Medical marijuana is a plant-based medicine derived from the Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica or Cannabis ruderalis species. It consists of two primary compounds: THC and CBD. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive component that gives a “high-on-trip” sensation. At the same time, CBD (Cannabidiol) is the medicinal component that can help with anxiety, depression, and pain relief amid a slew of other therapeutic benefits.
Medical marijuana products are available in a wide range of THC and CBD concentrations. Experts consider 10 mg of THC as “one serving.” People new to medical marijuana should limit their consumption to one serving a day till they can gauge their body’s response. The most common method of consuming marijuana is inhaling (smoking marijuana to “take a hit”). However, manufacturers also provide other medical means (edibles, sprays, oils, suppositories) for patients with specific needs.
Many cannabis users report significant improvement in depression and anxiety disorders. Due to a lack of adequate research, a lot of work needs to be done to validate such claims formally. Preliminary research provides some promising insights, though. A 2015 study by researchers at the University of Buffalo concluded that cannabis could alleviate symptoms of depression. Researchers from Washington State University found in 2018 that one puff of high-CBD, low-THC cannabis lowered depressive symptoms.
Use of Cannabis in Medical Treatment
Cannabis debuted in therapeutic use in Western medicine in the 19th century, mainly to treat chronic pain. Since then, it has seen ups and downs in usage as governments criminalized the use of marijuana for most of the 20th century. The new millennium swung the pendulum the other way—with the World Health Organization, United Nations, and many governments in Europe and North America legitimizing marijuana usage, especially for medical purposes.
In 2001, Canada became the first country to offer medical marijuana to those in need. Following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s liberalization, in 2018, Canada legalized cannabis for recreational use for adults. Along with the Netherlands, Canada has some of the most liberal laws governing cannabis usage today.
The use of medical marijuana dates all the way back to 2700 BC in China. Given the prehistoric timeline, the amount of research into the medical benefits of cannabis is still shockingly nascent. The status of cannabis as an antidepressant is thus practically unknown from a scientific standpoint, and users largely have to judge their benefits empirically. A statistical boost came in 2020 from University of New Mexico researchers, who concluded that patients report an average improvement in their depression of about 4 points on a scale of 0 to 10 after consuming cannabis.
Medical marijuana is a known healing agent in muscle relaxation, chronic pain and nausea.
Many conditions may be managed better with medical marijuana, including Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, glaucoma, HIV, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis. Medical marijuana is further used in recovery from the side effects of cancer and chemotherapy.
While marijuana is often used to alleviate depression, one big concern is psychological dependence. Nearly 30 percent of people who use marijuana eventually end up getting addicted. It is important to be aware of dependency.
Several conditions related to depression could benefit from medical cannabis. Cannabis is known to help with anxiety disorders and PTSD. This is significant because a large number of patients with depression suffer from anxiety or PTSD.
Other mental health conditions that could benefit from CBD usage include seasonal affective disorder and postpartum depression. Cannabis research with many other conditions such as bipolar disorder remains inconclusive, but importantly there is no evidence of bipolar disorder aggravation with the controlled usage of medical marijuana.
Cannabis is thought to heal depression and related conditions by restoring normal levels of a class of chemicals known as endocannabinoids in the human brain. The CBD component in marijuana triggers this action. If you are depressed and have never tried marijuana, do your research on what medical marijuana does for depression.
In several places, you can even have marijuana delivered to you. For example, you can find a weed dispensary in Mississauga that does just that. This added convenience is useful for those suffering from depression.
Medical marijuana does not cure depression—it only helps alleviate the symptoms of depression. And even then, you must follow the dosage prescribed by a medical practitioner. Going beyond your dosage may wipe out all benefits and bring in unwelcome complications. Uncontrolled cannabis abuse may worsen your depression.
Furthermore, marijuana is reported to have side effects of its own. These include:
- Short-term memory problems
- Panic attacks
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Problems with coordination
- Loss of motivation
- Dependency on marijuana
- Decline in IQ (among users under 18 years of age)
If you suffer from a chronic medical condition like depression, it is best to ask your doctor whether medical marijuana might help you. When on cannabis, remember that you are responsible for keeping yourself to the limits prescribed—lest you forego benefits and beget unpleasant side effects. So stay educated and find the solution that works for you.