The Benefits of Combining Meditation & Breathing Techniques with Medical Marijuana
Marijuana use is becoming more and more popular across many different denominations. People, politicians, and patients who once had been against the medical use of marijuana are now card-carrying supporters. From this shift in belief we have seen a huge amount of new and interesting uses for marijuana. In the case of this post, we will discuss how meditation and marijuana can be combined to benefit more people than you may think.
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What are the Benefits of Meditation?
Before we dive into the benefits of marijuana and meditation together, we should go over the benefits that meditation can have by itself. Recently, the popularity and general acceptance of meditation and its numerous medical benefits have risen dramatically. Those who work the practice into their lives are quick to point out the clarity and “mindfulness” meditation allows them, some going as far as to call it a respite from their stress.
A study published in 2017 shows this well. The study found that mindful meditation significantly reduced depression, sensory pain, and anxiety. The same study also noted an increase in quality of life brought on by mindful meditation .
This highlights why many people have started to practice meditation. Similar to the “physical health revolution” in the mid twentieth century, people today are recognizing the importance of mental health, and view both as important in overall fitness.
Other studies have shown similar improvements in mental and emotional states through meditation. One study even suggested a physical mechanism for this, regarding cytokines. Cytokines are a vital category of proteins largely used in cell signaling. In some cases, however, these cytokines are inflammatory, causing a shift into “conservation mode” . This can be helpful when conserving energy is necessary, like when a person is injured, but exposure over long periods of time can actually cause depression. However, it was found that this depression may be able to be reduced, and the inflammatory cytokines lessened, through certain meditation techniques .
What are the Benefits of Marijuana?
There are many studied benefits to using marijuana, ranging from helping curb certain addictions to relief from chronic pain. If you are interested in reading about some of these benefits (and risks) of marijuana, our blog has numerous articles regarding the pros and cons people may experience. In this post, we will focus on the benefits most similar to those from meditation.
Some of the most researched effects of marijuana are the mental changes that can be caused by the cannabinoids found in the plant. For example, THC is the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana and is responsible for the high feeling people get when consuming certain strains or products. Interestingly, though, THC is most commonly used by people not for its effect on the mind, but its ability to fight insomnia  and increase appetite . This isn’t to say that THC doesn’t have any properties that may be beneficial mentally or emotionally, as the sedative effects can be very helpful for increasing comfort and helping to relax when beginning to meditate.
The other main component of marijuana is CBD, known more formally as cannabidiol. CBD in particular has been shown to have many benefits that align with those offered by meditation. One of the most sought-after benefits being reduced anxiety. In 2010, a study showed lowered anxiety symptoms in those with social anxiety disorder when given CBD . Other studies have shown improvement in social anxiety caused by public speaking  and even anti-depressant effects in animals .
How Can Meditation and Marijuana Work Together?
Considering the effects we have found, it’s easy to see why people have started to combine the two. People going into meditation may be able to see benefits more quickly or strongly when incorporating marijuana. There are even classes popping up across the country promising these exact things. Some view it as a way to reach mental clarity easily and quickly, then using breathing and meditation techniques to harness and spread the feeling across their daily lives.
Stress is almost unavoidable in the modern world, and research is showing the life-long effects it can have on people. High stress levels are correlated with heart disease, headaches, depression, and other mental and physical symptoms. Because of this, finding ways to reduce and eliminate stress is crucial.
Meditation and breathing techniques affect many parts of the brain, including the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. These parts of the brain are responsible for many key processes, but we will narrow it down to these: the amygdala can be thought of as the “fear center” of the brain, and the prefrontal cortex is the “me” part. Meditation can break down the connections between these centers, meaning that the more you meditate, the less anxious you feel. Meditation also creates a stronger connection between the amygdala and the “assessment center” of the brain, meaning you may be able to more accurately identify and respond to sensations. Past research has shown marijuana having a variety of effects in these brain regions as well. It is possible that by combining both practices, the effects build on and magnify each other, allowing for a much stronger anxiolytic effect.
Combining marijuana and meditation may prove useful for certain people. The stronger and faster-acting effects can be used to decrease stress and fight stress-related conditions. Specifically, people with anxiety and depression may find the practice beneficial.