All over the world, millions of people rely on anxiety alleviating meds to go about their normal everyday lives. For those who suffer from the most severe or prolonged anxiety, the condition can be catastrophically debilitating without on-going treatment. The only problem being that not only is current anxiety medication far from perfect in its effectiveness, it can also trigger dangerous side effects.
For generations, millions of people on a global basis have also turned to cannabis for medicinal purposes. Particularly when it comes to debilitating conditions like anxiety, self-medicating with cannabis and related products is hardly a new concept. It’s just that it’s only as of relatively recently that the scientific and medical communities have begun looking with any real interest at the potentially beneficial properties of medical cannabis.
So in a sense, it’s hardly surprising that one of the more recent studies into medical cannabis has drawn direct links between cannabis compounds and anxiety relief. Specifically, relief so effective and with such minimal risk that cannabis could eventually become the prescription medication of choice for millions of anxiety sufferers.
This particular study focused on the way in which cannabis has a positive effect on the stress levels of those who consume it on a regular basis. In order to gain a scientifically accurate measurement of stress, the researchers monitored and measured cortisol levels in those taking part in the study. Also referred to as the ‘stress hormone’, elevated cortisol levels indicate the respective individual’s stress and/or anxiety level.
When comparing the stress responses of those who did not use cannabis at all to those who use it on a regular basis, the findings were consistent. In short, cannabis users had a significantly reduced response to stress. Or to put it another way, their very mechanics in terms of the way their bodies and minds responded to stress appeared to have been ‘turned down’ a notch or two.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effects of acute stress on salivary cortisol levels in chronic cannabis users compared to non-users,” said Carrie Cuttler, study co-author and clinical assistant professor of psychology.
“While we are not at a point where we are comfortable saying whether this muted stress response is a good thing or a bad thing, our work is an important first step in investigating potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis at a time when its use is spreading faster than ever before.”
For the time being, the researchers made it clear that the effect cannabis has on stress response couldn’t necessarily be classified as an altogether positive thing. Nevertheless, it certainly suggests that cannabis compounds could potentially be used in the creation of safer and more effective medication for those with dangerously elevated anxiety levels.
As it stands, the most commonly used anxiety meds – Benzodiazepines – present a series of significant side-effect risks. In addition, it can be incredibly difficult to stop using Benzodiazepines without facing horrific withdrawal symptoms, overdose potential is extremely high and the body quickly develops a tolerance to the drugs, meaning more and more must be taken to achieve the same effect.
It is hoped that by isolating and concentrating the cannabis compounds responsible for reducing stress and anxiety levels, the scientific community may be able to create a workable and natural alternative. Unfortunately, while anecdotal evidence of marijuana’s effects on stress and anxiety is enormous to say the least, genuine scientific evidence and findings remain relatively thin on the ground.