A Cannabis Scientists On How Best To Use THC And CBD For Treating Stress And Anxiety - Men's Health Magazine Australia

A Cannabis Scientists On How Best To Use THC And CBD For Treating Stress And Anxiety

With anxiety becoming more prevalent in the last year as a result of the global pandemic and lockdown restrictions, there’s growing curiosity in THC. But as this cannabis scientist explains, it’s important to do your research first.

As states around the world begin to legalise cannabis, there is growing momentum here in Australia to do the same. This year, a two-year State Parliament inquiry that looked to recommend legalising cannabis in Victoria was ultimately quashed by members of parliament. The majority of evidence from Australian and international health and legal experts have favoured decriminalising cannabis for personal use, as doing so would not only remove criminal penalties for the possession or use of the drug, but also open it up to regulation. Despite ongoing research that has shown the possibility of using cannabis for a variety of reasons ranging from anxiety through to chronic pain and other conditions, attitudes towards the drug are seemingly hard to shift.

One man looking to use education as a means of shifting attitudes towards cannabis is psychiatrist Igor Grant, who has been studying marijuana since the 1970s after a professor recruited him to help analyse the impact of cannabis usage on the performance of fellow medical residents at the University of Pennsylvania. Now the director of the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research, Grant is helping to advance the world’s knowledge of marijuana as a medicine, something that’s become increasingly important in recent times as Covid-19 has pushed more people to look to weed as a means of treating stress and anxiety. 

Speaking to Men’s Health US, Grant explains that while there have been some studies examining the ability of cannabis to treat stress and anxiety, it’s yet to be scientifically verified. “The short answer is no, but there are studies now showing that cannabidiol, CBD, which is this non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana may be helpful in managing anxiety,” says Grant. “There are studies being done to look at the possibility that CBD – or CBD and THC – may be helpful in post-traumatic stress disorders. And of course people will tell you, even elite athletes, that if they have been beaten up on the field or whatever and they take some marijuana, they feel better.”

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So, what are the ground rules then when it comes to using cannabis for stress and anxiety? According to Grant, the first rule is to understand what the composition of the cannabis you’re using is as a lot of that which is available on the street or dispensaries in the US where it’s legal has a lot of THC – this might not be what you’re after. “In low doses, THC does reduce anxiety in most people, but as you push the dose higher you can sometimes have the opposite effect. People could have panic attacks or they could have hallucinations that are unpleasant or unwelcome or they start feeling paranoid. It depends on what you are taking and what your experience has been,” he says.

In contrast, CBD “probably has anti-anxiety actions without having those negative effects. I guess if people were going to try something for anxiety, I would say they should try a CBD-containing preparation.”

Still, Grant urges anyone struggling with anxiety to first try behaviour techniques, even if just initially. “People know all about those: they range from relaxation techniques through meditation, yoga, and psychotherapy to manage these. That’s a much better strategy than turning to drugs of any kind.”

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