Medical Marijuana for Anxiety: A Safer Solution to Prescription Drugs
Medical marijuana and anxiety treatment seem to be at odds with one another. After all, many of us associate smoking marijuana with feelings of paranoia and general sensations of unease. Nowadays however, a wide variety of people are making use of medical marijuana to treat this problem.
What Is Anxiety
It is hard to describe anxiety and panic disorders to people who have never experienced this phenomenon. However, over forty million people in the U.S suffer from anxiety. Of this forty million, 6 million also suffer from panic disorders and attacks. Under the umbrella of anxiety disorders fall conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias.
It is normal to feel anxious on occasion, especially before an event such as test taking or public speaking. Anxiety disorders are different. Anxiety is a feeling of general uneasiness that usually has no realistic base or reasoning. This feeling of worry often escalates uncontrollably and can have negative impacts on the sufferer’s life. Panic attacks often accompany a bout of anxiety and are a real, physical symptom of a serious underlying medical condition. People suffering a panic attack often sweat, have difficulty breathing and have heart palpitations.
The medicines prescribed by doctors to control anxiety are often anti depressants, beta-blockers or anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax or Klonopin. While these drugs are powerful in controlling anxiety and act quickly, like any prescription medications, these drugs can have negative side effects, especially if taken in the long term.
First and most importantly, long term or overuse of certain anti anxiety medication can cause a chemical addiction. This is a serious problem that will likely require rehabilitation. Other side effects of these medicines can range from less serious effects like drowsiness and mild disorientation, to more severe like wild mood swings and irritability. The most serious side effects include psychotic episodes and seizures.
So Where Does Marijuana Fit In?
If you looked at the back of a bottle of Xanax, the active ingredients would read “alprazolam” followed by a list of non-therapeutic ingredients. If a marijuana leaf came with a similar label, the first two active ingredients would read CBD and THC. There are over 60 active ingredients in cannabis.
THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol. It is responsible for the high people feel after consuming marijuana. Although THC has many wonderful medical benefits, it is most sought after for its psychoactive properties and in medicine is recognized as an excellent natural pain reliever.
CBD, short for cannabidol is different. CBD actually makes marijuana an ideal anti-anxiety drug. The user does not experience a high at all. Instead, CBD promotes feelings of relaxation without making patients feel lethargic or paranoid.
For certain conditions, a mix of these two compounds is essential. For example, if you are using marijuana to treat side effects of cancer and cancer treatment, the THC will help you sleep, control chronic pain and stimulate your appetite while the CBD will soothe your anxiety and some feelings of unease.
Marijuana as Anxiety Treatment
However, for some conditions, THC can actually worsen things. As it has psychoactive properties, THC can encourage feelings of paranoia and sensations of dystopia. Anyone suffering from anxiety or an anxiety-related disorder may want to consider a marijuana strain with a high ratio of CBD to THC.
Cannabinoid receptors are found in areas that are known to control mood, fear, stress and sleep. Studies show that activation of these cannabinoid receptors in animals lowers blood pressure and heart rate, which are the physical culprits behind anxiety. This is the reason that people often feel like they are spiraling during an anxiety attack and why they feel that their heart is going to burst out of their chest during a panic attack.
Consumption of high CBD ratio medical marijuana may also help people suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, which is usually caused by an extreme traumatic event and is commonly seen in soldiers returning from duty. Medical marijuana can help reduce chronic anxiety as well as normalize fear, which may allow people to work through the memories.
Luckily, the rise in legal medical marijuana dispensaries has made these high CBD strains easier to identify and find, not to mention in some states legal to purchase. Medical marijuana dispensaries often have THC and CBD amounts displayed and staff is usually knowledgeable when it comes to helping you select a strain that will be appropriate for treating a specific condition.
Medical Marijuana: A Guide
Nowadays, the most common way of consuming marijuana is by smoking it. However, some people do not enjoy this and there are a variety of other options available for these individuals.
Vape juice has become commonly used both by people trying to kick a cigarette habit and now medical marijuana users. People also consume marijuana orally, either by eating it mixed into other food or by creating a marijuana tea. Consuming marijuana orally usually makes for a longer period of effectiveness. Cannabinoid oils are also available and make it easy to consume large doses for serious conditions.
It is also possible to apply marijuana oils and ointments directly to the skin, but would likely not be helpful in treating anxiety.
Anxiety is a debilitating condition that can truly hamper an individual’s quality of life. Although there are many prescription medicines that can help treat the various symptoms of anxiety, they come at great risk of chemical dependency as well as serious negative side effects.
Medical marijuana offers an all-natural alternative to these drugs. It is important to understand the two major active ingredients in marijuana. Most people know about THC; it is the psychoactive component in marijuana that makes cannabis so appealing as a recreational drug. CBD however promotes relaxation and evidence shows that it can decrease the physical symptoms of anxiety; a racing heartbeat and high blood pressure.
Medical marijuana dispensaries have made it much easier for users to know what they are consuming in terms of these active ingredients. Most will give users a ratio of THC and CBD by specific strain. Hopefully, we continue moving forward so we can as a society make full use of this powerful natural, medicinal plant.