Cannabis has a long history of use. It has been used for medicinal, recreational, and spiritual purposes since ancient human civilisations walked the Earth. Fast forward to the present day, and advancements in the field of science and medicine are rediscovering the roots of modern pharmacology.
Hundreds of studies and research on natural remedies and treatments, including cannabis, are undertaken each year. As scientists continue to unravel the vast medical potentials of this plant, two of the most notable chemical compounds which have surfaced so far are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD and THC are gaining more attention in the scientific and medical fields because of their interactions with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our body. The ECS is a complex and widespread regulatory system that plays a vital role in various processes of the central nervous system (CNS). Due to how THC and CBD fit into our ECS there are also promising applications for mental health.
Anxiety or generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is one of the most prevalent mental health issues, and many of us may experience it. As research and studies on the mental health benefits of CBD and THC are gaining steam, many people are turning to cannabis products to manage GSD symptoms.
Read on as we share how cannabis products can help you combat anxiety.
Cannabis Helps Relieve Stress
There is a strong connection between stress and anxiety, so much so that these two conditions are often described interchangeably. The difference is that stress is a response to an external threat, or adverse situation like a tight deadline at work or figuring out how to pay your overdue bills.
Anxiety is the internal reaction to stress, where one feels uneasy, restless, or fearful of a situation that is not usually threatening. Both stress and anxiety are healthy and manageable coping mechanisms in our bodies – it is okay to get stressed or feel anxious once in a while. However, when we let stress overwhelm us, or let stress build up over time, our level of anxiety also elevates and can become disproportionate. When your fear, apprehension, nervousness or worry become excessive or persistent, anxiety may be diagnosed as a medical condition.
Managing Stress Can Help Manage Anxiety
As mentioned earlier, THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids interact with the ECS, especially CB1 receptors, which are abundant in the brain. This can stimulate the release of brain chemicals that evoke positive emotions such as dopamine, endorphin, oxytocin, and serotonin.
Various cannabis products may be used to provide stress and anxiety relief, and consumers can opt either for THC or CBD. Capsules, pills, tinctures, oils, and vapes all have different routes of delivery, which means these products can vary in the time in which the cannabinoids will take effect. For example, capsules can deliver therapeutic results in about 30 minutes to 1 hour, whereas cannabis vapes kick in very quickly.
Of course, products that can quickly deliver cannabinoids in the body such as vapes may not fit your lifestyle or your body makeup and chemistry. Thus, if you live in a legal area, it helps to have a shop or dispensary in your locality that has a wide range of cannabis products. The more dispensaries you find, the better. If you were to visit Las Vegas, you’d find not just one Las Vegas dispensary but about a hundred dispensaries within the city. Other states that have legalised cannabis are also allowing more dispensaries and similar establishments, which is great news if you are using cannabis products for managing stress and anxiety.
Cannabis Can Improve Your Mood
The mood-altering] effects of cannabis have a long history, which dates back to ancient civilisations. Before scientists could pinpoint tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as the primary psychoactive chemical in cannabis, a well-known historical record of recreational marijuana use in Scythia (now modern Europe) was discovered from the writings of Herodotus. It revealed that our ancestors already knew about this plant and some of its uses.
Euphoria, or the state of intense happiness, pleasure, or excitement, is one of the psychoactive effects we find consuming THC. Scientists have focused on this specific aspect of a cannabis user’s high because of its potential in short and long-term relief of anxiety and depression. An area of interest concerning THC is the increased activity found in neurons, linked with serotonin production, a chemical that is involved in mood stabilisation, happiness, and well-being. More importantly, serotonin is also involved in regulating anxiety, which further underlines the importance of cannabinoids as potential treatment and therapy options for anxiety.
Cannabinoids Can Help You Sleep More Soundly
Scientists and researchers have found a bidirectional relationship between sleep problems and anxiety. It means that sleep problems can cause anxiety, and anxiety can also make sleeping or getting quality sleep difficult. Because of the strong relationship between the two, addressing one problem can help solve the other. One of the known effects of marijuana or cannabis is sedation, where the user feels relaxed and drowsy, leading to a good night’s sleep. Vapes and tinctures that contain CBD, THC or both are products with effective delivery, meaning you a feel the effects very quickly, and don’t have to wait for long for sleepiness to kick in.
Although the sleep benefits of cannabis are well-established, the effective dosage still needs to be standardised among manufacturers. The regulation of cannabis products is currently loose, as further studies and clinical trials continue to be conducted regarding the medical benefits and applications of cannabis.
Microdosing is the practice of consuming very low doses of a substance to observe or study its behaviour. Users who have practised micro-dosing cannabis claim that the full potency of cannabis products can be achieved without side effects or getting high within the microdose range. Micro-dosing does not subject the body to sudden and drastic chemical reactions and process changes and allows the body to adapt to the introduction of cannabinoids. But due to the relative safety of cannabis (zero deaths guys) most consumers opt to “macro” dose.
