Using Cannabis for Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal reaction to the subjective experience of stress, such as in “performance anxiety.” It can occur when anticipation of future events is associated in one’s mind with thoughts and feelings not rooted in the present moment. While anxieties can be considered a normal part of life, chronic or constant anxiety can be debilitating to one’s quality of life. In fact, such interference can produce very real physiological changes in the short and long term. It is estimated that almost two out of ten people in the U.S. suffer from anxiety disorder.

Western medicine considers anxiety disorders mood disorders and defines five basic types: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder (social phobias).

Doctors often prescribe pharmaceuticals (e.g., anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants) or psychological intervention to treat anxiety, particularly when underlying physical causes are absent. Adverse effects of pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medication range from mild to fatal. A thorough risk-versus-benefit analysis is advisable before committing to such a regimen.

The Science Behind Cannabis & Anxiety

Even though the combination of cannabis use and anxiety has been subject to extensive scientific scrutiny in the pre-clinical and clinical setting, the current state of the science of cannabis-based therapeutics in treatment of anxiety disorders is in its pre-clinical phase, yielding mostly negative, inconclusive, mixed, or contradictory results. This is presumably due to researcher bias and/or concerns about working with THC—its potential for inducing adverse effects when administered in inappropriate dosages or forms, the relatively low but present addiction potential, or its risk to various more vulnerable cohorts such as adolescents, pregnant women, or patients with a vulnerability toward developing psychosis, for example. The same, however, is not true for the use of CBD-based drugs or for the utilization of an essential oil of cannabis, where several clinical trials present us with more practical guidance. Here we review only the currently available randomized clinical trials that have directly examined the effects of modulating components of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the treatment of anxiety.

Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials

A team of researchers from Brazil (2004) enlisted 10 healthy volunteers to test the effects of oral administration of a single dose of 400 mg of CBD or placebo during a typical anxiety-inducing neural imaging procedure. Resulting data suggest that CBD has anxiolytic properties. The authors posit that these CBD-induced therapeutic effects were mediated by affecting limbic and paralimbic brain areas.

Another, similar trial design from Brazil (2011) utilized 10 test subjects. This time instead of healthy volunteers, 10 patients diagnosed with generalized social anxiety disorder (SAD) were given a single dose of 400 mg of CBD or placebo during a typical anxiety-inducing neural imaging procedure. In this setting too, and relative to placebo, CBD was associated with significantly decreased experience of anxiety.

In yet another experiment from Brazil (2011), 24 patients (divided into two groups) with generalized social anxiety disorder were given a single oral dose of 600 mg CBD one and a half hours before a simulated public-speaking test. The placebo group had higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, discomfort, and alert levels. In direct contrast, the group using CBD had significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance, as well as decreased alert levels in their anticipatory speech.

The previous test results were confirmed by collaborative data published by a group from Israel and Brazil (2018), who enlisted 57 healthy males (divided into four groups) to receive oral pharmaceutical forms of CBD at doses of 150 mg, 300 mg, 600 mg, or placebo before a simulated public-speaking test. Researchers measured data on a subjective Mood Scale as well as obtained physiological measures, i.e., blood pressure and heart rate. Results showed that pretreatment with 300 mg of CBD significantly reduced anxiety during the speech. The inverted U-shape indicating 300 mg (rather than 150 or 600 mg) as the most effective approach in this setting suggests a specific narrow dose-dependent therapeutic window.

A group of scientists from Italy (2018) tested the effects of essential oil (EO) of cannabis (with a main terpene content of myrcene and β-caryophyllene) by measuring autonomic nervous system (ANS) parameters (i.e., blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, skin temperature), mood states, and electroencephalography results (alpha, beta 1 & 2, theta and delta waves) before, during, and after inhalation of the EO. Results suggest that the EO of cannabis reduced diastolic blood pressure rates, increased heart rate, and significantly increased skin temperature; patients’ subjective findings were reported as: “…more calm, relaxed, and energetic, were in a good mood, and had increased feeling of hunger and the subject with headache had no more pain.” In addition, there were noticeable changes of band power, amplitude, and relative power in alpha, theta, delta, and beta waves, which were like those noted in people practicing meditation, yoga, Qigong, and mindfulness, for example.

A team from Japan (2019) tested a single dose of 300 mg CBD in the treatment of 37 teenagers with social anxiety disorders. Results demonstrated that CBD significantly decreased anxiety and as such may represent a useful option to treat social anxieties.

The right type of cannabis, matched to meet the needs (or preferences) of each individual and given in the appropriate form and dosage, produces a deep sense of relaxation and homeostasis. In doing so, cannabis can bring about a state of mind that makes it easier for challenging emotional material to come to the surface without the usual triggering of strong reactions. 

