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    How Can Medical Cannabis Help with Stress Relief?

    Stress affects everyone! From worrying about your job, finances, relationships, the list is endless. When stress becomes chronic or excessive, it can have negative effects on emotional and physical wellbeing. With respect to mental health and emotional wellbeing, stress can manifest in many different ways, such as irritability, aggression, exhaustion, or fatigue1,2. Overtime this can lead to anxiety or depression3–5. Stress also has numerous effects on physical health, this includes but is not limited to unhealthy eating, increased likelihood of heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, reproductive health issues etc6–10. Approximately 21-28.4% of Canadians aged 18-64 reported quite a bit or extreme perceived life stress most days. These proportions were slightly higher in women than men11. 

    Recently, stress levels have increased during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic with uncertainty about job security, finances, social isolation, physical wellbeing, etc. Approximately 32% of individuals reported that pandemic-related stress interferes with their ability to make basic decisions12 

    There is strong interest in whether cannabis can be an effective pharmacological treatment option for those suffering from stress. In fact, various studies have reported that cannabis is used as a tool to reduce stress13,14. In one study, adult cannabis consumers reported cannabis use provided an escape or relief from problems13 

    What is Stress and What Causes It? 

    Stress can be either physical or mental15. There may be a one-time or short-term stressor, or it may occur repeatedly over time. Symptoms include irritability, disruptions in sleep, difficulty concentrating, anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure) and changes in appetite16. Chronic stress can contribute to conditions such as heart disease, mental health issues, irritable bowel disease and disruptions in immune function16–18 

    Women and men have been shown to experience stress differently. Compared to men, women were more likely to report money and economy as sources of stress; whereas men were more likely to report work as a source of stress. These differences between men and women also extended to the types of symptoms they experienced from stress19. For example, women were more likely to report headaches, having felt as though they could cry, or having had an upset stomach or indigestion19.   

    Studies Show Medical Cannabis Can Help With Stress 

    A study looking at sample of adults found that stress relief was the primary benefit of medicinal cannabis use for 24.9% of the individuals42. Clinical investigations support these results.  

    One study looked at the effects of THC on responses to an acute psychosocial stressor in healthy individuals43. Participants were randomly divided into three groups and received either: a capsule containing 0, 7.5, or 12.5 mg of THC under double-blind conditions (neither the researcher nor participants knew who was in each group) about 2.5 hours before testing on a psychosocial stressor (mock job interviews, mental math challenges, etc)43. They found that 7.5 mg THC (a low dose) significantly reduced distress and reduced the appraisal of a psychosocial stressor as threatening and challenging43 

    Similarly, a different study examined the efficacy of cannabis use in stress management, anxiety, and depression from combustion/inhalation methods44. Medical cannabis users perceived a 50% reduction in depression, and a 58% reduction in anxiety and stress following cannabis use44. Both high CBD and high THC cannabis produced the largest perceived decreases in stress44 

    Likewise, in support of the efficacy of high THC for stress, Stith et al. (2020) examined which characteristics of cannabis flower were associated with changes in distress-related symptoms among 670 individuals. They found that mid-and high THC levels were the primary independent predictors of increased symptom relief45 

    Various other studies have demonstrated the stress-relieving and relaxation properties of medicinal cannabis46–48.

    We recommend you consult with your healthcare provider to ensure the product you choose is right for you. Similar to other prescription medications, dosing cannabis should be done with the careful supervision of your primary healthcare provider. Effects may vary on an individual basis.  

    Have Questions About Medical Cannabis & Stress?  

      •   If you still have any questions about how to use cannabis or want to learn more, you can call our Client Care team at 1-877-928-7672 or email askus@auroramedical.com 

      •   If you are looking to get a prescription, you can book an online appointment with our clinic partner, Canadian Cannabis Clinics. You can also talk to a cannabis educator in the appointment for any cannabis specific questions.   



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