Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for Anxiety

cannabinoid-receptorsOne of the most commonly sought after natural remedies for anxiety is the use of medical marijuana. While used as treatment for a number of conditions, its effects on anxiety are still being researched.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety manifests in a number of different disorders. Common forms include phobias, social anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. All forms of anxiety disorders tend to show the same symptoms, including excessive worrying, fear and feelings of nervousness. These kinds of anxiety go beyond the standard worrying that most people encounter from time to time. Anxiety disorders have an effect on one’s quality of life, interfering with their ability to function.

The Role of the Endocannabinoid System

The body’s endocannabinoid system has an important effect on how one processes anxiety. The portions of the brain that control anxiety feature higher concentrations of cannabinoid receptors. It has been shown that those who take drugs that block these receptors experience increased anxiety. The endocannabinoid system also plays a role in processing negative memories, thus it has the potential to reduce the effects of post traumatic stress disorder.

How Marijuana Can Increase Anxiety

While short-term use of marijuana can lead to reduced anxiety, opposite effects may be experienced as well. Paranoia and anxiety attacks are common side effects of using marijuana. The main ingredient in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC, has the ability to increase anxiety at higher doses, while lowering it with lower doses.


How Marijuana Can Reduce Anxiety

Cannabidiol, or CBD, may be able to block additional anxiety caused by THC. While CBD does not produce the same feelings of high as THC, marijuana rich in the former may prove to be the better choice for anxiety relief. Further research has shown that CBD has the ability to significantly improve anxiety compared to placebo.

All in all, marijuana may decrease certain kinds of anxiety, but it also has the potential to increase anxiety in larger dosages. Medical marijuana, pure THC or CBD may be prohibited according to jurisdiction, so their availability is not open for everyone seeking treatment for an anxiety disorder. Even with more conclusive research, any sort of medical marijuana prescription for anxiety might still be years away. Experimental usage is possible for patients active in areas which hold progressive drug policies, ranging from limited medical to recreational usage and legal cultivation of cannabis plants for personal usage. In any case, caution and additional safety measures are strongly recommended. Studies have revealed the existence of a link between marijuana and anxiety, but the effects depend on the dosage and form of cannabinoid present.