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Reading about cannabis, you’ll come across a bunch of controversial studies and reports, taking up different narratives and ending up with different conclusions. One major field of research about cannabis has much to do with its effects on patients with anxiety and depression.
Owing to the fact that marijuana isn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration for its medical use and at the same time, is legalized by the majority of states for medical purposes, puts the herb in an ambiguous position.
But there is enough research to prove that cannabis can have a marginal effect on patients with anxiety and depression. Positive or negative? We’ll find out!
In this guide, we’ll limit our narrative to cannabis and anxiety, their relationship and interdependence; and if the regular consumption of cannabis can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Cannabis is more than just a plant or herb used for smoking, it is a bunch of cannabinoids and compounds working together to provide pain-relieving and relaxing benefits. Or so studies have found.
In states that allow recreational use of the herb, you’ll find plenty of people consuming cannabis to help anxiety, and for good reason.
Cannabinoids found in the plants are known to interact with the endocannabinoid system in humans and animals alike, triggering different reactions like pain relief, reduced symptoms of nausea, vomiting, increase in appetite, and reduction in anxiety attacks.
So much so that a cannabis-based drug, Epidiolex, has been awarded the title of the first cannabis-based medication to treat rare forms of epilepsy.
This medication however is CBD-based and not THC. Why is that important? Here’s why!
Shortlisted from the long list of recognized cannabinoids, two of these are the most researched, especially for their direct effects on anxiety and depression. (at least that’s what we’ll focus on)
Even as components of the same plant, these two seem to have very different and sometimes opposing effects on people. Which makes it important for us to learn what both of them do, how they impact a patient’s mental health, and which one is the better option for your medical condition.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second active ingredient of cannabis, mostly derived from hemp rather than marijuana. Hemp-derived CBD has a low concentration of THC and is federally legal.
CBD and anxiety are closely related, or that’s what research shows. Even though limited, the handful of studies conducted advocate the use of CBD for relieving symptoms of anxiety.
According to a 2019 study, the effects of CBD were recorded on 72 adults that showed signs of anxiety and poor sleep. 57 patients showed a decrease in their anxiety score after just a month and 48 showed better sleep cycles within the same period( it fluctuated thereafter).
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most active ingredient of cannabis, found in higher concentrations in marijuana and lower (legal) percentages in hemp. The full spectrum goodies that you find around you are derived from the hemp plant.
One major drawback of THC, however, is that greater amounts consumed over longer periods can cause what is referred to as cannabis anxiety.
You may come across people who have tales to tell. About how four puffs into their joint, they felt more anxious than ever before.
THC is that component of cannabis that has to be consumed consciously, as greater levels of it can lead to an increase in anxiety symptoms like elevated heart rate and racing thoughts.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the cannabis component most closely related to the relaxation and calm effect that you would need in the middle of a panic attack.
While cannabis is usually thought of as a drug that takes you on ‘trips’, CBD is not responsible for it. However, the calm, pain relief and relaxation that follows a few puffs can be accredited to CBD.
You can easily find CBD oils for anxiety and panic attacks at dispensaries as well as retail outlets depending on whether you’ve opted for medical marijuana or recreational.
THC is known to be the most psychoactive component of cannabis, the cannabinoid responsible for the high. If you’ve ever smoked a marijuana blunt to feel like you’re up high on cloud 9- well that’s THC for you. Unlike the calming effects of CBD, THC can elevate your heart rate and upgrade your mood.
Small amounts of THC in your system can alleviate your symptoms of anxiety. But an excessive amount of THC in your system can do the exact opposite.
If you’ve ever had a bad trip after taking more puffs than intended, that is what overconsumption of THC can do to you. Add an anxiety disorder to the plate, and you’re all set for a disaster. Long durations of THC consumption can lead to addictive behavior in consumers and chances of substance abuse.
On the other hand, too much CBD in your system doesn’t have any major side effects.
Did you know?
If you’re ever feeling extremely anxious after a high dose of THC, you can always reduce the intensity with CBD isolate. A good reason to have some around!
As safe as CBD is in comparison to THC, a dosage of both cannabinoids in the right proportions is the best option for anxiety patients.
A combination works perfectly as CBD can balance out the high that is usually an effect of THC. Products that have both THC, & CBD along with other minor cannabinoids are referred to as a full spectrum. Getting a product with a 1:1 or 2:1 concentration of THC and CBD can help keep your anxiety levels under control.
This is why you can find plenty of CBD oils for anxiety and depression that give you a full synergetic experience of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, and CBC.
But there is one important thing to remember: There is no universal standard of anxiety disorders or a solution that might work for all.
Someone prone to panic attacks should consume less of THC and more of CBD while a higher dose of THC for somebody who feels extremely lethargic or sullen can do them good.
The idea here is to find what works best for you and your situation. And it starts by recognizing your condition and getting a medical cannabis recommendation from a certified cannabis doctor.
If you’re medically diagnosed, you can get direct CBD and cannabis recommendations to relieve your symptoms.
Medical marijuana recommendations have gained a lot of recognition in the past few years. As different states legalize the use of marijuana in controlled dosages and after consultations with physicians, those above the age of 18 and suffering from chronic illnesses have found relief with cannabis.
However, we understand that not everyone who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks gets diagnosed for their conditions. Whatever the reason may be, you can always find that there are cannabis-based alternatives available at retail outlets (depending on the laws in your state).
These are not as potent as medical cannabis and can only have 0.3% THC or less. But they are effective nonetheless, especially for those with minimal symptoms.
A medical recommendation and an MMIC (Card) aren’t the same things. You can get a recommendation from your licensed physician but only the state can authorize an MMIC Card.
Cannabis and anxiety go hand in hand. Both THC and CBD, the two most active ingredients of cannabis are known to benefit patients with anxiety and depression when taken in controlled concentrations.