A lot of people report using cannabis (either THC or CBD) to combat symptoms of anxiety. However, modern medicine is still playing catchup with this possible form of treatment. Though we shouldn’t ignore success, we should still ask questions and watch developments closely. Cannabis and anxiety: What are the pros and cons?
In a study published in 2017 in the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology, researchers concluded that Cannabis in the form of THC was efficient in reducing anxiety.
“The researchers identified 8 cross-sectional studies that reported anxiety reduction as a primary or secondary benefit of MM. One of these studies noted that retrospective reports indicated that symptoms of anxiety returned upon cessation of MM use.”
As stated by the abstract of the study, the effects of THC only last when consumption is regular. Therefore, it can be a good option for an acute crisis. Of course, it’s important to address the source of anxiety by other means such as therapy or a lifestyle change.
Access and choice
Another side of this issue to consider is access to healthcare and more conventional medication. In 2018, 27.5 million people didn’t have insurance in the US according to the Census Bureau. The combined cost of doctor consults and prescriptions undoubtedly deters those without insurance from seeking care. Or, even those with insurance depending on coverage. Therefore, people are more likely to go directly to a dispensary in states that do not require a Medical Marijuana Card.
Finally, a lot of people prefer direct plant matter to chemical solutions. Living a better life can very much be about taking ownership of the journey toward betterment and not considering stigma for one’s own happiness.
While cannabis is pretty cool, it is unfortunately not a miracle worker. While there is a lot of pros to using Cannabis to treat symptoms, there are some facts to keep in mind.
First, because marijuana isn’t legalized federally and is not yet widespread in the medical field, there is a lot of trial and error around treating anxiety with cannabis. While there are some data and a general understanding of how cannabis interacts with the body, there isn’t enough perspective to establish a durable treatment plan.
This leads to very inconsistent results, which need to be taken into consideration.
Plus, the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology study showed that only high doses of cannabis can have an effect on anxiety. Furthermore, the long-term results of a cannabis treatment aren’t as conclusive as traditional treatments.
“When considering marijuana for the treatment of anxiety disorders, it should be remembered that regular marijuana use would result in tolerance to medicinal effects. Thus, this increases the risk of rebound anxiety upon cessation and fostering cannabis dependence. To date, there have been no reported randomized controlled trials to show sustained benefits of cannabis in the treatment of anxiety disorders.”
In addition, not everyone can consume cannabis and keep employment. Drivers, pilots, and heavy machinery operators are all positions that prohibit the consumption of psychoactives for safety reasons. And for those who can combine their position with marijuana, it is still illegal in most states. Additionally, even in those states, employees might be subject to drug tests.
Finally, contrary to popular belief, cannabis can create dependence. In committing to this form of treatment, dosage moderation is key.
Before you roll up
All in all, consider your options carefully when deciding whether or not to choose cannabis as a path of treatment for anxiety. And, if possible, consult a healthcare professional. Hopefully, soon there can be more data and professional insight on the cannabis question.
On the other hand, CBD has shown more hopeful results in treating anxiety with lesser side effects. So, it’s worth considering in the meantime, or if you’re not ready to dive into THC. You can learn more about THC and other cannabinoids on our blog.