Treating Anxiety & PTSD With Medical Cannabis

Treating Anxiety & PTSD With Medical Cannabis

Learn about how cannabis, CBD and THC treats anxiety. Sativa and Indica cannabis plants can both relax and excite you, but which is better for anxiety?

Waiting in line to visit the latest Cannabis Clinic in Melbourne, I found out that anxiety was one of the most common conditions that cannabis oil treats. But doesn’t smoking marijuana cause anxiety? Here we look deeper into how cannabis helps treat patients with anxiety.

The CBD cannabis extracts (non-intoxicating) effectively treat anxiety. Cannabis oil with potent amounts of CBD is tailored to treating anxiety. Diagnosed anxiety conditions are applicable for medical marijuana treatment in Australia. CBD naturally calms you without any high effect.

Table of Contents.

Anxiety can seriously affect our health, as lack of sleep decreases physical performance and alertness.

Prolonged sleep disorders can also affect memory and cognitive abilities.

Cannabis is used as a natural relaxant for the mind and body. CBD rich cannabis strains are the most commonly used medicinal marijuana for anxiety and similar disorders.

How does cannabis treat anxiety?

Cannabis has been used to treat anxiety for centuries by traditional medicines from around the world. Recent studies have confirmed Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) as possible anxiolytic therapeutic principles.

CBD is used to treat various anxiety disorders. THC is not effective in treating generalised anxiety, social anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder.

CBD does not have any “high” or intoxicating effects, so it is safe for treating the a large number of mental disorders.

It has anxiety relieving properties thanks to the Endocannabinoid system (ECS) that plays an essential role in our nervous system.

The endocannbinoid system in our bodies
The endocannbinoid system in our bodies

CBD interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors that are found in our central nervous system.

The effects of CBD on these receptors alters our body’s serotonin signals. Low serotonin levels are closely associated with people suffering from anxiety and depression.

The current method to treat anxiety (low serotonin) is with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), such as Prozac.

People with anxiety and low serotonin levels have been able to replace their SSRI medication with medicinal CBD oil through their local Cannabis Clinics.

Medical benefits of CBD for anxiety

Current anti-anxiety medication, such as Valium or Prozac, deliver a fast solution, but are known to become addictive.

CBD has anxiety relieving therapeutic properties that are similar to Paroxetine, a medication commonly used to treat various anxiety disorders.

  • managing low serotonin levels
  • calming and relaxing effects
  • non-addictive
  • anxiolytic effects
  • protects against the adverse effects of chronic stress

The side effects of CBD

How CBD helps treat anxiety disorders.
How CBD helps treat anxiety disorders.

Cannabis and CBD is a grown naturally and extracted for medical use. There are side effects with CBD treatment that your doctor will explain to you, including:

Additional side effects may appear if mixed with other medication. Cannabis Clinics request a health summary that allows them to understand any pre-existing conditions, medicine and medical history that may have adverse effects with CBD treatment.

CBD dosage for anxiety

Cannabis CBD oil drops.
Cannabis CBD oil drops.

Self-medicating can sometimes lead to adverse effects. Doctors are trained to prescribe the appropriate dosages to best suit the medical condition and patient.

We recommend booking an appointment with a Cannabis Clinic near you to find out if CBD treatment is right for you.

In a clinic study, 57 male subjects were treated with CBD oil before simulating public speaking.

300 mg of cannabis oil (CBD) given orally, 90 minutes before the public speaking test, significantly reduced the speakers’ anxiety levels.

The same test was performed with an oral dose of 150 mg, administered 90 minutes before the public speaking test, saw a minimal reduction in their anxiety levels.

Medical professionals are still researching the effects of CBD and anxiety. Doctors at Cannabis clinics are trained to prescribe the right dosage for concern, but this may still take a few months to find the proper dosage that suits you.

What cannabis strains treat anxiety?

Cannabis strains low in THC and high in CBD are the new horizon against anxiety and other similar disorders.

Cases of severe anxiety should probably be treated with low amounts of THC and higher doses of CBD. Cannabis varieties containing high levels of CBD appear to be more effective in helping the patient remain relaxed, sober and focused, whether alone or in uncomfortable social situations.

People suffering from general anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder generally prefer the full body and mind relaxing effects of an Indica rather than a Sativa, with a balanced THC and CBD content.

Medical marijuana treating anxiety.
Medical marijuana treating anxiety.

Social anxiety is more complicated to deal with cannabis, as the line is blurred between being relaxed and being high, between being sociable and too talkative, or merely paranoid.

Cannabis can either help or make the problem worse.

This is almost always impossible to predict, as it depends on a combination of individual sensitivity, social and environmental conditions and, of course, the quantities and ratios of cannabinoids.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders are part of the anxiety disorders, and they provoke thoughts or feelings, fears, actions or sensations repeatedly, which cannot be adequately controlled.

