Key Points

  • Cannabis is an increasingly attractive option for anxiety treatment. While many are still sceptical of its efficacy, studies support its anti-anxiety effects with proper dosage.
  • THC and CBD, the primary cannabinoids in cannabis, have been shown to have anti-anxiety effects. That being said, THC may worsen anxiety symptoms at higher doses.
  • Studies suggest that CBD may significantly reduce anxiety symptoms, even at lower doses. A balance of a significant CBD dose and a low THC dose could be the ideal combination of cannabis for anxiety treatment.
  • Research on cannabis for anxiety is still in its infancy. Despite this, the current data shows that it can be used as an alternative treatment when traditional prescriptions fail.
  • As always, it’s best to consult a specialist doctor before starting treatment.

Anxiety disorders are debilitating and common. According to Mental Health UK, over 8 million British citizens suffer from an anxiety disorder at any time.

Unfortunately, less than half of those affected individuals get the proper treatment for their mental health needs. And for those who do get prescription medications, many find that these treatments don’t work for them.

It’s no wonder many are seeking alternatives to traditional anxiety treatments. Despite the medication’s complex legal status, many people turn to medical cannabis for anxiety.

In this article, we will explore the potential of medical cannabis as an anxiety treatment option. We’ll also discuss the science behind it and the risks and benefits of using medical cannabis for anxiety states.

Anxiety: What is it, and how it works

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions often characterised by the following:

  • Feelings of worry, fear and panic
  • Physical symptoms such as muscle tension and fatigue
  • Nausea and bowel movement
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of being “on edge”
  • Easily startled
  • Social withdrawal

Anxiety can take many forms, such as social anxiety disorder, panic attacks or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some are acute or induced, while others are chronic or ongoing.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder experience excessive fear or worry that is often difficult to control.

What causes anxiety cannot be pinpointed to one specific cause. However, there’s increasing evidence that mood regulation plays a significant role in the disorder.

The endocannabinoid system and anxiety

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system that influences mood, memory, appetite, pain, and other cognitive and physical processes. Its name comes from the term “endocannabinoid”, which refers to the cannabinoid-like substances produced by our body.

These endocannabinoids interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain to regulate various processes. One of these is mood regulation. Research suggests that the endocannabinoid system helps the body respond appropriately to stressful situations.

Though found internally, the ECS also responds to cannabinoids found in cannabis. As such, the use of cannabis to treat anxiety has a basis in science.

How can cannabis help with anxiety?

Despite the many substances found in cannabis, two primary cannabinoids play significant roles in helping with anxiety:

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): This cannabinoid is responsible for the euphoric feeling associated with cannabis. It’s also known as the psychoactive component of cannabis.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD): CBD is known for its calming effects and acting as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
    CBD has long been used to treat anxiety disorders, though it’s only recently been studied in depth.

Why are more people in the UK looking into medical cannabis for anxiety?

A growing number of people in the UK are turning to medical cannabis for anxiety. There are several reasons why this is the case:

  • Price – For starters, it’s less expensive than many other types of treatment.
  • Unwanted side effects from common anxiety medications – Many people are put off by the side effects of common anti-anxiety medications. These include drowsiness, dizziness and nausea.
  • A lack of other treatment options – Some people may simply not want to take prescription medications, or they might find that they don’t work as well as they’d hoped.

Medical cannabis patients often report improved moods with regulated cannabis use. More convincingly, large-scale surveys suggest that cannabis use can help reduce short bouts of anxiety symptoms.

Does indica or sativa matter in cannabis for anxiety disorder?

Some users also report that certain strains may provide relief from specific symptoms more effectively than others.

For example, many users report that sativa strains are more effective for feelings of anxiety and depression. Those who have trouble sleeping might be inclined to take indica strains instead.

However, there is no consensus among medical cannabis patients or researchers about what strains are best for anxiety and depression.

This is partly because there are many different factors that go into choosing a strain, including:

  • The specific chemical compounds present in the strains (cannabinoids, terpenes, etc.)
  • Personal preferences for how you want to feel (high vs clear-headed)
  • CBD/THC ratios

To get the best medical cannabis for anxiety treatment, it’s still best to seek professional advice. A qualified medical cannabis practitioner can help you determine which dosage works for you.

Medical cannabis for anxiety: THC vs CBD

Thanks to easing restrictions on cannabis use worldwide, researchers are beginning to uncover the potential of cannabis in treating anxiety disorders. What we know so far is still in its early stages, but study results show promise.

CBD shows great promise in reversing the effects of anxiety

According to a study published in the Neurotherapeutics Journal, CBD is an effective treatment for reducing anxiety.

It’s reported that a 300-600mg dose of CBD reduced feelings of anxiety in individuals. Furthermore, the same study discovered that a significant dose of CBD helps patients with anxiety disorders.

One advantage CBD has over its counterpart THC is that it doesn’t have psychoactive effects. This means that CBD doesn’t get you high but still positively affects your mental health.

In addition to being a potentially effective treatment for anxiety, CBD also has other benefits. It’s reported that CBD may be an effective treatment for depression and other mental health disorders such as schizophrenia.

It is important to note that most studies on CBD for anxiety relied on short-term outcomes. Further research is needed to show whether CBD has long-term effects (positive or negative) in reducing anxiety.

