- D. H. Reilly
More Studies Support Using Cannabis to Treat Anxiety, Depression and Insomnia
Another day, another reason to get an Alabama Marijuana Card!
Forbes recently reported on a new study that found that medical marijuana helped lower depression and anxiety among the clinically depressed, and that it even improved the quality of their sleep.
Now it isn’t exactly news that medical marijuana can help relieve depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders, but with each new study that confirms these older findings, medical marijuana advocates have one more tool to help them argue for more robust access to natural medicine.
This most recent study to confirm cannabis’ value as an antidepressant and sleep aid, was conducted by researchers from the University of South Carolina, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and other mental health research organizations, and was published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.
Study Found Positive Results in Treating Depression With Marijuana
Researchers looked at individuals who used medical marijuana as well as those who did not, and concluded both groups benefited from the medicine. Test subjects who were already medical marijuana patients at the beginning of the study reported lower levels of depression than their nonusing counterparts.
Marijuana users also reported higher quality of life and better sleep and less pain in the past month, and were more likely to show depression symptoms that did not rise to the level of clinical depression. There was no statistical difference in anxiety levels between users and nonusers at the beginning of the study.
At the conclusion of the study, when both groups had been on a medical marijuana regiment, those test participants who had not previously been marijuana users showed reductions in depression, anxiety, and pain, as well as improved sleep quality and quality of life.
In discussing the study findings with the psychology and neurology news website PsyPost, lead researcher Erin Martin, a doctoral candidate at the University of South Carolina, said “Medicinal cannabis products, especially products high in CBD, may help to treat symptoms of depression, improve sleep, and increase quality of life.”
Martin also noted where the study was lacking in its findings: “There is also some evidence that medicinal cannabis may alleviate symptoms of anxiety, particularly if administered over an extended period of time, but this is less clear from our results and warrants further study.”
The Science on Marijuana is Often Limited
Martin’s observation that the study found improved anxiety levels, but nothing that was conclusive from a scientific standpoint is symptomatic of a larger problem in marijuana research.
Science demands high levels of certainty before rendering a judgment on a substance’s medicinal value. And thanks to marijuana’s legal status at the federal level, there has been limited scientific review of its medicinal value when compared to traditional pharmaceuticals, meaning there is less that scientists are willing to conclusively say about marijuana.
Cannabis’ Inconsistent Legal Status Contributes to Lack of Scientific Certainty
Discover Magazine has described U.S. marijuana research as “bottlenecked because of limitations on studying the Cannabis sativa plant, some parts of which remain a Schedule I drug.”
Although medical marijuana is legal in 36 states, the federal government continues to consider cannabis a Schedule I drug, meaning it has “no currently accepted medical use” and a “high potential for abuse.” That status creates legal barriers for researchers like Martin who would better understand the much maligned medicine.
“We conducted this study to determine if people that used medicinal cannabis products to treat symptoms of anxiety and depression reported improvement in these symptoms, as well as in other important areas like sleep and quality of life, relative to people that did not use medicinal cannabis,” Martin told PsyPost.
“Bottlenecked” Marijuana Research Creates Vicious Cycle
Researchers have described a sort of “vicious cycle” that results from the “bottlenecked” scientific investigations of medical marijuana.
Dr. Staci Gruber, a professor of psychology and medicine at Harvard University, once described this cycle to Discover Magazine, when telling them about her frustration when she testifies about medical marijuana to legislative bodies.
According to Gruber, legislators often ask scientists for advice in crafting marijuana legislation. Unfortunately, due to the obstacles to conducting research, those scientists are often unable to offer concrete proof of marijuana’s safety and efficacy. This leads those legislators to leave research barriers in place for fear of the unknown, forcing patients to continue their struggles with pharmaceuticals that may be better understood than medical marijuana, but that are also often less effective and more dangerous.
And in the meantime, marijuana’s full medical value remains unexplored, and scientists remain unable to give legislators the kind of concrete evidence they look for, and the cycle thus continues.
Medical Marijuana Often a Better Option than Other Medicines
Despite the relative lack of scientific consensus about medical marijuana when it is compared to pharmaceuticals, innumerable studies have shown that 1) pharmaceuticals are often lacking in efficacy and patient satisfaction and 2) medical marijuana is often a better treatment option.
Martin said her study was important because of how widespread depression and anxiety are, and how unsatisfied many patients are when they try treating them with traditional pharmaceuticals.
“Anxiety and depressive disorders are highly prevalent,” Martin told PsyPost. “Traditional antidepressants may effectively treat these disorders in a lot of people, but they do not work for everyone and can have unpleasant side effects.”
In fact, depression and anxiety are indeed common conditions. According to statistics compiled by the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, more than 30 million people around the world struggle with depression, and as many as nine million Americans have generalized anxiety disorder.
And it is also a fact that many depression patients find medical marijuana to be a better treatment than traditional antidepressants. Antidepressants are commonly associated with a long list of adverse side effects. Furthermore, medical marijuana can show antidepressant effects in a matter of moments after use, whereas traditional antidepressants can take weeks or even months to show results.
That’s why it’s so important that scientists like Martin continue to demonstrate medical marijuana’s efficacy in treating common qualifying conditions like depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Every new study that confirms the findings of old studies chips away a little more at the stigmas surrounding the much misunderstood drug that is medical marijuana.
Depression is a Qualifying Condition in Alabama
Fortunately depression is recognized as a qualifying condition to receive access to medical marijuana in Alabama.
If you have depression or any of the other qualifying conditions that Alabama recognizes, you don’t have to wait for the state’s medical marijuana market to become operational before taking your first step toward relief.
Reserve a medical marijuana evaluation today with one of our compassionate doctors, and we’ll book an appointment for you just as soon as Alabama’s medical marijuana market is up and running.
You’ll meet with your doctor virtually, using your smartphone, tablet or computer for a telemedicine appointment. Together you’ll discuss your condition and what medical marijuana could do for you. You’ll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
At Alabama Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-5633, or simply reserve a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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