Can Marijuana Help Treat Anxiety ?

There are many treatments available for psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and many others concerning medications and therapies. Although medications used do work, one should probably ask if other more natural substances such as marijuana may assist in certain conditions. Here we look at anxiety, marijuana, and the effects that marijuana may have on treating anxiety.

What is anxiety ?

The condition of anxiety concerns one being overly concerned or nervous about certain situations which may or may not occur. There are many types of anxiety which are treated. The following mentioned are only some forms of anxiety including:

Generalized Anxiety: The individual portrays an excessive, uncontrolled, and irrational worry about events or activities which could occur.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: This condition can develop when any individual is exposed to a traumatic event that may be life changing. It may occur in things such as thoughts, visions or dreams.

Social Anxiety Disorder: This condition is characterized by a fear of different social situations. This can cause fear and thoughts of other individuals’ opinion on you.

Seperational Anxiety: This concerns anxiety caused by a fear of separation from others such as close friends or loved ones. This is usually more common in younger children and adolescents.

Avoidance Personality Disorder: This could be seen as a sub condition of the previously mentioned social anxiety disorder, only at a more intense level. Here most of the time social interaction is avoided although close relationships are desired.

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These and other types of anxiety are seen in individuals and can have different types of causes. Here is where it is important that not only medications, but different therapies be looked at as well in order to treat these conditions. Now that you have a good idea of different types of anxiety, we will look at marijuana, and then cover how both the use of marijuana may assist in treating anxiety.

Types of marijuana

The marijuana plant can be classified into one of three different types. The natural plants of marijuana include sativa, or indica. Each of these grow in different types of environments and have different uses. You also have the hybrid type of marijuana. This is made in a lab and consists of a combination of the two types of marijuana in different concentrations of each. This allows for numerous strains of marijuana for treatment of different medical conditions.

Sativa: This type of marijuana is native to eastern Asia, but can be found anywhere. Over time, it has been used for many purposes including religious, medical, recreational, and other purposes.

Indica: This is used for different purposes including making cloth, religious, and recreational, along with other things as well.

Hybrid This is a combination of the two previous types mentioned which is used for different medical purposes, and other things.

There are also different chemical makeups of each of these marijuana types. This consists of different chemicals mainly either THC or CBD. Each of these parts of the marijuana plant have different effects. The THC is used more for recreational purposes and gives a euphoric feeling, while CBD is more calming and relaxing.

Can Marijuana help treat anxiety ?

Because of the different effects of marijuana just previously mentioned, if would make sense that using a marijuana substance with more CBD in it may assist in treating psychological conditions such as anxiety due to its calming effects. CBD is used for chronic pain, but there is very limited evidence in it helping with psychiatric disorders (5) although many individuals have reported this (4).

There is a system called the endocannabinoid system which is a biological system concerning neurotransmitters which bind to cannibinoid receptors in the central nervous system. This concerns regulating both physiological and cognitive processes. This includes mediating the effects of cannabis pharmacologically. There have been two cannibinoid receptors identified. Concerning the working of THC and CBD with these receptors, CBD works as an antagonist while also having a counter active effect of some negative effects of THC on the system.

The endocanabinoid system plays an important role in controlling ones’ emotions and stress, tension, and anxiety. The use of cannabis has been shown in animals to help in regulating and decreasing anxiety but at higher levels, is thought to possibly have the opposite effect and act as a trigger (6). In order to better understand how this works, more studies should be done on humans when it is allowed.

Therapeutic effects of marijuana use have been reported by many individuals, and the majority has been used in self therapy and treatment for depression and anxiety. Although there have been these reports, there are few clinical trials that have been conducted on the effects of marijuana on these conditions due to current legal regulations. Previous studies conducted on animals suggests CBD as having an anti-anxiogenic or anti anxiety effect possibly due to control of certain receptors which may allow anxiety to occur (1).

Because the CBD part of the marijuana plant is thought to have positive medical effects, it is best to limit the amount of THC that is in the substance used. Although CBD has been shown to have anti-anxiogenic effects as previously mentioned, in some reviews it is thought that higher amounts actually have anxiogenic or anxiety stimulating effects (2). This is not confirmed though since studies are limited to the use of animals and not humans.

The use of CBD may not only work through chemistry but also interact with neurotransmitters within the brain in order to help anxiety disorders (3). Anxiety disorders are the most common psychological condition, and anti anxiety drugs can have significant side effects, so using a natural substance like marijuana may be a good alternative.

Conclusion

There are numerous types of anxiety that exist, currently being treated with pharmacological medications and some forms of therapy. If one struggles with anxiety and wants to stay away from medical treatment, depending on the type and severity of anxiety, the use of therapy and CBD may be good alternative forms of treatment. Also, because it has been shown that anxiety may be a trigger for a seizure to possibly occur, the use of marijuana may help in decreasing seizures in a indirect manner. The effectiveness of using cannabis for the treatment of anxiety or other psychological disorders is limited due to current laws in place, but using CBD may be a possible alternative without negative side effects that are seen when using medications.

References

1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24923339/

2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30922834/

3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28434588/

4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28636769/

5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31412258/

6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26426887/