Could marijuana and hemp products replace traditional anxiety medications?

Published Apr 14, 2019 12:19 p.m. ET
Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

Now that the legalization of both recreational and medical marijuana has happened in many regions right across the globe, there are a lot more people with access to cannabis and hemp products through safe and legal means. Though there does remain a stigma tying marijuana with criminal behavior, recent research on cannabinoids including both plants species has shown to be beneficial in various doses for a long list of uncomfortable symptoms that doctors will often prescribe narcotics or opioids to treat. This information has opened up a whole new world of CBD products and medical marijuana that is meant to be useful for specific ailments. The most heavily researched is focused on the cannabinoid’s effects on anxiety symptoms.

What is anxiety?

There are varying degrees of anxiety, and no two sufferers will feel exactly the same. The most common diagnoses given that are associated with anxiety are (OCD) obsessive compulsive disorder, (SAD) social anxiety disorder, and (GAD) general anxiety disorder. Some sufferers are able to relax in certain situations while others feat every single time they leave their home. Anxiety is a very comprehensive term that may or may not include panic, stress, trouble breathing, and other debilitating symptoms that can be limiting to a person’s quality of life.

Pharmaceutical anxiety medications

Most often, those who find themselves battling with anxiety will seek help from a doctor or other medical provider who is tasked with creating a treatment plan. Since there is very little these types of specialists can do for mental health issues it is not uncommon for them to prescribe a kind of sedative to try to alleviate the symptoms. One of the most prescribed medications for anxiety disorders are Benzodiazepines which come paired with a long list of possible adverse effects.

The effectiveness of prescriptions vs. cannabinoids

One cannot measure the ability of a substance without considering all angles including the possibility of negative side effects. Below you will find a list of the positive and negative potentials of each option including a list of all reported adverse effects from both cannabinoids and benzodiazepines.

Cannabinoids

Pro’s

- Both cannabis and CBD products are entirely non-toxic.  

- Natural plant materials that are not mixedwith noxious chemicals.

- No cannabinoid products have ever caused a death.

- Cannabinoids have shown to be effective in treating mild to moderate anxiety symptoms in patients.

Con’s

- A negative stigma is still often associated with the consumption of medical marijuana and CBD products.

- It is currently difficult for healthcare providers and family doctors with limited knowledge on cannabinoids to dose their patient’s specific medical symptoms with any confidence.

- Adverse side effects of THC may include increased appetite, grogginess, impaired motor function, difficulty to wake, dry mouth, and overwhelming feelings or sensations that may last from 6-12 hours.

Benzodiazepines

Pro’s

- Easy for doctors and healthcare providers to dose according to an extended history of use and research.

Con’s

- Benzodiazepines are toxic and even lethal when taken in large amounts which makes them easy to overconsume.

- These prescriptions are a schedule 4 man-made drugthat is combined with several chemicals that all may cause adverse effects including addiction, withdrawal symptoms, grogginess, confusion, impaired motor function, trouble breathing, headaches, insomnia, weakness, anxiety, dizziness, and nausea.

- 22 000 people die from an overdose on benzodiazepines every single year in the United States alone.

Though for the moment more cannabinoid research is needed to discover a more effective scale for doctors and healthcare providers to measure the relief a person should receive from a pre-measured dose of cannabinoids, cannabis, and hemp products are the safest option there is. Benzodiazepines have the nasty habit of recreating the very same symptoms that patients are needing to treat, making it an undesirable choice at best. The only way to know for sure whether or not you yourself might benefit from consuming THC or CBD products is by trying them to find out for yourself. Every single person will react to a cannabinoid concoction differently. The most recommended route is to find a healthcare professional that is willing to monitor and work with you in attempting cannabinoids as part of your personal treatment plant. It is critical that those who are already taking a prescribed medication have a discussion with their doctor before trying to add the replacement treatment to a typical regimen of prescribed medications, as they may not interact very well together.

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