Weed has a few long-term myths that are slowly being proven or unproven with advanced research. Like, weed actually fuelling your appetite with cases of the munchies…and also, weed raising anxiety or paranoia. Both ‘myths’ are technically true, but on the flip side for one, marijuana can also be used to lessen anxiety. What studies are uncovering is there’s a fine balance of diminishing anxious thoughts, and heightening them.
Which mostly has to do with the specific strain you’re elevating with, and the unique makeup of cannabinoids and terpenes it contains. So, what’s the real story of marijuana and anxiety for those who are overly anxious already? We’ll explore the facts we know thus far, and how to use them for your high anxiety if you’re looking for alternative sources of healing.
What Causes Anxiety?
It’s been a challenge for the medical field to find an appropriate treatment for anxiety, as they’re still unsure of what exactly causes the uncomfortable feels internally. So far science is speculating that genetics have something to do with feeling anxious, along with environmental factors and quite possibly the ‘brain chemistry’ of each individual.
The search to find an appropriate healing method is quite needed, however. As of 2019, mood and anxiety disorders were the most common conditions affecting Canadian’s mental health daily. Affecting nearly 11.6% of the country’s entire population.
Two parts of the brain are being heavily investigated for their role in causing anxiety. That being the amygdala and hippocampus. Research is currently showing that the triggering of receptors in these areas, might play a part in raising anxiety. For instance, the amygdala is responsible for processing emotions related to ‘threats’. Depending on the type of reaction or communication that occurs, it can cause fear or anxiety to arise.
The hippocampus area of the brain is responsible for storing memories. Meaning it might keep files of upsetting or threatening type of events. As an example, the hippocampus can be smaller in size when the person undergoes abuse as a child, or lives through any type of combat. Beyond, neurologists and psychologists are also investigating the role of hormones, and neuron signaling or communication for causing anxiety. Especially the activity of the serotonin receptor.
Which leads us to the inner-workings of cannabis. Cannabis is also being heavily explored for the way it influences brain communication, and strengthening or weakening certain brain pathways. We’ll learn more about how cannabis works towards stifling anxiety, internally, next.
How Cannabis Works
If you didn’t know by now, cannabis contains a plethora of cannabinoids and terpenes that enact their own individual effects. One reason why research into the exact mechanisms is taking science so long to catch up. The most prevalent cannabinoids found are CBD and THC. These two also seem to be the most influential towards anxiety fuelled disorders.
These cannabinoids and others work with the body’s endocannabinoid system that sends messages to regulate common functions, like fear, anxiety, and stress response.
In general, it’s the levels of cannabinoid receptors that are found in the hippocampus and amygdala parts of the brain that may allow cannabis to effectively combat anxiety. Specifically, researchers have found that one natural endocannabinoid 2-AG activates the same receptors as THC, between the amygdala and the brain’s prefrontal cortex. This connection is leading experts to believe that certain doses of weed can reduce anxiety, too.
Another connection that is seeming to help, is CBD and THC’s ability to influence and promote the production of serotonin. Both cannabinoids are directly linked to the main serotonin receptor 5-HT1A. Because low levels of serotonin are noted as a source for conditions like –
- OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder
- PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
Experts believe this connection between cannabis and serotonin could be quite beneficial. Considering SSRI antidepressants AKA selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are frequently prescribed to treat these disorders…it certainly strengthens the proof.
More important than how cannabis works on the inside, is how it affects consumers feelings and lives on the outside. Next, let’s review the studies into actual use that has shown successful results for cannabis vs. anxiety.
Cannabis and Anxiety – The Research
Researchers have been busy collecting actual data on real-time use of cannabis for anxiety. Here’s a quick overview of recent studies that have proven weed has the ability to reduce anxious feelings.
- One study conclusively published that CBD was effective at treating the anxiety categorized disorders of –
- generalized anxiety disorder
- panic disorder
- social anxiety disorder
- obsessive–compulsive disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- Most recently, a 2020 study confirmed that cannabis’ interaction with the endocannabinoid system decreased connections in the brain that can induce anxiety.
- Participants reported a reduction in anxiety in one study, that specifically delivered low doses versus high doses of cannabis.
- Researchers found that high CBD, and lower THC strains effectively reduced anxiety in their participants in another recent study.
Best Strains for the Overly Anxious
Speaking of real-time use, the benefits of cannabis are best known by the consumers who frequently use them for therapeutic benefits. The strains below, are most noted by actual medical marijuana users for helping to alleviate anxious symptoms:
If you’re a beginner user, just keep in mind that low doses or lesser amounts of THC can help you avoid paranoid or anxious symptoms that weed can sometimes induce.
Mellowing Anxiety the Natural Way
Now that you have all the latest on marijuana and anxiety, you can explore the world of weed to see what works best for you. At the right dose, and with the right strain, cannabis is highly effective at working against the internal receptors that can flare anxious feelings.
In addition to letting those who are ‘overly anxious’ mellow out, for natural unwinding and relaxing. To start experimenting with cannabis to find your right fit, check out MMJDirect’s full collection of indica, sativa, and hybrid strains that can help. Through trial and test, we’re confident you’ll find an appropriate level of chill just for you.