FAQ Stress and Cannabis

Will cannabis allow me to relax and calm my stress?

Will cannabis allow me to relax and calm my stress?

Everyone has stress. It is nature’s way of keeping us safe. However, the same stress chemicals that protect us can also cause complicated and dangerous health risks. Fortunately, there is a safe and natural medical treatment to help cope with stress: Cannabis.

Relaxation and stress relief are overwhelmingly the most commonly perceived benefits of cannabis use, according to survey’s conducted by the UK’s Independent Drug Monitoring Unit. And a Yahoo News and Marist College survey found nearly 35 million adults in America used marijuana. Thirty-seven percent of these respondents turned to the recreational drug simply for relaxation.

Studies also show that in states with some form of legal cannabis, doctors prescribed less pharmaceuticals of all classes: opiates, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and others.

The endocannabinoid system, the part of the human body and brain responsible for how we behave, feel, think and respond, is greatly affected by chronic stress. Over an extended period of time, chronic stress will interrupt the production of these important cannabinoids, leading to mood swings, breakdowns, and depression.

Researchers from Washington State University may finally have discovered scientific evidence that cannabis reduces stress. The 2017 study, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, found that regular cannabis users were significantly better at keeping their cool under stressful situations compared to those who did not use marijuana.

Will cannabis help with post-traumatic stress disorder?

PTSD affects nearly eight million Americans, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Although anyone can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, the condition affects women much more than men.

Every day, about 20 veterans commit suicide in America, according to a study by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is estimated that up to 20 percent of those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan developed PTSD. And among those veterans who suffer from PTSD, cannabis is the most popular substance requested since 2009.

According to Dr. Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist and leader in PTSD cannabis research, CBD receptors through the brain and spinal cord are particularly concentrated in the emotional center of the brain where the amygdala and hippocampus are located. “There is a unique neural pathway between all of those structures that deals with fear and memory. The thinking is there may be excessive firing within those structures in patients that have PTSD. So, the calming effect [of cannabis] may reduce the neuronal firing in those structures,” Sisley says. It offers “a capacity not to forget bad memories but to not fixate on them.”

When it comes to selecting the right cannabis product for PTSD, most experts suggest CBD-dominant strains. CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient, contains anti-anxiety and antipsychotic properties, which are thought to balance out the oftentimes intense effects of THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid. This is especially true for patients who are overly sensitive to anxiety and paranoia.

What is the proper dose for stress relief?

Less is more. A study published in 2017 by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago report that low levels of THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, clearly reduces stress, but in a highly dose-dependent manner. Very low doses lessened stress and promoted relaxation. Higher doses – enough to produce a mild “high” – actually increased anxiety.

“The doses used in the study produce effects that are equivalent to only a few puffs of a cannabis cigarette,” said Emma Childs, lead researcher of the Chicago study. “We didn’t want to include a much larger dose, because we wanted to avoid potential adverse effects or cardiovascular effects that can result from higher doses of THC.

“Our findings provide some support for the common claim that cannabis is used to reduce stress and relieve tension and anxiety,” said Childs. “At the same time, our finding that participants in the higher THC group reported small but significant increases in anxiety and negative mood throughout the test supports the idea that THC can also produce the opposite effect.”

“Start Low and Go Slow” is a concept embraced by Greenlight Approved retailers with regard to cannabis for novice users. You can always add more, but once you have consumed you can’t “turn off” the effect very well. When it comes to stress relief, it would be wise to follow this advice.

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