In today’s fast paced society anxiety, stress, and depression seem to be running rampant. While these issues have always been common, the stigma surrounding anxiety and mental health has been slowly disappearing leading to more people seeking help. Many states with medical marijuana specifically list disorders related to chronic anxiety as qualifying conditions that could be treated with cannabis. This is good news for those who are interested or have already found success in using cannabis to help with the symptoms of anxiety. While many claim that it has helped them get their lives back in ways that pharmaceuticals fell short, others claim that cannabis actually causes bouts of anxiety. So what exactly is the relationship between cannabis and anxiety or stress?
Does it actually help?
With the vast amount of anecdotal evidence and the studies that have already been conducted, there is no denying that cannabis has a place in the world of mental health. As the cannabis movement gains momentum, researchers are granted more resources for uncovering why and how cannabis works for treating anxiety disorders. A study conducted by Washington State University examined the issue after dissecting previous studies. They found that most research that had been conducted took place in a lab setting and with THC that had been administered in pill form. They recognized the flaws with these methods as they are far from the reality of how cannabis is consumed in people’s everyday life, plus a lab is hardly a relaxing place for subjects. It is important to note as well that ingested THC forms a different chemical inside the body which could change the results of a study. Their research examined the effects of cannabis consumed via inhalation in a home setting. They found that the subjects saw a 58% reduction in their symptoms related to anxiety. The study also found that the amount of CBD present had a significant influence on the efficacy of THC amounts. In general, lower levels of THC reduced anxiety and larger doses of both THC and CBD were better for relieving stress. A separate study by the University of Washington found that low doses of THC reduced anxiety, but much larger doses induced anxiety. The same study found that CBD reduced anxiety in all dosing sizes. Long story short, moderation is key when supplementing with cannabis for anxiety.
Cannabis and PTSD
Despite cannabis being medically legalized in 33 states, it is still considered a Schedule one narcotic and a “dangerous” drug by the VA. Scientists aren’t denying that there could be a valid reason to why so many people with PTSD use cannabis, but many claim that there isn’t enough research on the topic. Luckily for us, more research is being done in the realm of cannabis and its ability to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD. A recent Canadian study that was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology looked to see if cannabis use had an influence on depression and suicidal thoughts of non institutionalized citizens who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Their research found that those who had reported using cannabis were less likely to suffer from PTSD related depression. Since its federal legalization in Canada, veterans can receive a reimbursement for cannabis used for medical purposes such as PTSD. PTSD is also listed as a qualifying condition in some states that have medical marijuana.
How does cannabis help with anxiety and PTSD?
The secret to how or why cannabis can be beneficial for any reason lies within the endocannabinoid system. The body has CB1 receptors in the nervous and respiratory systems and CB2 receptors in the immune, and digestive systems. THC and CBD are phytocannabinoids meaning they come from a plant. There are also chemicals called endocannabinoids such as anandamide and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) that are produced by the body. Less is known by the general population about endocannabinoids, but they’re just as cool as THC and CBD. According to the National Institutes of Health, 2-AG is responsible for the euphoric feeling that happens after an orgasm, but we digress. Anandamide is kind of like a body-made antidepressant. It also helps the brain not focus on traumatic memories. A study published by Science Daily linked post-traumatic stress disorder to the endocannabinoid system. The study found that people with PTSD had significantly lower levels of anandamide. Both phyto and endocannabinoids bind to our receptors, but in different ways. CBD attaches to the receptors in a way that it influences how other cannabinoids can attach. CBD actually blocks the chemical that breaks down anandamide which allows more of it to build up in the body and therefore increasing the feeling of “bliss” that anandamide is famous for.
The best strains for anxiety
One of the most difficult parts of using cannabis therapeutically is that each strain will have a different effect depending on the person. These recommendations as well as the information in this blog are in no way medical or psychiatric advice and are just options that may or may not relate to issues discussed in this article. Your local Buddy Boy Brands budtender will be able to make amazing recommendations according to what is on the dispensary shelf.
- Pure Love – Pure Love is our first choice when the goals are relaxation and relief from anxiety. This indica dominant strain has a high CBD content so it’s sure to provide a mellow and calming high that should have you feeling right as rain in no time.
- Bubba Fett – If you’re looking for something that is still relaxing but packs more of a punch, Bubba Fett will not disappoint. This heavy indica is ideal for pain relief and is even better for sleep. At about 27% THC, this strain is ideal for those with a higher tolerance.
- Banana Kush – This hybrid strain is great for those looking to take the edge off while still being able to function through the day. Bubba Kush is often referred to as a “working indica” for this reason. It’s high is euphoric and balanced making it great against stress.