Could Cannabis Eventually Replace Anti-Anxiety Medications?
A study published in Psychopharmacology, a medical journal, proved that a regular use of cannabis every day or almost every day can help people be less prone to anxiety with time. These people had a blunted stress reaction and reduced emotional arousal in high- stress situations after some period of refrained use from marijuana. It was also reported that non- cannabis users felt less anxious and also experienced high levels of cortisol when stressed. Regular cannabis users reported lower levels of anxiety and had a stable level of cortisol under stressful and non- stressful situations.
This study had a sample of 40 people who have used cannabis chronically over the previous year and 42 people who had used it maximum ten times before and not even once during the last year. Both the groups were abstained from using cannabis from 12- 18 hours before the study. It was also found that the effect of marijuana on stress is extended beyond the period of the intoxication.
Cortisol is a lousy hormone which is released when a person suffers from depression, anxiety, insomnia, memory problems and heart diseases. Very little cortisol is also harmful, as it uses stored energy and helps the body to cope with stressful situations.
Further studies are to be conducted to find out if lowered cortisol response shown by chronic cannabis users is actually detrimental or therapeutic towards coping with long-term anxiety. There is undoubtedly a critical finding underway regarding cannabis and dependency.
It has been found that Anxiety Disorders are the most common illness in the United States. 40 million American adults are affected by anxiety an disorder annually which is 18% of the population.
Medications like Klonopin and Xanax are prescribed for short-term relief from panic attacks and acute anxiety. They are highly efficient in short duration, patients can also go through the side- effects like confusion, fatigue, disorientation, tolerance, and dependence can develop fast. In the year 2015, more than 8000 Americans overdosed and lost their lives because of benzodiazepines.
Medications like Zoloft and Prozac provide long-term relief from anxiety disorders, but they also have numerous adverse side effects like drowsiness and insomnia, the risk of suicidal thoughts, low libido, and headache.
Cannabis, on the other hand, has relatively fewer side effects, the lesser potential for addiction and no risk of an overdose. Although some people believe that some specific strains of this green herb help fight depression, less research has been done to investigate the long-term therapeutic potential of cannabis to treat anxiety.
The research was conducted by Dr. Carrie Cuttler, a researcher and clinical assistant professor at Washington State University and her colleagues to find out if the findings mentioned above on long-term cannabis abstinence.
It can’t be ethically manipulated who uses cannabis on an everyday basis and those who don’t. This research can indicate that they can have a blunted stress response or that people who are already less vulnerable to stress are also more susceptible to being chronic cannabis users.
While all of this emerging research is promising, Cuttler emphasizes that when it does not come to anxiety, marijuana nor pharmaceuticals should ever be the first course of treatment.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an effective treatment for anxiety. CBT along with medications have similar but long-term outcomes. However, it cannot address the root cause of the problem.
According to another study, high doses of THC can be known to increase anxiety, but CBD is intoxicating in nature and will not pose similar risks.
by Nancy R. Fernandez
Nancy Fernandez is a cannabis connoisseur who actively searches for new and budding (pun intended) research findings on the medicinal benefits of the various strains of marijuana. More recently, her attention has been turned to the various benefits that are associated with cannabis terpenes like ocimene, terpinolene and guaiol.