While all human beings experience anxiety throughout their lives, Anxiety Disorders are a set of mental illnesses characterized by chronic and overwhelming emotions of fear, anxiousness, restlessness, and crippling worrying. Examples of Anxiety Disorders include: Panic Disorder (which may cause complications of the heart); Social Anxiety Disorder; Selective Mutism (an inability to speak during specific but otherwise normal situations); various Phobias; Agoraphobia; Anxiety associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Substance Induced Anxiety (alcohol abuse; drug abuse; opiate abuse; and even medication induced); and Generalized Anxiety Disorders which run the gamut of social hangups; disproportionate thinking; unhealthy obsessions; and so on.
These ailments are very debilitating and they are a major obstacle that sufferers face preventing them from leading a normal life. Resulting symptoms of these disorders include: problems with sleeping (insomnia); excessive sweating; irrational panicking; physical numbness; dizziness and nausea; heart palpitations; an inability to stay still and stay calm; painful muscle tensions and cramps; shortness of breath; and an inability to act or perform simple tasks.
Anxiety Disorders may either be developed through significant stressful incidents or situations in a sufferer’s life, or they may be hereditary. Thankfully, there are numerous therapies and medications that may help an individual treat and possibly rid themselves of their disorder.
Using Cannabis to Treat Anxiety Disorders
Cannabis is a complex medicinal plant that may actually be used to treat a variety of debilitating symptoms caused by a surprisingly large number of ailments. It’s usefulness as a non-lethal medicine (you cannot die from an overdose of cannabis) cannot be overstated and it’s versatility in terms of how it can be consumed and as to how it can be useful for so many illnesses is something to be excited about. However, it is important to remember that consulting with your primary care physician should be your first priority when considering incorporating cannabis into one’s medical regiment and that cannabis is to be used as an adjunct therapy and not a replacement. It is also your responsibility to communicate with your doctor as to how your use of cannabis has affected your health and of your progress with utilizing medical cannabis.
Currently, much of the ongoing research regarding cannabis’ ability to help with reducing anxiety has been focused on the powerful anxiolytic (anti-anxiety and anti-panic) properties of Cannabidiol (CBD). Overall, exciting studies have shown that cannabis may be quite useful for treating individuals suffering from Anxiety Disorders for the following reasons: significantly reducing anxiety itself; helping to manage possible depression associated with the anxiety disorder; helping to reduce nausea during a panic attack; assisting with sleep should the anxiety disorder cause insomnia; and with preventing possible psychosis.
FINDINGS: EFFECTS OF CANNABIS ON ANXIETY DISORDERS
While tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has shown to increase anxiety, both animal and human studies have shown that another major cannabinoid found in cannabis — cannabidiol (CBD) — possesses anxiolytic-like effects .
One study found that CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in social phobia patients before they were subjected to simulated public speaking. A similar study also found CBD to have an anxiolytic effect on individuals submitted to a simulated public speaking test. Another found CBD to significantly decrease subjective anxiety in individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.
Cannabinoids have shown they can reverse stress-induced anxiety by inhibiting fatty acid amide hydrolase, the anandamide-degrading enzyme. This is likely due to cannabinoid interaction with cannabinoid receptors, particularly the CB2 receptor, as they have shown to inhibit the fatty acid amide hydrolase and reduce vulnerability to anxiety. One study found that it was through CBD’s activation of the cannabinoid receptors that provided an anxiolytic effect in stressed mice. Another study, however, showed that it was through CBD’s activation of 5-HT1A receptors that caused an anxiolytic-like effect in rats exposed to tests. In another, CBD’s action on limbic and paralimbic brain areas were shown to be responsible for its anxiolytic properties.
STATES THAT HAVE APPROVED MEDICAL CANNABIS FOR ANXIETY DISORDERS
Currently, no states have approved medical cannabis for the treatment of anxiety disorders.