Cannabis is famous for its capacity to diminish chronic negative affect (fear, anxieties, or anger) and replace it with a gentle attitude, an easy smile, and more optimistic outlook, all of which have proven to support our natural self-healing abilities.

Excerpted from The Cannabis Health Index

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Adult-Use Cannabis Reduces Prescription Drug Demand

To date, legal cannabis in America has been understood one of two ways: medicine, or fun. There’s medical marijuana, requiring a qualifying condition and a doctor’s recommendation before any legal weed can be accessed; and then there’s adult-use cannabis (or recreational), requiring nothing but a government-issued ID proving one’s age.

But what if there’s a third way—or, what if, as the late activist Dennis Peron used to say, all marijuana use was medical, or at least part of a general wellness strategy? Recent research that demonstrates a drop in prescription-drug use in states that legalized adult-use cannabis—which, as a convenient bonus, is generally more easily and more widely available than medical—suggests this may be the case.

Weed Up, Pills Down

In the past, the passage of medical cannabis laws has been associated with a drop in prescription pharmaceuticals. The effect of adult-use cannabis laws—no small deal in East Coast states such as New York, where the medical program is small and difficult to access thanks to tight restriction around physicians and qualifying illnesses–-is less studied.

So, researchers looked at Medicaid prescriptions filled between 2011 and 2019 in all 50 states. And in states that legalized adult-use cannabis, they found “significant reductions” in prescriptions filled for drugs meant to treat “pain, depression, anxiety, sleep, psychosis and seizures,” according to a research article published in April in the journal Health Economics.

Or, put another way, legalization seems to present a significant medical benefit along with the familiar arguments for social justice and new sources of tax revenue.

People are self-medicating with cannabis, and while it’s hard to say for certain whether they’re achieving the same results, the fact that they don’t seem to be returning to pharmaceuticals is suggestive, as study co-author Shyam Raman, a PhD student at Cornell University’s Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, said in a recent interview.

“What [adult-use cannabis] legalization does is open up an opportunity to self-medicate without seeing a doctor and potentially be denied because your sickness isn’t on the qualifying condition list,” said Raman, who stressed that while only Medicaid data was studied, these results are applicable to the general population. “There’s some real evidence people are self-medicating, and people aren’t switching back to pharmaceuticals.”

Cannabis for Anxiety, Depression and Insomnia

Among the drug classes studied, Raman and study co-author Ashley Bradford, a researcher and PhD student at Indiana University, saw the steepest drops in demand for anxiety, depression, insomnia and psychosis, with drops of 12.2%, 11.1%, 10.8% and 10.7%, respectively.

In addition to potential cost-savings for Medicaid programs, adult-use cannabis legalization may present an additional harm-reduction benefit, the researchers found, with people dropping or reducing reliance on pharmaceutical drugs with nasty side effects as easier-to-access “over-the-counter” recreational cannabis becomes available.

“We believe that quite strongly, that people are doing it because the side effects of pharmaceuticals are really frustrating,” Raman said.

The findings suggest adopting both a more sophisticated and expansive understanding of adult-use cannabis legalization—and never neglecting the fact that no matter what you call it, cannabis generally may be a wellness product, a fact that advocates pushing for adult-use cannabis legalization on the state and federal levels shouldn’t neglect.

“The adult-use cannabis market in most states is just easier to utilize, because patients don’t have to pay for a patient card and they don’t have to get a doctor’s recommendation,” said Debbie Churgai, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, arguably the country’s leading medical-first cannabis policy advocacy group.

But, as always, it’s also a reminder that cannabis is badly under-researched. Key questions including dosage and regimen remain unanswered, leaving “patients”—regardless of whether they’re official enrollees in their state’s program—to figure it out for themselves.

“We still don’t know how to regulate cannabis as a medicine,” Raman said. “How are we in a position to say, ‘This is medical,’ without being able to say, ‘This is the amount you take for therapeutic use’?”

Always Medical, Or Wellness Benefit?

So, is cannabis always medical, or is all recreational cannabis also medical, or is a third way of understanding cannabis the best classification? It’s hard to say for certain—and ultimately it may not matter.

“I don’t like to compare [medical and adult-use cannabis],” Churgai said. “I think this is a great example of how people are feeling the effects of the medicine whether they recognize it or not.”

But what this does suggest is that certain forces in the cannabis industry might need to re-evaluate their messaging and branding. Don’t forget about the medical cannabis patients: they’re part of your adult-use market segment, too.

“If you go to these business conferences, you barely even see or hear the word ‘patient’ in any presentation,” Churgai said. “I do think that’s being lost more and more as our industry gets bigger. They think the adult-use cannabis market would be bigger than the medical marijuana market.”

But, as this research suggests, the differences aren’t nearly as sharp and distinct as we might have thought. Medical and adult-use cannabis just might turn out to be precisely the same exact thing.

