Cannabis and Mental Health. Is it really helpful?

You might have heard that cannabis has a great impact on your mental health, and by ‘impact,’ we mean the benefits. But how much of it is research-backed? Can you trust these chemical components with your mental health? That’s a big question. 

And that’s exactly what we are figuring out today. Is cannabis really good for your mental health or just too good to be true?

A trend has been studied specifically suggesting interest in CBD or cannabidiol as it has been linked with the treatment of depression, anxiety, and stress. Over the years, several countries have taken the step to legalize medical Cannabis. In April of 2019 alone, there were 6.4 million searches relating to CBD. Is this drug that appears to be popular among celebrities worth it? 

Is Cannabis really helpful for mental health? 

Some researchers believe there’s indicative evidence that cannabis with compounds like THC and CBD in them could be good for mental health. Some researchers think the current evidence isn’t conclusive enough. 

However, the general agreement seems to be that it shouldn’t be prescribed by physicians at present as there’s still research to be done on whether taking a psychoactive drug is worth the risk for treating depression and other mental health problems.

The Confusion Around The Usage of Cannabis

The common misconception is that cannabis is just a single substance. People also describe it as marijuana. In reality, marijuana is cannabis, but that’s not what cannabis is all about. 

In fact, cannabis contains more than five hundred chemical substances. Of these five hundred substances, a hundred are identified as cannabinoids. This means ingesting these substances can cause a drug-like effect in your body. 

So that opens to the concept of many different propositions and compositions in which you can ingest cannabis and how each would have a different effect on your body. Since a lot of compositions are possible, there is very less data that backs each of these combinations, and thus the dilemma of whether cannabis is actually helpful for you or not.

What Do The Existing Studies Say?

In search of an answer, a group of researchers decided to review what the existing studies have to say about cannabis consumption and its health benefits. The researchers collected over 83 studies that were found reliable. They all focused on the effects of ingestion of cannabis by people suffering from Tourette syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, psychosis, and depression.

The researchers weren’t able to establish a satisfactory connection between the two. In some cases, people who ingested cannabis and suffered from one or any of the above mental health problems were at ease. Even then, the researchers couldn’t find out if it was their prescribed medicines or the cannabis doing the magic. 

Even though the study didn’t lead anywhere, researchers are adamant about preaching the risks associated with the usage of cannabis. While you are fixated on the may-have benefits, it’s possible to not bat an eye about the risk that comes along with it. Therefore, self-treatment using cannabis isn’t something that is to be practiced. It has to be used strictly at your doctor’s discretion.

Impact of Cannabis On Mental Health

Let’s take a look at some of the current conclusions on the impact cannabis has on mental health. 

  • In 2019, the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry published a study that is of the opinion that if CBD is consumed in capsule form, it can provide some relief in, particularly stressful times. A 300 mg capsule was tested for this to see if the anxiety caused by public speaking alleviates a little. 
  • The 2018 study by Washington State University (WSU) was focused on how people felt long after using cannabis. The result was that if people smoked cannabis, they did feel good for a short amount of time. Stress and anxiety did seem to go away for a while but in the long run, it seemed to contribute to the overall depressive episodes. 
  • The Journal of Affective Disorders study suggests that Cannabis has to have a high CBD amount and low THC amount to provide the optimal treatment for reducing depression. Two puffs can lower the anxiety level. More than ten puffs and there was a significant reduction in stress level. 

Is it harmful to smoke Cannabis? 

Whether cannabis can be used for the treatment of mental health is still up for debate. However, it is clear that inhaling cannabis does have risk factors associated with it. Other forms of consumption are on safer grounds but smoking means the person is inhaling smoke into their lungs. 

Studies do not suggest that smoking cannabis and lung cancer have any connection but there is certainly a risk to smoking that other forms of ingestion do not have. It is better to eat cannabis with cooking or consume it in capsule form. 

Final Thoughts

One of the studies suggests that the endocannabinoid system helps with depression, and some conclude that cannabis might help reduce the severity of depression. Since most trials and studies are open to interpretation, they can’t be relied upon. Thus, if you plan to try cannabis out, it should be after conducting thorough research with your doctor. 

Also, with cannabis usage, there’s an added risk of addiction. Surely, cannabis can make you high – although some might say this state reduces their stress and anxiety and gives them a break from their thoughts. But when people resort to cannabis to get the same effect all over again, it can lead to addiction. That’s where the line must be drawn.

There are CBD being sold in the market in oil or plant form that has not been regulated properly. While Cannabis will help relieve stress conclusively in a temporary form, it is for the best that the person does not use it without a recommendation from their doctor. If you do want to try CBD, research your state laws.