Cannabis hardly or not at all helps with mental health problems
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The use and effects of cannabis as a drug are discussed again and again. Now a meta-investigation throws a negative light on the use of cannabis for mental illnesses. Symptoms could even be made worse.
NAfter the legal situation regarding the use of cannabis as a medicine was relaxed in Germany, but also in countries like Canada, the USA or Australia, it is used more and more frequently in the treatment of diseases. According to Statista, 14,000 patients were treated with cannabis-containing drugs in Germany alone in mid-2018. However, the use of cannabis products can be problematic, especially in a medical field.
Treating people with depression, anxiety, psychosis, or other mental health problems with medical cannabis has significantly more risks than benefits, according to a recent study.
Wayne Hall, director of the Center for Drug Abuse Research for Adolescents at the University of Queensland, Australia, and colleagues examined for their study, published in Journal “Lancet Psychiatry”, all research since 1980 on the use of cannabinoids to treat depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis. They also included studies on the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of symptoms such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Tourette syndrome.
Of the 83 studies in which a total of 3,000 subjects participated, only 40 were randomized controlled trials. In medical research, these are proven to be the best study design in order to obtain a clear statement in the case of a clear question and to prove the causality. The so-called gold standard.
Hall and colleagues found very little evidence that pharmaceutical grade tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) caused minor improvements in anxiety symptoms in patients with chronic, non-cancer pain and multiple sclerosis. In one study, the THC actually exacerbated participants’ psychosis.
While there was little evidence that cannabinoids could help, the authors found additional evidence of possible harm in a large number of studies.
Their analysis showed that cannabis use can even increase the occurrence of psychotic symptoms, anxiety and depression.
Another study found that young adults in particular, who are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and psychosis, are also more likely to become dependent if they use cannabis daily for an extended period of time.
“These risks and the limits of the evidence must be weighed when considering the use of medicinal cannabinoids to treat symptoms of common mental disorders,” said Prof. Louisa Degenhardt of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center in Sydney. The study’s lead author adds, “Remarkably, there is no high quality evidence to properly assess the efficacy and safety of medicinal cannabinoids compared to placebos. And as long as there is no evidence from randomized controlled trials, no clinical guidelines can be drawn up for their use in mental illness. “
Overall, the results suggest that cannabis treatment for mental disorders is not warranted without high quality evidence. Another came to a similar conclusion Investigation from 2017.
The cannabis plant is very complicated and contains a lot of chemicals.
Cannabis company claims should, therefore, be treated with the same skepticism that applies to other new drugs, Wayne Hall added. Larger studies are needed to find out how different compounds and cannabis doses affect different conditions.
This article was first published in October 2019.