Medical marijuana is typically used to relieve symptoms rather than treat or cure diseases.
However, there have been escalating debates in the medical community on whether marijuana has the potential to be used as an anxiety treatment.
If you’ve been living with anxiety or have recently been diagnosed with it, you’ve probably experienced difficulties finding the right treatment for your condition.
Since every patient has unique brain chemistry and reacts differently to anxiety medicines, it has been quite a challenge for healthcare professionals to find an effective treatment.
The idea that medical marijuana can be used to manage anxiety is becoming more appealing to patients who don’t respond well to the common treatments available today and those who want a natural alternative to the pharmaceutical medicine treatment.
But before you decide to make medical marijuana an option for your anxiety treatment, it would be good take a look first at what links medical marijuana to anxiety, the pros and cons of using it as a treatment, and whether it can really manage your anxiety.
The Link Between Medical Marijuana And Anxiety
Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant that’s found to contain numerous chemical compounds called cannabinoids.
Its two most common active ingredients are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
To understand the link between medical marijuana and anxiety, it’s important to know the differences and similarities between these two main active ingredients.
THC is a psychoactive component of cannabis that’s responsible for the ‘high’ sensation associated with marijuana.
CBD, on the other hand, is also psychoactive, however, it doesn’t work the same way as THC.
Instead, it’s a non-intoxicating compound that’s used for a range of potential therapeutic purposes and is shown to help with depression, seizures, and anxiety in several initial studies like this 2018 article.
It states CBD’s potential as a fast-acting antidepressant.
Many of the debates surrounding the use of medical marijuana to manage anxiety are conflicting views since THC has been reported to be anxiety-inducing whereas CBD is more of an anxiety-reducing compound.
Many individuals from the medical community are beginning to take an interest in studying the potential health benefits and risks of marijuana, however, since these studies only began recently, medical professionals are still figuring out the most accurate verdict on whether marijuana can really treat anxiety or not.
In any case, if you’ve already decided on switching to medical marijuana in managing your anxiety, it’s important that you know how to get a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania or in any state where you currently reside in as this permits marijuana for medical purposes and prevents you from getting penalized.
Remember, if you’re holding a voluntary Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) along with a copy of your doctor’s recommendation, you can easily defend yourself from unjust prosecution by the law since it basically proves your patient-status.
Also, there are states which exempt MMIC holders from state sales tax on medical marijuana which essentially reduces the cost of your cannabis.
Myths On Medical Marijuana And Anxiety
Since Richard Nixon’s ‘War on Drugs’ campaign in the 1970s, many inaccuracies, misrepresentations, misinterpretations, and misunderstandings surrounding the use of cannabis and its effects have existed.
With the help of science, more and more of these inaccuracies have been debunked over the years.
Here are some debunked myths about medical marijuana and anxiety:
- Medical marijuana is a gateway drug to more severe substance use
Although it’s possible, there’s little to no evidence that can back up this claim.
A study in 2015 reports that medical marijuana legalization has a statistically insignificant effect on heroin use rates.
- Cannabis is a harmful drug that can lead to psychosis and death
There’s no evidence that has shown a direct causal link between cannabis use and psychosis or death.
Cannabis can also pose danger when used in high doses, which shouldn’t happen with medical marijuana since only limited doses are prescribed by doctors from time to time.
- There’s conclusive evidence proving that medical marijuana can treat anxiety
Although there are some findings claiming medical marijuana can treat anxiety, research on its medical benefits is still very limited.
This makes it difficult for researchers to give conclusive evidence for cannabis use as an alternative treatment for anxiety.
How Can Marijuana Help Manage Your Anxiety?
An increasing number of people have been shifting to medical marijuana to treat their anxieties.
A 2015 article supports that CBD compound in marijuana has the potential to treat anxiety, particularly generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Here are the commonly reported benefits of medical marijuana use on your anxiety:
1. Improves Relaxation And Helps With Depression
About 50% reduction in depression levels is perceived by a number of medical marijuana users.
Although CBD has shown to increase low serotonin levels that are commonly associated with depression and anxiety, there’s still not enough conclusive evidence for medical marijuana as a treatment for depression.
2. Better Sleep
Medical marijuana may also help with reducing anxiety-induced insomnia, but it’s important to take the right dosage to avoid waking up groggy.
Also, multiple recent studies have looked into CBD’s effects on people with PTSD and it’s been reported that CBD may help aid in managing PTSD symptoms, like having replayed negative memories and nightmares.
3. Reduces Anxiety And Stress With Increased Sense Of Calm
Many daily cannabis users consume the substance to relieve stress and tension. With medical marijuana, you can reduce your anxiety by increasing the serotonin levels in your body. Physiological symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heart rate, may also improve.
4. Aid To Other Neurological Disorders
Although more human tests are needed to better understand how medical marijuana really works, a 2016 study has shown that CBD may have antipsychotic effects in people with schizophrenia, who coincidentally also suffer from anxiety symptoms.
If you’re interested in knowing the other benefits of medical marijuana, you should read further data on the surprising benefits of cannabis which are heavily based on research, and not on opinionated claims.
How Can Marijuana Hurt Your Anxiety?
The effects of medical marijuana can vary greatly from one person to another.
While it can help some people with anxiety, it may have the opposite effect on others.
Before you choose to go with this natural alternative, it’s important that you know how it can also hurt your condition.
1. High Levels Of THC May Increase Anxiety Symptoms
Since THC is a psychoactive compound, high dosages of it can be a big factor in increasing anxiety symptoms, like increased heart rate and racing or looping thoughts.
The hallucinogenic effects that THC can give a person may pose some harm to your brain, so it’s recommended to only use low levels of THC to reduce anxiety symptoms.
2. Potential Side Effects Of Medical Marijuana
Although temporary, it’s still important to know the potential side effects that these prescription drugs can give you.
These include paranoia, decreased motivation, problems with concentration, hallucinations, looping thoughts, confusion, increased heart rate, and sweatiness, as well as irritability.
3. Cannabis-Induced Anxiety Disorder
A recognized illness by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, this anxiety disorder is linked to substance abuse, particularly experienced as a form of withdrawal.
Can Medical Marijuana Manage Anxiety? What The Research Says
If you’re planning to get medical prescriptions to use marijuana in managing your anxiety, keep in mind that it’s not a long-term treatment option; rather, it can only provide you temporary support.
Multiple researchers are continuously studying the link between cannabis and anxiety, its negative effects, and potential medical benefits.
Medical marijuana, particularly CBD and strictly low levels of THC, has shown promising medical benefits so far in terms of temporarily reducing anxiety symptoms.
It’s best that you still use it moderately, at smaller doses, and only at a particular time as recommended by your psychiatrist.