Findings in a new study suggest that lower doses of a major cannabinoid are effective at relieving stress and helping one relax.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and the University of Chicago, IL, investigated the effects of a particular cannabinoid – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – on stress levels. Forty-two healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 40 years were split into three groups, with groups being given either a low-dose 7.5 milligram THC capsule, a moderate-dose 12.5 milligram THC capsule, or a placebo capsule containing no THC.
Each group participated in two 4-hour sessions that were five days apart. Subjects took their respective capsule and then relaxed for two hours to allow for the cannabinoid to reach the bloodstream.
Then, in the first session, volunteers were asked to spend 10 minutes preparing for a mock job interview, followed by participating in a five-minute interview session with laboratory assistants. They then had to complete a “very reliably stress inducing” mathematical challenge for five minutes.
In the second session, volunteers were asked to spend five minutes talking about their favorite movie or book, followed by spending five minutes of playing solitaire.
During each of the two sessions, participants rated their stress levels at the start, during, and after both sets of tasks.
The group given the low dose of the cannabinoid reported less stress after the anxiety-inducing first session compared to the group given the placebo. Their stress levels also were shown to drop faster after the test was completed compared to the placebo group. Those receiving the capsule with the moderate dose of the cannabinoid, however, reported a more negative mood before and during the task. The moderate-dose group also reportedly paused more during their interviews. No significant differences in blood pressure, heart rate, or cortisol levels were measured across all the groups.
“Our findings provide some support for the common claim that [a cannabinoid] is used to reduce stress and relieve tension and anxiety,” said Professor Emma Childs, one of the researchers.
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