Growing up, I strongly detested recreational use of marijuana because, simply put, it made me freak out. For the life of me, I could not comprehend how people enjoyed being under its influence, as it had proven an awful experience for me. I would get massive anxiety, paranoia, and leg twitching. Of course, my paranoia only amplified the twitching and thus the anxiety, because I would dwell on whether or not those around me noticed the twitching. Turns out, while many do experience anxiety from certain strains of cannabis, their high is entirely different than the one I experienced and is enjoyable. I believe this is very much due to the fact that I had Lyme disease and did not know it, meaning I was entirely oblivious to the relationship cannabis has with Lyme disease. In fact, at 16, medicinal cannabis was not even a subject I pondered. I simply believed that I reacted differently than others, and decided that since my reaction to cannabis was so horrendous I would ban it from my life forever. Honestly, I still detest the idea of cannabis being abused in a recreational manner as it lends to the stigma surrounding cannabis that prohibits people who desperately need it for medical reasons from receiving an herb that could change, or even save, their lives.
Fast forward six years, and I suddenly found myself offering prayers of extreme gratitude to the universe for providing me with such an amazing medicine. I learned the reason my negative side effects were so greatly amplified was because I was already sharing my body with spirochetes and their friendly components. Furthermore, those horrible reactions I had were potentially blessings. In retrospect, I was able to identify them as the result of bacterial die-off. When I dove into the unknown and began treating myself with cannabis, I honestly did not care about the anxiety and paranoia it caused. Learning the scientific explanation as to why it caused these psychological manifestations enabled me to (somewhat) snap myself out of the “i’m going to die” anxiety attacks that cannabis oil often induced. Somehow, knowing the scientific reasoning behind things makes them more endurable because it reminds me that what I am going through is merely natural. So, in the event that you feel the same way, I am going to attempt to briefly explain this phenomenon to you.
As you are most likely aware, there are many, many hybrid strains of cannabis, composed of a combination of the two main species of cannabis -Indica and Sativa (there is a third species, C.Ruderalis, but its use is far more rare). Indica has a chemical make up containing moderate amounts of both THC and CBD (one of the most commonly known cannabinoids, Cannabidiol) . Sativa, on the other hand, has a chemical makeup composed of high levels of THC and low levels of CBD. Sativa dominant strains seem to be the most common, unless you are able to choose from a variety of strands due to your state’s laws regarding cannabis. So, for anxiety’s sake, we are going to focus on Sativa. THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis responsible for the “mental high” instigated by Sativa (Indica causes more of a body high, making it more ideal for pain relief), is strongly associated to feelings of paranoia and anxiousness because THC activates the fear control center of the brain -also known as the amygdala.
Why This Effects Lyme Patients More Than the Average Individual
Many who use cannabis can admit to having horrible “highs” which caused paranoia. However, it is important to understand that the experiences of which they speak are quite subtle compared to those experienced by individuals with Lyme disease. Why is this so? Individuals with Lyme disease are often live in a constant mode of “fight or flight”, the body’s defense mechanism to a perceived threat. For this phenomenon to occur, the amygdala is activated and there is an increase in the amount of the adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol released. So, for a person with Lyme who already has an overactive amygdala, the increased release of these adrenal hormones brought on by high potency THC in certain strains of cannabis is amplified due to the fact that Lyme patients already have too many of these hormones soaring through their bodies.
So, What Can You Do?
There are a few options. First off, you can realize that the reason for your massive anxiety is not because you are dying but is because of an increased release of adrenaline and cortisol levels due to THC’s relationship with the amygdala, meaning the feelings of panic and paranoia will wear off. Another option, of course, is to utilize pure CBD oil which is void of the psychoactive agent THC. However, I find it important to note that it may be significantly less beneficial to attempt to utilize cannabis as a bactericide without THC or other cannabinoids. Here’s why: Pure cannabis as opposed to CBD oil is a far more effective antibacterial. CBD oil consists of cannabidiol, only one of the five major cannabinoids in cannabis that displays potent activity in treating drug resistant strains of bacteria. Research has proven four other cannabinoids in cannabis –cannabichromene, cannabigerol, tetrahydrocannabinol, and cannabinol- display significant antibacterial properties as well. It is true CBD oils extracted from cannabis are beneficial for treating many infections, but it is also true that using the whole form of the herb is potentially 4 times as successful in the effective eradication of bacteria.
- Appendino, G., S. Gibbons, A. Gianna, et. al. (2008). “Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: A Structure – Active Study.” Journal of Natural Products, 71: 1427-1430. Print.
- Russo, E. B. (2001). “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects.” British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7): 1344–1364.
- Science, Leaf. (2014, August 7). Marijuana and Anxiety: A Self Help Guide. Retrieved from http://www.leafscience.com/2014/08/07/marijuana-anxiety-self-help-guide/
- Bransfield M.D., R. The Neuropsychiatric Assessment of Lyme Disease. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthandillness.com/tnaold.html