For most of us, the holiday season is a time for family, fun and festivities. As the season gets into full swing, we tend to spread ourselves a little thin with shopping, parties and entertaining guests.
Unfortunately, the holidays often bring unwelcome guests: stress and depression. And when seasonal stress is at its peak, it’s nearly impossible to stop and regroup. Fortunately, cannabis can help ease the stress and lessen the emotional toll.
Cannabis And Stress – A History Of Relief And Relaxation
Throughout history, cannabis has been used as a natural relaxant. According to a Yahoo News-Marist poll, 33 percent of American cannabis consumers say the greatest benefit of marijuana is its potential to reduce stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, the same survey revealed that 82 percent day they drink alcohol and 59 percent say they have smoked cigarettes as a form of relaxation.
We’re not into booze-shaming here at Greenlight Approved. Really. Holiday parties go hand-in-hand with wine, beer, cocktails, hot toddies, eggnog, and champagne.
But cannabis is effective and certainly healthier than alcohol. So, with that in mind, here are a few holiday tips on relaxing with cannabis.
What Science Tells Us
According to a study published in 2009 in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, “findings suggest that cannabis is commonly used as a stress-coping strategy.” Additionally, New Frontier Data, a cannabis data analysis firm, conducted a study last year and revealed:
- Relaxation (55 percent) is the most widely cited reason why people consume cannabis. The next three most common reasons cited are to relieve stress (40 percent), to enhance the enjoyment of a social experience (40 percent) and to reduce anxiety (39 percent).
- Women are significantly more likely than men to consume cannabis to relieve stress (+7%) and to reduce anxiety (+13)
Relaxation and stress relief are overwhelmingly the most commonly perceived benefits of cannabis use, according to the UK’s Independent Drug Monitoring Unit.
Knowing Your Dose Is Important For Relaxation
Dosing matters … especially for those just starting out in cannabis. Research tells us that most people need just a little dose of cannabis for it to be effective for relaxation. Try starting with 5-10 milligrams of THC and see if you feel chill. You can always use more if needed.
According to a study conducted by the University of Chicago’s Department of Psychiatry Behavioral Neuroscience and published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, too much cannabis at one time may have the opposite intended effect. The study concluded that “a low dose of THC produces subjective stress-relieving effects in line with those commonly reported among cannabis users, but that higher doses may non-specifically increase negative mood.
“Our findings provide some support for the common claim that cannabis is used to reduce stress and relieve tension and anxiety,” Childs said.
What the study confirms is that cannabis is dose dependent. It goes without saying that the more someone uses, the more intense the effects. “We found that THC at low doses reduced stress, while higher doses had the opposite effect,” said Emma Childs, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an author of the study. “The doses used in the study produce effects that are equivalent to only a few puffs of a cannabis cigarette,” said Childs, addressing the vital role that THC dosage plays in regard to effects on the body and mind.
Set and Setting are Key
When consuming cannabis to relax, it is important to evaluate your set and setting. In this context, set refers to your biological make-up. Are you generally hyper or chill? What is your current mood (other than anxious)? What is your level of comfort with cannabis? Setting, obviously, means your external surroundings and vantage point. Are you home? With anyone? Out on a walk in the neighborhood? What about music? Does Christmas music relax you? Classical? For some of us, finding a musical groove is essential.
According to research, the importance of set and setting when consuming cannabis matters. It’s important to factor in where you are both mentally and physically when considering dosing for relaxation. The best advice is always to start low and go slow. Once you find your “sweet spot,” you’ll be able to dose appropriately in the future.
Thinking Outside the Box
You don’t have to smoke a joint to relax. In fact, you don’t have to ingest cannabis to get totally relaxed. The next time you visit a Greenlight Approved retail store, ask the trained cannabis guide to show you lotions, ointments and bath bombs that will totally get you in the chill zone.
Whatever your method, remember to start low and go slow.
Entourage Effect: THC and CBD Work Best Together
In a first-of-a-kind study earlier this year, Washington State University scientists examined how peoples’ self-reported levels of stress, anxiety and depression were affected by ingesting different quantities and types of cannabis.
Their work, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, reveals that cannabis can significantly reduce short-term levels of depression, anxiety. The study marks one of the first efforts by American scientists to examine how cannabis with varying amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) affect consumers’ feelings of well-being when consumed outside of a research lab.
“Existing research on the effects of cannabis on depression, anxiety and stress are very rare and have almost exclusively been done with orally administered THC pills in a laboratory,” according to Carrie Cuttler, clinical assistant professor of psychology at WSU and lead author of the study. “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.”
The WSU researchers discovered that one puff of cannabis high in CBD and low in THC was optimal for reducing symptoms of depression. Two puffs of any type of cannabis reduced symptoms of anxiety. Ten or more puffs of cannabis high in CBD and high in THC produced the largest reductions in stress.
“A lot of consumers seem to be under the false assumption that more THC is always better,” Cuttler told Science Daily. “Our study shows that CBD is also a very important ingredient in cannabis and may augment some of the positive effects of THC.” (The synergistic effect of CBD and THC working together is known as the Entourage Effect).
Greenlight Approved is a consumer education platform dedicated to “guiding the cannabis curious.” We believe when you start something new, it’s best to start slow. Gather all the information you can to make a safe informed decision. Let Greenlight Approved be your guide so your first experience with cannabis is an educated, safe and positive one. Let us direct you to premium product and brand options as well as participating retailers near you, at www.greenlightapproved.com.