Anxiety is one of the most common medical conditions in healthcare. It is often underdiagnosed; a patient may see as many as 10 doctors before the definitive diagnosis is made (1). It is estimated by the National institute of Mental Health that approximately 18% of the population (about 40 million people) has anxiety. In addition, there is evidence that anxiety has been increasing (2), and this increase was before Coronavirus knocked on our doors.
There have been many natural therapies that have been studied and shown to decrease anxiety levels. These include exercise, reduction of caffeine, and the inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids and the B vitamins in your diet (1). Last year, the PA Department of Health announced that anxiety disorders would be included in the list of serious medical conditions that can be treated by medical cannabis. This is good news for our patients, because there is evidence that marijuana can be an effective treatment for anxiety. For example, the sale of over the counter insomnia medications has decreased in Colorado since marijuana has become legal (3).
As always, studies are limited, and the exact mechanism of how medical marijuana works in anxiety is largely unknown. Although both THC and CBD have therapeutic potential, there is evidence that CBD has a higher potency in the treatment of anxiety. When the Pennsylvania recommendations were announced, Dr. Levine, the PA DOH Secretary, stated that research indicates medical marijuana with low THC and high CBD content were more effective for treatment of anxiety disorders and recommended for short-term use. She also cautioned that medical marijuana should not be a first line treatment and should not replace traditional therapies but should be used in conjunction with them, when recommended by a physician (4).
Please contact us if you are interested in medical marijuana as a therapeutic option. In the meantime, take a breath. Follow this link to some breathing exercises that may help immediately.
- Rakel, D. (2012) Integrative Medicine (Third Edition). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier
- Doremus, JM, Slith, SS, Vigil, JM. Using recreational cannabis to treat insomnia: Evidence from over-the counter sleep sales in Colorado. Complementary Therapies in Medicine Volume 47, December 2019, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2019.102207