Is Marijuana The Secret To Ending Anxiety and Panic Attacks?
The use of marijuana as a treatment for various conditions is not a new practice, yet it remains disputed as an effective method to alleviate anxiety and panic attacks. Anxiety disorders including panic disorders, social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are increasingly commonplace in today’s society. Despite the increased number of people who experience anxiety worldwide, very few medications have proven successful in easing anxiety and panic without inducing harmful side effects or causing long-term dependency and even abuse.
The key to understanding marijuana’s role in ending anxiety and panic attacks is grasping the science behind it all. Cannabis contains 85 chemical compounds that act as pain relievers by attaching to brain receptors that identify similar compounds arising naturally throughout the human body. The human body has a natural cannabinoid system called the endocannabinoid system. In brief, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for controlling and regulating many major bodily functions including mood, inflammation, digestion, appetite and pain levels. Marijuana and marijuana-derived substances can contain various levels of compounds that interact with these endocannabinoid receptors, thereby eliciting different responses from the body depending on the amount of each chemical present.
CBD in marijuana
The chemical compound Cannabidiol (CBD) present in marijuana is the primary agent working to ease anxiety and panic. Cannabis with high levels of CBD is proven to have anti-inflammatory effects with a high success rate in reducing anxiety. It is also effective in counter-acting the compound of THC in marijuana which is prone to actually heightening the feeling of anxiety and panic. CBD has proven results in limiting the occurrence of epilepsy and seizures while the chemical compound of THC in marijuana is the one that often causes recreational marijuana users to experience highs accompanied by anxiety and panic attacks.
THC in marijuana
THC, or tetrahydrocannibinol, is a chemical found in marijuana that acts to lower blood pressure and supress pain. THC is often associated with heightening feelings of anxiety as it stimulates the area of the brain responsible for fear, known as the amygdala area. THC is responsible for the short-term anxiety and paranoia often experienced by recreational marijuana users, a fact which discourages people with anxiety from attempting to use marijuana as a treatment for their pre-existing conditions.
THC is the favoured component in marijuana used to treat eating disorders, seizures and most forms of cancer. Despite the success of THC in working against these conditions, cannabis treatments for anxiety disorders must be considered with the appropriate dosage and balance of CBD and THC in mind – lacking this, the treatment may very well increase the chances of acute anxiety episodes.
Marijuana as a treatment for anxiety and panic attacks
The study of marijuana and its application as a treatment for anxiety and panic attacks is a much disputed topic, especially in light of the importance of balancing CBD and THC to ensure effective results. This study showed the success of cannabidiol (CBD) in reducing anxiety in social phobia patients required to participate in a public speaking situation. Physiological measures and subjective ratings indicated that those who had been treated with CBD showed markedly less discomfort and anxious thoughts during their speech. The placebo group performed with much higher levels of discomfort and increased anxiety.
Marijuana with high levels of CBD is not necessarily the go-to treatment for anyone and everyone suffering from anxiety and recurrent episodes of panic. However, its application as a treatment is almost always helpful and in many cases remedial, enabling people with anxiety disorders and panic attacks to reduce or completely remove dependency on other forms of medications such as anti-depressants. It is important to keep in mind that the notion of limited results from one form of medication is standard throughout the medical world and not unique to marijuana as a medical drug.
For people with anxiety disorders and sever panic attacks, a product such as cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a safer way to test the effects of the chemical’s anxiety-relieving properties before experimenting with whole-leaf cannabis. CBD oil products have lower or even no levels of TCH and do not produce the high feeling often associated with recreational usage of marijuana.
Always bear in mind that the dosage of marijuana plays a crucial role and must be calculated in conjunction with other factors including sensitivity, tolerance, previous drug use and the environment. Factors such as genetic predispositions can also play a role and must be taken into account when considering the usage of marijuana as a treatment for acute anxiety. Doses should always be minimal for first-time users and should be administered in a comfortable and familiar environment.
Marijuana as a treatment for anxiety disorders is advisable only once a full investigation of other contributing factors and triggers has been completed. People with anxiety often suffer from other conditions such as alcoholism or depression. Treatment for such conditions should be explored first as panic attacks and anxiety may be a symptom of another disorder and not the root cause.
In instances where marijuana use intended to relieve anxiety does the opposite and heightens levels of panic and distress, there are several methods to try in order to decrease the symptoms. Black peppercorns can be chewed to lower levels of anxiety, while passionflower teas can have a calming effect. Activities such as showering and exercise can also help to release stress and anxiety.
With all this information in mind, it is important to realize that the subject is severly lacking in research and that the use of marijuana in ending anxiety and panic attacks requires serious consideration. Different strains of marijuana may also alter the treatment’s success in anxiety alleviation regardless of the amount of CBD and THC present and remain an important consideration. Scientific evidence on the use of marijuana with high levels of CBD as a solution to panic and anxiety attacks remains minimal – here’s to hoping that the medical field will start considering marijuana as the secret to ending anxiety and panic attacks.
Author BIo – Marcus has a degree in psychology, a master’s degree in health psychology and has worked within the NHS as well as private organisations. Marcus started psysci a psychology and science blog in order to disseminate research into bitesize, meaningful and helpful resources.