However, in Washington D.C., any condition can be approved for medical Cannabis as long as a DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment. In addition, various other states will consider allowing medical cannabis to be used for the treatment of anxiety disorders with the recommendation from a physician. These states include: California (any debilitating illness where the medical use of cannabis has been recommended by a physician), Connecticut (other medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer Protection), Massachusetts (other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), New Mexico (other conditions subject to approval), Nevada (other conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other conditions subject to approval), Rhode Island (other conditions subject to approval), and Washington (any “terminal or debilitating condition”).
Beneficial Cannabinoids and Terpenoids Useful for Treating Anxiety Disorders
The cannabis plant offers a plethora of therapeutic benefits and contains cannabinoids and terpenoid compounds that are useful for treating some of the symptoms caused by an Anxiety Disorder. While much of the interest in treating an Anxiety Disorder with cannabis involves CBD, the following chart denotes which cannabinoids and terpenoids also work synergistically with each other for possible therapeutic benefit.
German Chamomile, tea, also has beneficial terpenes for treating Anxiety.
Americans For Safe Access Condition-based Booklets
These booklets summarize the history of medical cannabis and the recent research used to treat a variety of conditions, including Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Pain, Arthritis, Gastro-Intestinal Disorders, Movement Disorders, HIV/AIDS, and conditions related to Aging. (About Americans For Safe Access)
A Patient's Guide to Medical Cannabis
This guide for patients who use medical marijuana (cannabis) covers everything you need to know. Created by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a non-profit advocacy organization, this publication will help individuals who are using or considering cannabis treatments to better educate themselves, their families and their physicians. ASA has been developing information resources about medical marijuana (cannabis) for patients, their families, doctors, and elected officials for over a decade.
Article: "How to Qualify for Medical Cannabis in New Mexico"
Understanding Medical Cannabis.Elemental Wellness Center, 2014 Jul.
Cannabidiol, a cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug.Schier, Alexandre de Mello, et al.
Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, 2012 Jun, 34(1).
Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report.Crippa, Jose Alexandre S., et al.
Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2010 Sep 9, 25(1): 121-130.
Chapter 5 the endocannabinoid system as a target for novel anxiolytic and antidepressant drugs.Gaetani, Silvana, et al.
International Review of Neurobiology, 2009, 85: 57-72.
Modulation of fear and anxiety by the endogenous cannabinoid system.Chhatwal, James P., et al.
CNS spectrums, 2007 Mar, 12(3): 211-220.
Effects of cannabinoids on the anxiety-like response in mice.Rutkowska, Maria, et al.
Pharmacological Reports, 2006, 58: 200-206.
Cannabidiol, a cannabis sativa constituent, as an antipsychotic drug.Zuardi, A.W., et al.
Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 2006 Apr, 39(4): 421-429.
Pharmacological evaluation of cannabinoid receptor ligands in a mouse model of anxiety: further evidence for an anxiolytic role for endogenous cannabinoid signaling.Patel, Sachin, et al.
Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 2006 Mar 28, 318(1): 304-311.
Anxiolytic-like effect of cannabidiol in the rat vogel conflict test.Moreira, Fabricio A., et al.
Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 2006 Dec 30, 30(8): 1466-1471.
Cannabinoids promote embryonic and adult hippocampus neurogenesis and produce anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects.Jiang, Wen, et al.
The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2005 Nov 1, 115(11): 3104-3116.
A role for cannabinoid CB1 receptors in mood and anxiety disorders.Witkin, J.M., et al.
Behavioral Pharmacology, 2005 Sep, 16(5-6): 315-331.
Endocannabinoid system and stress and anxiety responses.Viveros, M.P., et al.
Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 2005 Jun, 81(2): 331-342.
Cannabis and cannabis extracts: greater than the sum of their parts.McPartland, John M., et al.
Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, 2001, 1(3-4): 103-32.
Action of cannabidiol on the anxiety and other effects produced by ?9-THC in normal subjects.Zuardi, A.W., et al.
Psychopharmacology, 1982 Mar, 76(3): 245-250.
The efficacy and safety of nabilone (a synthetic cannabinoid) in the treatment of anxiety.Fabre, Louis F., et al.
The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 1981 Aug, 21(S1): 377-382.