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CBD May Help Boost Cognitive Performance in Gamers

When it comes to the Electronics Sports League (ESL), competitive gamers are required to submit a random drug screening for performance-enhancing substances. Of what’s tested, cannabis is one of the few that’s debated.

Most people look at tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its ability to impair cognitive function. More particularly, it may actually worsen brain mechanics that are essential to gaming, such as basic motor coordination for complex tasks (i.e. planning, organizing, solving problems, making decisions, etc.).

However, most don’t consider cannabidiol (CBD) and its potential to enhance cognitive performance. While research remains preliminary, many scientists are discovering that CBD’s ability to reduce symptoms of health conditions (and not cause psychoactivity) is actually beneficial for brainpower.

In turn, gamers who struggle with a specific health condition (such as anxiety) will likely find they’re more relaxed and level-headed when gaming on CBD oil.

But how much do we know about CBD’s cognitive-enhancing effects? And how exactly do these effects pertain to gamers? We invite you to follow along as we answer these questions.

Why is Cognitive Performance Essential for Gaming?

Before we dive into CBD, it’s important to understand how our brain operates when we play video games. Naturally, your brain’s reaction to outside stimuli has a lot to do with the type of information it’s receiving. In other words, it’s unlikely you’ll have the same reaction to a puzzle game as you would a violent video game.

Still, most video games feature similar stimuli for our brains, including fast speeds, high perceptuality, and unpredictability. These features can increase activity in brain regions linked to anxiety, arousal, and emotional reaction. Furthermore, they can simultaneously decrease activity happening in the frontal lobe which is responsible for emotional regulation and executive control.

As you can imagine, the more control you have over these brain regions, the more likely you are to perform better in a video game.

However, research has also found video games can have the opposite effect. One study found that participants who played League of Legends for one hour had increased performance on visual selective tests. This means that a short period of gaming actually improved attention skills.

While there’s only so much research, it’s a universal agreement that the time length of a gaming session plays a major role in a video game’s effects on the brain. More so, the longer a person games, the more negative attributes begin to appear.

As gamers, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves playing for 4 to 6 hours at a time. Over that period, it’s likely we can feel some of the negative effects research has found (especially as we get older). And with all that, many of us have certainly asked ourselves if there is a way to ease that temporary cognitive decline.

How CBD Interacts with Your Brain on Games

To begin, we don’t have a 100% clear understanding of how CBD interacts with our brains. Through neuroimaging studies, we do know that the brain undergoes significant changes when consuming a CBD product. The most notable of these is an increase in brain activity and connectivity patterns while performing cognitive tasks or in a resting state.

More specifically, CBD has been found to improve emotional processing (in the fronto-temporal), verbal memory (in the fronto-striatal), response inhibition (in the fronto-limbic-stratal), and auditory/visual processing (in the temporo-occipital). As we’ve discussed, all of these processes are essential to gaming to some degree.

Furthermore, research showed that CBD was more beneficial to these processes than THC. And that the results of this study align with research concerning CBD’s effects on specific psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, autism, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This is one of the key elements of CBD in regards to gaming. While it can potentially help in the short term (through an improvement in cognition), it’ll likely help more when taken in the long term (by easing other stressors you may be experiencing).

To offer a better sense of how CBD can improve a gamer’s mentality, here are four medical advantages you may garner when taking it daily:

1) Reduction of Stress and Other Psychological Conditions

As mentioned, one of the most significant aspects of CBD research is its potential to improve certain mental illnesses. Of course, not all gamers struggle with such conditions. However, it’s safe to say that all competitive video games produce a certain level of stress that inhibits one’s ability to perform well.

With that said, much of the research concerning CBD for anxiety is applicable to someone who experiences such psychological stressors while gaming.

In one review, it was determined that specific brain regions associated with anxiety behaviors were reduced when participants took CBD. More specifically, that CBD was able to reduce “amygdala activation and altered medial prefrontal amygdala connectivity.”

In other words, if a video game is anxiety-inducing, CBD holds the ability to reduce said anxiety in the moment of gaming.

Furthermore, if you do struggle with a mental health condition, it’s likely that it is causing more stress and depleting your ability to focus. For example, if you struggle with depression, over time, the condition can impair your attention and memory, making it more difficult for information processing and decision-making.

If you find that you can use CBD for depression, it may help to improve your cognitive performance over time.

2) Improvement in Quality of Sleep

Do you find yourself gaming late into the night, so often that it’s inhibiting your quality of sleep? If so, you’re not alone. One review revealed that many gamers have numerous problems with getting a good night’s rest.

The difficulty here is that sleep is essential to cognitive function. The more you struggle with sleep, the more your brain’s neurons become overworked. In turn, this can lead to slowed-down thinking and reaction time, along with a hindrance of cognitive flexibility (i.e. your ability to adapt to new environments). Furthermore, your processing of emotional information is also diminished.

