Neurological and Psychological Disorders
- Seizure Disorders
Anxiety disorders are serious conditions that affect millions of people and can significantly impede the full enjoyment of life. In extreme cases, they can severely impair daily functioning. Pharmaceutical treatments for anxiety can be addictive and accompanied by side effects, so many patients prefer more mild natural therapies. Cannabis can play a powerful role in holistic treatment plans for several anxiety disorders.
Individual responses to cannabis vary for many conditions, and this is particularly true of tetrahydrocannabinol-rich cannabis for anxiety. Depending on the dose and situation, THC can either cause or alleviate anxiety. One study found that in nonstressed animals, both low and high doses of THC had anti-anxiety effects, whereas in stressed animals, only high doses were effective and low doses actually increased anxiety. Another broad review study indicated that, in general, low doses of cannabinoids combated anxiety and high doses increased it. In practical terms, it is up to the individual patient to determine what dose produces the greatest anxiolytic effect.
Cannabidiol in general tends to be tolerated better by patients, as it does not produce the strong psychoactive response associated with THC. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 1993 was one of the first to indicate the anxiolytic power of CBD. Another double-blind trial in 2011 using a somewhat similar method confirmed the earlier-observed results. Yet another double-blind study that year found that CBD reduced anxiety in patients with generalized social anxiety disorder by the apparent modulation of cerebral regional blood flow in different parts of the brain.
The ability of cannabinoids to regulate neuronal transmission and maintain homeostasis likely has a strong influence on the proven anti-anxiety benefits of cannabis. Furthermore, since anxiety is often the product of other health issues, it may decrease as patients heal from their primary conditions. In any case, given the potential of cannabis to stimulate anxiety, it is truly important for patients to start low and go slow. Starting with a strain higher in CBD may also help prevent the anxiogenic (anxiety producing) effects associated with THC. However, while CBD is not usually associated with creating anxiety, in rare situations it can be anxiogenic and this possibility must be considered by patients.