Does marijuana help stress?
At Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, Doctor Sachin Patel, professor of Psychiatry and Molecular Physiology and Biophysics is leading a special team of researchers.
Their goal is understanding how the brain produces natural endocannabinoids and how additional cannabinoids, introduced with marijuana use, affects the brain.
What they have discovered so far is twofold: First, the research is confirming what many weed users have believed for decades, namely, that marijuana helps stress and anxiety; and second, some reasonable warnings about its use.
“Approved” Medicinal Use of Cannabis in Canada
With the passage of the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) in April 2017, more people than ever are taking a more serious look at marijuana.
Many are using medical marijuana as a learning curve to plan purchases once products become legal recreationally.
However the Canadian government, while presently stating that cannabis is legal medically, carefully avoids endorsing any specific medical conditions for its use.
Instead, it provides a research document prepared for doctors and patients to use as a guideline.
This document, titled Information for Health Care Professionals: Cannabis and the Cannabinoids, states the following disclaimer in bold font:
“This document should not be construed as expressing conclusions from Health Canada about the appropriate use of cannabis (marihuana) or cannabinoids for medical purposes.”
Hence, there are no “approved” uses of weed for medical use in Canada.
Nevertheless, the research provided can guide anyone wondering if marijuana helps stress to understand the facts…
In section 220.127.116.11 Anxiety and Depression discusses the stress-relieving capabilities of cannabis.
How Does Marijuana Help Stress?
The document first explains the survey results in which users overwhelmingly report weed use relieves anxiety.
The clinical research presented also confirms that cannabis helps the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain regulate mood.
Then, the research indicates that from a medical standpoint, weed is especially helpful for persons suffering from a chronic disease such as HIV.
However, one caveat is that cannabis may be harmful to a person with psychotic disorders.
It says for persons with psychiatric disorders, cannabis could exacerbate underlying conditions. So it should only be used as a treatment if recommended by their doctor.
Again, for the average person, marijuana does help stress.
How the Brain Reacts to Cannabinoids for Anxiety
The research Dr. Patel and his team are conducting at Vanderbilt confirms these earlier studies and provides an even deeper understanding of who should and should not use marijuana for anxiety and stress.
Their research answers the important question: Does marijuana help stress?
The Vanderbilt team discovered that marijuana helps stress by suppressing excitatory signals in the brain, but overuse can result in slowing the natural production of cannabinoids.
Therefore, contrary to popular belief, marijuana can be addictive. Just how much is too much, however, the team does not state.
Expect further research on this topic. Once cannabis is fully-legal in Canada, there will no doubt be plenty of volunteers.
Does Marijuana Help Stress Associated with Anxiety Disorders like PTSD?
Stress is directly linked to anxiety and other mental conditions. Many researchers worldwide are considering if cannabis is an effective treatment.
For instance, the Vanderbilt study used electric shock to the feet of mice to induce stress. The next day, the mice provided with cannabis were better able to cope with induced anxiety than those without.
However, the team discovered something unexpected…
The mice which had consumed cannabis had reduced anandamide levels in the brain. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid naturally produced in the brain and generally, more of the chemical reduces anxiety.
Therefore, the team concluded that augmentation of anandamide could be a useful therapy for stress. In other words, cannabis can help stress.
Because most researchers recognize that marijuana helps stress and general anxiety disorders, some have begun to investigate how it may be used to manage PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
In fact, PTSD sufferers are well-known to self-medicate with weed. This report, from the Canadian website, lists PTSD research.
It also shows how many American states have legalized pot for medical use treatments.
The U.S. Government does not promote marijuana use among veterans suffering from PTSD. However, they admitted in one study that “THC was safe and well tolerated and resulted in decreases in hyperarousal symptoms.”
In other words, marijuana helps stress related to PTSD.
Self-Medicating with Cannabis for Stress and Anxiety
When self-medicating with cannabis for stress and/or anxiety exercise do use caution.
Although the brain creates its own cannabinoids naturally and marijuana can provide additional relief to anxiety and stress sufferers, people with certain psychiatric disorders and chemical dependencies may experience problems.
As noted earlier in the Information for Health Care Professionals report, people with a history of psychiatric disorders or substance abuse should exercise caution in using cannabis for stress.
In the case of such people, the question “does marijuana help stress?” is less important than “can marijuana create more stress?”
This is because, although cannabis helps reduce stress, it can also interfere with anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications.
This can result in a variety of problems for the patient, also harming family and social relationships. The increased difficulties in life will result in additional anxiety.
Can We Conclude the Use of Marijuana Helps with Stress?
In conclusion: Marijuana does help stress.
Many users of cannabis knew this long ago, but because the plant was illegal for so long, research was non-existent.
Modern research is now catching up. Rather than anecdotal evidence, there is a growing body of empirical evidence answering the question, “does marijuana help stress?”
The answer, of course, is an emphatic “yes.” But as with any chemical put into the body, moderation is the key to maximum benefit.
Too much of anything can be harmful. So, the remaining question now is, “how much marijuana is too much?”