Mental health is crucial to our overall well-being. Every year, May is acknowledged as Mental Health Month, a time for us to talk about the mental and behavioral issues many face and to help shed the stigma that still surrounds them. And with 1 in 5 US adults and 1 in 6 US youth experiencing mental illness or disorder every year, it’s a necessary conversation to have.
After 2020 and the pandemic, it’s (hopefully) safe to say we’re all a little more compassionate toward mental illness. Everyone was affected. Everyone felt uneasy and uncertain. Everyone’s lives were upended, and it wasn’t easy or comfortable. A lot of us are still feeling the effects on our mental health. Fortunately, many around the country had access to something that can help ease the mind and bring peace to the body—cannabis, a plant that’s also faced its fair share of stigma.
There’s not a ton of research into cannabis and mental health at this point (outside of anecdotal evidence), but what we do know is promising. Some preliminary evidence shows that for those suffering from other medical conditions like chronic pain, THC may help to reduce the secondary symptom of anxiety, but that may only be because it helped to relieve the main issue of pain.
There’s also some research and anecdotal evidence that cannabis can help with anxiety, something 40 million US adults deal with every year. In particular, it appears that high-THC cannabis products can help to ease anxiety when taken at low doses. But once you up that dosage, it looks like THC may actually worsen anxiety. (We’ve all been there, am I right?) High-CBD cannabis, however, appears to reduce anxiety, though further research is needed.
CBD and THC both act on our Endocannabinoid System (ECS) which is involved in regulating fear, anxiety, and stress response. The ECS has an abundance of receptors in the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and areas of the amygdala—all parts of the brain that are involved with anxiety processing. Having these receptors in the brain for cannabinoids to stimulate may be one reason cannabis is showing promise as a way to relieve anxiety, but scientists are still digging into it.
Another reason cannabis may help with mental health issues? Those delicious terpenes you love to breathe in. Terpenes are responsible for the citrusy or skunky aroma of your favorite strains, and they also exhibit some health benefits of their own. Limonene, for example, has displayed some anti-anxiety effects in recent rat studies. Folk medicine also claims myrcene— commercial cannabis’s most common terpene—may help to reduce anxiety, though the jury is still out on that, research-wise.
If you’re considering using cannabis for anxiety, talk to your doctor first, especially if you’re on other mood-balancing medications. Once you’ve got the go-ahead, visit us at Sol Flower. Our staff is well versed in the subtleties of this powerful plant and its aromatic terpenes. We’d love to help you feel your best. Stop by or visit us virtually today to go over your options with the team.