Marijuana and CBD: Benefit or Harm for Anxiety?
Many of my clients want to know if they can use marijuana for anxiety, so I have become curious, attended some workshops, and read the most recent research.
You need to pay attention to your own body and your own responses when considering this information. You always need to be the one to decide and determine what is best for you.
Many states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and even more, have for medicinal use. There is a good reason! There is evidence that THC-based marijuana helps with sleep, pain, and nausea, but there is no scientific evidence that it is beneficial for anxiety.
When we talk about marijuana, we usually mean the marijuana you smoke that makes you high.
There are two main types of marijuana plant Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. From each of these plants come different compounds.
These compounds are called cannabinoids.
The two main compounds we will be talking about when talking about marijuana and anxiety are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).
There are 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants! CBD and THC and account for about 40 percent of the plant extract.
When looking at anxiety and marijuana, it's important to DISTINGUISH between these two compounds.
Does the research show THC-based marijuana for anxiety is helpful or problematic ?
Why ask? It's important to ask because so many people are using marijuana for their anxiety.
Statistics show that between 2007 and 2014 there has been a 45 percent increase in the use of marijuana. Those who are heavy users and smoking daily increased from 1 in 9 to 1 to 3 from 1992 -2014.
People who struggle with their mental health are the group that is smoking the most, especially in the states where marijuana has been legalized.
Dispensaries are dishonest in advertising.
Dispensaries in these states make false claims that they sell certain strains of marijuana for anxiety but no research has been done on these strains and each person will have a different response. False advertising abounds.
Many people believe that because marijuana is natural, it must be good for treating anxiety. It helps explain why 30 percent of people use THC based marijuana for anxiety.
However, what the research suggests is that THC based marijuana has the potential to increase anxiety in the long run, even if it seems to decrease it temporarily. This is because avoidance maintains anxiety. For the same reason Xanax is not a good treatment for anxiety, marijuana may not be. You aren't learning any skills to cope.
Furthermore, in higher doses, it THC the ability to induce paranoia and panic attacks.
If you become a heavy user of THC-based marijuana, there is a possibility that you may create dependency and withdrawal symptoms which make it harder for you to cope with your anxiety. In this case, smoking or taking marijuana for anxiety in the short run, can make it worse in the long run.
Individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder are the most likely to use THC-based marijuana as medication.
I always tell my clients to listen to their own bodies and figure out what works for them. Just because there isn't evidence doesn't mean it isn't helpful; at the same time, it's important to consider what we know. Although there are drawbacks and possible problems to using marijuana to medicate your anxiety, you may see less. Some people may have a good relationship with marijuana, which may help them manage their anxiety, especially when integrated into a part of a bigger wellness plan.
Some of the dangers include:
In adolescents, heavy THC-based marijuana use can lead to the early onset of depression, psychosis, or permanent IQ changes. I was shocked to learn this information, but it seems that this is linked to how marijuana is formulated, stronger, and more potent.
Lee JLC, Bertoglio LJ, Guimarães FS, Stevenson CW. Cannabidiol regulation of emotion and emotional memory processing: relevance for treating anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders. Br J Pharmacol. 2017 Oct;174(19):3242-3256. doi: 10.1111/bph.13724. Epub 2017 Mar 9. PMID: 28268256; PMCID: PMC5595771.
Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015 Oct;12(4):825-36. doi: 10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1. PMID: 26341731; PMCID: PMC4604171.
Marijuana and CBD: Benefit or Harm for Anxiety? Featuring: Robert Yielding, PsyD ADAA webinar February 15 2021
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Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.