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For some, it might mean feeling a little uneasy when matched with an unknown entity that catches them off guard when they least expect it, or a looming dread of a weekly editorial meeting that keeps them from wanting to get out of bed. Hey, we’ve been there. There are other people, however, who have an irrational, crippling fear (otherwise known as a phobia) of something that hinders their lives with such ferocity that they will do everything in their power to maintain a safe distance.

You won’t catch these folks in or even around an airport, near the snake pit at a local zoo, in confined spaces, or checking out the view from the top of the Empire State Building. People with phobias are perfectly content living their lives without any of these perceived frightening situations turning them into a frayed ball of nerves. Maybe even you have a phobia that you’ve lived with ever since you can remember that still, to this day, scares you. Around 19 million people all across the U.S. suffer from an irrational fear of something, which makes it the most common mental disorder in the country, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

There is no need to fear, though, cannabis might be just what the doctor ordered. A body of evidence has emerged over the past six years or so suggesting that cannabis, or at least some of its essential compounds, might be able to help people with certain kinds of phobias be less afraid.

A study from the University of Michigan, which was published in the journal Neuropsychology in 2013, finds that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) might provide phobia patients with a trapdoor out of the horrific anxiety that comes with these conditions. In some cases, researchers discovered that THC is so beneficial in this respect that it even allowed some patients to work through their fears and move past them. 

The study, which involved around 30 people, used a pavlovian fear extinction paradigm and simultaneous skin conductance response recording while dosing patients with a synthetic version of THC called dronabinol, according to Science Direct. Still, researchers say that people under the influence of THC showed less fear over time. “These results provide the first evidence that pharmacological enhancement of extinction learning is feasible in humans using cannabinoid system modulators, which may thus warrant further development and clinical testing,” the study authors wrote.

Another study, from the Frontiers of Pharmacology, shows that America’s favourite non-intoxicating cannabis compounds cannabidiol (CBD) might actually have some therapeutic benefit when it comes to dealing with specific phobias. The study, which was led by Chenchen Song of the University of Birmingham in 2017, shows that 10mg injections of CBD were able to reduce the fear memory in rats. Song says that the cannabis compound made the rats less fearful of being eaten by predators. It’s the same reason that the compound has been shown effective in treating people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Essentially, some phobias, just like PTSD, manifest after a harrowing situation. 

“In the more translationally-relevant stronger conditioning setting, CBD both acutely inhibited fear expression and enhanced extinction to produce longer-lasting reductions in fear,” the study reads. “These observations provide further support for the potential translational use of CBD in conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and specific phobias.”

It is possible, considering the body of evidence, that phobia patients might be able to contend with their fears with the use of medical cannabis. Traditionally, these conditions have been dealt with by prescribing beta-blockers, antidepressants and tranquilizers, but these drugs can be habit-forming and make a person feel less human than an irrational fear of anything. Still, it’s okay to be skeptical about the power of cannabis when it comes to treating phobia cases. 

Source: https://cannabisnow.com/marijuana-might-be-beneficial-in-combatting-phobias/

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