Certain Cannabinoids and Medical Cannabis Could Be Beneficial for Anxiety According to Research
Cannabis and Anxiety
As legal cannabis is making headlines with claims to help people across the nation with various medical issues, perhaps one of the most widespread uses for this plant is treating symptoms of anxiety. While it is still too early to call cannabis a cure for anxiety, various studies have shown that a cannabis regime may help support a healthy, functioning nervous system. As with any remedies, it is important to do your research, consult your primary physician, and decide what is best for you personally.
The Body Basics
Cannabis is comprised of chemical structures called ‘cannabinoids’. Cannabinoids were discovered not only in the cannabis plant, but also in the human brain, as well as many other animal species. Many people don’t realize that the reason we have a chemical reaction to using cannabis is because it stimulates the activation of naturally-occurring cannabinoids in our own brains. There have been over 100 cannabinoids discovered and scientists are still currently researching which of these we naturally produce ourselves. When you consume cannabis, your brain does not know the difference between the cannabinoids it produces itself, and the cannabinoids derived from a plant. Therefore, it is important to mention that unlike other anxiety medications, cannabis has zero known cases of fatal overdose, most likely because they are substances familiar to the body already.
These cannabinoids can be beneficial when treating anxiety depending on how they work in an individual’s body. When a person ingests cannabis, the cannabinoids are sent through the bloodstream to different cannabinoid receptor points along the nervous system and brain known as the endocannabinoid system. The purpose of this system is to regulate homeostasis, or perfect balance, in the body. So when treating anxiety, it has been shown that cannabinoids encourage these receptor points to shift out of “fight or flight” and back into balance. It’s basically a way for the body to remind itself, “There’s no danger here, we’re good.”
Cannabis as Medicine
Considering this, there are several ways that cannabis could treat anxiety symptoms. With the multitude of cannabis products on the market, one could get overwhelmed when beginning the process of utilizing cannabis as medicine. For starters, recent studies have shown that more is not always better. In fact, it has been shown that using cannabis as a low-dose, daily supplement can be more beneficial than high doses taken sporadically. This can give your body a chance to incorporate the cannabinoids into its functions, rather than trying to process the substance when taken by surprise. With cannabis medicine, consistency is key.
The next thing to consider is whether you need a fast-acting, short-term solution, or a long-lasting solution with a slower come-on. For a quick dose, tinctures are a great option. Tinctures can take as little as two minutes for full effects to hit the entire body, and last typically 3-6 hours, depending on body composition. Smoking can also be another way to fast relief, but has some undesirable consequences on the pulmonary system. If you can commit to a daily supplement, edibles or patches are a better option for all-day, lasting relief. Edibles can have effects that last up to 8 hours, whereas patches are metered doses for up to 12 hours of relief. Decide for yourself, in regards to your own anxiety, if you need immediate relief for episodes that come on rapidly or if you desire something that can keep you in balance for the better part of the day, with the ability to supplement with small doses as necessary.
What's Necessary Can Vary
Lastly, not everyone has beneficial reactions to treat anxiety using cannabis. This can be attributed to the various cannabinoids and their own unique qualities. For example, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a psychoactive compound and will produce a ‘high’ for most users, regardless of “sativa” vs. “indica”. This can be a misnomer, but provides a very generalized description of the effects of the two species of cannabis. Cannabis indica has been shown to produce a more relaxed high than a stimulating sativa, but this is still open to discussion and research. If you are not looking for a high to help you come down from an anxiety attack, you should consider looking into products that have higher concentrations of other non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol) or CBN (cannabinol). There are many products on the legal market that have little-to-no THC and high counts of CBD or CBN. The next time you go into a medical dispensary, your budtender should be able to help you find a product that best suits your individual needs - do not be afraid to ask as many questions as you need in order to find the product that is right for you.
Regardless of the how, what, or when, there is much trial-and-error when determining how best to use cannabis to treat your symptoms of anxiety. Keep in mind that you may have to try several methods of consumption, doses, and regimes to hone in on the best relief for your body personally. Every human being has different experiences, chemical levels, body composition, etc. and it is important to give yourself time and space to navigate the best way to incorporate marijuana as medicine into your life. If you have any specific questions, head to Standing Akimbo, your local marijuana dispensary, to ask the bud tenders questions!
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