Written by Craig Hauser, M.D. CEO & Medical Director, Hauser Health and Clinical Director, Kannavis
You know you’re in for another bout of an anxiety-filled day when you’re having difficulties concentrating at work or school. Your head gets foggy, your palms get oddly sweaty, and your heart starts to pound like crazy. What’s more, you’re morphing into Mr. or Miss Cranky.
Strictly speaking, anxiety is a perceived apprehension or danger over an upcoming event.
While anxiety may have been useful in the prehistoric era when our ancestors were running away from predators or gathering food in the woods, it’s not as helpful as we tackle modern day versions of events or things that push us over the edge — the morning traffic, an offhand comment on social media, or an overflowing email inbox .
What Causes Anxiety in the First Place
Researchers and experts on anxiety haven’t reached a consensus as to what specifically causes anxiety and depression, but most of them would agree that it’s likely a mix of genetics, environment, and psychology.
Besides feeling hopeless and pessimistic, people with chronic anxiety may find themselves losing interest in their daily lives. They’re also likely to suffer from other health issues such as autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
The Conventional Way of Managing Anxiety
A combination of anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants are often prescribed as conventional means to manage symptoms of anxiety.
Although they can be effective during the first few doses, a lot of patients find themselves experiencing adverse effects. These include but are not limited to unwanted weight gain, insomnia, chronic dry mouth, and reduced sexual drive.
Fortunately, there’s an increasing body of research demonstrating that anxiety symptoms can be managed without adverse effects through exercise, meditation, mindfulness based cognitive therapy, and medical cannabis.
How Cannabis Works in Managing Anxiety
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two of the most studied compounds in cannabis.
Cannabis strains with higher CBD have been shown to be more effective in managing anxiety-related symptoms. Meanwhile, strains with high THC have been shown to mimic the body’s natural coping mechanism in blocking out traumatic memories, particularly in patients suffering from anxiety and PTSD.
In a German study, research findings seem to suggest that the body’s natural supply of cannabinoids flood the amygdala (the brain’s fear center) and aid in erasing unpleasant memories. Furthermore, a 2011 study published in Neuropyschopharmacology showed that CBD was extremely beneficial for people with severe social anxiety.
Finally, a study by researchers at the Washington State University (whose findings were just published in 2017) indicated that the positive effects of cannabis on stress and anxiety tend to extend beyond the period of cannabis consumption.
The study’s findings, published in the medical journal Psychopharmacology, found out that people who use cannabis daily or almost daily had a blunted stress reaction when exposed to high-stress situations, even after a period of abstinence in using cannabis.
While non-cannabis participants of the study had elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol when stressed and reported feeling anxious, chronic cannabis users reported lower levels of anxiety. Surprisingly, there were no changes in their cortisol levels under high stress. In short, it was as if they were under no stress at all.
Give Cannabis a Try to Banish Anxious Thoughts
Research is underway across the world to figure out if medical cannabis can truly manage anxiety in the long run. It’s worth noting that not all cannabis strains are created equal. With that said, it pays to get yourself evaluated by experts to determine which strain is most effective for you.
If you’re considering cannabis for your anxiety and stress, send us a quick message to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hauser today!