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Study: Weed Reduces The Need For Addictive Anti-Anxiety Meds

2 minute Read

It’s well documented that in states where medical marijuana is legal, there are fewer opioid overdose deaths — in part because those who would otherwise take opiate painkillers instead use cannabis.

Now, according to a new research, medical marijuana patients also use fewer benzodiazepines, a class of medications, such as Xanax, popular in treating anxiety, seizures, and sleep disorders. In an observational study from Canabo Medical Inc, a Canadian clinic for medical cannabis, researchers found that among more than 1,500 patients, 40 percent of them who used medical marijuana for pain or anxiety relief stopped using benzodiazepines within 90 days. Moreover, after a year of using medical marijuana, 45 percent of patients quit their benzos.

“The results are extremely promising,” says Dr. Neil Smith, executive chairman of Canabo. “When conducting this type of research, experts are typically encouraged by an efficacy rate in the neighborhood of 10 percent. To see 45 percent effectiveness demonstrates that the medical cannabis industry is at a real watershed moment.”

In the United States alone, more than 40 million people over the age of 18 suffer from some form of an anxiety disorder. And nearly 10 percent of the entire Canadian population uses benzodiazepine medications, with side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, headache, sedation, and memory loss. Patients who use benzodiazepines in the long term are also at risk of developing a tolerance, growing addicted, or even overdosing.

Among the patients in the study, 27 percent wanted to treat a psychiatric condition, 11 percent sought treatment for a neurological condition, and 61 percent needed pain relief. Their average age was 48 years old, while nearly 43 percent were disabled. A 60 percent majority of the study patients were female.

“To say that we’re encouraged is an understatement, but there’s a lot of work still to be done,” says Smith. He says the researchers hope to conduct formal trials in-house and in collaboration with others, to further look at what he calls “one of the most promising advancements in many years.”

The Canabo study supports what an accumulation of anecdotal and clinical evidence already indicates: That cannabis is an effective treatment for anxiety, insomnia, and seizures, as illustrated especially among children and adults with epilepsy who use CBD to curb their seizures.

In small doses, THC can be an effective treatment for anxiety, inducing euphoria and lowering stress and worry. In higher quantities, however, depending on the strain, it can do the opposite, inducing panic attacks and paranoia.

The non-psychotropic compound CBD, however, is proven to curb generalized anxiety, and even anxiety caused by challenging THC trips. In a 2011 study from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, researchers gave 400 mg doses of CBD to patients suffering from social anxiety disorder, which affects nearly 12 percent of Americans. They found that CBD fostered an anxiolytic, or anti-anxiety, effect in the parts of the brain responsible for emotions.

“Relative to placebo, CBD was associated with significantly decreased subjective anxiety,” the study authors wrote. “These results suggest that CBD reduces anxiety in SAD {social anxiety disorder}.”

Another 2012 study found that cannabis can help erase bad memories. “Both for anxiety and fear memory processing, endocannabinoid signaling may ensure an appropriate reaction to stressful events,” the researchers wrote. “Therefore, the ECS {endocannabinoid system} can be considered as a regulatory buffer system for emotional responses.”

Study: Weed Reduces The Need For Addictive Anti-Anxiety Meds