These consequences of negative sleep can obviously have many negative effects on your ability to game. Therefore, taking CBD for sleep may help to improve not only your quality of sleep but your cognitive performance.

A number of studies have looked into how CBD affects sleep and most agree that it doesn’t necessarily induce sleep, but eases symptoms that inhibit sleep. For example, if you struggle with anxiety, CBD’s ability to reduce anxiety will likely make it easier to get a better night’s rest.

For this reason, the best CBD products for sleep tend to come with other all-natural alternatives that promote relaxation, such as melatonin, valerian root, or ashwagandha.

3) Reduction in Muscle, Joint, and Back Pain

There’s no denying that long-term gaming can cause wear and tear on the body. More specifically, gaming has been found to cause lower back pain alongside muscle and joint pain (specifically, in the fingers, hands, wrist, and arms).

When it comes to CBD for pain, it isn’t a cure. However, CBD does hold the ability to reduce inflammation and pain throughout the body, making these symptoms less distracting. So, if you incorporate CBD alongside exercises, stretches, and other benefits for these types of pains, you’ll likely notice a difference.

And this difference can affect your ability to perform in a video game. For example, if you struggle with joint pain in the fingers, it’s likely that a reduction in that pain will allow you to play better.

For such pains, a CBD topical is ideal as it allows you to target specific areas of the body. The best CBD creams are usually made using menthol, an ingredient that provides you with an instant cooling effect for immediate relief.

4) Provision of a Sense of Well-Being

If you naturally feel a sense of well-being, chances are you’re going to improve in every aspect of your life. And CBD may just have what you need in order to receive that sense of well-being.

Within each of us is an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which plays an important role in a number of day-to-day functions, including our appetite, immune response, memory, mood, pain control, and sleep.

While researchers aren’t 100% sure how CBD affects the ECS, they theorize it helps to return it to a state of homeostasis. In turn, people who take CBD often report feeling an overall sense of well-being in their lives.

Final Word

As of this time, we can’t conclude CBD’s effects on boosting cognition in gamers are direct. While neuroimaging shows that CBD can improve cognitive function, research remains in its early stages.

However, we can assume CBD’s ability to help in other areas of our lives can help to improve cognition for gaming. Beyond the fact that it acts on brain regions that are triggered when playing video games, it can relieve symptoms of other conditions that inhibit cognition.

And many gamers are starting to catch onto this. That’s why Twitch streamers like Summit1g and Pokelawls are consuming cannabis-derived products.

Admittedly, the ESL doesn’t ban cannabis use altogether—only usage of cannabis products during the competition. In other words, using CBD (or other cannabis products) prior to the event comes at no consequence.

The post CBD May Help Boost Cognitive Performance in Gamers appeared first on High Times.

Live Performance and Drugs: The Art of Confidence

Live performance of any kind can be a daunting, stressful and strenuous activity. This is the case for any type of performance; if you’re an athlete performing in the Olympics, if you’re a musician on tour, if you’re an actor on set or onstage, if you’re a soldier fighting in a war, or if you’re a student taking an exam – all of these have similarities. The similarity between these activities is the need to perform, there and then, and do it well. You’re there, in the flesh, the pressure is on, the stakes are high, and you want to succeed.

It’s no surprise, then, that for years people have been using specific substances in order to enhance their performance during stressful times like these. But why is this? Why do certain drugs help enhance performance and confidence? And how many well-known stars have been doing this? Let’s take a closer look. 

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Performance

In a sense, it’s hard to understand why anyone would ever want to put themselves under the stress and responsibility of performing. Performing is an umbrella term that can mean a whole load of different activities. Sex is a performance. Acting is a performance. Competing is a performance. Fighting is a performance. Doing an exam is a performance. Whilst most people think of performance needing an audience, anything that requires you to perform at a certain level is, intrinsically, a performance. Performance anxiety can come from the fear of doing a bad job.

In the case of warfare, doing a bad job could lead to death. Whereas, not performing well during sexual intercourse, could lead to an unsatisfied partner. The issue is, a good performance requires a level of calmness and confidence. If you think about the best musicians you’ve ever seen live, none of them will have looked scared or anxious. They will have looked calm and collected. Avoiding performance anxiety is a necessity for many performers and some will do whatever they can to ensure they don’t experience it at crucial moments. WebMD writes:

“Performance anxiety can prevent you from doing what you enjoy and can affect your career. Worst of all, performance anxiety can negatively affect your self-esteem and self-confidence. Although it may be impossible to totally overcome performance anxiety, there are many things you can do to control your emotions and reduce anxiety.”

