People can smoke weed to "soften", but experts say that medicinal cannabis and its chemical relatives do not effectively alleviate mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety . The evidence is simply not available.
This is according to the most complete analysis of medical cannabinoids and mental health to date.
Cannabinoids, which include any chemical derived from the plant Cannabis which exerts drug-like effects on the body, "are often recommended as a treatment for various mental health conditions," according to a new analysis published today (October 28) in The Lancet Psychiatry . Despite the hype, little evidence supports the idea that drug cannabinoids treat mental disorders more effectively than placebo pills ̵
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What little research exists does not meet the standard criteria necessary to prove that a drug is safe and effective for widespread use, the authors note. "Clinicians and consumers need to be aware of the poor quality and quantity of evidence for the effectiveness of medicinal cannabinoids in the treatment of mental disorders and the potential risk of adverse events," they wrote.
Products such as cannabis medicines, pharmaceutical extracts and synthetic derivatives THC and CBD have gained popularity with consumers as more countries begin to legalize their use for medical treatment, according to a new document. ( CBD is a marijuana-derived compound that does not produce "high.") Both the mainstream media and the commercial sector have jumped on the tape, spreading the word about the many potential therapeutic uses of cannabinoids. However, Degenhardt and her co-authors found that the upward trend could outstrip science.
The new analysis integrates data from 83 studies aimed at learning whether medicinal cannabinoids can improve mental disorder as a whole or alleviate their various symptoms. Most have studied the effects of THC, with or without CBD added, and only 40 have randomized controlled trials, the "gold standard" for drug testing, in which participants are either randomly assigned or not. The study involved about 3000 people and focused on six mental health disorders: depression anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychosis.
Overall, the results impressed the experts.
THC failed to significantly improve the underlying symptoms of any of the six disorders, and many drug patients had less favorable effects and withdrawal symptoms than those taking placebo. Of the randomized controlled trials that looked at depression and anxiety, most prescribed cannabinoid for a different health condition, such as chronic pain. Few studies have examined the effects of CBD or medicinal cannabis on various disorders. Given the sheer lack of data and poor quality of the few, "there is still insufficient evidence to provide guidance on the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of psychiatric disorders within a regulatory framework," the authors conclude.
The study uncovered some "very low quality" evidence suggesting that THC, the major mind-altering compound found in cannabis, can help alleviate anxiety symptoms in people with other serious medical conditions, such as chronic pain or multiple sclerosis. In these cases, however, it is unclear whether THC uses the improved symptoms directly or whether the drug fundamentally improves patients' underlying health problems and improves their anxiety as a result. Single studies have also suggested that pharmaceuticals containing both THC and CBD can improve overall functioning in humans with PTSD while only pharmaceutical CBD can do the same for patients with psychosis. But no drug seems to alleviate the underlying symptoms of one disorder or another, and one study even suggests that THC-CBD may exacerbate the negative symptoms of psychosis, such as social withdrawal and dull emotions.
p. Scott Krakow, assistant chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York, who did not participate in the study, told Live Science that the idea that cannabis could worsen certain mental disorders is good. established. "This is especially true for people with prior psychotic conditions," he added, while those with a family history of psychosis could be at risk of developing the disorder by taking cannabinoids.
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In addition, studies show that repeated or heavy use of cannabis can permanently disrupt the body's natural "endocannabinoid system," which produces chemicals that bind to the same receptors as cannabinoids, though how this disorder affects people with different mental disorders remains to be investigated. Anecdotally, the drugs appear to have a "paradoxical effect" where they help people feel better in the short term, but worsen their symptoms over time, Krakover said. For example, recent studies suggest that cannabis may initially reduce scores on stress, depression, and anxiety, but chronic use may exacerbate depressive symptoms over time.
"In the light of the results of this comprehensive review and meta-analysis, it would be difficult for practitioners to justify the use of cannabinoids for psychiatric conditions at that time," Dr. Deepak Cyril, Dr. Susa, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University Medical School, wrote in a commentary accompanying the new study. D & # 39; Souza noted that research on cannabinoids may be lacking, as drugs have long been under strict government regulation. In order to better understand the potential role of cannabinoids in mental health treatment, existing "research barriers" will need to be removed.
In the future, scientists will have to determine how exactly cannabinoids can alleviate the symptoms of a mental disorder, assuming they do it at all, added Susa. "From a mechanical standpoint, it is uncertain how or why cannabinoids could be effective in treating depression, ADHD, psychosis, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder – conditions that do not share an obvious general pathophysiology," he writes.
In short, experts agree: medicinal cannabinoids should be subject to the same rigorous control of any other psychiatric medication.
In the future, Krakow hopes that both the public and healthcare providers will be informed of the actual science of cannabinoid use and make decisions based on solid data rather than foreign data.
Originally published by Live Science .