Several find marijuana helpful for dealing with stress and anxiety, and analysis points to its effect on the brain as the information.
Printed last month in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, a team of specialists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), University of Calgary and The Rockefeller University reviewed the current body of inquiry on cannabis and anxiety.
As it sets out, despite marijuana’s wide range of effects, relief from tension and stress appears to be the most generally reported reason for using marijuana.
“Cannabis and its derivatives have intense effects on a wide variety of behavioural and neural capacities, ranging from feeding and metabolism to pain and cognition. However, epidemiological comparisons have shown that the most common self-reported reason for using cannabis is rooted in its ability to overcome feelings of stress, tension, and anxiety.”
Comparisons involving THC also show that it “can lessen anxiety in patients with anxiety disorders,” continue the authors. On the other hand, a too high dose can have the opposite effect on certain people.
But while marijuana has long been considered as an effective stress reliever, recent analysis has converged on the neurological activity responsible for this effect. What specialists now know is that marijuana acts on a system in the brain called the endocannabinoid system.
Interestingly, the critics also note evidence that hints anxiety disorders could be caused by abnormalities of this biological system.
“The evolution of the ECB (endocannabinoid) system raised the opportunity that ECBs (endocannabinoids) could be important modulators of anxiety, and might contribute to individual differences in anxious temperament and risk for anxiety disorders.”
Among its various functions, the endocannabinoid system is believed to naturally control anxiety and stress levels. It makes this through the release of compounds that belong to the same class of chemicals found in marijuana: (endo)cannabinoids.
However specialists have recognised over 60 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, its main psychoactive ingredient, THC, is strikingly similar to one of the first endocannabinoids identified in humans, anandamide.
By acting on the same pathways of the brain, both seem to hold promise as a prescription for stress and anxiety. So it’s no surprise that people who undergo from excessive stress are finding relief in marijuana, a phenomenon that specialists call “self-medicating.”
“Notable numbers of people may be self-medicating with cannabis in an attempt to overcome excessive anxiety.”
But whether cannabis is the best way of targeting the endocannabinoid system is still up for discussion.
In fact, the organisers of the latest report argue that raising the brain’s anandamide levels – by inhibiting its breakdown – may be a better therapeutic alternative, due to the “unwanted effects of cannabis (e.g. cognitive impairment, abuse liability).”
Nevertheless, with no clinical analyses of a drug that can do this, it may be a while until such an alternative is available.
Disclaimer: the principles contained here is not designed nor meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is only achieved for educational confidences only. You should recognise full responsibility for the way you decide on to use this information.
Tags: Anxiety, Depression, Stress