There’s very few occasions where performance anxiety or stage-fright improves your overall performance. Unless, perhaps, you’re playing a character in a film who is anxious and nervous in themselves. But even then, the anxiety you feel towards being filmed could lead to you forgetting your lines or looking at the camera. Essentially, a good performance requires confidence; that’s the bottom line. But how far will people go to get it?

Performance & Drugs

Performance-enhancing drugs are often criticised by the masses, and prosecuted by the FDA. This specific class of drugs are used by athletes in order to physically enhance the sportsman. In a sense, these drugs are different from confidence-giving substances as they make a genuine physical difference to the user. However, in this article, we’re going to be throwing them all together in one. We will be making the case that any drug used to enhance a performance – be it for confidence or physicality – all comes from the same idea and concept. So let’s take a look at the different types of performers who use drugs to enhance their performance. 

Athletics 

As previously mentioned, athletes are some of the most obvious users of performance-enhancing drugs. In competitive sports, the margin between success and failure can be extremely miniscule. Consider the 100m sprint, every sprinter is extremely talented and often it’s only a very small difference between first and second place. Therefore, any opportunity to somehow get the edge on your opponent, people will take. Hence why performance enhancing drugs, despite their illegality, can be common. The Australian Academy of Science splits the drugs athletes can use into categories:

“Among the most popular PEDs are anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, erythropoietin (EPO), beta-blockers, stimulants and diuretics to name just a few.”

Some help speed up the growth of muscles, others help pump blood around the body quicker and thus improving oxygenation, and some simply enhance the energy of the athlete. Most of these drugs, except perhaps creatine, are banned. Lance Armstong, one of the best cyclists ever to exist, admitted to having taken the growth hormone performance-enhancing drug. Supposedly, this drug helped him to 7 Tour De France victories. Ultimately, the reason athletes dope is because they know it could be the difference between success and failure. 

Music

Musicians might look like they’re living the coolest life in the world, but in reality, the long and strenuous tours can take up most of their year. Plus, it doesn’t allow them time for themselves or time to get into good routines. Johnny Cash was known to have toured 300 days in a year during his peak addiction issues. It’s likely that musicians won’t see their family and friends much, and will be forced into bad diets and bad sleeping patterns whilst on tour. That’s not to say that the insane money they make won’t fix these issues soon after, it’s just important to note that musicians are under a lot of pressure. In addition, the responsibility of putting on a great show for audience after audience can lead to anxiety and stage-fright. That’s why it’s no surprise that a lot of the greatest musicians have struggled with drug addiction. Musicians can use drugs to boost their confidence, to help them enjoy the experience, to numb themselves completely, or even, to spark creativity.

Johnny Cash was addicted to amphetamines, Elton John used cocaine, Eminem used valium, the Beatles enjoyed acid, and Amy Winehouse dabbled in heroin. It’s no surprise that some of music’s greats have turned to drugs to make them feel different. Afterall, they’re living a career that so many would dream of, and when they inevitably start to find it difficult, they probably think there’s something wrong with them. Instead, fame and pressure is the issue, not themselves. 

Acting

Just like musicians, actors also have used substances in order to boost their confidence. However, the art of acting is about feeling the emotion, rather than ‘putting on a good show’. Therefore, actors have to be far more careful about the drugs they use. It’s much easier to tell when an actor is on drugs than a musician. During the filming of Star Wars, Carie Fisher and Harrison Ford opened up to taking copious amounts of cocaine before shooting.

In addition, during the shooting of hit sit-com Friends, Mathew Perry, who played Chandler, was suffering from severe addiction. During a BBC interview, Perry admitted:

“From an outsider’s perspective, it would seem like I had it all..It was actually a very lonely time for me because I was suffering from alcoholism…I ​don’t remember three years of it…I was a little out of it at the time — somewhere between seasons three and six.”

Matthew Perry admitted that he used drugs and alcohol as a way to deal with the severe responsibility of needing to be funny all of the time. Even some of the most successful actors  and esteemed theatre actors admit to having a little tippled to boost their confidence before going onstage. 

Soldiers

Fighting in a war can be brutal and scary. You can use loved ones, friends, and even your own life, in the blink of an eye. Therefore, more often than not, soldiers are dealing with PTSD as well as anxiety about the near future. Wikipedia writes about the use of drugs during warfare: 

“Alcohol has a long association of military use, and has been called “liquid courage” for its role in preparing troops for battle. It has also been used to anaesthetize injured soldiers, celebrate military victories, and cope with the emotions of defeat.”

More recently, during the middle eastern war with ISIS, soldiers have been reported to be using captagon – a drug to enhance the confidence and focus of the soldiers. 

