Ayurvedic Cannabis, Health and Wellness

How Does Cannabis Affect Your Mental Health?

How Does Cannabis Affect Your Mental Health on itsHemp
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Cannabis is a complex plant containing over 100 cannabinoids and additional compounds like terpenes and flavonoids. Although society largely viewed cannabis as a recreational drug for the wayward, research now points to the herb as a potential remedy for various ailments.

This explains why around 3.5 million Americans consume marijuana and are always in search of Weed Delivery in various states where medical marijuana is legal to manage health conditions.

Mental health features prominently among the popular reasons why people take medical marijuana. Cannabidiol or CBD is one of the main cannabinoids in cannabis. How does cannabis affect mental health?

It is purported to help in managing various health problems and psychiatric conditions including Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. CBD comes in many forms to various users’ preferences.

However, society remains divided over cannabis’ effect on health. Does it really help with mental health? Let’s take a look.

Outline
Cannabis & Anxiety
Cannabis & Depression
Cannabis & Psychotic Disorders
Cannabis & PTSD
Conclusion

How does Cannabis affect Mental Health?

Cannabis and Anxiety

While stress, fear, and anxiety are typical aspects of life, excessive anxiety leads to maladaptive behaviour, affecting your mental wellness. Thankfully, cannabis compounds can help counter fear, anxiety, and stress, alleviating anxiety disorders.

Featured Read: A Guide to Buying CBD Oil for Anxiety in India

Although the cannabis plant contains 113 different cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two active cannabinoids. Coincidentally, they are also the most researched compounds in the cannabis plant.

Given that cannabis’ legality remains a grey area, the available research on the herb and its therapeutic effects is lagging at best. However, it shows that CBD can potentially alleviate anxiety symptoms.

A review of findings from pre-clinical and clinical studies conducted on CBD revealed that the cannabinoid has anxiolytic effects. The review confirmed CBD’s efficacy in managing diagnosed anxiety disorders like general anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and panic disorder.

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Image Source: Pixabay.com

Although the exact mechanism by which CBD acts to tackle anxiety remains largely unknown, researchers theorize that it utilizes the endocannabinoid system (ECS) communication network. The ECS is part of the neurocircuitry that regulates our moods and emotions, including anxiety and fear.

One research study shows that enhancing the ECS’s signalling capacity heightens its regulatory effectiveness. CBD binds to CB1 receptors expressed in the portions of the brain that process fear, stress, and anxiety, improving the ECS’ capacity to regulate such emotions.

Besides CBD, low THC doses also help quell anxiety, improving mental health. The theory behind the varying doses is that high THC doses can overstimulate the ECS, inhibiting its regulatory function. Cannabis enthusiasts recommend starting with THC doses as low as 2.5mg if you intend to quell anxiety; a balanced THC: CBD ratio also works for anxiety.

Cannabis and Depression

Depression is a prevalent mental illness affecting 5%of the global adult population. The mood disorder alters how the brain processes moods and emotions towards the negative end of the spectrum, affecting your behaviour.

The mental illness causes persistent sadness, lethargy, low interest in activities, and withdrawal, affecting your mental wellness and overall quality of life. While research on cannabis efficacy in managing depression is not yet comprehensive, one research study shows that the cannabinoids in cannabis can help counter depression symptoms.

Depression arises from various unprecedented changes in how the brain processes moods, emotions, rewards, and external stimuli. Therefore, cannabis’ mechanism of action depends on the depression’s root cause.

It may occur due to chronic stress resulting from a malfunction in the ECS. In such a case, a CBD dose may help increase the number of cannabinoids in the ECS to help regulate moods and emotions efficiently, relieving stress. Second, the CBD may also function by stimulating the ECS to process fear, stress, and anxiety more effectively, as explained above.

Depression may also arise from chronic pain resulting from pain or previous injury. People experience pain on a physical and psychological level, so symptoms like insomnia, discomfort, muscle spasms, and emotions like anxiety and low self-esteem morph into depression.

However, both active cannabinoids in cannabis are natural analgesics and counter pain as the underlying depression can help alleviate depression symptoms. With pain management, cannabinoids bind to CB2 receptors; unlike CB1 receptors, CB2 receptors occur throughout the body, including the brain.

Cannabinoids alter the brain’s perception of pain by blocking pain signals from reaching the brain, making the chronic condition bearable. Therefore, cannabis can manage depression arising from painful health conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, and cancer.

Cannabis and Psychotic Disorders

Psychotic disorders affect one’s mental clarity, clouding thinking, and may alter one’s perception of reality. Schizophrenia is the most common psychotic disorder, affecting approximately 3.2 million Americans.

Unfortunately, THC is a psychedelic likely to worsen psychotic symptoms, but CBD may counter THC-induced psychosis. A review of clinical trials conducted to establish CBD effects on schizophrenia revealed that CBD, when taken over four weeks improves schizophrenia symptoms. However, the exact mechanism of action remains unknown.

Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing trauma and manifests as severe anxiety, surreal nightmares, and flashbacks. It builds maladaptive behaviour, including avoidance, aggression, and self-destructive behaviour like drug addiction.

Although research on cannabis for treating PTSD remains limited, one case series shows that the cannabinoid reduces anxiety and improves sleep quality for patients. Although researchers need to dig deeper into the mechanism of action, the theory is that CBD regulates memory, stress, and sleep patterns, improving PTSD symptoms.

Conclusion

Cannabis has immense potential to improve mental health for patients with diagnoses and people concerned about wellness. However, note that the research on its efficacy remains limited. Furthermore, cannabis is an ancillary therapy, so consult your doctor before incorporating cannabis into your mental health regime.


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