THC reduces anxiety at low doses but worsens it at higher doses

While CBD consistently shows positive outcomes in reducing anxiety symptoms, THC is a bit more complicated. THC can relax a person at low doses, but it causes or worsens anxiety at high doses.

This effect is due in part to the fact that THC has sedative effects. Too much psychoactive activity can worsen feelings of distress and nervousness.

With research showing the benefits of both CBD and THC, a combination might be best for treating symptoms. Moreover,e CBD can reverse the psychoactive highs caused by THC. A high CBD dose coupled with a low THC one could be the way to go for most cases.

User surveys support CBD and THC for anxiety

Anecdotal evidence from surveys supports the current findings and shows that cannabis can have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects.

Many users report it working better than other medications, and many say it works better than prescription medicines. Some users report that it helps them cope with their anxiety in a way that nothing else can.

However, more research is needed to determine whether it can replace established treatment. More clinical trials should also be administered before a sound conclusion can be made.

What kind of anxiety is best treated with cannabis?

Anxiety is not a single disorder. It has many forms, and the type of anxiety that can be treated with cannabis may differ from one user to another.

Mild to moderate anxiety

Cannabis has been found to be best for treating mild to moderate anxiety. It also has been shown to work well for situational anxiety, such as before an important event or situation.

Users report feeling more at ease after receiving a low dose of cannabis. Some users also report that it helps them to relax and unwind after a stressful day.

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

According to a 2018 study, social anxiety is the most common form of anxiety. It can often cause people to isolate themselves from others and have difficulty in social situations.

Among all the kinds of anxiety disorders, SAD is one often linked to medical cannabis treatment. Experiments with human participants showed lower anxiety scores with increased doses of CBD.

What about other forms of anxiety?

So far, researchers have investigated the use of CBD to treat other forms of anxiety like:

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – This form of anxiety disorder causes an individual to experience excessive and uncontrollable worry about everyday life. It may be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as childhood abuse or trauma.
  • Panic Disorder – This type of condition involves sudden attacks that cause extreme fear, terror and panic. People who suffer from it often feel like they’re going crazy or losing control over their bodies.
  • Agoraphobia – This is the fear of being in places where it may be difficult to escape or get help if you have a panic attack. People who suffer from this type of anxiety disorder often feel unsafe in open spaces like public transportation or

These studies showed some promise, but further research is needed to confirm whether or not they are effective.

If you are experiencing extreme anxiety, it’s best to seek professional help.

Before starting any CBD for anxiety treatment, you should always consult a medical professional who has experience with cannabis treatments. A specialist can guide you through your treatment plan and ensure you’re not at risk of developing any harmful side effects.

Can I get medical cannabis for anxiety and depression?

Yes, medical cannabis prescriptions for anxiety are available.

That said, as it stands in the UK, it may be difficult to secure one from the NHS. Patients are likely better off going through specialist private doctors to get a prescription.

Our medical doctors here at The Medical Cannabis Clinics specialise in treating mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. We can recommend the best treatment for you and provide a prescription if needed. Book your online consultation now. 

Will I become tolerant of medical cannabis for anxiety disorder?

Contrary to popular belief, one can develop an addiction and dependence on cannabis. 

For people who are new to cannabis use or those who are using it recreationally without medical supervision, it’s essential to differentiate between the medical use and misuse of cannabis:

Regular cannabis use would result in tolerance to medicinal effects over time if no other measures were taken. Suppose you develop a tolerance to your current method of consumption. In that case, you may also need higher doses over time when treating your condition with cannabis and more frequent dosing throughout the day.

Patients must regularly reassess their treatment plan. This is to maintain effective relief while reducing the risk of developing addiction/dependence issues.

What if I’m already on medication for my anxiety?

If you’re already on medication for your anxiety, it’s essential to talk with your doctor before starting cannabis. Cannabis may interact negatively with your prescription medication for anxiety.

Some people find their medication dosage needs to be lowered when they use cannabis. Others find that the combination of the two helps them live with their condition more quickly than either one alone. There are also cases where a single route is a way to go.

If you are considering reducing or ceasing the use of anti-anxiety medications in favour of cannabis, please consult a medical professional first.

Final Takeaway – Medical Cannabis for Anxiety

Medical cannabis is an alternative that can help you manage your anxiety. It may be more effective than prescription medications, especially in cases where the traditional route does not work for the patients. 

Various studies continue to shed light on the viability of medical cannabis as a treatment for anxiety, mainly moderate anxiety and social anxiety disorder. A high dose of CBD can bring about positive changes to one’s mood regulation. As for THC, patients should be wary of higher doses because they can worsen the stress.

Starting your medical cannabis for anxiety plan can be daunting. Here at The Medical Cannabis Clinics, we can help you get started. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of medical cannabis and how it could help manage your anxiety!

FAQs

How to get medical cannabis for anxiety?

Before a prescription for medical cannabis to treat anxiety can be issued, you need to consult with your doctor. The prescription will then be dispensed from a specialist pharmacy.

Can you get a medical cannabis card for anxiety?

Yes, anyone with a current valid UK cannabis prescription can apply for a medical cannabis ID. It’s completely free and accessible to everyone who needs it.

References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165178122001834
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33008420/
https://journals.lww.com/co-psychiatry/Abstract/2020/01000/The_role_of_cannabis_in_treating_anxiety__an.2.aspx
https://adai.uw.edu/pubs/pdf/2017mjanxiety.pdf
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/marijuana-and-anxiety