Many patients find that smoking a bowl or lighting up a joint of the right strain can be particularly beneficial in combating the symptoms of anxiety & depression, but what about concentrates? Can these potent cannabis extracts provide relief or could they actually make symptoms worse? The answer isn’t so clear cut.
Before we delve into the use of cannabis concentrates for the treatment of anxiety & depression, let’s examine exactly how cannabis works to treat these conditions in the first place. Experiencing a certain level of anxiety is totally normal, but individuals who have persistent anxiety that disrupts their daily life may find that they have an anxiety disorder. Common symptoms of an anxiety attack include increased heart rate, excessive sweating, feelings of paranoia or fear, trouble concentrating, fatigue, irritability, insomnia & racing thoughts. The portion of our brain that is responsible for many of these symptoms is called the amygdala—it controls our flight-or-fight response & manages stress. Interestingly enough, scientists have discovered that the amygdala also contains CB1 receptors. This means that endocannabinoids are able to interact with the amygdala and produce a dampening effect that reduces the overall excitability of the amygdala & in turn reduces symptoms of anxiety. Studies on mice show that the subjects that experienced higher levels of anxiety had lower levels of endocannabinoids naturally present in their amygdala. This suggests that individuals with anxiety disorders may be experiencing a deficiency of endocannabinoids in their brain & supplementing the right amounts of CBD & THC can aid them in maintaining homeostasis.
Much like anxiety, almost everyone experiences bouts of depression at some point in their lives, but those with clinical depression suffer from chronic low mood that negatively impacts their day to day life. Symptoms of clinical depression include intense fatigue, loss of interest in things your once loved, lack of interest in personal hygiene, unexplained muscle pain, headache, digestive distress, irritability, loss of self-worth, suicidal ideation & self harming behaviors. Like I mentioned before, studies on rodents have indicated that intense stress decreases endocannabinoid production in the brain. Stress obviously plays a role in anxiety disorders, but researchers also feel that excessive stress leads to depression as well. Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane, lead researcher at The University of Buffalo, explains: “Chronic stress is one of the major causes of depression. Using compounds derived from cannabis – marijuana – to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression.”
Another way that researchers believe cannabis can help treat depression is with its anti-inflammatory properties. Over the past decade, research has revealed that during depressive episodes, inflammation in the brain increases. This is backed up by the fact that individuals diagnosed with clinical depression have been found to have an excess of cytokines (inflammation causing proteins) in their brains. As a result, some scientists believe that depression is actually a chronic activation of the immune system. This actually makes a lot of sense, because anyone who has experienced severe depression can attest to the fact that you often feel sick during an episode. In 2014, scientists from Tel Aviv University conducted a study that showed that low doses of THC reduce brain swelling: “Our results suggest that an ultra-low dose of THC that lacks any psychotropic activity protects the brain from neuroinflammation-induced cognitive damage and might be used as an effective drug for the treatment of neuroinflammatory conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases.” When the brain inflammation is reduced, your immune system no longer thinks it needs to attack itself & your brain finally has a chance to produce new cells & heal the damage from stress.
So how exactly can cannabis concentrates specifically be helpful? Since cannabis extracts contain highly concentrated amounts of THC and CBD, you’ll actually be able to use less to get the relief you’re looking for. This is extremely beneficial for patients who deal with anxiety & depression on a daily basis—it can get expensive having to buy enough flower or edibles to last you throughout the week! Due to the fact that high doses of THC can cause anxiety, when it comes to concentrates you’ll likely want to look for something high in CBD or that has both CBD & THC as opposed to pure THC alone. Absorb CBD’s 22:1 CBD Vape Cartridge is a great choice for patients who are beginning to experiment with using concentrates to treat their anxiety & depression. With a 22:1 ratio of CBD to THC, you don’t run the risk of experiencing any THC-induced anxiety & instead will predominately experience the calm, clear effects of CBD. The oil itself is made from ACDC, a sativa dominant CBD strain that is particularly effective at reducing fatigue—so you don’t have to worry about falling asleep after you use it! For those individuals seeking more of an even balance between CBD & THC, Absorb CBD also offers a 1:1 Vape Cartridge. Pop Naturals has several different oil ratios that you can take a look at as well—you can either ingest the oil orally, dab it, or put it in a cartridge for more portable use! Finally, if you want something more disposable while you figure out the right dose for you give the Honey Vape Disposable CBD Vape a try—it contains their Trident CBD strain which has 40.3% CBD & less than 3% THC.
As with any other ailment, it’s going to take some trial & error on your part to figure out the right combination of CBD & THC for your body. I recommend keeping a journal where you detail which products you use each day, how much you use & how often you use them. Make sure to include details about your symptoms as well—this will help you see exactly what products helped to reduce which symptoms. Most importantly, remember to be patient with yourself. You’re trying something new & even the slightest bit of progress is something to celebrate! If you have questions about dosing or need some product recommendations, come speak to one of our Cannabis Consultants—they’ll be happy to guide you in the right direction!
(1) All In The Mind #3: Can Weed Defeat Your Anxiety?
(2) All In The Mind #4: How Cannabis Treats Depression
(3) Immunological Evidence Supporting The Immune-Cytokine Model of Depression
(4) The anxiolytic effect of cannabidiol on chronically stressed mice depends on hippocampal neurogenesis: involvement of the endocannabinoid system
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