Anxiety can be brought on by many different things. Stress at work, relationship hardships, financial woes, or an underlying mental health disorder can all serve as the root cause of anxious thoughts and feelings. Many of us are affected by it, and a recent study from the ADAA even showed that over 40 million American adults struggle with anxiety.
The good news is that there are ways to treat it, and it doesn’t have to involve prescription drugs like Zoloft or Lexapro. More and more adults are using cannabis as a treatment for anxiety, and many of them have found relief.
So what is it about cannabis that makes it a viable anxiety treatment, and why are so many people finding it to be effective? Keep reading to find out.
A Brief History of Cannabis for Anxiety
Anxiety has been around since humans started walking the Earth. Our brains are programmed to handle stress in different ways, and experiencing anxious thoughts, feelings, and tendencies is the most common effect of this stress.
Even though anxiety has been around since the dawn of time, it wasn’t until a few decades ago that cannabis became a serious contender for anxiety treatment. Before using marijuana as medicine, turning to antidepressant-type drugs was the norm for anxiety treatment (and before that, it was the archaic practices like electroshock therapy).
As marijuana began to become more accepted, extensive research started being done on cannabis for anxiety in the late 90s. A lot of the findings pointed to the same thing: that medical marijuana is a potential treatment option for stress, depression, and anxiety.
How Cannabis Works to Relieve Anxiety
It’s important to realize that everyone reacts to cannabis differently, mainly because we all have a different chemical makeup. But for those who do experience relief from anxiety and stress, it has to do with just that – chemical makeup.
Cannabis contains natural chemical compounds called cannabinoids that, when ingested, latch on to the receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) of the human body. There’s still a lot that remains unknown about the ECS, but science has found that this system plays a major role in regulating functions like sleep, mood, memory, and appetite.
When cannabis is ingested and the chemical compounds connect with the ECS receptors, they can have an effect on each of these functions. That’s why medical marijuana is not only used to treat mood disorders and stress, but also to help with sleep and stimulate appetite.
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5 Reasons More Anxiety Patients Are Turning to Cannabis
Now that you’ve got the general gist of cannabis and anxiety, it probably makes more sense that people are ditching the anti-depressants and turning to this holistic alternative instead. There are 5 reasons in particular that cannabis is gaining so much traction among anxiety sufferers:
It’s More Accepted than Ever Before
In the past, the stigma surrounding cannabis was a negative one. Terms like stoner and pothead were frequently used to describe someone who used marijuana, and these people were often viewed as lazy and unmotivated.
This is no longer the normal perception. Now, everyone and their mother is using cannabis to treat something or another. Well, that might be an overstatement, but the frequency of use has definitely increased over the past years.
A huge reason for this is the push for legalization, especially throughout North America. In Canada, it’s officially legal to use cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes, and many of the US states are following suit.
It’s the “Greener” Alternative
We don’t just mean that literally, but also figuratively. Cannabis is a plant, and it’s a very green plant at that. It’s not only green in the sense that the medicine is grown from the ground instead of synthesized in a lab, but it’s also a better alternative for the environment.
If you consider yourself an eco-warrior, maybe you’ve already thought about using cannabis to alleviate your anxiety. Like growing any crop, as long as it’s done sustainably and ethically, it poses very little risk to the environment.
The most environmentally conscious anxiety sufferers are even turning to a medical cannabis grow license to cultivate their own medicine from home. By growing cannabis for anxiety at home, you have complete control and eliminate pesticides, herbicides, and other products that are harmful to the planet.
It’s Becoming Easier to Access
We’ve already touched on the expanding legality of cannabis, and this is the main reason why medical (and recreational) marijuana is easier to access than ever. Now that Canada and a good portion of the US have legalized weed, many anxiety sufferers can just head to their local dispensary to browse their treatment options.
Retail dispensaries are popping up everywhere, and there are even some legal online retailers that will deliver cannabis right to your doorstep. Who knew that one day accessing cannabis would be as easy as opening up your laptop, clicking a few buttons, and waiting for the delivery to arrive. Well, that day has officially come in many parts of the world.
However, because there is such a demand for cannabis for different medical reasons, there are a lot of marijuana providers that aren’t completely legit and legal. Before you buy cannabis for anxiety, just make sure it’s from a legit source.
There Are Many Ingestion Options
The only real way to take anti-depressant meds is by popping a pill. By using cannabis for anxiety instead, a person has countless options for how to ingest their medicine. While you still have the option to stick to the traditional pill-form, cannabis can also be ingested by:
Needless to say, cannabis offers many more options for ingestion – you can even become more relaxed by chowing down on flavorful cannabis-infused gummy bears.
There Are Fewer Side Effects for Most People
Most prescription medications come with a long list of risks and side effects. It’s a scary thing when an advertisement for a new anti-anxiety med hits the market, and one of the side effects listed is “death”. With cannabis, you have much less to worry about when it comes to harmful risks and potential negative side effects.
A CDC report on drug overdose found that “opioids—mainly synthetic opioids (other than methadone)—are currently the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 46,802 overdose deaths in 2018 (69.5% of all drug overdose deaths).”
As is the case with any medication, there’s always some risk involved, but the good news is that there’s no known risk of addiction or overdose like there is with opioids and anti-depressants.
The most important reason why so many anxiety sufferers are seeking relief from cannabis has to do with its effectiveness. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but many anxiety patients have switched to cannabis or supplemented their current treatment with medical marijuana and found success.