Studies show that Americans are some of the most stressed people in the world. In fact, the American Psychological Association declared a national mental health crisis “that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come”. With medical marijuana legal in 37 states and recreational use legal in 19 states, more people are turning to cannabis to help alleviate their stress. So what does science have to say about that?
While the endocannabinoid system is well studied for its role in pain signaling from the body to the brain, it is less known for its role in mood regulation. Research indicates that the endocannabinoid system “is part of the complex circuitry that regulates anxiety and stress and is a crucial mediator of emotional learning”. In fact, an analysis from a group of international researchers found cannabinoid receptors in the amygdala, one of the primary regions of the brain involved in regulating anxiety and stress.
While many people self-report having lowered levels of anxiety from using cannabis, various studies have found similar results in the lab. In one experiment, researchers compared regular cannabis users to non-users in their response to various stress tests and found that the “evidence indicates that chronic cannabis consumption may render users less reactive to stressful and negatively valent images, both at a psychological and physiological level”. The cannabis users all had lower levels of stress than those of their non-cannabis counterparts.
Another study that aggregated results from a large group of people over multiple years found that 95% of their patients reported a decrease in their stress levels.
While everyone has an endocannabinoid system, comparing any two is much like comparing bodies as a whole: they are both similar and unique in ways that science is still beginning to explore. While studies suggest that using cannabinoids like THC or CBD can have an anti-anxiety effect for most people, it can depend on the dosage. For some, a lower dose of just THC is needed to relieve their symptoms. Still, others have a high tolerance and require a higher dose to get the same anxiolytic effects.
For more information on how to help alleviate your stress with cannabis, come in to speak with a consultant at Arbors Wellness today.