The Cannabis Cure for Anxiety
Tamika Lewis, LCSW
15 DEC, 2019
In California, cannabis stores are found on every corner, wedged in between nail shops, 7-elevens, and banks. They are so accessible and elegantly designed, housing hundreds of trendy wax pens that have attracted quite the cult following. An increasing number of people now rely on a mid-day puff or two to stave off anxiety. 20-30% of people with an anxiety disorder consume cannabis daily.
But just how effective is cannabis for treating anxiety, and is it more dangerous than helpful? According to physicist Richard Feynman, it might be impossible to reach a solid answer. The cannabis plant contains more than 500 identified chemical constituents. More than 100 of these chemicals are cannabinoids, which interact with our brains communication network in different ways, making it hard to streamline the effects on anxiety.
One study looking at the use of cannabis and the long-term effects on anxiety and mood disorders, found that individuals using cannabis experienced increased symptoms and less occurrence of symptomatic recovery, relative to comparison groups. This implies that cannabis use may potentially interfere with recovery efforts and contribute to long-term persistent symptoms.
While it offers short-term relief of acute pain, cannabis use may prolong or even block symptom recovery over time. The subjects in this study were inpatients using black market cannabis, but what about the people consuming today’s fairly regulated dispensary product?
The research on this population is still very limited, however, it is important to be aware of the potency and levels of THC and its ratio to CBD. At higher levels, THC—the primary and psychoactive constituent of cannabis responsible for the “high”—may overstimulate and contribute to adverse effects including increased acute anxiety, paranoia, memory impairment, sedation and subsequent addiction issues related to withdrawal and tolerance.
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