Cannabis and Anxiety: Cause or Cure?
Depending on your choice of cannabinoids and dosage levels, cannabis can be a relatively safe remedy for anxiety. Nonetheless, it’s important that you do your due diligence before experimenting with cannabis a potential treatment for psychological disorders.
As we are all likely aware, anxiety is an extremely pervasive psychological disorder. To illustrate, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) website tells us “40 million people in the United States (18%) experience an anxiety disorder in any given year.” While many people share in the inner suffering that comes with anxiety, the disorder is caused by a myriad of sources. These causes include childhood conditioning, stressful workplaces, and traumatic experiences.
Modern medicine mainly utilizes pharmaceutical drugs like Xanax, Valium, Prozac, and Zoloft to treat anxiety. Unfortunately, these medications often include harmful side effects. Even more, many prescription drugs have proven addictive for anxiety patients – leading to lifelong issues with substance abuse.
Medical cannabis patients have long looked to cannabis for relief from anxiety and stress. Many of these cannabis advocates use the medicine as a safe alternative to harmful prescription drugs. Nonetheless, and positive experiences aside, cannabis can still prove a rather precarious anxiety medicine – this is largely since our scientific understanding of cannabis is still in its infancy.
When consuming cannabis, different people report drastically different effects of the drug on their anxiety levels. To illustrate, some people report that cannabis relaxes them while others are on the brink of full-on panic attacks with a single puff. Needless to say, this situation can make for a harrowing experience if you are predisposed to anxiety as well as new to cannabis.
While divergent effects make it challenging to prescribe cannabis as anxiety medicine according to the objective parameters of science, there are a few “safe” paths you can follow in figuring out what works for you. Of these, studying the unique properties of the primary cannabinoids THC and CBD is a great starting point.
THC and Anxiety
As most of us know, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the predominant cannabinoid featured in cannabis products. Moreover, it is the chemical compound responsible for the famous “high” feeling associated with cannabis usage. While THC has a mellowing effect for many users, others report it greatly exacerbating their anxiety. Luckily for those interested in exploring cannabis as an anxiety medicine, there are a few routes that can be followed in developing a safe treatment plan.
A primary idea in the cannabis and anxiety discussion has to do with the differences presented by indicas and sativas. To this end, popular cannabis culture widely accepts the claim that indicas provide a “mellow” experience while sativas induce an “energetic” high. Therefore, one could easily deduce that indicas are a better choice for anxiety treatment because of their calming effect. Yet, like many elements in the field of medical cannabis, there is little-to-no actual scientific data to back these claims. Therefore, if you are interested in exploring indicas vs sativas as potential anxiety medicines, you will likely have to follow the advice of other consumers, as opposed to an actual doctor. Nonetheless, if you trust in the opinions of thousands of cannabis aficionados, it’s likely that indicas are a better bet for THC-based anxiety meds.
If you are new to THC, or predisposed to anxiety, many experts recommend starting out with “microdosing.” Because, controlling your THC consumption in small increments can help you find that sweet spot where the medicine calms you down. Also, it’s worth noting that THC infused edibles can prove quite challenging concerning anxiety, as new users tend to take too much too fast. To avoid such episodes, be sure to get your THC infused edibles from a reputable source and start extremely slow – to the tune of 1 mg to 2.5 mg per dose. By being patient, you may be able to find the proper amount of THC to help quell your anxiety, instead of enhancing it.
CBD and Anxiety
Cannabidiol (CBD) has taken the cannabis industry by storm the past 5 years – it is now the cannabinoid most popularly associated with anxiety relief. CBD is considered non-psychoactive and is produced by both cannabis and hemp plants. Because CBD is non-psychoactive, it does not produce the “high” feeling generally associated with cannabis. Importantly, this is one of the main reasons why people look to CBD for relief from anxiety.
You don’t have to go very far these days to run into CBD, as products are sold at most major retail stores. According to the Health Harvard website, “CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues.” They continue, “CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia.” Yet, while Harvard scientists acknowledge the fact that many people use CBD for anxiety, they have trouble making claims that CBD is a proven anxiety medicine. Ideally, this situation will be rectified in the coming years with continued research.
While medical cannabis remains largely on the fringe of society, CBD has seamlessly infiltrated the mainstream in just a few short years. Interestingly, this has to do primarily with the fact that people can experiment with CBD without the fear of “getting too high” that comes with THC. This notion is especially true for those suffering from anxiety disorders. As such, if you are interested in using CBD to treat anxiety, be sure that your products come from a reputable source and that they include specific dosage instructions. Looking to the future, as the FDA continues to regulate the hemp-derived CBD industry more vigorously, consumers will find more reliability with CBD medicine.
Cannabis and Anxiety Summary
Cannabis can be a great anxiety medicine if it is treated with respect and humility. To this end, the responsible cannabis consumer should carefully study cannabinoid medicines and develop an anxiety treatment regime that is both safe and effective. Depending on your disposition, this could include THC or CBD medicines, as well as a blend of both popular cannabinoids.
While everyone experiences cannabis in a unique way, there are some controls you can develop to ensure that your experience is helpful with anxiety. For starters, microdosing offers an excellent introduction to cannabis medicine, especially concerning such products as THC edibles. Moreover, you should carefully study different consumption methods to figure out what works. Needless to say, dabbing and bong smoking should likely be avoided by those looking for mellow anxiety relief. In the end, by starting slow and figuring out what works, you can likely create an anxiety treatment plan that gives you relief from your stress as well as prescription meds.
This article was originally published in the August / September 2020 edition of Maximum Yield Cannabis Magazine.
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