Science proves cannabis can reduce your stress response

Published Mar 3, 2021 01:00 p.m. ET
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Stoners have always  been known as super happy, friendly, laid back souls who prefer not to stress about anything. All it takes is a few puffs, and we’re no longer anywhere near as wound up or agitated, and that’s not just a fairytale, like many other cannabis stereotypes. It really works to melt away those negative feelings, but the experts, as per usual, want to figure out why that is and whether or not it’s a good thing.

The WSU study

Unfortunately, randomly selecting a bunch of human participants to be divided into cannabis using and non-using groups has a few ethical issues, so researchers with Washington State University used female rats instead. In the experiment, the rats self-administered cannabis vapor for one whole month, at which time they, along with a control group, were tested in ways that would induce a stress response in the animals.

Both before and after each study was run, the researchers took blood samples from all of the test groups, and then they were compared to see if there was any measurable difference in the ones that were using cannabis. Be it a heightened sensitivity to stress, or a muted one, they wanted to know exactly how it would physiologically change the rats, and as you might already suspect, one group ranked far better than the other.

A less severe stress response

The results which were published in the Journal of Neurobiology of Stress concluded that the self-administering cannabis-loving rats had far lower hormones that are produced as a result of stress in their blood, which suggests that they had a less extreme stress response, despite going through all of the very same experiences as the control group. Though these researchers were able to draw a direct connection between cannabis use and reduced stress response, they were shocked by something else that they discovered.

All of the female rats who were provided access to cannabis vapor were less stressed out than their counterparts, but the experts had expected to see the amount they consume go up with the introduction of stressful situations. But no matter what was thrown at these little gals, they didn’t seem to feel the need to consume more cannabis, something that researchers had expected to see as part of the study.

What this means

We all know what less stress means, but in general, these rats were far more comfortable than their non-consuming counterparts in all situations, including the stressful ones. This could mean that cannabis has the ability to help human beings to respond better and recover faster from challenging situations where stress or anxiety run high, but that might not necessarily be a good thing.

How is less stress a bad thing?

Our stress response might not feel very good, especially when we’re in the middle of an experience or situation that is extreme, but it is a necessary part of how we are hardwired. Stress can be something that drags us down, keeping us from achieving our goals, or even getting out of bed in the morning. However, it can also be a useful motivator that pushes us to take risks and make changes in our lives for the better.

It remains unclear whether or not a reduced stress response is an entirely positive thing for cannabis consumers, but at least we’ve got the soothing comfort of nature to help keep us calm while we wait for these illuminating answers to be found.

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