Does Cannabis Help Against Depressions?
Nov 6, 2013
Categories : Medical Marijuana
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, 42 percent of Americans have used cannabis at least once in their lives. At that rate marijuana is considered the illicit drug most commonly used in the United States. In 2004 the United Nations estimated that 162 million people, or four percent of the world's population, have used marijuana.
Cannabis is less harmful than tobacco and alcohol. The plant has been used since ancient times for hemp, oil, medicinal, spiritual and recreational purposes, and it is native to South and Central Asia. It is classified as a depressant, though many users report stimulant effects.
A 1999 study by the Institute of Medicine determined that less than ten percent of marijuana users were dependent. The study also found:
• Dependence on tobacco at 32 percent
• Dependence on alcohol at 15 percent
Cannabis has been called a gateway drug by those who oppose its decriminalization, but many studies have proven that to be a false assumption. The majority of people who use cannabis do so only on an occasional basis and list it as the only illicit drug they actually use.
Psychoactive Substance In Cannabis
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the main psychoactive metabolite of the cannabis plant. It is located in the flowers, buds and leaves. Scientists think the plant produces THC to protect itself from herbivores. THC interacts with the cannabinoid receptor, which is located in the central nervous system. THC acts as both a psychoactive drug and a mild analgesic. Its analgesic properties are caused by its ability to alter nerve cells on the spinal cord.
Federal law declares cannabis a schedule I drug and still outlaws it. However, that has not stopped certain states from decriminalizing marijuana and also allowing for its medical use. Now the largest city in North America, Mexico City, is getting ready to decriminalize cannabis. The state of Colorado is the first state to allow for regulation of the cannabis market.
Cannabis As A Mood Stabilizer
Many people begin using cannabis for mood stabilization only after trying other treatments. Synthetic drugs, light therapy, acupuncture and psychotherapy have all been used to treat those suffering from depression and bipolar disorder.
Drugs that regulate serotonin in the brain have been shown to help certain people who suffer from depression. However, the same drugs can actually be dangerous for folks who have bipolar disorder. Too much serotonin can cause an episode of mania. In contrast, cannabis has been shown to decrease manic periods while at the same time leveling out the lows of depression.
Decreased Side Effects Of Cannabis
One of the most important reasons cited by those who use cannabis to regulate mood is its lack of side effects when compared to medication used to treat the same symptoms. Some of the side effects of medication include dry mouth, tiredness, weight gain, insomnia and a decreased sex drive. Though cannabis sometimes causes dry mouth, its side effects are still significantly less than those of prescribed medication.
Cannabis And Depression
Depression is estimated to cost the American economy $47 billion in both health care costs and lost productivity. 18 million people suffer from depression. The disease often runs in families. It can also be caused by:
• Job loss and financial stress
• Death of a loved one
• Chronic or debilitating illness
Cannabis has been shown to help people who suffer from mild to moderate depression, and it is sometimes used in combination with behavioral and light therapy. It has even helped people who have been unable to find relief otherwise.
As more doctors become familiar with studies involving cannabis, its use in treating depression and bipolar disorder will increase in coming years. That means millions of people are going to be helped by the medicinal use of marijuana.
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