According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, depression affects more than 15 million American adults per year. The number of studies on antidepressants causing birth defects, suicide attempts, and death are increasing over the years. There have been over 150 studies on antidepressant induced side effects. Fortunately, there are studies showing marijuana can combat depression without the harmful side effects.
“A lot of people report using cannabis effectively to treat depression,” says Zachary Walsh, assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who helps run the research lab focused on marijuana and mental health.
Cannabis was used to treat depression and many other ailments hundreds to thousands of years ago. There is evidence of medical cannabis being used in India, China, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South Africa, and South America several centuries ago.
Antidepressants vs. Medical Marijuana
Nowadays, people are using marijuana in place of antidepressants like Prozac. The common side effects of Prozac are diarrhea, dyspepsia, nausea, nervousness, insomnia, weakness, anxiety, drowsiness, tremor, headache, xerostomia, decreased libido, anorexia, and decreased appetite. When users overdose the side effects get even worse.
On the other hand, the most common side effects from marijuana are harmless and even enjoyable. The most harmful side effect that the majority of cannabis users experience is cottonmouth. Short term memory impairment can be an issue if you’ve got tasks at hand. Additionally, it seems the memory impairment is only severe in adolescent cannabis users. A 2011 study suggests adolescent usage may even have a lasting impact on memory.
How effective is marijuana at treating depression?
The use of marijuana to treat depression is not for everyone. However, a recent study found cannabis to be effective in treating depression.
First, those suffering from depression have a decrease in endocannabinoid production. Smoking or ingesting marijuana leads to an increase in endocannabinoid production.
“Using compounds derived from cannabis — marijuana — to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression,” said lead researcher Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane in a university press release.
However, there is research suggesting regular to heavy cannabis smokers are at a higher risk for developing depression. Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin claims “it doesn’t appear that marijuana directly causes depression.”
“It’s likely that the genetic, environmental or other factors that trigger depression also lead to marijuana use. Some people with depression may use marijuana as a way to detach from depressive symptoms. Heavy users may appear depressed as a result of the dulling effects of the drug on feelings and emotions,” he adds.
Marijuana can be effective in treating depression but the strain you use and your dosage matter. Strains that are commonly linked with euphoria and uplifting feelings are the best for those dealing with depression. Some common strains that are known for their feelings of euphoria include: Blue Dream, Sour Diesel, and Girl Scout Cookies. If you’re using marijuana to treat your depression you should consult with your doctor and they’ll start you off with low dosages.
Find out the right dose to keep your mood uplifted and just remember marijuana does not directly cause depression. It’s more likely that the same factors that lead to depression lead one to try pot.
Photo by Matthew Staver/ The Washington Post
Pot Smokers weigh less
In a recent study conducted by the University of Miami, cannabis users were found to have a lower body weight than nonusers. Considering the munchies that come with cannabis consumption, these results are shocking. The stoner you picture munching away while lazily seated on the couch might actually be skinnier than you! According to the study published in the Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, marijuana users appear to have a lower Body Mass Indexes (BMIs). In fact, one study found medical marijuana laws were followed by decreases in the probability of obesity.
One reason for the link between decreased BMI and cannabis consumption may be a decrease in alcohol consumption. In states with legalized marijuana, the rate of alcohol use typically decreases. As a result, less calories are being consumed by cannabis users. It’s hard to argue with the numbers. According to a Study by the American Journal of Epidemiology, twenty two percent of Americans who don’t use marijuana were found to be obese. Only fourteen percent of marijuana users were found to be obese. That’s 8% less than those NOT consuming a substance that increases appetite.
Other research, has pointed to the fact that marijuana users have been found to have higher metabolisms than non-weed smokers. This means that even if cannabis users are consuming more food due to their munchies, they can still be burning more calories. So in a sense, marijuana can help you lose weight.
For older stoners, smoking pot can relieve pains that would normally prevent physical activity. For example, by using cannabis to relieve the symptoms of arthritis, patients will be in a better position to engage in physical activities. As a result, they can exercise more and lose more weight than those who just deal with their debilitating conditions rather than treating it.
