CHICAGO – Are you looking for ways to relax? A new study on cannabis reveals that low doses of THC can relieve stress while higher doses can cause anxiety.
Several marijuana users claim of the stress reduction effects of the drug but studies regarding this is limited. Cannabis or marijuana is still considered category 1 substance that is highly regulated by the government. Though legalization of the substance in some parts of the United States and the world has been emerging, challenges lie in obtaining permits to study the drug.
Researchers conducted a study in University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Chicago reveals that low doses of THC or tetrahydrocannabinol can relieve stress levels. THC is the psychoactive substance primarily found in marijuana. On the other hand, a small increase in dosage can contribute to feelings of anxiety.
Emma Childs is an associate professor of psychiatry in University of Illinois at Chicago and a corresponding author on the research. The grant DA02812 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse paved the way to make the study possible. The study was published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence medical journal.
The objective of the researchers is to examine the levels of THC and their effects on stress among people. In the study, 42 healthy volunteer participants whose ages are between 18 to 40 were randomly grouped into three. The participants have used cannabis in the past but are not habitual users.
Members of the first group received low-dose cannabis capsule containing 7.5 milligrams of THC. The second group received a higher dose of capsule with 12.5 milligrams of THC. The third is the placebo group who received capsules that do not contain THC at all.
Researchers claim that these doses used in the study produce effects much like having a few puffs of cannabis cigarette. According to Childs, they did not incorporate higher doses in the study to avoid potential cardiovascular and other adverse effects. It was also noted in the research the difficulty in comparing THC doses from smoking marijuana and THC from ingestion of the substance.
Participants attended two four-hour sessions to undergo tests at the University of Chicago. These sessions are five days apart. In each session, each member is asked to take a capsule and relax for two hours to let the THC get absorbed into the bloodstream. Absorption of THC through the stomach takes longer than through the lungs.
Stress levels were measured through several tests. One is a 10-minute preparation for a mock interview followed with a 5-minute interview with a lab assistant without offering feedback after. Another test involves counting backwards from a five-digit number while subtracting 13 in a span of five minutes.
In the second session, the participants were asked to talk about their favorite book or movie for five minutes with a lab assistant and to play solitaire. The participants were asked about their stress levels before, during, and after each test.
In analyzing the results, researchers found that the low-dose group felt less stressed than the placebo group, and the stress level subsided quickly after the tests. On the other hand, the moderate-dose group appeared to be more stressed in doing the tests.
This study substantiates the effects of varying THC doses to stress levels. Lower doses produce results of decreased stress levels while increase in THC can incite anxiety. What do you think about this breakthrough study?