Without a question, stress and anxiety are a huge part of modern life. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in our country, affecting 40 million adults or 18% of the population in the U.S.
Correspondingly, the use of pharmaceuticals to treat both anxiety and depression has grown exponentially. But these drugs are often highly addictive and come with severe side effects.
Among its wide range of positive effects, medical marijuana is found to be useful when battling with stress and anxiety. Being a natural source of stress relief, as many studies have shown, cannabis has a great potential to be used to treat depression. How does it happen?
The Endocannabinoid System
Though marijuana has been in use for more than 4,000 years, it was not until the 1980s that evidence showed a receptor-based mechanism. Scientists have found that marijuana affects the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is a system in the brain which has an important role in regulating anxiety and stress levels. It does this by releasing the endocannabinoids – chemicals similar to substances found in cannabis.
Endocannabinoids function as neurotransmitters by sending chemical messages between nerve cells through the nervous system. They bind to the two so far discovered cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. Together they form the neural communication network, the ECS.
The Amygdala is an almond-shaped structure in the temporal lobes of the brain, responsible for emotions, survival instincts and memory. It is one of the primary brain regions involved in regulating anxiety. By mistaking stress for physical danger, the amygdala sends signals to parts of the brain, which alarms both the body and the brain. This creates the state of imbalance, which marijuana can reinstate by acting through cannabinoid receptors identified in the amygdala.
Cannabinoids in Marijuana
There are more than 60 different cannabinoids identified in the cannabis plant and its prime psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is remarkably similar to one of the first endocannabinoids discovered, anandamide. Considering that THC acts on the same pathways of the brain like anandamide, it’s no wonder that people find stress relief in marijuana.
Other chemical compound cannabidiol (CBD) is also found to have significant benefits for treating people with anxiety and can even help people with PTSD.
THC reacts with the CB1 and CBD responds to the CB2 receptor in the brain.
The More Stress, the Less Endocannabinoids
Acute and chronic stress can reduce the natural internal level of the endocannabinoids resulting in anxiety. It’s a vicious circle hard to get out of. When consuming cannabis, the cannabinoids attach to the aforementioned receptors CB1 and CB2. This helps restore the balance, relaxing the body and calming the mind.
Visit your trusted Santa Ana, Oakland, and San Leandro dispensary
As long as the dose is within reason, marijuana is a healthy and natural way to deal with stress by mimicking what the body should do naturally. For more information on the subject, visit blüm Santa Ana – the largest medical marijuana dispensary in California. Our teams in Oakland and San Leandro are ready to help you find the products to help meet your needs as well!