4 Facts About Cannabis for Anxiety

Stress, depression, and various anxiety disorders make up a large portion of mental health cases in the U.S. With widespread legalization throughout states, cannabis has rapidly become a plant medicine treatment option. 

According to Psych Central, more than 31% of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lifetimes. Today, general anxiety disorder (GAD) affects 6.8 million adults, (that’s 3.1% of the U.S. population), yet only 43.2% are receiving any form of proper treatment. 

On top of these numbers, a national survey of more than 9,000 Americans suggests that 81% of cannabis consumers believe there are one or more health benefits to the plant; with more than half surveyed listing “anxiety, stress, or depression” as some of the health potentials.  

There are plenty of positive and negative correlations between cannabis and anxiety. For some, cannabis can quell anxious feelings, for others, cannabis can increase anxiety. Mood prior to consuming as well as consumption method and THC content can impact the effect. Read on to learn 5 major facts about cannabis for anxiety and how medical cannabis can help contribute to a more anxious-free experience.

Foggy Clinical Research and Hazy Science

Ongoing medical research around cannabis continues to prove that cannabis can have a large fluctuation of physical and mental effects on users. Some may feel calm and content from one specific strain or product, while others may feel anxious or uncomfortable from the same source. 

Yet with the massive shift of legal cannabis states and medical products storming dispensaries, consumer data continues to show  relaxation as being the driving motivation for consumers using cannabis. A recent data report from New Frontier shows the following:

  • 64% of consumers report relaxation as their motive for consumption
  • 52% report reducing anxiety as their reason for cannabis consumption 

This information has further prompted clinicians and scientists to study the varying effects of THC and how it contributes to the overall effects of anxiety. Thelegalization of cannabis has helped encourage scientific research and clinical studies dedicated to studying the correlation between cannabis and anxiety. 

  • For instance, a 2019 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that cannabis use was associated with a reduction in symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress in short-term applications.

    This specific study also found that long-term cannabis use was associated with an increase in anxiety and depression. 
  • Another study published in 2018 by the Journal of Affective Disorders examined the effects of medical cannabis on anxiety. The results found that the majority of participants experienced a significant reduction in most anxiety symptoms.

    However, the study also noted that these effects of cannabis consumption varied among the surveyed individuals, and some reported an increase in anxiety. 

With this fluctuating collection of data, medical researchers are still examining both the short and long-term effects cannabis has on those who experience varying anxiety disorders.

Today, there are thousands of medical cannabis patients who use a medical marijuana recommendation for anxiety treatment. Many patients even attest to the effectiveness of cannabis over pharmaceutical prescriptions. 

How Exactly Can Cannabis Alleviate Anxiety? 

While some consumers may feel a reduction in anxiety after using cannabis, many may  feel a heightened sense of paranoia or anxiety after cannabis use, considering the way it interacts with our endocannabinoid system in the process. 

This system, known as the ECS, helps to regulate imperative functions throughout the body. Once THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids from cannabis have been consumed, the cannabinoids bind with endocannabinoid receptors in our body to help mitigate these signals and messages throughout the body. 

Regulating with the Endocannabinoid System 

To regulate stress and anxiety, the ECS sends signals to our brain, specifically the CB1 receptors, which are also affected by THC when consumed. This directly affects and influences the brain, producing psychoactive effects in the process. 

Studies and reported experiences have shown that consuming higher concentrations of THC can bring on feelings of anxiety, panic attacks, and increased breathing or heart rate. 

To counteract the overwhelming feelings of anxiety that can be associated with high THC intake, or provide a more alleviating solution to symptoms of anxiety, researchers suggest consuming a more balanced ratio of THC to CBD (cannabinol). Cannabis strains with a higher, more balanced ratio of THC and CBD can reduce feelings of anxiety as the non-psychoactive properties of CBD work to relax and regulate signals throughout your body’s endocannabinoid system. 

In all, it’s crucial to remember that the relationship between cannabis and anxiety is a complex one. The effects and results for patients can depend on various factors, including: 

  • the specific strain of cannabis 
  • the method of consumption and dosage
  • the content of terpenes and cannabinoids present
  • the medical patient’s tolerance to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). 
  • their mood prior to consuming

Medical Benefits of Consuming Cannabis for Anxiety 

In a state such as Colorado, general anxiety disorders have been declared a qualifying medical condition to receive a medical cannabis recommendation and card. Here are some of the many benefits of alleviating anxiousness with cannabis: 

  1. Potential Anxiolytic Effects

With the plethora of beneficial cannabinoids cannabis contains, many of these plant compounds have been shown to be potential anxiolytic agents. CBD or THC may interact with brain receptors in the ECS to regulate anxious moods and further reduce any anxiety symptoms. 

  1. Alternative to Traditional Medications

Part of the reason many have registered as medical cannabis patients is because of the interest in an alternative route to traditional pharmaceutical treatment. Many find medical cannabis to offer more natural options with fewer negative side effects compared to traditional prescription drugs for anxiety disorders.

  1. Reducing Stress and Increasing Relaxation

Considering the calming, relaxing, and sedating properties that most cannabis strains can induce, many medical patients report that cannabis promotes better relaxation and reduces feelings of stress. Cannabis consumption is seen as a way to induce a sense of calm and tranquility by alleviating these physical and psychological symptoms that arise with anxiety disorders such as GAD.

  1. Improved Sleep Quality
    Anxiety disorders and other diseases will often trickle down to affect other aspects of one’s health, which can lead to other detrimental symptoms or effects. Anxiety can often disrupt healthy sleep patterns, leading some patients to struggle with insomnia or hours of restless nights. Certain cannabis strains or products may have stronger sedating effects that can aid with sleep.

Alleviate Stress & Anxiety with a Relaxed Clarity Medical Cannabis Evaluation

When it comes to navigating your mental health with medical cannabis, it is important to note that although some medical cannabis patients will find relief from anxiety symptoms, it may not always be suitable for everyone. Each individual’s response to medical cannabis may vary, as well as their intent or motive behind using the plant medicine. 

With that said, it is important to work closely with healthcare professionals that are experienced in medical cannabis to determine the most appropriate plan for treating anxiousness – including your consumption method, selected cultivar, and dosage. 

Relaxed Clarity is here to help you navigate your options for anxiety management in a more natural way. Visit one of our Colorado medical cannabis clinics to speak with a medical cannabis professional about the right healthcare regimen for you. 
Book an appointment for a medical cannabis evaluation at one of our Colorado offices today!