Treating Anxiety with Cannabis

 

 

Introduction:

Cannabis has the potential to both mitigate and exacerbate anxiety. This is why it is important to understand terpenes, cannabinoids and how the various compounds in cannabis work together in what is referred to as “the entourage effect”.

Due to inhaled cannabis’ potential to increase heart rate and stimulate the nervous system’s “fight or flight response,” some patients have reported an increased wave of anxiety before eventually settling into a state of relief. It’s often suggested to new users that it can be beneficial to use cannabis in a comfortable and familiar environment. Too much THC can cause anxiety and panic attacks, even in people with a lot of experience using cannabis, so using THC that is balanced by CBD can be an important rule for patients who are experiencing unwanted effects.

In addition to using strains balanced in CBD, chewing/sucking on peppercorns, (due to their abundance of caryophyllene), is another way that  patients can potentially mitigate uncomfortable side effects from taking too high of a dose. 

The Research Re: Cannabis/Anxiety:
  • Lower doses offer increased therapeutic effect (biphasic – beneficial in smaller doses, detrimental in larger doses). (1)
  • 2-AG reduces anxiety related responses between amygdala and frontal cortex. (2)
  • What is 2-AG? (2-AG is a full CB1 and CB2 receptor agonist so it is effective in the central nervous system and in immunologic tissues)
    • First described about 25 years ago by Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat.  (3)
    • 2-AG is thought to be beneficial in pain relief, appetite stimulation, and relief from nausea. (4) 
Potential types of anxiety that cannabis may be useful in treating: 

Agoraphobia: Type of anxiety related to fear of places and situations that feel uncomfortable.

Social Anxiety: Anxiety or fear of social situations, such as dating, meeting new people, job interviews or having a one on one discussion with an unfamiliar person.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): including flashbacks or trauma responses – 

PTSD is a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock, typically involving disturbance of sleep and constant vivid recall of the experience, with dulled responses to others and to the outside world.

Panic Disorder: Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder where you regularly have sudden attacks of panic or fear. Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times.

Phobias: Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. There are many specific phobias. For example, acrophobia is a fear of heights.

Sleep Disruptions Related to Anxiety: Anxiety can cause insomnia. People often complain about racing thoughts and amplified perception of their fears, once they lay in bed and attempt to sleep.

Dosing strategies/Products/Beneficial Compounds:
  • CBD/THC: Balanced Strains
  • High Myrcene/Caryophyllene/Limonene/Linalool
  • Low Pinene/Terpinolene 
  • Vapes/Flower (Inhaled)
  • Edibles/Tinctures (Ingested)
Conclusion:

Research shows that there are a wide variety of treatments available for people who suffer from anxiety and related conditions, however these options do not come without the potential for unwanted side effects. Recent studies  have shown cannabis to be a relatively safe and effective way for patients to treat anxiety without suffering the side effects of traditional anxiety medications. (9)

For more information on how you might benefit from using medical cannabis to treat your anxiety, check out the educational content at www.ritualdispensary.com and be sure to stop by RITUAL to have a chat with our highly educated patient care advisors!

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