Marijuana For Anxiety

Person holding marijuana joint in front of tree and body of water

Can Marijuana Help With Anxiety?

Marijuana is an interesting drug due to its intoxicating effect on the human mind. Many people swear by the fact that marijuana alleviates their anxiety by relaxing and calming them down. But others would argue otherwise, claiming that marijuana exacerbates their anxiety to the point of inducing panic-like symptoms.

But without randomized-controlled trials, we cannot assume that marijuana is efficacious for anxiety disorders. But that does not mean that we should discount the many user reports circulating around about marijuana’s positive effect on anxiety. If marijuana does alleviate anxiety, how does it do that?

We know that THC, the intoxicating chemical found in marijuana, binds to CB1 receptors in the brain and CB2 receptors in the periphery. We also know that there are two strains of marijuana: indica which produces more of a body high and sativa which produces more of a head high.

Which strain alleviates anxiety more depends on the user. Many would attest that indica highs do a better job at alleviating anxiety, because the high is more directed towards the body. This results in a lesser head high and potentially less anxious symptoms. On the other hand, sativa may exacerbate anxiety in users because it mainly provides a head high.

What is a typical user experience on marijuana that leads to less anxiety? If you’re feeling on edge, worried and anxious, within the first 5 minutes of inhaling marijuana, the user will feel their state of consciousness slowly being altered. The feeling is a sense of mental relaxation with the perception of slowed time.

The user also becomes more aware of their bodily sensations and their surroundings; everything becomes more alive and interesting to the senses. Because of this, it may take away the user’s focus on their anxiety symptoms; their attention becomes redirected to other activities which become more interesting, such as music and movies.

But what about a user’s experience with marijuana exacerbating anxiety? The anxious symptoms can escalate within a few minutes of inhaling or later on in the journey. The anxious symptoms can be quite severe, to the point of inducing a panic state or the thought of “losing one’s mind.”

An example of anxiety while on marijuana may include something of this sort: you’re standing in your kitchen high and eating a delicious delicacy. Your taste buds are on fire while you slowly allow your masticatory muscles to chew away your small piece of heaven. But all of a sudden, out of no where, your perception of you standing in place and eating becomes magnified and blown out of proportion!

There is way too much unnecessary focus by your mind on your current situation: your posture, your chewing, your bodily sensations such as your heart rate and breathing, and your thoughts. The next thing you know, you’re starting to experience anxious thoughts: “oh my god, I’m freaking out! I feel uncomfortable. Something bad is going to happen! I wish I could end this high!”

And that’s how one potentially experiences a panic attack while under the influence of marijuana. Therefore, we do not yet know if marijuana is a good medicine for anxiety. For some people it works wonders, while for others, it wreaks havoc! Until we have conclusive RCT results, we can only go by user reports.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Planet Covered In Marijuana

Field of tall green marijuana plants during daytime

Recreational Marijuana For Relaxation

The debate continues as to whether marijuana is a good tool for relaxation. As a whole, it seems like were driven by a motor running on coffee, stimulated by nicotine when stepping out for a breath of fresh air, and turned on by alcohol when in the company of others. But does marijuana play a role in our lives as well?

Not everything that grows naturally is good for the human body and brain. Cocaine comes from the coca plant, yet people become addicted, develop nasal perforations, stroke out and even die of cardiac vasoconstriction. Tobacco comes from a plant and is the most addicting substance known to man!

And here comes in marijuana . . . a plant that provides beautiful flowers that humans can ingest and feel relaxed as well as high. The question is whether marijuana can be safely used by the masses for relaxation purposes, without bringing in all of the baggage that alcohol and tobacco have brought in.

Marijuana is not simply a pretty plant that smells great and provides sticky fat buds to roll up with. Along with the beauty comes the hidden dangers: the increased risk of developing psychosis; a lack of motivation; dullness of the mind; anxiety; social isolation and even violence in some!

But we have been trained by NORML and other organizations to believe that marijuana does not cause violence. If you are in the mental health field, you know very well that psychosis and violence go together like peanut butter and jelly! How do we know who is predisposed to developing schizophrenia before they take that first hit of Banana Kush?

On the other hand, marijuana and relaxation go together like milk and cereal: your body melts into the couch; your mind absorbs your iTunes; your eyes relax upon something beautiful; the touch of another human being feels silky smooth; your creativity sparks up a notch or two and sleep pulls you in like a black hole.

