There are millions of people throughout the world who suffer from mental health issues and it is a more pressing issue than ever. Thankfully the issue is being highlighted more in recent years but could cannabis be the answer? In the ever-growing library of literature that is being written on medical marijuana, there is growing evidence to support the idea that it may also be good for mental health. Is it possible that the answer to a growing epidemic may, in fact, be using cannabis for mental health.
Now before you go rushing off to get some cannabis there are some things you need to know first. The issue of cannabis and mental health is one fraught with conflicting ideas and arguments. There is a vast gulf between the mainstream idea of marijuana and the real world applications of it. But this conversation is good to have because it will ultimately lead to what is best for everyone.
THC and CBD - What You Should Know
Because of its legal status and restrictions in many countries, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done on the topic of marijuana. In fact, because of its status, much of the research has been focused solely on the negative effects. But with legislation becoming more liberally minded with each passing year that is likely to change.
The two most well known chemicals contained in cannabis are THC and CBD. The basic difference between these two compounds is that THC is psychoactive and CBD is not. THC produces the ‘high’ effect while CBD has no such effect. Naturally, each strain has a separate effect on the body and, indeed, on the mind.
It is important to be aware of these effects before taking cannabis for mental health-related issues. Research is being done all the time and while the evidence is compelling, medical professionals should be consulted.
In a 2010 study, it was found that THC has the ability to act as an antidepressant in animals. CBD, the non-psychoactive compound, also has the potential for antidepressant properties. There are currently more studies done in the area of CBD. In several studies, they have found that CBD works to activate the endocannabinoid system with antidepressive results.
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world but it still faces a lot of stigma in the mainstream world. Basically, it is a condition that results in an extremely low mood that renders simple daily activities increasingly difficult for those afflicted. Because of depression, people lose interest in activities that they previously enjoyed and their anxiety is increased. In some cases, it can also result in chronic pain.
Although cannabis is not typically prescribed for those suffering from depression it is often used by patients who are self-medicating. This is because of its antidepressant properties. CB1 receptors located in the brain are known to have antidepressant effects when stimulated by cannabidiols. This has been found to be true in animals. These receptors can be stimulated by in the introduction of THC found in marijuana. So it follows that cannabis would have strong antidepressant effects. Clinical trials need to be done but there is compelling evidence.
Another interesting effect of cannabis is that it activates the serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the chemical that controls our mood. Using cannabinoids has been found by researchers to activate the serotonin and thus elicit antidepress ant-like effects. Depression has been linked to poor levels of serotonin so it may be the case that using marijuana could help create a more ‘positive’ state of mind. And cannabis, particularly CBD, has long been used to treat those suffering from pain, chronic or otherwise.
Schizophrenia and Cannabis - A Complicated Relationship
It seems that the evidence is clear that those already suffering from massive levels of anxiety should steer clear of THC. Studies have been done that showed regular cannabis users were higher in anxiety levels than others. But what they also found in their studies was that those who suffered from anxiety tended to self-medicate with marijuana. So it’s a little unclear.
A study published in 2014 suggests that the relationship between schizophrenia and cannabis use is much more nuanced than was originally thought. The study outlines how there may be a genetic predisposition to cannabis use among those who suffer from schizophrenia. It produces a kind of chicken and egg scenario, where things become a little hazy. Naturally, there are those that deride the theory on both sides. And some would suggest that the prevalence of cannabis use amongst teenagers makes it much more difficult to clearly define links between genetic disposition and mental health.
What is known is that the cannabis which was heavy in CBD was found to be very good in treating anxiety. In 2017 there was a CBD study done involving patients with schizophrenia. This was because it had become apparent that regular antipsychotic medication drugs weren’t having as an strong effect as was desired. With little efficacy new therapeutic devices were sought. In using CBD researchers found improvement in patient’s social interaction, recognition, and working memory. Medical cannabis is a promising trend for the future of schizophrenia treatment around the world.
The Future of Cannabis for Mental Health
It can’t be said enough that if you are suffering from a mental health condition or think you might be then it is important to consult a medical professional. While self-medication might seem like the easier option now, in the long run, there will only be more harm done than good. But as you can see from this article there are a lot of avenues being explored for the future of cannabis and mental health. This is exciting news for many people who are eager for the benefits of marijuana to be explored. And especially for those most vulnerable with mental health conditions. Only time will tell just how effective these treatments will ultimately be but until then it’s exciting to keep an eye on.