There has been an ongoing debate about whether cannabis can exacerbate or treat the symptoms of anxiety. The truth is, it can do both.
As more information emerges about how cannabis can treat and relieve some of the symptoms of anxiety, it’s important to recognize and educate on the effects of cannabis on anxiety disorders.
Whether cannabis can harm or help anxiety comes down to understanding the different cannabinoids in marijuana, particularly THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) and how they affect someone with anxiety disorder differently. When these are properly distinguished, it’s easier to see that cannabis can provide great benefit to someone coping with anxiety and related disorders.
THC a Contributing Factor for Anxiety?
Most medical marijuana physicians along with cannabis educators would agree that cannabis can potentially cause more harming than helping someone with anxiety-related disorders if not used in an educated way.
If you are someone who lives with anxiety, and you’re a cannabis user, it’s important to recognize the role of THC and how strain choice of cannabis can influence anxiety.
High-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) strains produce a greater psychoactive effect, which may not be a productive state of mind for people with high anxiety, as it can often incite feelings of paranoia or intense questioning or self-doubt. While others who use high-THC strains report positive and uplifting feelings, people with anxiety disorders or other personality- or mental health-related disorders could potentially react negatively.
Earlier this year, the popular publication Vice reported on how some people just can’t seem to handle marijuana. The story follows Chelsey Wind a 6-year medical marijuana user who has been using medical marijuana for pain management (hyperlink to landing page). Wind, who finds the medical marijuana beneficial for pain, finds that high-THC strains have an adverse effect on her anxiety: “I'll start ruminating and I'll think of a social situation and I'll get anxiety about it. I'll start thinking, 'I shouldn't have said that, Oh My God!'" Wind adds that when she chooses a different strain, she finds that she’s able to “be more gregarious and relaxed around people.”
People who also want to use cannabis and have anxiety may also find negative effects from Sativa-dominant strains. Like Wind above, many with anxiety find that they benefit more from the “body buzz” and relaxation feelings brought on by using Indica strains.
So, if high-THC and Sativas are getting a not so hot review for people with anxiety, why is it so common to talk about anxiety in the medical marijuana discourse?
It all comes down to cannabidiol or CBD.
Understanding CBD and How It Affects Anxiety Disorders
Those who have anxiety shouldn’t just get turned off cannabis because of the possible negative effects of THC on the anxious brain; in fact, cannabis may be what gives you more relief from anxiety than what you can find in a pharmaceutical.
The key to cannabis in treating the symptoms, feelings, and emotions of anxiety is high levels of CBD or cannabidiol.
When a medical marijuana for anxiety patient gets their cannabis card, it is most times to access high CBD strains with little to no THC content.
CBD is what medical marijuana advocates are fighting for in terms of legalization and access across the globe. CBD is non-psychoactive, therefore, users will not experience the “high” feeling usually associated with cannabis, but using high-CBD strains is what will give people with anxiety relief.
The power of CBD in treating the difficult symptoms of anxiety comes down to the endocannabinoid system, that is full of cannabinoid receptors. This is the little miracle mechanism existing in our bodies intended to receive CBD as an internal regulator of our body’s health.
These cannabinoid receptors include serotonin receptors (specifically called 5-HT1A). It is these serotonin receptors that many modern pharmaceuticals to treat anxiety are seeking to reach. Medical marijuana patients are recommended to take CBD-rich strains that will help boost the efficiency of the body’s serotonin receptors, which will naturally elevate the mood and reduce feelings of anxiety.
A Note on THC and CBD for Anxiety
Cannabis and anxiety is a complex issue and here’s another reason: how THC and CBD can interact. In some cases, having a bit of THC in your strain won’t be a terrible thing for anxiety. In fact, it’s often believed that having some THC in a strain with keeping that high CBD content will allow the user to achieve a certain balance in their use. THC and CBD have an interesting relationship with each other.
In many cases, THC can increase the effectiveness of CBD for some medical conditions, and high CBD content can at times work to reduce the feelings of paranoia or emotional discomfort brought on by THC. These are things that should be discussed and understood when you schedule an appointment to inquire about getting your cannabis card for anxiety.
The Importance of Dosing
If you want to achieve the maximum effect when it comes to exploring cannabis for anxiety, understand that dosing is everything.
The cannabis community is being turned on to the idea of microdosing cannabis to maximize the effectiveness of the plant.
Microdosing takes the “less is more” approach to cannabis use which many don’t recognize is one of the keys to the effectiveness of medical marijuana.
Microdosing involves taking periodic, tiny doses of marijuana into your body over an extended period of time. This approach allows your body to receive the cannabis into your body over a slow period of time. People microdose by taking smaller “pulls” of their vaporizer pens or taking smaller doses of cannabis oil through tinctures, drops or edibles more frequently throughout the day.
Microdosing is an interesting way to approach using THC strains if THC is deemed beneficial for another medical condition for which you’re using medical marijuana, but you do not want to experience the psychoactive effects of THC.
So, Does Cannabis Hurt or Help Anxiety?
When discussing medical marijuana for anxiety, it’s incredibly common to take into account the following aspects:
· Strain Ratio: The ratio of CBD:THC content. Understanding the differences between THC and CBD and also understanding how they interact can help you find the best ratio for your needs.
· Strain Choice: Whether you choose a Sativa, which produces strong cerebral effects, or an Indica, which produces a more relaxing body buzz, it may have different effects on your anxiety.
· Dosing: Understanding the dosages of your medical marijuana and discussing how you can best dose your medical marijuana for anxiety will help you walk the line that most benefits you in your use
Be open, and educate yourself about how cannabis can affect anxiety, and why many people are choosing to get their cannabis cards before turning to anti-anxiety medications.
MyCannX can be your guide to understanding the available medical marijuana options to you as you find the best way to treat the symptoms of your anxiety.