The latest study on marijuana’s impact on BMI found cannabis use in both men and women was linked to a lower average BMI. Females using cannabis on a daily basis were found to have a 3.1 percent lower BMI than females not using cannabis. Similarly, men using cannabis daily had a 2.7 percent lower BMI than those who didn’t use cannabis.
A slightly older study found that smoking marijuana could help individuals lose weight. The study noted that states with medical marijuana had a 2 to 6 percent decrease in obesity.
The exact reasons for why marijuana users seem to be more fit is uncertain. More research would need to be provided. More research would need to be conducted on the subject in order to determine the exact reasoning for marijuana use decreasing BMI.
“Future theory-based research is necessary to explore the pathways underlying the negative associations between marijuana use and BMI,” one researcher wrote in their report. “A broader understanding of such mechanisms along with causal elements will be most helpful to both policymakers and clinicians.”
With several studies pointing to marijuana’s potential for decreasing obesity, research on the exact ways in which marijuana does this should soon follow.
Conscious Weed Rap?
You’re more likely to talk about social and political issues when sharing a blunt than when drinking with friends. Similarly, when listening to music while high you might be looking for deeper topics.
In the 90’s, walking into a head shop, you probably heard sublime playing through the speakers. Nowadays, you might hear A$AP Rocky or Wiz Khalifa. Marijuana seems to frequently make its way to mainstream music under the hip hop genre. Furthermore, more and more stoners and listening to the “conscious hip-hop” subgenre in 2016.
One source describes conscious or socially conscious hip-hop as “a sub-genre of hip-hop that challenges the dominant cultural, political, philosophical, and economic consensus. It aims to subtly inform the public of true political and social issues which are predominantly obscured by the mainstream media.”
“Hip-hop also gives these issues a wider audience base as it is coming from music artists which are extremely popular,” they added.
Here is a list of some stoner rappers who don’t shy from topics that are frequently ignored by the mainstream media.
Run The Jewels
Run the Jewels is a hip-hop duo consisting of the New York raised, talented rapper/producer, El-P and his southern companion Killer Mike. Separately and together these two cover topics such as police brutality, drone strikes, and more. They’re also not shy about their marijuana usage with lyrics like, “good pussy, good marijuana that be my medicine.” If you’re into or interested in the conscious hip-hop subgenre give Run the Jewels’ albums a listen. You won’t be disappointed.
Joey Bada$$ has a song about getting high before going to high school. “Ya’ll go to high school, I go to school high!” He also makes songs about the trappings of fame rather than bragging about his fame. Joey’s songs cover topics like government surveillance, inequality, and more. If you’re looking for music that’ll make you think while you smoke check out Joey’s last album B4DA$$.
Chance The Rapper
Chance the Rapper will provide you with both catchy tunes and his personal perspective on touchy subjects. Lyrics like “I’ve been riding around with my blunt on my lips, with the sun in my eyes and my gun on my hip” capture what life is like for Chance. Hailing from the southside of Chicago his hobbies include smoking weed and surviving. His music covers topics like witnessing the death of friend due to violence, getting suspended for smoking pot, his love for his grandma, and more. With Chance you really get the best of both worlds. You can get conscious hip-hop and songs to sing along to. If you’re looking for one of his projects to smoke out to try Acid Rap. If you want more catchy tunes check out his latest album Coloring Book.
The Flatbush Zombies traverse a deeper level of consciousness. The group is consists of three rappers, one of them, Erick Arc Elliot, is also their producer. Their music is full of references to psychedelic drugs like LSD and Mushrooms. The Zombies who hail from Flatbush, Brooklyn have everything you love about mainstream hip-hop like violence, women, and drugs while also covering more conscious topics. Sometimes they rap about their love for weed and other times pointing out inequalities. If you’re into psychedelics and hip-hop you’ll probably like the Flatbush Zombies. Even if you’re only into weed and hip-hop we recommend giving them a listen.
image credit: Run The Jewels / Facebook