More and more, people are recognizing the role cannabis can have in alleviating physical pain. The role it has in alleviating mental pain can be just as life-changing.

Depression and anxiety may cause considerable anguish and pain in their effects on relationships with ourselves and with others, at home and at work. These mental imbalances can wreak havoc with one’s ability to deal with even the smallest of daily tasks.

Depression and anxiety are insidious. They can present as irritability, social avoidance, lack of drive or focus, and insomnia. Self-medicating with excessive alcohol or drugs, and addictions to other dopamine releasers such as sugar, cigarettes, overspending, food  and gambling are common. Anxiety’s fight or flight response can result in stiff muscles, adrenal fatigue, insulin imbalances and inability to properly digest/utilize your food.

Cannabis is sometimes referred to as ‘green prozac’ but in the right dosage it will give you relief without the possible side effects of pharmaceuticals. Treatment relies heavily on the appropriate dose. Your doctor will prescribe a daily gram amount that will allow you a cushion with the flexibility to order and try different strains and ingestion methods. As always, we start with the low and slow approach to medicating through cannabis. Whether you are vaporizing (dried bud), or trying the oil, or making your own capsules, keep a log and start with the lowest dose (the size of a match head in dried bud and 0.1 mL for CBD oil and 0.25 mL for THC oil). Taking this low dose several times a day may be enough. This is called micro-dosing. Just as it may be the best approach for physical, it may also be the best approach for mental imbalances.

Studies have shown that low doses of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis) could work like an antidepressant by increasing serotonin. While, proper dosing of CBD (cannabidiol is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid) can help lower or even eliminate anxiety. (Note: Too much THC can bring on anxiety as it activates the amygdala area of the brain, which is responsible for fear. Too much CBD can have a mentally sedating effect).

If you are looking to alleviate depression, you’ll want to dig a little deeper into THC Sativa strains with a terpene limonene (see Introduction to Terpenes) try strains like the Sativa dominant Blue Dream, Girl Scout Cookies or Jack Herer.  

When choosing strains for anxiety, look into CBD with either a caryophyllene or linalool terpene.  Strains such as Balmoral, ACDC, White Widow, Sour OG, or Cannatonic are a good place to start.  (Note: it may take your body a few days to regulate anything initially introduced. CBD may well make you sleepier even in smaller doses for the first week or so).

Depression and Anxiety may be interrelated and you should keep this in mind when choosing strains, and when noting doses and their effects.  Bio-individuality will play a big part in how your brain and body metabolize anything, including cannabis. These are general guidelines but patience and careful documentation will allow you to fine tune what is right for you. No single approach is a magic bullet but when medical Cannabis is combined with exercise, and a diet that includes healthful choices, anxiety and depression may be lowered or alleviated.  

As always, feel free to email our team at askabudgenius@naturalhealthservices.ca or join us Wednesday evenings for Q & A, from 6:30 to 8 pm live at our Calgary location’s Education Center,  5809 MacLeod Trail S. If you can’t be there in person, listen LIVE  at that time online  at www.naturalhealthservices.ca/events where you may type in your questions.

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