An unfortunate byproduct of the busy world we live in is stress. As of 2019, a full 44% of Americans report suffering from moderate to extreme levels of stress on a regular basis. There are a number of reasons cited for this, from rising work hours to increased social media usage, but the fact that stress is on the rise is widely undisputed.
With rising stress levels has come to an increased urgency within the health community to find solutions. While the intake of prescription drugs to alleviate stress has increased significantly over the past decade, researchers are also looking towards natural remedies such as medicinal marijuana. But can cannabis actually have a positive impact on a person’s stress levels?
Regular Cannabis Users Report Lower Stress Overall
According to International Highlife, we already have access to comprehensive research on the use of medical cannabis for stress relief. One of the most widely-cited studies is research conducted by Washington State University, which gathered data from 12,000 people who used medical cannabis in order to determine if the stress levels had dropped.
The results were conclusive: Virtually all of the respondents reported significantly lower stress levels almost immediately after consuming cannabis, in both the short and long term. In addition, the results were consistent across all of the age groups and genders surveyed, suggesting that everyone can enjoy the potential mental health benefits of medical cannabis.
Why Might This Be?
There are a number of scientific theories that have been put forward to explain the positive impact of cannabis on stress relief. Most of these center around the two main active ingredients found in medicinal cannabis: THC and CBD. THC, which is the active psychoactive ingredient, is believed to lower anxiety levels and induce calm, which in turn lowers overall stress.
Meanwhile, CBD has been linked with the release of hormones that help to lower stress. It’s worth noting that the research conducted thus far is not comprehensive, and we may learn even more about why cannabis users tend to be less stressed than non-users once more research is completed.
The Use of Medical Marijuana for Stress Relief
The use of medical cannabis for relieving stress is nonetheless widespread. According to Harvard Health the hundreds of thousands of prescriptions handed out by doctors each year, a huge number of these are for the treatment of stress-related conditions. Medical marijuana is widely recommended to patients suffering from conditions such as PTSD, chronic anxiety, and depression.
It’s clear that there is a consensus emerging in the medical community (at least in the United States) that marijuana poses a significant potential to improve patient wellbeing, which is why it is emerging as a primary prescription option. In fact, state level marijuana legalization in the US continues to grow for the past years. Most reforms on these states policies are aimed primarily towards increasing access to marijuana for medical purposes. Patients can smoke marijuana, take administered THC tablets, consume edibles, and use CBD products such as cannabinoid oils to help combat their stress.
While we may not have definitive links between cannabis and stress treatment yet, the current evidence is extremely promising. Medical cannabis may well emerge in the near future as the most popular treatment for stress if the research continues to yield results such as these.