Some common obsessions include fear of germs, fear of making mistakes or sins, and the need for order or symmetry.

Learning to control OCD can take years of intensive therapy, depending on the severity of the disorder manifestations.

How different strains of cannabis interact with these symptoms is not yet fully understood, either by science or by users. It seems that the more CBD, the better it is for the patients.

Sativa or Indica Strains for Anxiety?

What is a cannabis plant?
What is a cannabis plant?

As with any other herbal remedy, the complex of different compounds in cannabis is capable of determining the overall “entourage effect”, which enhances the therapeutic value of a natural Phyto complex, compared to an extracted or isolated active ingredient.

The entire herbal cannabis compound is highly variable in its active ingredient content, and it is not only THC and CBD.

Other components in the cannabis resin could contribute to increase or decrease anxiety.

In addition to the two main cannabinoids, cannabis contains a wide variety of aromatic terpenes, with dozens of different cannabinoids.

Most terpenes are present only in trace amounts, and little is known about their overall medicinal value. But science has proven that some of these terpenes have relaxing and stress-relieving properties, such as myrcene, or an antidepressant action, such as limonene.

Reducing the amount of THC inhaled or ingested seems crucial to avoid anxiety problems.

Most cannabis strains these days are Indica and Sativa hybrids abundant in THC. But the dominance of either strain can determine differences in medicinal applications.

Indica strains have more tranquilising effects than Sativa. They help to calm the mind, relieve nervous sensations and help the body to slip into a relaxed state.

Sativa varieties can be energising and over-stimulating, whereas Indica varieties are more sedative.

Sativa industrial cannabis extracts, such as CBD oil, with a high concentration of cannabidiol and no THC content, are a safe and effective option for treating some of the symptoms of anxiety in adults such as children, the elderly or animals.

Research, studies and evidence

Dry cannabis herb and marijuana plants.
Dry cannabis herb and marijuana plants.

Here we break down professional Australian and international studies around the use of cannabis to treat anxiety disorders, whether or not marijuana causes anxiety and the general effects of cannabis on the human body.

General Anxiety

One of Australia’s most commonly diagnosed mental disorders is the Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Research into the effects of cannabis treating GAD has shown that CBD can reduce stress and positively alter low serotonin levels.

People involved in clinic trials and studies with GAD had positive results. Their behavioural signs of anxiety and mental well-being improved.

Australia has only started researching into the use of cannabis to treat mental disorders. Once more conclusive evidence is available, the treatment of anxiety with CBD oil will become more widespread.

Social anxiety (SAD) and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD)

Other clinical trials involving people with SAD or PTSD also showed positive effects.

Live clinical trials that used CBD oil to treat patients with SAD showed great results with significantly reduced anxiety and stress levels.

CBD oil has been shown to improve the quality of life for people with PTSD. a 2018 study, showed that using CBD to treat PTSD reduced stress, anxiety and sleep apnea.

Australia is in its infancy stage when it comes to medicinal cannabis and mental disorders. Cannabis clinics and health professionals experienced in medicinal marijuana are the best start to finding out whether CBD is suitable for you.

BMC Psychiatry: a positive association between anxiety disorders and cannabis use

31 studies using non-standard cases have been reviewed and analysed by BMC.

Anxiety is positively associated with cannabis use or CUD in cohorts drawn from some 112,000 non-institutionalised members of the general population of 10 countries.

You can read more about the BMC Psychiatry study here.

Cambridge Core: The association between cannabis use and depression

Cannabis use, and particularly heavy cannabis use, may be associated with an increased risk for developing depressive disorders. There is a small risk of developing anxiety with heavy cannabis use.

There is a need for further longitudinal exploration of the association between cannabis use and developing depression, particularly taking into account cumulative exposure to cannabis and potentially significant confounding factors.

You can read more about the Cambridge Core study here.

European Neuropsychopharmacology: The association between cannabis use and anxiety

The medicinal cannabis and its relation with anxiety disorders are well documented.

Cannabis use and anxiety disorders have been studied over a 3 year span of time.

Investigation of the association between baseline CUDs and anxiety disorders at follow-up revealed similar results. Any baseline anxiety disorder was not associated with future initiation of cannabis use.

You can read more about the European Neuropsychopharmacology study here.

JAMA: Cannabis Use and Risk of Psychiatric Disorders

JAMA stands for “The Journal of the American Medical Association”. A peer-reviewed medical journal that focuses on original research, reviews and more.

JAMA has performed significant research, reviews and studies into the effects of cannabis on the human body.

