Can cannabis help you ease the mind in the age of COVID-19?

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In a new study, researchers measured the effectiveness of commercially available Cannabis flower, or “buds,” for alleviating feelings of stress and anxiety.

They used data collected by the Releaf App, the largest repository of real-time cannabis usage sessions in the United States.

They found that over 95% of the time, cannabis users had an immediate stress reduction that averaged roughly 4 points on a 0-10 point scale.

The research was conducted by a team at The University of New Mexico.

In the age of COVID-19, many of us feel a heightened need for safe, natural remedies for coping with the newfound stressors of living through a pandemic.

The unpredictable nature of the pandemic’s progression, its widespread economic consequences, safety mandates, disruptions to normal living schedules, increased time spent alone, and of course, the possibility of contracting the disease itself have negatively affected mental health, with no certain ending in sight.

In the study, the team showed that while a minority of users experience heightened feelings of anxiety after consuming cannabis, the average user is far more likely to experience strong stress reduction.

Moreover, the plant characteristic with the strongest association with stress relief was tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, with higher THC generally being linked to greater anti-anxiety effects.

The team says the finding that THC is a stronger predictor of anxiolytic effects than is its non-psychedelic cousin, cannabidiol, or CBD, is not surprising.

THC is a partial agonist of Cannabinoid 1 receptors, which are located throughout the central nervous system and brain regions responsible for detecting and responding to threats in the environment.

CBD on the other hand is more likely to operate behind the scenes in ways that, while likely quite beneficial for general health, are not as effective at regulating affective responses.

The study observed more than 2,300 cannabis flower self-administration sessions completed by 670 people using the Releaf App, a mobile software application designed to help users monitor the medicinal and unintended side-effects from different types of cannabis products.

The app enables users to record the fundamental characteristics of the cannabis products and dosing strategies alongside any possible changes in symptom intensity levels and other potential side-effects in real-time.

One author of the study is Assistant Professor Jacob Miguel Vigil.

The study is published in the Journal of Cannabis Research.

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