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[8 min read] Mental stress and medicinal cannabis

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The Covid19 pandemic has moved mental health to the very centre of our collective consciousness. Under the influence of uncertainty and perpetual change, the daily routines and interpersonal relationships of most of the earth’s population have altered dramatically in some shape or form.

For further information on this topic, you may be interested to learn more about the HealthCert Professional Diploma program in Medicinal Cannabis.

In the shadow of the pandemic are those suffering from other mental health concerns, with origins prior to the pandemic and enhanced by it. Many of whom continue to struggle without adequate or effective medication and support.

Is CBD oil good for stress?

CBD is touted for its calming effects and unlike its sister cannabinoid (THC), CBD doesn’t have intoxicating effects. Research supports the calming effects of CBD and clinical trials are exploring how CBD oil may be able to alleviate symptoms of conditions like anxiety and PTSD.

Furthermore, the ways in which CBD interacts with neurochemical pathways may even assist in building stress resilience, enhancing our natural ability to cope with stress.

Learning how to get the most out of medical cannabis for your patient is important. If you are a doctor with a suitable patient, you can refer your patients to CA Clinics here or email info@caclinics.com.au. You can also learn more about studies currently being conducted by  Applied Cannabis Research, with patients recruited through CA Clinics, by emailing here.

How does stress impact the body?

It is not only the stress caused by difficult momentary or transient challenges but repeated stressors that can negatively contribute to mental and physical health. Repeated high levels of stress since childhood, whether it be a damaging family dynamic, childhood neglect, lack of a loving attentive guardian, assault or sexual abuse can result in habituated stress patterns.

When the physiological stress response is activated with the regularity and severity seen in childhood trauma (or the relentless uncertainty and anxiety associated with the pandemic) patterns of stress can be reinforced in the nervous system and individuals’ behaviours.

When the body spends most of its time with its stress response activated, it is tirelessly attempting to achieve biological balance (homeostasis) within a stressed environment.

For many with habituated stress response patterns, this can result in a sense of unease, listlessness or boredom when the sympathetic nervous systems stress response and its associated hormones, epinephrine and cortisol, are not activated. As the body’s habitual homeostasis processes are geared toward a stressed state.

Can CBD reduce stress?

Anecdotal narratives provide a strong foundation and clinical research is beginning to support historical documentation and hypothesis of modern researchers – that CBD can have a positive influence over stress.

The use of CBD to ease mental stress along with a supportive environment and professional support may assist in easing the internalisation of stressful events and reduce the negative psychological and physiological effects of persistent stress.

Can CBD help with trauma?

Outcomes from animal studies provide compelling evidence that CBD may be helpful in instances of trauma by reducing the recall or emotional reactivity to memories (decreasing memory reconsolidation), and perhaps even promoting the appropriate storage of fearful memories (increased memory consolidation or extinction).

When animals are repeatedly exposed to a stressful trigger they develop adverse reactions to the trigger, however, when CBD was administered (either both or after) symptoms of PTSD evident in behaviours and sleep disturbances were reduced.

We can always benefit from more and ongoing research in humans to have a well-rounded assessment of the evidence supporting the use of CBD for PTSD or individuals with trauma.

Nonetheless, the latest research assessing CBD reducing fearful memory recall in healthy controls is positive and case studies in adults and youth provide support for CBD oil improving PTSD symptoms.

Easing anxiety with CBD oil

Mounting research supports the use of CBD oil for anxiety, although human clinical trials are lagging behind mechanistic research. The mechanisms of CBD involve an intricate web of actions on the endocannabinoid system and nervous system which influences chemical messengers, including serotonin and anandamide, that affect the stress response and anxiety.

In human trials of individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder, CBD reduced anxiety triggered by a public speaking event when compared to a placebo.

Brain imaging studies show the reduction in anxiety can be in part attributed to the influence of CBD over areas of the brain known as the limbic and paralimbic regions – which are key players in the regulation of emotions, behaviours and the flight or fight response.

Some human trials use relatively high doses or one-off doses of CBD oil to assess its effects on anxiety, yet from the clinical experience of medical professionals and cohort studies, CBD is regularly reported to be useful in low doses for anxiety.

How CBD therapy can be personalised for your patients

As with any approach, there is no one size fits all to medicinal cannabis or CBD oil. Each individual can react differently to cannabinoid medicines due to their unique endocannabinoid system or medical history.

Having a medical professional experienced in cannabinoid prescribing ensures the patient is receiving a high quality, accurately dosed CBD oil that is appropriate for them.

Just as essential to obtaining the best CBD medical care is making opportunities for self-care and reaching out to their family and community to support their health and mental wellbeing.

How do patients access CBD oil?

If anxiety symptoms are mild, patients may qualify for low dose CBD. While low dose CBD was recently rescheduled in Australia, technically allowing for access via pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription, there are no registered low-dose CBD products yet available over the counter at Australian pharmacies.

However, if a patient’s mental stress symptoms are severe, their case may require a more comprehensive team care arrangement or monitoring.

If patients are in need of additional support there are a range of helpful resources available online or via phone:

Read another article: Can medicinal cannabis help with Autism?

If you are interested in becoming an authorised prescriber of Medicinal Cannabis in Australia, the TGA SAS-B guidelines require you to prove that you have the knowledge necessary to do so. HealthCert’s Professional Diploma of Medicinal Cannabis pathway can serve as part of your documentation showing that you have undertaken education in this field when you decide to become an authorised prescriber.

This article has been provided by our partner, Southern Cannabis Holdings. Southern Cannabis Holdings builds, integrates and operates high-value brands across the cannabis value chain, including FreshLeaf AnalyticsCannabis Access Clinics and Applied Cannabis Research. HealthCert and Southern Cross Holdings have partnered up to bridge gaps in patient and clinician knowledge on medicinal cannabis.

Contact CA Clinics at info@caclinics.com.au or call 1300 991 477 if you would like more information.


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