, reducing anxiety and sleepiness. Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed class of sedatives. They include alprazolam (Xanax(, clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), triazolam (Halcion), temazepam (Restoril), and chlordiazepoxide (Librium). The older class, Barbiturates, are less safe and less commonly prescribed.
Benzodiazepines and barbiturates work by activating GABA, a naturally-occurring neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA functions as slowing down brain activity, thus providing calming effects.
As the name suggests, antidepressants can help in treating depression and other related conditions. The medications also have anti-anxiety effects and can help patients cope with stress. The commonly prescribed antidepressant medications for anxiety and stress relief are—Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, and Lexapro. These medications belong to Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs increase the levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain for regulating mood.
SSRI medications aren’t addictive but can lead to side-effects such as dizziness, dry mouth, sleep problems, nausea, and sexual problems.
These medications are usually used for treating certain heart problems and controlling high blood pressure. However, beta-blockers can also help patients in managing symptoms of stress. Inderal (propranolol) and Tenormin (atenolol) works by blocking the action of norepinephrine in the arteries and the heart muscle. This makes the arteries widen, thus slowing the heart action.
Some of the common side-effects of beta-blockers are—dizziness, wheezing, impotence, skin rashes, and digestive tract problems.
What’s Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana is using the cannabis plant or its compounds for receiving health benefits. The plant contains over 100 cannabinoids, which possess medicinal properties. THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the two main cannabinoids in the herb. THC causes high effects when you consume marijuana in any form while CBD is non-psychoactive.
Medical marijuana is proven beneficial for treating a wide range of conditions such as anxiety, chronic pain, muscle spasms, PTSD, ADHD, insomnia, epilepsy, autism, and eating disorders.
Medical Marijuana For Stress Relief
Marijuana provides ultimate calming and relaxing effects, thus helping patients get off stress. It provides a non-addictive alternative treatment to stress relief.
Let’s learn how exactly it work?
In the body, there exists a biological system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It’s responsible for managing different functions such as sleep, mood, memory, appetite, etc. The ECS contains endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors.
When you consume marijuana, its cannabinoids bind to the cannabinoid receptors in the ECS, thus regulating mood, sleep, and other bodily functions.
Cannabinoids interact with serotonin, thus providing positive effects. It can increase the serotonin levels in some conditions while reducing them in others. For example, migraine correlates with increased serotonin levels. In this case, activation of inhibitory receptors would be the solution. Thus, by learning the importance of serotonin production in the brain, you can learn how can you benefit from the herb.
Researchers have found that chronic stress leads to elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and reduced levels of dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain. This can link to depression. However, THC can boost the dopamine levels in the brain, thus increasing memory and attention.
Researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago support the fact that marijuana use can help in reducing stress, anxiety and relieving tension. However, it’s important to be aware that only low-THC doses can help in reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. This was found in a recent study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Moreover, marijuana can help in promoting relaxation by improving sleep, thus reducing stress. According to a 2008 study, consuming high-THC strains can help in reducing REM sleep, a sleep phase that involves rapid eye movements, faster pulse, more dreaming, etc. The reduced REM sleep means you spend less time dreaming and more time in deep sleep, which is the most restful phase of the sleep cycle. This can also help patients with PTSD to get off nightmares.
For maintaining a normal cognitive function, REM sleep is necessary. However, if you use high THC strains for a long time, it may affect your sleep quality.
Additionally, marijuana can also help in alleviating symptoms of certain conditions that are linked to stress. These include Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, headaches, and depression.
Factors That Influence Marijuana’s Effects
For patients suffering from stress, marijuana can be an effective treatment. The herb can help them boost mood, increase energy levels, and promote wellness.
However, the effects of marijuana may vary from patient to patient, and depend on various factors-
How much marijuana should you take to manage your symptoms? Well, it depends as everyone has a different condition.
