With increasingly relaxed legislation and a growing number of scientific studies regarding marijuana use, we are beginning to understand the effects of cannabis on physical and mental health. Marijuana has historically had the contradicting reputation of calming nerves and relieving anxiety for some users whilst also heightening feelings of anxiousness in others. With increasing research, it is gradually becoming clearer what the effects of marijuana use are on anxiety and how they work. In addition, we are learning that the non-THC hemp plant offers very similar results without the legal hassles.
The secret to marijuana’s effects on anxiety is in its chemical makeup. It contains two key chemicals that have contrasting effects: Cannabidiol (or CBD) which helps to calm feelings of anxiety, and tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) which eases physical pain but increases anxious feelings. Using cannabis products that have high levels of CBD but low levels of THC can have positive effects for people who suffer from anxiety – CBD does not lead to the high associated with marijuana and unlike THC, it doesn’t seem to affect the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls fear and related feelings of anxiety. Different strains of marijuana have different levels of the chemicals, so it is important to find one that is higher in CBD. Recent research has found that CBD, taken by itself, can significantly lower or wipe out anxiety during usage. CBD is derived from marijuana, and contains lots of THC, but is also derived from hemp which has no THC. No THC means legal in all 50 states and just as effective.
The majority of medical and widely available marijuana contains high levels of THC, however. This is primarily because THC causes the effects that people generally associate with marijuana such as euphoria, relaxation, and reducing nausea and pain. The association between marijuana and heightened anxiety is due to the fact that THC starts to raise anxiety once a certain amount has been metabolized. For this reason, it is important to consult a professional and find the right balance between CBD and THC before attempting to use marijuana to ease anxiety.
CBD has been found to lower anxiety and feelings of depression in animals and humans with clinically significant social anxiety. Marijuana could be a useful treatment for anxiety as it has shown beneficial effects in individuals with anxiety disorders from a scientific and anecdotal standpoint. Marijuana acts more quickly and has fewer negative side effects than most traditional anxiety treatments. However, more studies need to address how marijuana affects anxiety in the longer term and so it is unlikely to be a standard medical treatment in the near future. Therefore, many people find that getting CBD from the non-THC, non-psychoactive, hemp plant is the way to go. Learn more about CBD from the hemp plant here.
Marijuana treatments can lower anxiety, particularly those that have high levels of CBD and low levels of THC. Scientific studies have yet to untangle the chronic effects of cannabis use on anxiety but it could prove to be a relatively cheap, safe, and accessible treatment for people with anxiety disorders. If you’re thinking of using marijuana to treat anxiety proceed with caution and seek professional advice, but it just might help you feel more at peace.