How Cannabis Affects Mental Health?

The age-old myth that cannabis is a dangerous drug is broken, it is now considered a wonder drug used to treat mental health disorders. 

With more studies, research, and surveys in this area, experts conclude that the active cannabinoids, CBD and THC, in cannabis has a positive impact on mental wellbeing. 

It can treat depression, anxiety, schizophrenia; prevent seizures; improve sleep, cognitive abilities; cure post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and help manage stress. 

Just like any drug, use it properly and it will treat you, but abuse it and it will harm you. Using a drug has risks and always practices caution when taking any type of drug.

cannabis

What is Cannabis?

Call it marijuana, weed, pot, Mary Jane, broccoli, grass, dope, ganja, joint, boom, blaze or whatever these are all nicknames for cannabis. 

Cannabis is an indoor or outdoor plant that can be cultivated in almost any temperature. It is derived from the cannabis sativa and has three main forms. 

  • Marijuana – the least potent made from drying out flowers and leaves. It is usually toked or ingested as edibles such as brownies, cookies or gummies. 
  • Hashish – it has stronger effects than marijuana and is made from the resin, a secreted gum. Hashish is dried, pressed into small blocks, and is bright, pale or dark green in tint covered with crystals. It is smoked and added to food. 
  • Hash Oil – the most potent, less common of the cannabis products, and extracted from hashish. It is a dark, tacky substance that is inhaled through dabbing or spread on the tip of a cigarette and smoked.

The components of cannabis

There are over 120 components of cannabis, cannabinoids, but studies were mostly focused on these two active ingredients of cannabis. 

  • Cannabidiol (CBD) – has a calming effect and won’t get you high. CBD can help with anxiety, pain, inflammation, and insomnia. Recently, Epidolex, the first CBD medicine was approved by the FDA in treating childhood epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut (LGS) syndrome. CBD cuts down the number of seizures and in some instances was able to prevent them. 
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that gives you the feeling of high. FDA approved Marinol and generic Dronabinol, THC based medicine, to treat nausea and vomiting of patients undergoing chemotherapy and AIDS patients with weight loss issues.

The Benefits of Cannabis

The benefits of cannabis are ever growing cheers to the two active cannabinoids CBD and THC. CBD calms the brain to make it perform better while THC eases pain. There are many benefits that can be derived from this potent combination.

Treat epilepsy

One of the cannabis strains to treat epilepsy is Charlotte’s Web, named after the patient Charlotte Figi. She is described as the girl who is changing medical marijuana laws across America. 

Epidolex is the first FDA-approved CBD medicine in the market for treatment of children 2 years and above afflicted with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut (LGS) syndrome.

Decrease spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis (MS)

Spasticity is a disorder where certain muscles are constantly contracted causing firmness of the muscles and impedes natural movement, speech, and stride. 

Cannabis use, especially smoking decreases spasticity and pain. From a 2012 study, 30 participants who smoked cannabis experience a reduction in symptoms and pain.

Good for the economy

Business pundits expect billions of dollars derived from sales of cannabis that will boost the economy. 

There will be job opportunities to fill the demand for cannabis. 

Cannabis-related crimes are expected to decline with legalization.

The Effects of Cannabis on Mental Health

Cannabis holds much promise as a possible treatment on mental health such as anxiety, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, in the absence of a clinic-based evidence a scientific conclusion cannot be established to support the hype.

Cannabis and Anxiety

The results of a 2017 National Survey of 9,003 adult Americans show that 81% believe that cannabis has one  benefit. And 46.8 % of the respondents listed relief from stress, anxiety, and depression as a potential benefit from cannabis. 

There are almost as many people who say that cannabis will make their anxiety get worse. 

There is no direct link between cannabis and anxiety. Studies show that cannabis use in adults is at a greater risk of anxiety, but it cannot prove that cannabis can cause anxiety. Anxiety can be triggered by external factors such as death of a loved one, financial stress, school and work pressure, and medical illness. 

If you decide to try cannabis to remedy your anxiety symptoms, it’s best to consult your therapist. With them in the loop, you’ll have guidance and they can evaluate how well it is working for you.

Cannabis and Schizophrenia

Scientists established a link between cannabis and schizophrenia. They found that cannabis does not trigger schizophrenia but it can activate the disorder for people who have genes. 

Frequent use will accelerate a person’s first schizophrenic episode and worsen symptoms for long term 

Recently, a study indicated favorable results on the application of CBD to treat schizophrenia. However, the sample size was small that merits a definitive conclusion.

Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD can evolve from a traumatic event such as war, sexual assault, near-death experience, and natural disaster. 

Some take cannabis to alleviate their PTSD symptoms however there is no research to confirm the effectiveness of the treatment. 

Cannabis can provide short-term relief, but may make matters worse in the long run. A 2015 study in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry disclosed that cannabis use by war veterans was associated with worse PTSD symptoms, increased violent behavior, and alcohol use.