It’s important to note that marijuana is a biphasic substance. That means, consuming large quantities of the substance can lead to the opposite effects. For instance, if you are using the herb for managing pain. Small amounts can help you cope with the symptoms while taking too much can worsen the condition. Excessive marijuana use can lead to side-effects such as anxiety, fatigue, and social withdrawal.
There’s a wide range of marijuana strains with different levels of THC and CBD available. So, you should be very careful when purchasing marijuana strains from a medical dispensary.
Different strains can have different effects on different patients. So, try different strains and analyze how your body responds to the cannabinoids. However, you can also seek professional help from a licensed MMJ doctor regarding what works well for your condition.
Method of Consumption
Another important factor that influences the effects of marijuana is the consumption method. For instance, smoking and vaping delivers immediate effects, which can last for one to three hours. Marijuana-infused products such as chocolate, snacks, ice-cream, and pizza take longer to kick in, compared to smoking. However, the effects of edibles can last over 24 hours.
Similarly, tinctures and topicals can provide different effects. Thus, you should try different methods, and choose the best one.
Top Marijuana Strains For Reducing Stress
As discussed earlier that the type of strains you smoke can have a great impact on the effects of marijuana you receive. Here’s a list of the best marijuana strains for reducing stress-
- Granddaddy Purple
- Jack Herer
- Sour Diesel
- OG Kush
- White Widow
- Girl Scout Cookies
- Royal Jack
- Green Crack
- Blue Dream
- Tahoe OG
Healthy Lifestyle Habits For Stress Management
Adopting healthy habits & making positive changes can help you improve mental and emotional health. Listed below are some lifestyle strategies that can be beneficial in coping with stress and related conditions-
One way to have complete control after you diagnosed with stress and depression is to increase your knowledge about your illness. How can you do that? Talk to a licensed mental health professional, watch online videos, and read books. The more you learn about your condition, the better you will be able to cope with your symptoms.
Get a Good Night Sleep
How many hours of sleep you get in a day is directly linked to your mental and physical health. It varies with age. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should get about 7-9 hours of sleep.
Make your sleep schedule and stick to it. However, you can use a sleep diary for monitoring your sleep. Sleep in a room, which is clean, cool, dark, and free from any disturbance. Don’t let your daily worries and concerns to enter into your mind before you go to bed.
Physical activities such as walking, running, and sports not only boost your mood, but get off worries, tensions, and stress as well. 30-45 minutes of mild exercises are enough to give your bran a boost.
What you eat has a direct impact on your health. Eating nutrient-rich foods can help you boost energy, mood, and overall wellness.
Add more fruits and green vegetables in your daily diet. Limit your caffeine and sugar intake as they can affect your mood and energy levels. Additionally, you should avoid processed foods and the ones with high levels of saturated fats.
Avoid Alcohol & Drugs
Usually, people consume alcohol and drugs to get off stress, anger, etc. Actually, they may worsen the symptoms of stress and depression. And, over time, it would be much harder to recover. So, say no to alcohol and drugs today.
In conclusion, stress is a mental health condition, which can interfere with all corners of your life. Medications such as beta-blockers, antidepressants, and sedatives can help patients cope with stress, but they can cause unpleasant side-effects.
There is scientific evidence that cannabis can help in stress relief without causing any side-effects as medications do. Marijuana’s cannabinoids work by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, thus boosting mood, sleep, appetite and other functions. Additionally, the herb can help in changing the levels of chemical neurotransmitters such as cortisol, dopamine, and serotonin, thus boosting mental health.
Marijuana’s effects on the body depend on various factors such as type of strain, method of consumption, dosage, etc. So, before you start taking medical marijuana for stress relief, make sure you talk to a licensed doctor and seek professional help for what’s right for your condition.
To get legal access to medical cannabis, apply for your MMJ card today. Luckily, with telemedicine services, you can do so online in three simple steps-
- Sign up an online account
- Talk to a licensed doctor over a HIPAA-compliant platform
- Receive your MMJ recommendation letter through the email in 10 minutes
Have your loved one or you suffered from stress? Have you used marijuana and medications for stress relief? Which provides better results and which is safe? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.