One of the top conditions patients treat with medical cannabis is anxiety. A certain amount of anxiety is natural to experience, but many people find themselves dealing with either disproportionate amounts of it–broad, generalized anxiety that stays with them day in and day out–or some experience it in sudden attacks that can come out of seemingly nowhere.
No matter how it manifests in people’s lives, when anxiety takes over, life can seem unmanageable.
Medical cannabis absolutely can and does help people with anxiety live better lives. It just requires informed, intentional usage.
There are several things that people who are considering medical cannabis should know.
TeleLeaf can assist if you think that medical marijuana is the solution.
There is no lethal dosage of cannabis. No part of the plant–no matter how it may be processed or utilized–presents any form of toxicity. This nontoxicity makes medical cannabis a prominent option for medical professionals and patients who choose to complement therapy or counseling with medicine.
For some people who suffer from undue anxiety, neither medicine nor therapy alone is sufficient. Improvement often comes from a more holistic approach, involving some form of talk or behavioral therapy and medicine, to treating patients.
Medical marijuana is a safe medicine for this, and it is being chosen by more and more doctors and patients every day.
Cannabis works in the human body by interacting with something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). ECS receptors are located all throughout the body, including the brain and organ tissues. These receiving points throughout your body are how medical marijuana “gets in” and does its medicinal work.
An important thing to know is that not one of those ECS receptors is biologically designed or evolved to lead to or allow for an overdose. You simply cannot die from cannabis.
Pharmaceutical options, on the other hand, that often accompany therapy (low doses of antidepressants to treat the generalized form of it and benzodiazepines for acute attacks) interact with the brain in a different way. The sedative properties of some create a possibility for lethal overdose.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), from 2019 to 2020, over 1,100 people in the U.S. died from prescribed benzodiazepine overdoses (that does not include the approximately 7,000 others who died from illegally obtained benzodiazepine medications). Zero people have ever died from cannabis.
Cannabis works. At the end of the day, this medicine does what it is supposed to do. It alleviates symptoms and facilitates healing in patients.
When consumed, through any form, cannabis reverses our bodies natural stress response. Stress leads to a hyper-aroused amygdala and a hypo-aroused prefrontal cortex.
The animal brain takes over and stops communicating with the logical brain. When cannabis is introduced it reverses this response, reducing and removing anxiety.
People who are experiencing high levels of stress and/or trauma have all found relief and healing through medical marijuana.
It is a tool that can effectively be used to manage our stress responses, especially in those who have developed maladaptive behaviors in response to it, which then allows them to better manage their lives.
When our stress is managed, we function and perform better, period.
Profound amounts of stress and anxiety interfere with focus and productivity and will lead to long-term chronic conditions if not managed properly.
For those who have experienced high levels of trauma, like combat trauma or childhood sexual abuse, the use of cannabis daily to manage a disproportionate stress response on a daily basis is commonly seen.
With intentional use, cannabis can be a performance enhancer for your daily life.
Full plant medicine is key. When you read product labels, you’ll see some things labeled “full spectrum” and “full plant.” This means that you’re getting natural, whole cannabis medicine, not an isolate or a distillate; or in simple terms, only parts of the plant.
Although the major and minor cannabinoids like THC and CBD get all of the attention, the true magic in this plant lies within its phytochemicals.
The use of a full-plant medicine, and not its isolated parts, will most effectively bring balance to your essential functions of eating, sleeping, digestion, memory, emotion, and arousal.
When our body is in a stressed or anxious state, these essential functions are disrupted in an effort to conserve and focus energy to enhance our survival.
We highly recommend using full-plant products as a tool to manage your stress response and effectively control your anxiety to achieve better outcomes.
While products with THC seem to deliver the most pain relief, CBD is an effective anti-inflammatory compound.
Current science suggests CBN is the best option if a patient needs to get their sleep function back in line, and THCv shows promise for increasing energy and focus as well as appetite realignment. What this means is that when you’re getting all of the plant, all of the essential functions are being supported.
Cannabis is a complex and biodiverse plant. Not only are there (seemingly) countless strains (all those names you hear like Blue Dream and Sour Diesel), but each strain breaks down into distinct cannabinoid ratios and profiles.
If you are having an acute attack and need to immediately reduce your anxiety, inhaling will bring the quickest relief.
Smoking and vaping deliver the cannabinoids straight from your lungs to your bloodstream. Even with fast-acting edible formulas (including sublingual tinctures), you can expect to wait at least 15-20 minutes before relief comes, making ingestion a less effective option in emergent situations. The same goes for topical use.
Patches generally take around 30 minutes to confer noticeable effects. Whether you inhale flowers or use a vape pen, the effects are detectable almost immediately.
For patients with health comorbidities that prevent you from inhaling cannabis, sublingual tinctures are the next best option, as they bypass some of the lengthy digestion process.
If you are using cannabis in a more proactive, preventative sense–keeping a steady level of cannabinoids in your system to ward off future episodes–other consumption methods work better.
While they take longer to take effect (because they have to go through the liver), traditional edibles can keep people medicated for 8-10 hours. Transdermal patches deliver medicine for approximately 10 hours with some working up to 24.
Find the consumption method that works best for you to fit your exact needs. Since cannabis has such a high safety profile compared to all other pharmaceuticals, we recommend experimenting with different types and routes of consumption to find what works best for you.
Experienced patients who medicate with flowers can often tell if a strain will work well for them based on smell. This is because of something called terpenes.
Terpenes (sometimes you’ll hear someone call them “terps”), like cannabinoids, are naturally occurring chemicals within the cannabis plant.
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give each strain its unique scent and taste. They’re why one strain smells like citrus while another carries a pine scent.
These terpenes (with names like linalool, alpha-pinene, and myrcene) work with cannabinoids in a supportive fashion to determine how each strain affects individuals.
Terpenes are not unique to cannabis, by the way. They exist in all plants. But cannabis terpenes are unique in the medicinal properties they have compared to other plants.
When it comes to medical uses of cannabis, there is no one way that works for everyone. Each person’s pharmacology is different from the next depending on a number of variables including diet, genetics, BMI, etc.
This is a highly individualized and holistic treatment option. While the science behind cannabis informs general usage guidelines, hard and fast rules do not exist.
You cannot look at cannabis like it’s a pharmaceutical treatment option with blanket effects. The ‘take two and call me in the morning’ philosophy does not exist like most other pharmaceuticals.
Cannabis is holistic medicine. It requires patients to consider their whole being when medicating in order to achieve relief and results they are looking for.
The plant can be used as a tool to treat anxiety in combination with other modalities to bring balance in your life and produce better outcomes.
In summary, medical cannabis can absolutely be used as a performance enhancer when it comes to treating anxiety.
It can be used both proactively and reactively to achieve better health outcomes and produce better results while serving as a safe and effective tool outside of traditional pharmaceutical options.