You Can Relax Better By Using Cannabis Products
Being anxious can make you feel uptight and tense, which can be taxing on your body in the long run. You often cannot sleep properly, you lose your appetite, or eat unhealthily, and you get irritated or agitated easily.
The current pandemic is making the situation even worse for people with anxiety and for those who have unstable coping mechanisms. The lockdowns and economic effects of COVID-19 are becoming significant aggravating factors and triggers for people with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and other types of anxiety disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder (SAD). The seeming lack of improvement in the current situation is also pushing some generally healthy individuals past their tolerance limit, making them more prone to developing anxiety disorders as well. When you can’t seem to relax or calm down on your own, or when you suffer from anxiety attacks, it may be time to seek professional help.
However, for generalised stress or a bit of anxiety, various cannabis products can help people let loose, relax, and calm down and can even help reduce the recurrence of anxiety attacks. While these products may not deal with the core of the problem, the calming and relaxing effects still provide some benefits. Pain also shares a bidirectional relationship with anxiety, where pain can aggravate anxiety and vice versa. Cannabinnoid-infused massage oils can help ease the tension in your muscles and give you a lighter and more comfortable feeling. CBD topical creams also have a similar effect as massage oils but focus more on relieving muscle inflammation to relieve pain. CBD bath bombs help loosen knotted muscles and also ease muscle tension to help you relax. And even sweets such as CBD gummies help induce a calming and relaxing effect. Consuming CBD edibles is a fun and convenient way of helping you relax without much effort. The relaxing effects of the food you’ve eaten might not be immediately noticed, but the effects will build up over time as you regularly consume cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids Help Maintain Good Mental Health
The interactions between cannabinoids like CBD and THC and the ECS go as deep as the cellular level, playing a role in the different functions of the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R), the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor, and other receptors in the brain that are involved the regulation and release of essential chemicals that promote overall well-being. CB1R and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors play essential roles in regulating fear, anxiety-related symptoms, and anxiety-induced behaviours.
Anxiety disorders are part of a broad spectrum of medical conditions that cannabinoids can help prevent and treat, and this recognition should be the same as that for multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and epilepsy. There are a wide range of interactions that cannabinoids have with CB1R, which is abundant in the brain, spinal cord, and nerve cells. Scientists and researchers are conducting various studies on pinpointing and effectively isolating the beneficial interactions between cannabinoids like CBD and THC and CB1R. Scientists have identified beneficial properties such as feelings of euphoria, pain relief, nausea relief, and improved cognitive performance. CBD is also being extensively studied for its various mental health benefits, including alleviating cognitive impairment, reducing psychotic symptoms, treating schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Different types of cannabis products can deliver benefits, helping you recover from anxiety. Generally, these products are used as oils, vaporisers, oil or cannabis flowers, edibles, sublingual sprays, tinctures, or capsules. The time it takes for the cannabinoids in these products to take effect depends on the consumption method. Vaping CBD or THC oil, smoking cannabis buds, and applying sublingual sprays and tinctures can reach the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) very quickly, particularly CB1R in the central nervous system, and deliver the health effects and benefits without delay. Orally administered cannabis products such as edibles, oils, tinctures (when mixed added to foods or drinks), and capsules may begin to take effect 30 minutes to an hour after intake.
Research shows that certain flavonoids and terpenes and other phytochemicals that are beneficial to brain health are also found in whole-plant fullspectrum CBD products. These compounds have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects that help maintain proper brain functions as well as the transmission of signals from the brain to various neurotransmitters. The connections between neurons are also protected by these chemicals, which make cannabinoids promising remedies for neuromuscular disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), muscular dystrophy (MD), Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), and peripheral neuropathy among others.
Depending on the percentage of THC in the CBD/THC of a product, different mental health benefits can be achieved based on what is best for each patient. Having a higher CBD/THC ratio in a cannabis product provides anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing), euphoric, and relaxing effects. A lower CBD/THC ratio has anxiolytic and sedative effects.
As more discoveries are being made on the beneficial cannabinoids in cannabis aside from CBD and THC, research is intensifying. Anxiety and other mental health concerns are pressing issues that our societies are facing today, with more and more people suffering from anxiety disorders and other mental conditions. Cannabis products hold great promise in the treatment and prevention of various health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia due to their extensive interactions with various receptors in our ECS.
The testimonies of various cannabis users are proof that cannabis products have vast therapeutic potential. It should inspire Governments worldwide currently overseeing prohibition to further pursue research and development of cannabis-based treatments and medicines.
It must be stated that when considering mental health, it is a vastly complex subject, and there often is not a quick fix solution. Cannabis does not help every consumer with anxiety, and on the other side of the fence some new consumers report cannabis inducing anxiety as they found the experience quite intense. Different strains and terpene balances also play a part here, with some strains more calming than others.
If you experience anxiety worsening when consuming cannabis do not panic – it is not physically dangerous so won’t hurt you. Relax and wait for the effects to wear off, and start slower next time to build your way up to more pleasant effects. You can also switch ratios and include more CBD which may help reduce anxiety further.