The battle against anxiety has been waged all the way back into the historical mists. And while marijuana has been used for decades by those whose personal experience has seen it work, now there is a medical underpinning to the assumption of cannabis’s impact on those dealing with anxiety.
Marijuana for Stress
A first-of-its-kind study out of Washington State University delved into how people self-reported their levels of stress, anxiety and depression were impacted by smoking marijuana at home.
The key words there are “at home.”
CBD Anxiety Study
The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, suggested inhaling cannabis can significantly reduce short-term levels of anxiety. This was one of the first attempts by U.S. scientists to determine the impact of cannabis intake when smoked outside of a laboratory. The study was conducted to explore how differing concentrations of the chemical compounds tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) can affect medicinal cannabis users’ sense of well-being.
The result? After just a couple of puffs, patients reported feeling less anxious.
The study’s lead author, WSU assistant professor of psychology Carrie Cuttler, said the study went in a different direction than past efforts.
“Existing research on the effects of cannabis … are extremely rare and have almost exclusively been done with orally administered THC pills in a laboratory,” Cuttler said. “What is unique about our study is that we looked at actual inhaled cannabis by medical marijuana patients who were using it in the comfort of their own homes as opposed to a laboratory.
“A lot of consumers seem to be under the false assumption that more THC is always better. Our study shows that CBD is also a very important ingredient in cannabis and may augment some of the positive effects of THC.”
CBD For Anxiety And Depression
In their published findings, the research squad reported that one puff of cannabis high in CBD and low in THC was optimal for reducing symptoms of depression, two puffs of any kind of cannabis were sufficient to reduce symptoms of anxiety, while 10 or more puffs of cannabis high in CBD and high in THC produced the largest reductions in stress and anxiety.
As part of the study, users were asked to rate the symptoms they were experiencing on a 1-through-10 scale before using cannabis. Then they were asked to rate the symptoms again 20 minutes after smoking, and to list the number of puffs taken.
“This is, to my knowledge, one of the first scientific studies to provide guidance on the strains and qualities of cannabis people should be seeking out,” Cuttler said. “Currently, medical and recreational cannabis users rely on the advice of bud tenders whose recommendations are based off of anecdotal, not scientific, evidence.”
The researchers also found that while both sexes reported decreases in all three symptoms after using cannabis, women reported a significantly greater reduction in anxiety following cannabis use.
Data for the study were processed through the trademarked app Strainprint. Cuttler and WSU colleagues Alexander Spradlin and Ryan McLaughlin used a form of statistical analysis called multilevel modeling to analyze around 12,000 anonymous Strainprint entries for depression, anxiety and stress. The researchers did not receive any of the Strainprint users personally identifying information for their work.
There are a number of other cannabis-related research projects currently underway at WSU, all of which are consistent with federal law and many of which are funded with Washington State cannabis taxes and liquor license fees.
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