Benzodiazepines as Compared to Cannabis do Patients more Harm than Good

 All over the world, millions of people rely on anxiety alleviating medicines to go about their normal everyday lives. For those who suffer from the most severe or prolonged anxiety, the condition can be catastrophically debilitating without on-going treatment. The only problem being that not only is current anxiety medication far from perfect in its effectiveness, it can also trigger dangerous side effects.

For generations, millions of people on a global basis have also turned to cannabis for medicinal purposes. Particularly when it comes to debilitating conditions like anxiety, self-medicating with cannabis and related products is hardly a new concept. It’s just that it’s only as of relatively recently that the scientific and medical communities have begun looking with any real interest at the potentially beneficial properties of medical cannabis.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 18% of Americans suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. Anxiety is the most common ‘mental illness’ in the US, yet only 36.9% suffering receive treatment. Why is this? Perhaps patients worry about side-effects of pharmaceuticals or don’t like taking pills. Cost is also a major concern … a 5 mg dose of Valium for 20 days – $75 without insurance … It’s clear we need more options to treat this disorder and cannabis is the perfect solution. The body’s natural cannabinoid system, the endocannabinoid system, plays a major role in regulating anxiety … Anandamide, an endocannabinoid, operates in a similar manner to THC and effects the nervous system. Anandamide augmentation was proven to relieve stress-related affective and anxiety disorders. Likewise cannabis may be an effective safe therapeutic strategy to mitigate adverse behavioural and physiological consequences of stress. Both THC and CBD cannabinoids are proven beneficial for the treatment of anxiety through several mechanism. Additionally, certain terpenes found in cannabis produce anti-anxiety effects … creating the same effect as benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium. Five different terpenes in cannabis provide anti-anxiety results: β-Caryophyllene, Limonene, Linalool, Pinene and Phytol.

Treating anxiety with cannabis is nothing new, but in order to make these methods more effective there needs to be more education around how cannabis actually eases anxiety. Taking too much cannabis can actually create heightened anxiety (paranoia) if the patient isn’t aware of the correct ways to administer cannabis the relationship between the cannabinoids in cannabis and anxiety is complex … The most common way to battle anxiety is through prescriptions of benzo’s … Xanax, Librium, Valium … Despite widespread use, there are several issues with these … it’s possible to develop physical and psychological additions to these drugs which causes severe withdrawals and even seizures.

Benzo’s in high doses can cause drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, confusion and can cause breathing issues. Those who use these pills regularly are more likely to get dementia. Given all the side-effects and associated issues, there should be more options for those fighting all types of anxiety disorders. Canabo Medical conducted a study that showed a significant drop in benzo dependency among patients that were using cannabis treatments … 40% of patients prescribed medical cannabis eliminated the use of benzo’s within 90 days. Overall, yes, cannabis can significantly reduce benzo use for those with anxiety disorders. The key is responsibility with dosing and utilizing the right cannabinoids in the correct delivery method to meet the individual needs of the patient.

It is hoped that by isolating and concentrating the cannabis compounds responsible for reducing stress and anxiety levels, the scientific community may be able to create a workable and natural alternative. Unfortunately, while anecdotal evidence of marijuana’s effects on stress and anxiety is enormous to say the least, genuine scientific evidence and findings remain relatively thin on the ground.

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