Most people expect to experience occasional anxiety as part of their normal day-to-day lives. However, when these symptoms begin to feel persistent, overwhelming, and/or uncontrollable, they can start to become a problem and interfere with work and relationships. When anxiety is interfering with daily activities and routines, it can become a disorder. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 18 percent of U.S. Citizens suffer from an anxiety disorder. Although anxiety is the most common type of mental illness in the U.S. less than 37 percent of those suffering from anxiety actually seek out treatment. This could be due to patients’ concerns about the negative side effects associated with pharmaceutical medications. Perhaps these patients would prefer not to take any pills at all and would prefer a more natural alternative. Since so many Americans are suffering from anxiety disorders, it is clear that more options are needed to treat their symptoms and medical cannabis can be the perfect solution. Let’s take a look at 5 reasons that medical cannabis is a better alternative to Xanax (alprazolam) and other anti-anxiety medications.
1. Xanax has dangerous short-term side effects.
While at first taking benzodiazepines such as Xanax may seem to provide relief of anxiety, it can begin to have a negative impact on your health shortly after taking it. Some of the short-term side effects associated with Xanax are fatigue, dizziness, loss of coordination, amnesia, confusion, and impaired judgement. Because taking Xanax can make you drowsy and feel less alert, it is extremely dangerous to drive under the influence of this medication. According to an article published in the Canadian Family Physician, driving under the influence of benzodiazepines like Xanax can increase the risk of an accident by up to 50 percent! This risk is further increased when Xanax is taken along with alcohol.
2. Xanax is addictive.
It doesn’t take a very long time at all for your brain to become used to the chemical changes made by taking Xanax. The more Xanax a person takes, the more rapidly this person will begin to get used to the effects. This will lead to the patient needing to increase the dosage in order to obtain the same results as before. It is possible to develop an addiction, even if it is used exactly as prescribed. Once a physical and psychological addiction to Xanax is developed, it is very difficult to stop taking it and severe withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures, are very common.
3. Xanax has dangerous long-term side effects.
In addition to increased tolerance and causing a chemical dependence, Xanax use over time can lead to far more serious consequences. Some of the long-term side effects of Xanax use include insomnia, anorexia nervosa, muscle weakness, headaches, and anxiety – which is, ironically, the same treatment it is prescribed to treat. At higher doses, breathing difficulties, suicidal ideation, and even comas have been recorded.
4. You cannot overdose on cannabis.
While there has never been a single death linked to an overdose of medical cannabis, benzodiazepines such as Xanax have been linked to a staggeringly large amount of overdose deaths. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 22,000 people died from overdosing on prescription drugs. A 2013 report states that approximately 31% of these overdose deaths were linked to benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, which are commonly prescribed for anxiety.
5. Cannabis is just as effective for treating anxiety.
The two main cannabinoids (chemical compounds) that work together to help ease the symptoms of anxiety are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabidiol (CBD). Generally, the THC will begin quickly to relieve the most acute symptoms of anxiety while the CBD will relieve inflammation and regulate the connections between the brain’s neurotransmitters and the body’s central nervous system. By taking a regulated dose of cannabis oil that contains these naturally occurring chemical compounds, the brain is coaxed to minimize stress in the area of the brain known as the basolateral amygdala. This is where the brain receives a majority of its sensory information. Additionally, CBD also affects the area of the hippocampus where human emotions are stores. The combination of THC and CBD working together are very effective in managing anxiety. It is important to note, however, that choosing the correct strain and dosing will play a large part in how medical cannabis will affect each patient. A strain high in sativa can, for example, have an uplifting effect and for some may be too stimulating. For anxiety, an indica strain will have a calming effect and can help patients to unwind and relax- perfect for treating anxiety!
Cannabis is quickly becoming very popular as a medical treatment-not only for critical illnesses such as cancer or MS, but for treating mental disorders as well. Its therapeutic properties help to relax the body and soothe the mind. In addition to its healing powers, medical cannabis does not have any significant long-term side effects, and unlike Xanax, it is impossible to overdose on cannabis. It is a vastly superior option in terms of health and is a safer alternative to Xanax in just about every case. As with all medical decisions, it is important to that patients speak to a qualified medical cannabis practitioner as correct strain, dosing, and method of ingestion are vital to successful treatment.
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