Students

The final, but often least-considered type of performance we will be covering is student exams. While it may seem like there’s less at stake, we surely can all remember the stress and pressure of important school exams and the emotional impact that had on us. Plus, fitting that much information into your brain can feel impossible. That is why many students today are using focus-enhancing drugs, such as addrerol. The Guardian writes:

“Students used to take drugs to get high. Now they take them to get higher grades”

Final thoughts on drugs and performance

Performing, in any capacity, can be a fearful and stressful activity. But over the years people have found ways to cope using drugs to boost confidence, euphoria and focus. Whether you believe this to be a bad thing or a good thing, it’s happening. And it will continue to happen. Perhaps when people begin to finally acknowledge the pressure that is put under performers constantly, then this might stop.

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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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Three Ways Cannabis Can Improve Your Social Skills

Social Awkwardness After The Pandemic   Do you feel lost for words? Millions of other people feel the same way. The pandemic has brought upon the age of awkwardness, from the stress of social distancing measures, the shift to isolating remote work, the lack of facial expressions due to masks. The mask mandates are lifting, […]

The post Three Ways Cannabis Can Improve Your Social Skills appeared first on Cannabis News, Lifestyle – Headlines, Videos & Cooking.

Cannabis and Anxiety: Why Weed Can Sometimes Make You Anxious

For some people, cannabis has a reputation for being anxiety-inducing. Bad experiences with cannabis and anxiety lead some to abstain for life. Or can cause a significant amount of trepidation before consumption. Generally, cannabis users consider it comforting, relaxing and fun, but there is no denying that it doesn’t quite work that way for a […]

The post Cannabis and Anxiety: Why Weed Can Sometimes Make You Anxious appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Utah Lawmaker Files Bill To Explore Therapeutic Use of Psychedelics

A Utah lawmaker has introduced a bill to explore the potential of psychedelic drugs to treat serious mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and PTSD. The legislation, House Bill 167, was introduced on Tuesday by Utah state Representative Brady Brammer, who noted that the measure “doesn’t legalize anything.”

“It asks our Huntsman Mental Health Institute and other experts in the field to review the science that’s out there, the research that’s out there, and make any recommendations that they have if they feel psychedelics can be safely administered through a prescription basis and under what circumstances,” Brammer said in a television news interview.

If passed, HB 167 would direct the state’s Health and Human Services Department to create a Mental Illness Psychotherapy Drug Task Force. The group would “study and make recommendations on drugs that may assist in treating mental illness,” according to the text of the legislation. The legislation specifies the makeup of the task force, which would include mental health professionals, researchers and patients.

Although the bill does not specifically mention psychedelics or any particular drug, the task force would be authorized to “provide evidence-based recommendations on any psychotherapy drug that the task force determines may enhance psychotherapy when treating a mental illness.” The legislation would empower the task force to study the research into psychedelic drugs, which has shown the potential to treat serious mental health conditions.

“We need effective tools to treat mental illness,” Brammer said in a statement to local media. “If psychedelics can be helpful and safely administered, we need them in our toolbox.”

Cannabis Activists Support Utah Psychedelics Bill

Brammer’s bill is supported by groups that campaigned for Proposition 2, the 2018 ballot initiative that legalized medical marijuana in Utah. Kylee Shumway, the medical director for the Utah Patients Coalition, said that psychedelics may be able to help residents of the state who are struggling with mental illness.

“We have higher rates of depression and anxiety than a lot of other states and even for people that are looking for help, there’s not enough psychiatrists; there’s not enough mental health professionals to help them,” said Shumway. “And a lot of the medications aren’t working.”

Research into psychedelics including psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine has shown that the drugs have potential therapeutic benefits, particularly for serious mental health conditions such as depression, addiction and anxiety. Research published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry in 2020 found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was an effective and quick-acting treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. A separate study published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.

“It’s very promising,” Shumway exclaimed. “There are some huge studies that have just been finished recently on psilocybin that put it head to head against SSRIs which are antidepressants and psilocybin performed better across the board.”

“Utah has some of the finest researchers in the areas of psychiatry and neurosciences at Huntsman Mental Health Institute,” said Brammer. “This bill seeks to leverage that expertise, along with other experts grappling with mental illness, to review the research results, and if appropriate, make recommendations on how to safely administer these therapeutics under the care of qualified physicians.”

Steve Urquhart, a former Republican Utah state senator, also supports Brammer’s bill to explore the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs.

“Psychedelics changed my life,” he told local media. “It changed the way I see myself, the way I regard myself, and that allows me to see others and love others a lot more.”

Urquhart is the founder of The Divine Assembly, a Utah church that promotes religious and responsible use of psilocybin. 

“I’ve always been a bit of an activist at heart, and I decided I wanted to form a church where people can have these freedoms to worship with psychedelics,” Urquhart said. “I tell people, don’t get too lost on psychedelics; The Divine Assembly is about connection, and psychedelics can help with that.”

Urquhart believes that state lawmakers are likely to appreciate the cautious approach HB 167 takes to explore the benefits of psychedelics and may eventually support the legislation.