As governments around the world legalize the green skunk, we have to remind ourselves that it’s still our responsibility to use this tool appropriately, responsibly and maturely. The governments always have their own agenda and so we can not always rely on them.

The planet is covered in marijuana. Are you?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Health Benefits Of Cannabidiol

Cannabidiol from cannabis sativa plant

Will CBD Be The Next Wonder Drug?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in marijuana; meaning, that it does not get you high. As more research is being done on the chemical compounds found in marijuana, CBD is gaining a lot of attention from the medical community for its potential to treat many conditions.

  • It can help reduce pain (The human body contains an endocannabinoid system which regulates pain, appetite, sleep and the immune system. Neurotransmitters bind to endocannabinoid receptors in the nervous system. It has been shown in research studies that CBD can reduce sciatic nerve pain and inflammation, pain secondary to multiple sclerosis as well as arthritic pain)
  • It can help reduce anxiety and depression (In one study involving patients with social anxiety disorder, CBD was shown to provide a reduction in anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in speech as compared to placebo. It has also been shown that CBD can treat insomnia and anxiety in children with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And as for depression, it is believed that CBD acts on the receptors that bind serotonin – the neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation)
  • It can alleviate cancer symptoms (CBD helps reduce nausea, vomiting and pain. In one study involving cancer patients with pain not relieved by conventional pain medications, CBD and THC given together demonstrated a significant reduction in pain. Another study involving cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, CBD and THC given together demonstrated a reduction in nausea and vomiting better than standard treatment)
  • It can help reduce acne (CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and an ability to control the overproduction of sebum from sebaceous glands. But humans studies will need to confirm this)
  • It may have neuroprotective effects (Sativex, an oral spray containing CBD and THC has been shown to reduce muscle spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis. One study demonstrated a reduction in seizures in patients with epilepsy after they were given CBD oil. Another study demonstrated that CBD reduced childhood seizures in Dravet syndrome – an epilepsy disorder in children. And other studies have demonstrated improved quality of sleep in patients with Parkinson’s disease)
  • It may benefit the heart (One study demonstrated a reduction in high blood pressure in men given CBD. It is also thought that CBD helps prevent heart damage through its antioxidant properties and stress-reducing properties)
  • It may help reduce psychosis (CBD may help counteract psychotic symptoms and cognitive impairment associated with cannabis use and may help reduce the risk for developing psychosis related to cannabis use, mediated by the opposite effects of CBD and THC on brain regions such as the striatum, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex)
  • It may help treat substance abuse (In rat studies, CBD has been shown to reduce morphine dependence and heroin-seeking behavior)
  • It may help fight cancer (In animal studies, CBD has been shown to prevent the spread of breast, colon, lung, prostate and brain cancer cells)
  • It may help reduce diabetes (In mice studies, CBD has demonstrated a reduction in the incidence of diabetes by over 50% as well as reduced inflammation)

Even though there are many promising effects from CBD, it is important to keep in mind that every treatment comes with side effects. In the case of CBD, some people may experience diarrhea, fatigue and changes in appetite. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new treatment.

In addition, because the research studies are very young, we must give time for more clinical trials to be completed before we can conclude with certainty the health benefits discussed above.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Will Marijuana Legalization Worsen Mental Health?

A purple, orange and green marijuana plant

THC And The Impact On Mental Health

It’s no secret that Marijuana legalization is happening all across the United States. New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are the northeast states looking to legalize the green herb within the next couple of years. What will be the repercussions from allowing such a move to occur?

Well, first things first: research is coming out showing brain changes in adolescents who smoke Marijuana, resulting in emotional dysregulation. During the adolescent years, teenagers identify more with their peers and less with their parents. By Marijuana interfering with the emotional circuity of the brain, teenagers will possibly be even more disconnected from their parents.

Secondly, the prefrontal lobe is not fully developed until age 24; this is why adolescents have poor judgement. By Marijuana dysregulating adolescents’ emotions with a naturally undeveloped frontal lobe, this may cause even more dangerous and unpredictable behavior from adolescents.

The truth is that the legalization movement is not addressing the mental health repercussions from legalizing Marijuana. They have an agenda to see the plant legalized, while ignoring the major negative side effects of potential psychosis, worsened anxiety and even depression in some!

Only via clinical trials and research, we will see the results of Marijuana legalization. But legalization is happening now, while research results can take many more years to deliver the conclusions. Will it be too late?

One thing is for sure: the best way to stay mentally healthy is exercising, socializing, eating healthy and being productive. Substance use should not be at the top of this list.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)