In the multiple regression analysis of 34,653 respondents, cannabis use in wave 1 (2001-2002), which was reported by 1279 respondents, was significantly associated with substance use disorders in wave 2 (2004-2005). The same general pattern of results was observed in the multiple regression analyses of wave two prevalent psychiatric disorders and in the propensity score–matched analysis of incident and prevalent psychiatric disorders.

Read more on Cannabis Use and Risk of Psychiatric Disorders here.

Conclusions and relevance within the general population, cannabis use is associated with an increased risk for several substance use disorders. Physicians and policy makers should take these associations of cannabis use under careful consideration.

You can read more about the JAMA study here.

UNSW: Does cannabis cause mental illness?

The University of New South Wales investigated the correlation of cannabis use and mental illness.

With this, they found the majority of studies into the effects of cannabis and mental illness was performed in North America and Europe.

Trials and clinical studies show both positive effects on patients with anxiety and negative effects with the heavy (self-medicating) use of cannabis that may be related to mental illness.

The relationship between medicinal marijuana and generalised anxiety is also complex. Many people use cannabis for their euphoric and relaxing effects. But some people even experience anxiety when intoxicated.

You can read more about the JAMA study here.

University of Sydney: Cannabinoids and Anxiety

The University of Sydney and Orygen are performing a clinical trial into the use of Cannabinoids for mental health disorders.

This clinical trial will look into the effects of cannabinoids and their ability to reduce anxiety and psychosis.

We see great potential for clinical trials of cannabinoids for mental health disorders, thanks to its ability to reduce anxiety and psychosis. The precise mechanism by which the endocannabinoid system modulates anxiety and depression is not fully understood, so further research is already underway.

This study is a single-centre, 12-week open-label trial of CBD for anxiety disorders. Participants are young people aged 12 – 25 years with a DSM-5 diagnosis of an anxiety disorder who do not respond to evidence-based standard treatment.

You can read more about the University of Sydney clinic trial here.

Dalgarno Institute: I Tried CBD to Help Manage My Anxiety, and Here’s What Happened

The Dalgarno Institute allowed for a more personal and brief study that was documented by a patient on how CBD medicine can treat and manage anxiety.

Australia does not have many publicly available recorded cases of cannabis treating anxiety, so we have included this in.

Instead of endlessly ruminating on these hypothetical scenarios, I tested whether CBD supplements could help me relax and take my stress level down a notch. CBD, or Cannabidiol, is one of roughly 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant — and unlike its brother THC, it doesn’t get you high.

Among its many purported health benefits, researchers are studying whether CBD could be a viable treatment for a variety of ailments including anxiety. The bottom line, although the CBD tablets didn’t work wonders for me, that’s not to say that they can’t help with anxiety.

Anecdotally, many people on Reddit report feeling more relaxed and less anxious after taking CBD supplements. But Dr. Margaret Haney, professor of neurobiology, warns that science doesn’t yet support these claims.

Mens Health covers a lot on how CBD can help with anxiety here.

You can read more about the patient’s record of managing anxiety with CBD here.

The Lancet Psychiatry: Cannabinoids for the treatment of mental disorders

Lancet Psychiatry is a prestigious group that does research and studies into cannabis and its effects on the mind and body.

Medicinal cannabinoids, including medicinal cannabis and pharmaceutical cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), have been suggested to have a therapeutic role in certain mental disorders.

More articles from the Lancet Psychiatry are available here.

We analysed the available evidence to ascertain the effectiveness and safety of all types of medicinal cannabinoids in treating symptoms of various mental disorders.

More information on this from Science Direct that discusses Cannabinoids for the treatment of mental disorders here.

There is scarce evidence to suggest that cannabinoids improve depressive disorders and symptoms, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychosis.

There is very low-quality evidence that pharmaceutical THC (with or without CBD) leads to a small improvement in symptoms of anxiety among individuals with other medical conditions.

More information on research about medicinal marijuana and having a lack of evidence proving its effective.

You can read more about the Lancet Psychiatry study here.

Columbia University: Self-medication of mood and anxiety disorders with marijuana

The Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry has performed extensive studies and research into the effects of cannabis on people with mental illness.

Within this particular study, they focused on a side effect of the legalisation of marijuana in America. The side effect is that risk of self-medication.

Self-medication with drugs or alcohol is commonly reported among adults with mood or anxiety disorders and increases the risk of developing substance use disorders. Medical marijuana laws (MML) may be associated with greater acceptance of the therapeutic value of marijuana, leading individuals to self-medicate.

Among adults with mood or anxiety disorders, living in a medical marijuana law state is associated with self-medication with marijuana. While additional research is needed to determine the reasons for this association, clinical screening for self-medication with marijuana may be particularly important in states with medical marijuana laws.

More information on this available here.

You can read more about the Columbia University’s study into self-medication of anxiety disorders.

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