“Remember, this is Utah. Of course, we’re likely to take a slower approach to something like this,” he noted. “But on things like this, when the process runs, when it works, Utah can kind of come up with some magic. I’m optimistic about this.”

Brammer introduced HB 167 in the Utah House of Representatives on January 18. The bill has been referred to the House Rules Committee for consideration.

The post Utah Lawmaker Files Bill To Explore Therapeutic Use of Psychedelics appeared first on High Times.

How Mom’s Are Breaking Stigma Around Cannabis

While research and social stigma around cannabis are changing rapidly, a surprising force behind the shift is women and moms. Social media is full of the “wine mom” trope and memes about “wine o’clock” and such, but the reality is many are swapping wine for a joint or gummy to wind down and get some […]

The post How Mom’s Are Breaking Stigma Around Cannabis appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Weed Plus: The Healing Mystique of Magic Mushrooms

The winter sun was beating down through the open windows of my older sister’s Porsche as we cruised down Pico Boulevard toward the beach, bumper to bumper with other cars in the westward traffic of a warm Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles.

“That smells good,” she hollered to the guys in the next car over, pot smoke filling the space between lanes. They motioned to pass a joint through the open windows, my two best pals and I giggling in the back seat. I was 18 and by this point familiar with the terrain of a cannabis high, but I wanted to keep my head clear for later — for what my sister described as “weed plus.”

I’d spent my first semester of college smoking weed out of a hookah with friends, my nights ablaze, as one does in Berkeley. In the daytime, I’d burrow into a pile of books about psychedelic counterculture for an upcoming research paper. I had become obsessed with Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, and as if I’d read the guidebook to Paris before a trip, I decided that all my academic probing into psychedelics better culminate in lived experience. So, I bought a half ounce of shrooms and headed to Venice Beach with a few friends for our first time “tripping.” My older sister — a dedicated stoner and a cannabis attorney 14 years my senior — along with a family friend, who was a medical marijuana doctor and a seasoned psychonaut, were there to guide us in case things got too weird.

Unlike acid (which I still hadn’t tried at that point), mushrooms felt like the next level up from cannabis — that is, “weed plus” in the words of my sister. The psychedelic experience, or “trip,” would be longer than a regular weed high, but shorter than 12 hours of LSD. After that first time tripping, I soon learned that, for me, mushrooms and cannabis bring on similar visuals of swirling floral patterns and paisleys in a pink Technicolor palette.

My first time taking mushrooms was easily one of the best, most significant days of my life: playful, exploratory, spiritual. I felt like I was reborn, discovering the world and its wonders for the first time. The shrooms had turned down the volume on the anxiety that defined my day-to-day and turned up the volume on my appreciation for life. For the first time, the phrase “be here now” meant something to me on an embodied level — but like Ram Dass, who ventured to India after coming up and down on countless psychedelic trips during his tenure as a psychiatry professor at Harvard in the 1960s, I too wondered why it seemed I needed mushrooms to feel the way I did. I asked myself, “Would I be able to get there on my own one day?”

Psych 101

It’s a common adage that one can accomplish the same degree of healing in a single psychedelic trip that might otherwise require years of therapy. By the same token, in the psychedelic community it’s often said that “the journey is the medicine.” In other words, such as in the case of mushrooms, it’s not just the psilocybin, the main psychoactive compound, that spurs a neurological reset — it’s the experience of the trip itself. This can come with insights, challenges and joys that consequently foster lessons and memories that nourish the soul and last a lifetime. Science can only attempt to describe this alternative headspace.

Many well-known research institutions such as Johns Hopkins and UCLA are exploring how psilocybin is being used for mental health treatments and can occasion a “mystical experience,” defined by “scale scores” of seven criteria. What scientists are finding is that the degree to which a patient undergoes a mystical experience often correlates to the degree of healing they experience for whatever condition they are treating, be it anxiety, depression, or something else.

“When you optimally screen, facilitate and integrate these [psychedelic] experiences, you can almost reliably facilitate a mystical level kind of encounter, which may be predictive of positive therapeutic outcomes,” said Dr. Charles Grob, psychedelic researcher and UCLA professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

To put it bluntly, the promise of psychedelic therapy is forcing researchers to grapple with notions of God or mysticism that have otherwise been absent from Western science and medicine. Indigenous cultures, on the other hand, are well-known for structured spiritual-medicinal approaches and traditions that incorporate psychedelic plant medicine, such as ayahuasca, magic mushrooms or peyote.

Grob notes that clinicians have much to learn from indigenous practices, which “were entirely dependent on a harmonious relationship with the world of nature for shelter, for food, for continuity, and for societal groups.”

