Can Cannabis Help with Anxiety or is it Bio-Individual?Feb 21, 2021
Cannabis (aka marijuana) is a psychoactive natural remedy, which is not to everyone’s liking. It has only recently become legal in parts of the United States—but be careful because it is still illegal on a federal level in the United States and in scores of countries around the world. Even if you are using it medicinally, you do not want to travel with it and risk arrest while crossing borders.
Many people are attracted to cannabis for the relief of pain, while others use it recreationally. Some studies have shown the compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in cannabis to be effective for reducing anxiety. I have personally known people who found great relief while using it, although others say it produces more anxiety and even paranoia for them. The varied results in taking cannabis medicinally truly speak to the importance of respecting one’s bio-individuality—what works for me may not work for you!
If you do choose to use cannabis to reduce your anxiety, I do not recommend it as a long-term strategy but as a short-term tactic. Adverse effects of smoking cannabis are different in chronic smokers as compared to those who smoke only occasionally. However, prolonged consumption of cannabis has been shown to induce pathological conditions that involve disturbances in emotion, such as irritability, heightened anxiety, and depression.1
Furthermore, smoking marijuana has been said to be quite toxic to the lungs. In addition to the heat, which can damage sensitive lung tissue, “Marijuana smoke contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and carcinogens at higher concentrations than tobacco smoke. Cellular, tissue, animal, and human studies, as well as epidemiological studies, show that marijuana smoke is a risk factor for lung cancer.”2 As a result of this disturbance to the tissues, the act of smoking may trigger an anxiety response from your lungs. If this has happened to you, you may want to ingest rather than smoke THC, for example through gummies or baked goods.
This is an excerpt from my new book Anxiety-Free with Food. To read more get the Anxiety-Free with Food book HERE.
1. W. Hall and N. Solowij, “Adverse Effects of Cannabis,” Lancet, vol. 352, no. 9140 (November 14, 1998), pp. 1611–6, doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(98)05021-1.
2. M. Underner, et al., “Cannabis Smoking and Lung Cancer” [article in French], Revue des Maladies Respiratoires, vol. 31, no. 6 (June 2014), pp. 488–98, doi: 10.1016/j.rmr.2013.12.002.