We all know that there’s nothing better than lighting a bowl at the end of a long, stressful day. But for people who suffer from chronic stress, it doesn’t just end there - stress is something that they need to deal with daily, over a long period of time.
But what’s the science behind the relief you feel from getting baked as a way to deal with stress?
It all lies in the brain.
Research published in a 2013 issue of Trends in Pharmacological Sciences lends some great insight explaining the connection between cannabis and stress. The study was conducted by a group of experts from The Rockefeller University, University of Calgary, and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The researchers also found that stress relief as well as anxiety are the most common reasons people use cannabis. “Cannabis and its derivatives have profound effects on a wide variety of behavioral and neural functions, ranging from feeding and metabolism to pain and cognition. However, epidemiological studies have indicated that the most common self-reported reason for using cannabis is rooted in its ability to reduce feelings of stress, tension, and anxiety,” the study says.
Cannabis provides relief from stress because it acts on the endocannabinoid system. The study’s authors saw evidence which suggest that deficiencies in the endocannabinoid system could be the root cause of anxiety disorders.“The discovery of the ECB (endocannabinoid) system raised the possibility that ECBs (endocannabinoids) could be important modulators of anxiety, and might contribute to individual differences in anxious temperament and risk for anxiety disorders,” they note.
The endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in keeping the body healthy and regulates stress levels. Although there are several cannabinoids in cannabis, THC was discovered to be the most similar to anandamide, an endocannabinoid found in the human body. Both anandamide and THC work in the same pathways in the brain, so it’s not a surprise that many people find relief from toking up as a way of dealing with stress.
Another study conducted by Vanderbilt University found that mice had receptors which enables cannabis to act on the brain’s control center for emotions. These receptors are found in the mice’s amygdala, and it’s the same part of the brain which is responsible for fight-or-flight responses, and regulates stress and anxiety.
Dr. Sachin Patel led the study, which also revealed for the first time findings which showed that the brain can make and release their own cannabinoids. When a person undergoes chronic stress, the endocannabinoid system becomes deficient. This leads to an increase in both stress and anxiety levels. Cannabis is effective in restoring the endocannabinoid system because the plant’s cannabinoids act on our cannabinoid receptors, thereby making up for the decrease in natural cannabinoids.
Interestingly, cannabis can also help with neurogenesis, which refers to the growth of new brain cells. Depression and stress, especially over a long period of time, decreases neurogenesis.
How Microdosing Cannabis Fights Stress
But before you decide to use a bong, let me explain why smaller doses are better.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that when rats were administered with low doses of a synthetic THC, this increased serotonin levels and also showed antidepressant effects in the rats. Serotonin is a chemical produced in the human body which is responsible for regulating moods, and without adequate supply makes one more prone to stress and depression. However when the rats were given higher doses of the synthetic THC, the opposite effect was found: they had lower serotonin levels and thus experienced depression.
Microdosing can greatly benefit patients of medical marijuana, especially if you suffer from chronic stress. It enables you to achieve the same medicinal benefits of cannabis without getting high, which means that you’ll be able to function properly and engage in many other activities while letting the magic of cannabinoids do the work for you.
Read up on our guide on microdosing here: https://cannabis.net/blog/medical/the-art-of-marijuana-microdosing
Have you used cannabis for stress? What dosage helped you the most? Share your experience with us in the comments below!
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