The increasing popularity of medical marijuana among patients suffering from serious illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, or epileptic seizures, the medical community starts to crave for more knowledge about the cannabis plant. Because of the chemical structure of marijuana, it appears that the herb proves effective in treating anxiety disorders, too.
Let’s see how cannabis treats anxiety and what causes it to soothe one’s mind.
What Really Is Anxiety?
Some people misjudge anxiety with temporary worries or fear. In fact, the anxiety disorder involves constant fear that gets worse over time. The problem affects even our daily routines, such as relationships, job performance, and being among other people.
Usually, anxiety can be associated with other conditions and may derive from depression, a traumatic experience from the past, or alcohol abuse. Nonetheless, it’s always safe to consult a trusted physician who can evaluate your physical condition to see if the problem lies there.
Despite being legal worldwide – and sometimes handed by doctors like Halloween candies – prescription drugs don’t solve the problem – they only mask the symptoms of anxiety. Moreover, pharmaceutical products place a heavy burden on your liver, which may lead to other health complications over time.
Hopefully, as many studies have found, cannabis can be a natural and safe alternative to prescription drugs.
How? In order to answer this question, we should take a peek at the chemical makeup of the cannabis plant.
Endocannabinoid System And Marijuana
Human endocannabinoid system is something like the Internet of your body that works as a set of keys and locks. The reason behind the versatility of cannabis in treating various conditions is simple yet amazing. The cannabis plant has 85 chemical compounds (cannabinoids) that respond to endocannabinoid receptors like those produced by the human body. This is why marijuana was used to treat depression and chronic pain in India only 400 years ago.
Among 85 natural compounds in the cannabis plant, there are two that are generally recognized by the society – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
While THC is an antidepressant, it may have anxiety-driven properties when consumed at high dosage. This is because tetrahydrocannabinol impacts the amygdala sector of the brain, the one responsible for feeling fear. Luckily, CBD counteracts the effects of THC, providing a user with the feeling of relaxation.
How Can Cannabis Treat Anxiety?
The vast majority of patients claims that they find cannabis calming and it helps them relieve anxiety, but some people report even more intense anxious feeling after using marijuana. In fact, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. As most medical cannabis strains are bred for high THC content, the perfect strain will be rich in CBD and low in THC, so you’d better consult a trusted medical professional before you begin the treatment.
CBD on its own, or taken with THC, can lower or even completely eliminate anxiety. However, the subject still needs more research because THC sells better due to the euphoric and relaxing high it provides when smoked.
If you don’t want to experience the feelings of anxiety or paranoia, you should beware not to breach a certain threshold when using THC. If you can make that a habit, all you need is a CBD-rich strain that is appropriate for your condition.
What Do the Studies Say?
According to animal studies, subjects that consumed CBD had lower levels of anxiety. Moreover, cannabidiol proved successful in reducing severity and frequency of seizures.
A study published by the Institute of Psychiatry proved that cannabis has potent psychiatric properties. Researchers claim that it can be used as an anxiolytic or antidepressant during the treatment. This study was also conducted on animals who showed lower levels of anxiety and depression during tests like swimming and puzzle mazes.
Another study, conducted in 2011, tested the levels of anxiety of two groups during public speeches. One of them was a placebo group, and other patients were given CBD. Interestingly, CBD patients showed less stress and anxiety during their speeches. On the contrary, the placebo group reported visible cognitive impairment and stress-related discomfort.
Cannabis can be an invaluable medicine for people fighting with PTSD, as it interacts with anandamide, an endocannabinoid responsible for dealing with memories. Hopefully, as the laws around cannabis in the U.S. and Canada become more lenient, and the herb becomes legal once again, there will be more opportunities for researching the powerful cannabidiol.