BY MARIE LODI
Now more than ever, it can often feel like you and everyone around you is experiencing some form of anxiety. In fact, a 2018 national poll released by the American Psychiatric Association revealed that Americans felt more anxious than the year prior. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America also reports that anxiety disorders, which include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and specific phobias, affect 40 million adults in the U.S. every year, taking the top spot as the most common mental illness in the country.
For treatment, anxiety sufferers have historically turned to medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both, but it’s becoming increasingly common to look towards cannabis for relief due to the plant’s calming effect. For decades, marijuana has had a reputation of causing paranoia in its users, so it might sound puzzling that it can help with anxiety. This is due to its bi-phasic characteristics—high doses of cannabis may very well cause or aggravate anxiety and paranoia, but lower doses can chill a person out.
“Cannabis can be very helpful for treatment of anxiety,” explainsDr. Jordan Tishler, MD, CEO/CMO of InhaleMD, a Boston-based practice that focuses on using cannabis to treat patients. The Harvard-trained holistic care expert, who is also president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists, states that the benefits of cannabis for anxiety are effective and generally safe. “However, it is important to get the dose and timing correct,” Tishler says. “We know that overuse can worsen both anxiety and depression.”
Tishler points out that low-dose cannabis use—approximately 5 to 10 mg—is best for treating anxiety. Starting with either a mild edible or one to two puffs of a vaporizer each day may be the wisest approach to quelling anxiety. He also says that not all levels or types of anxiety can be treated with cannabis alone. “Conventional medications like SSRIs may be needed,” Tishler says. “Fortunately, cannabis works well with those medications, offering additional benefits and often ameliorating some of the side effects of those medications, like flat mood or sexual difficulties.”
He suggests that when trying low-dosage cannabis as a treatment for anxiety, it should be used only once daily, and ideally in the evening. “Despite the intoxication wearing off overnight, the anti-anxiety effects are not directly tied to the intoxication and provide benefit throughout the next day,” Tishler explains. “There is no need or advantage to using cannabis for anxiety during the day. In fact, it can be counterproductive to both the treatment itself, and to your productivity during the day.”
So, the next time you’re experiencing anxiety, consider trying a low-dose edible when you get home from work to potentially help calm your nerves. You can find them at all MedMen weed dispensaries.