Marijuana and mental health

Marijuana, CBD, and Mental Health: Exploring the Benefits

  • Marijuana’s effects on mental health are greatly dependent on the patient and the product being used.
  • Medical marijuana is being used to treat certain mental health issues such as anxiety and depression disorders.
  • More research needs to be done to determine the safety and efficacy of cannabis as well as CBD in the treatment of mental health issues.
  • Research suggests that abuse of high-THC marijuana might lead to mental illness including psychosis in some individuals.
Over the last several decades, numerous clinical trials have been conducted to determine the medical benefits of marijuana, all with varying results. However, many medical marijuana card holders suffering from a wide array of conditions have reported significant relief from debilitating symptoms.   Medical marijuana is being used successfully in some cases to treat brain-related conditions such as epilepsy and other seizure disorders as well as conditions that cause muscle spasticity. Moreover, medications derived from cannabis such as Epidiolex, Sativex, and Dronabinol, better known as Marinol, are now regularly prescribed by physicians for seizures, spasticity, and chemo-induced nausea.

Medical marijuana and mental illness

When it comes to psychiatric health, however, the application of cannabis still has a grey areas to be resolved. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence in favor of medical marijuana for the treatment of anxiety and depression. However the medical community’s overall stance remains guarded. Some evidence suggests that cannabis can accelerate the progress of mental illness in certain cases. 

  • Can medical marijuana be used to treat mental illness such as anxiety and depression?
  • How about the mental health stresses caused by everyday life?
  • What about chronic conditions like ADHD and autism?
  • And how about more serious conditions such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder?
  • Or can marijuana actually cause mental illness?
There is an abundance of evidence supporting the use of cannabis for the treatment of numerous psychiatric conditions.  In 2019 researchers conducted a clinically focused systematic review on the medical administration of cannabis for several major psychiatric conditions. The review assessed data from all published reports of clinical trials and studies undertaken to date. Researchers looked over reports of studies involving the use of medical marijuana and plant-derived cannabinoid isolates. What they found was mixed, but promising results.

Much of the evidence suggests CBD (cannabidiol) may play a role in reducing anxiety disorders. CBD also showed benefits for adjunctive use along with traditional treatments for schizophrenia. Additionally, the studies reveal cannabinoids’ potential for alleviating insomnia (a potential trigger for mental illness) and symptoms of PTSD.

Early findings from the gathered research have revealed no beneficial outcomes from the application of THC for depression or from the administration of CBD for mania. Although one isolated study reported potential efficacy with an oral terpene/cannabinoid combo for the treatment of ADHD.

Researchers must exercise extreme caution when studying the effects of medical marijuana on young patients, individuals suffering from extreme anxiety, or patients with psychotic disorders. This can hamper research.

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Can marijuana Be The cause of mental illness?

In a revealing 2014 study, Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) examined the effects of cannabis on a patient’s cognitive performance, brain structure, sleep, mental health, and other variables.

The data indicated that patients successfully used marijuana to treat various medical issues, including anxiety. Many participants also showed improved cognitive performance. And several reported a reduction in the use of opioids, mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines.

Some researchers have written about the beneficial anxiety-relieving effects of cannabinoids. CBD is known to blunt the body’s reactivity to stressful stimuli. However, in a 2017 report by the National Academies of Science and Engineering, the evidence was deemed insufficient to support the use of cannabis for the treatment of long-term anxiety disorders such as PTSD. In fact, some research indicates that prolonged use of high-THC cannabis may lead to heightened social anxiety and paranoia. 

There is also an ongoing debate in the medical community in regard to cannabis for the treatment of clinical depression. Some studies report that short-term cannabis use may alleviate depressive symptoms, but could potentially worsen them over a lengthy period. Conversely, others indicate significant improvements in depression with the long-term application of marijuana. 

These confounding factors may in part be due to the varied chemistries of the participants involved, as individuals respond differently to herbal medications. Moreover, cannabis products can vary widely in their cannabinoid and terpene content. This makes it even more difficult to conduct research on medical marijuana and mental illness. 

When it comes to conditions involving psychosis such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, research tends to be a little more conclusive. Many clinicians conclude that THC may indeed exacerbate symptoms. Additionally, marijuana may also increase the odds of developing these conditions for genetically predisposed individuals.

CBD might be a better solution for some

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Due to the safety concerns in regard to the application of THC, researchers are investigating the efficacy of non-psychoactive CBD for the treatment of bipolar disorder, substance abuse disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.

CBD has been successfully reviewed in multiple trials and appears to be a promising treatment for certain mental disorders. Although, as with marijuana trials larger, more conclusive studies are needed.

Documented benefits discovered in these trials include lessened symptoms of schizophreni, reduced symptoms of anxiety disorders, and reduced cravings for people with a tobacco or cannabis dependence.

At present, clinical trials to assess the efficacy of CBD for the treatment of bipolar disorder and depression are few.

The long-term side effects of using CBD to treat mental illness have yet to be determined, although trials haven’t indicated any damaging side effects among the participants.

Therapeutic use of CBD for Psychosis

Studies suggest that CBD may relieve the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and psychosis by increasing anandamide levels. Anandamide is an exogenous cannabinoid that modulates the production and uptake of serotonin. Low serotonin levels have a direct correlation to the severity of schizophrenia symptoms.

In a revealing clinical trial patients suffering from acute schizophrenia were given CBD. Participants registered heightened anandamide levels and patients reported a corresponding significant reduction in symptoms.

Years of research and trials will be required to fully comprehend the medical benefits and detriments of cannabis. Many mental health patients experiences relief from the consumption of marijuana. However, marijuana use may cause or exacerbate hallucinations, paranoia, delusion, and disorientation in patients with severe mental illness. These symptoms are almost always attributable to high doses of THC. 

Big benefit of CBD, it is legal for everyone. Anyone can buy CBD online and have it delivered to their residence. 

Another Option - Microdosing marijuana for mental health

Another option that has very little attention from researchers is microdosing with THC. Microdosing is the act of consuming very small dosages of THC, generally less than 5 milligrams over the course of a day. 

Anecdotal evidence collected so far shows THC microdosing may offer significant relief from anxiety and depression. However, THC has biphasic properties. The effects are dependent on the dosage.

Cannabis may be a natural remedy, but it should be judiciously approached when attempting to treat mental illness. Given the dearth of data, it is not advisable to prescribe THC-based protocols for individuals suffering from psychiatric distress at present. 

It’s always prudent to talk with a medical marijuana doctor prior to visiting their local marijuana dispensary, especially if you’re suffering from mental health-related disorders. 

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