Posted July 6, 2016 by Ljubica Kostovic

How Cannabis Can Help Promote Mental Health

GrowWise_Graphics-06One of the more highly stigmatized uses of cannabis is for the management of mental health conditions. Mental health is already a highly stigmatized topic in our society. Add another stigmatized issue, marijuana, and voila: yet another barrier patients must overcome on their road to recovery.

Although research indicates that the main psychoactive ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is not recommend for use in patients with a personal or family history of psychiatric disorders, cannabis has the potential to help in the management of mental health conditions. Many patients rely on cannabidiol (CBD), a potent non-psychoactive compound, to help manage their mental health.

Cannabis has proven anxiolytic properties, mainly attributed to CBD, which help reduce anxiety, bring the body into its natural balance, and may play a role in combatting depression. THC also plays a key role in modulating negative memories, and may be extremely beneficial for helping mange symptoms of conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

When used in a safe and carefully dosed manner, different strains of cannabis may help to promote healthy coping mechanisms, and may encourage those suffering from mental health conditions to re-engage in inter-personal relationships and social networks.

Mental Health recovery requires a multi-modal approach, involving a variety of different types of therapies, which may include cannabis. Here are some ways to incorporate cannabis alongside other strategies used to promote mental health.

Meditation


It has been shown that brief meditation everyday can lead to improved mental and cognitive functioning. Meditation can promote emotional regulation in certain parts of the brain associated with decision making and learning. Through meditation, accumulated stress is released and positive energy increases.

The result is stress reduction, decreased anxiety, decreased depression, reduction in pain (both physical and emotional) and increased efficiency.

Using strains high in cannabidiol (CBD) can help further reduce anxiety and may promote a more mindful meditative practice.

Exercise


Increasing evidence shows that exercise functions as a boost of energy, not just to the body but also to the mind. This is essential for patients who may be coping with more than just mental health symptoms. Mobility can sometimes feel far away for patients. Conditions may be so debilitating that the mere idea of physical strain can lead to increased pain.

Cannabis has been shown to help with acute and long-term pain, because of the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids in the plant. Even more importantly, it has been shown to help with the distress of that pain by helping the body cope with the stress and tension caused by pain.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a practical, short-term form of psychotherapy. The CBT model assumes that thoughts and behaviours influence each other. CBT may be useful for helping manage depression and anxiety through self-monitoring, activity scheduling and exposure and response prevention.

CBT focuses on the “here and now” and can incorporate mindfulness techniques to strengthen the idea of being present. Similar to meditation, cannabis can help reduce anxiety and compliment CBT techniques.  Cannabis may be especially useful for helping patients take the initial steps on their road to recovery.

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