It is a sad fact that, to live in the modern world, one needs to live with stress. Whether it’s stress from your family, your ever-growing workload, managing money, or just feeling stressed by your very existence, it’s hard to imagine a life without any stress whatsoever.
People have been self-medicating their stress for millennia, using a mixture of herbal remedies, exercise and, on the incredibly unhealthy end of the spectrum, drinking themselves silly.
Marijuana has long been known to be a stress-relieving substance, but recently, numerous studies have been published to try and prove its usefulness. This we will explore below.
Couple that with the rise of e-liquids and vaping, which have made smoking marijuana easier than ever, there is the real possibility that many of us could be using marijuana more frequently to help deal with stress.
Hang on though, what is stress?
Stress might seem to be this unknown behemoth, this monstrous entity that swallows your life, but in actuality it is nothing more than the fight or flight response to common events.
When you encounter a stressful situation, such as preparing for a job interview or being in overly social situations, your brain begins to release adrenaline to prepare you to fight for your life.
Basically, there is no difference between your stress and the sudden pouncing anger of a lion.
However, some people deal with stress less well than others – some people just don’t seem able to process their stress and, instead of dealing with it or even using it to help overcome their current crisis, they are debilitated by it.
This is understandable in the modern world, as we are constantly presented with an insane amount of stressful situations, most of which have no solution other than to weather through it.
In light of this, it makes sense to consider administering some sort of medication to try and combat stress if it gets really bad.
Before we consider using marijuana to help deal with stress, we first need to consider how marijuana actually helps deal with stress at all…
Marijuana & Stress
It is well-known that the two primary components of marijuana, THC and CBD, interact with the body in a myriad of ways, but the exact mechanisms of these interactions have only been explored rather recently.
For starters, we know that CBD interacts with the Endocannabinoid System within the body, activating the CB1 and CB2 receptors to help encourage the body to regulate and increase the rate of healing for a variety of conditions. From skin ailments to inflammation, CBD has been shown to help mitigate a huge number of symptoms and improve people’s quality of life.
THC however, the psychoactive component of marijuana, is less understood. We know the mechanisms with which it causes the psychoactive effect – the “high” – but how it interacts with pain and certain nervous functions is less understood.
We know that THC over-stimulates the CB1 receptors in the brain, inducing an elevated mood, a change in time and movement perception, and an overall high.
However, THC also interacts with the amygdala, the part of the brain that is involved with the regulation and processing of anxiety and the fight or flight response.
THC affects this because there are a large number of CB1 receptors within the amygdala, allowing THC to manipulate the brain into reacting to situations with less stress. This creates a less intense surge of adrenaline, allowing you to, hopefully, not be overwhelmed with stress.
What’s interesting about using marijuana to help treat stress is that, contrary to what you might at first think, more marijuana isn’t always better.
Researchers at the University of Chicago performed an experiment* wherein they put three separate groups of people through stressful situations. Over a 5-day period, the groups participated in a mock job interview, a laboratory task, and a mathematical puzzle. Each was completed under a tight time constraint with frightening and non-responsive testers, intended to leave the different groups in a state of confusion and stress.
One group was given a low dose of THC, another a significant quantity of THC, whereas the final group acted as a placebo group with no THC whatsoever. Each group was asked to rate their stress levels and feelings about the tasks they undertook, as well as being monitored for heart rate, blood pressure and the release of cortisol, one of the key hormones linked to the feeling of stress.
What was most surprising about the results was that Group A, those dosed with a lower quantity of THC, reported lower levels of stress, cortisol and adrenaline, as well as having a consistently lower heart rate and blood pressure.
In contrast to what might be expected in medicine, dosing yourself with too much THC doesn’t actually help deal with stress at all.
Another study looking into the effects of low-dose marijuana on stress levels* found that, when a person was given a larger than recommended dose of THC, that person’s ability to properly regulate their cortisol and adrenaline levels was disrupted.
This resulted in varying levels of stress, but most significantly meant that those given the higher dose of THC could still feel similar levels of stress to the placebo groups.
Thanks to the work conducted by a variety of research teams over the last few decades, we are now aware of the stress-relieving properties of THC, as well as the curious fact that a lower dose is preferable.
However, why is it that, when someone is recommended by a doctor to take marijuana for stress, they are suggested to use e-liquids?
E-liquids are the ammunition, as it were, for vape cigarettes, a way to imbibe without having to actually smoke.
When vaping, the substance is vaporized into water vapor, carrying with it the desired compounds based on the temperature it was vaporized at. In our case, this is the THC and CBD found in marijuana.
One of the significant benefits of vaping is being able to take repeated, controlled bursts of marijuana, as each vape is only so much marijuana at once.
This allows you to more easily dose yourself with a precise amount of THC.
However, the benefits aren’t just linked to the convenient dosage – researchers have begun to notice that vaping is actually a great way to administer marijuana to help combat stress.
Researchers Varlet et al. have discovered that, when imbibing marijuana through a vape pen or any other form of e-liquid ingestion, patients reported better stress levels, as well as reduced heart rate and cortisol levels when compared to those administering normal marijuana through other methods.
Varlet et al. discovered that the reason for this is that the commonly-ingested butane hash oil, a very typical type of e-liquid, has a particularly low solubility, resulting in a lower dose of THC per drag. This is in comparison to the typically high THC dosage when smoking marijuana outright, especially when it is smoked using high THC strains.
This matches with the peculiar fact that THC is better in low doses to deal with stress, meaning that a vape pen is by far the best way to self-medicate with marijuana when dealing with stress.
More and more research and development is being conducted into vape pens, so it is possible that future vape pens will actually be able to get a higher dose of THC per hit, making this moot.
However, it is likely that, if enough people were to prefer using e-liquids and vape pens to help treat their stress, a new market will exist for low-dosage vape pens, able to deliver a carefully calculated low dose of THC.
It may be an odd quirk of science, but e-liquids and vape pens are far and away the best way to help reduce stress if you decide to use marijuana.
Final Thoughts on Using E-Liquids
Stress is an unfortunate reality that we deal with every day. To help cope, millions of people around the world use marijuana to help make themselves feel better and overcome their stress.
While marijuana is famously known as a stress reliever, it turns out that imbibing marijuana with a vape pen is simply the best way to help with stress.
Recommended Portable Vapes – Our Best Picks
- Da Vinci IQ
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- G Pen by Grenco Science
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