He goes on to say that the psychedelic experience may be symbolic of a death and rebirth ritual. That could be thanks to the experience of “ego death” — a psychedelic-induced dampening of the brain’s default mode network (DMN), where the ego resides. Ego death, or “ego dissolution,” can act as a reset for the DMN, helping to rewire thought patterns that were otherwise constrained by the ego, and facilitating an increase in personality traits like openness or empathy.

In breaking out of old thought patterns, a person who experiences ego death may also obtain a degree of healing from habits that previously kept them in a loop, particularly in addiction. Turning down the volume on the ego can also help engender a sense of oneness with the surrounding world, people or nature.

“The ego is looking after us,” Grob says. “There’s good reason to be compassionate toward the ego: It’s trying to do its best, but it’s not useful, and it overshoots in what it does and disconnects us. What psychedelics do is turn down the defenses.”

The ego’s defenses can manifest in addictions, such as eating disorders, compulsions and obsessions. “They’re all a maladaptive defense response to adversity,” says Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, Head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London.

Through psychedelic therapy, Grob says, we can engineer a context in which it’s safe to let the ego go off duty and allow us to be vulnerable in a caring, nurturing environment. “It’s about going backwards to go forward,” he said. “Being vulnerable to be stronger, more flexible, more capacious.”

Safe Travels

Finding the right setting for a psychedelic experience is up to the beholder; it could be in a therapist’s office, a spiritual ceremony, with friends at a music concert, or decidedly alone in the woods. Once that ideal setting is found, one can relax and focus his or her mindset on whatever kind of healing or intention they set out to explore with the help of psychedelic medicine.

Even back in the ’60s, Grob says, pioneer researchers “found that those who had a mystical level experience had improved quality of life.” 

With psilocybin in particular, he said, “the replicability and degree to which the trip might happen, and the depth is more apparent”— than perhaps with other psychedelics such as LSD — because the six to eight-hour trip is “easier to control” than something that could otherwise be twice as long.

Despite the growing amount of research, psychedelic scientists have yet to fully comprehend how substances such as psilocybin work in the brain. Psilocybin definitely stimulates the serotonin 2A receptor in the brain and can occasion ego death by dampening the default mode network. Even so, the compound remains a mystery.

That said, there’s mounting evidence that psilocybin — much like cannabis — can facilitate healing from a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, addiction, and eating disorders, among others. It can also increase the personality trait of openness, allowing the afflicted to become more amenable to new patterns and solutions, and enhancing general well-being for those who are otherwise already well.

While people who use cannabis medicinally can get a great deal of relief from chronic pain or mood disturbance, Grob says it’s more of a lifestyle drug. “The effects of cannabis are dwarfed in comparison with the potential that psilocybin or LSD might have in evoking a powerful altered state of consciousness that allows individuals to see themselves and the world around them and their lives in a novel manner,” he said.

In other words, psilocybin offers more bang for your buck if you compare it to regular cannabis use.

#TBT

Around the peak of that Venice Beach mushroom trip so long ago, my friends and I decided to venture out of our apartment and head to the ocean. As the sun set and temps started to cool, the winds picked up. 

“I’m shivering, but it’s not me,” I said through chattering teeth. I looked down at my hand with curiosity, flipping my palm over and under, upside and down, as if it was someone else’s hand.

I plopped down on the shore, near the sunset drum circle that takes place every Sunday. It smelled like weed, but I wondered how many others were also on shrooms. I remembered what my sister had said about psilocybin feeling like “weed plus,” but this was so much better. So. Much. Better.

“There’s no competition,” Grob said, when comparing psilocybin and cannabis. “The psilocybin experience has the potential of facilitating a life-changing kind of event.” Precisely how I felt about one of the best, most significant days of my life.

A huge smile crept across my face, and I was feeling more in touch with my essence than ever before. “Ohh, be here now,” I giggled, referencing the phrase and title of Ram Dass’ famous book which my parents had introduced me to as a child. “I get it,” I thought.

It was the first time I felt that sacred sense of time and space, of being in the moment — in my body — without feeling an attachment to the chronological series of events that took me here. I just was, feeling a sense of “is-ness.” I was simply being, and my nervous system, with all its anxieties and temporal attachments, was for once at rest.

My memory of that mind-bending Venice Beach experience remains vivid. The spiritual nourishment and sense of mystique from that day are still with me, infusing my life with the magic of those mushrooms. “These are like waking dreams,” Grob said. “Sometimes it’s important to just sit back and look objectively at the scene playing in front of you, and how that relates to your life.”

The post Weed Plus: The Healing Mystique of Magic Mushrooms appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Everything you should know about CBD and how it can help you

Having questions, whether you’re an old or new cannabis user, is completely normal. It’s confusing when we talk about hemp, cannabidiol, CBD, cannabis and THC, and how they can all have different effects — especially when they are all linked back to cannabis. Here, we’ll go over everything you should know about CBD, and how […]

The post Everything you should know about CBD and how it can help you appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.