How Marijuana Affects Anxiety

A lot of people use marijuana to treat anxiety, finding an almost immediate sense of relief and relaxation after smoking pot. But for others, marijuana use heightens anxiety. It can cause paranoia and produce a completely different set of feelings. To some extent, just about everyone experiences this psychological response when they start smoking, but though these responses appear to vary between individual users, research shows that marijuana can be an effective treatment option for anxiety sufferers.

The relationship between cannabis and the brain is complex but largely complementary; components of marijuana, known as cannabinoids, naturally respond to parts of our brain associated with pain management, mood, and anxiety (to name a few). Humans have natural endocannabinoid systems that regulates anxiety, and when certain cannabinoids are introduced to the body, they have been shown to significantly reduce anxiety.


2014 study published in the journal Neuron demonstrated this point. Researchers at Vanderbilt University set out to analyze the effectiveness of self-medicating with marijuana to treat anxiety, and they found compelling reason to believe that people who used the substance in this manner were onto something.

“Chronic stress or acute, severe emotional trauma can cause a reduction in both the production of endocannabinoids and the responsiveness of the receptors,” the researchers wrote in a press release about the study. Because components of marijuana function as endocannabinoids, cannabis can, in fact, provide relief by contributing to the system—centrally located in the amygdala—that regulates anxiety, they continued.

“We know where the receptors are, we know their function, we know how these neurons make their own cannabinoids,” Dr. Sachin Patel, lead author of the study, said. “Now can we see how that system is affected by… stress and chronic [marijuana] use? It might fundamentally change our understanding of cellular communication in the amygdala.”


The research proved so convincing that Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, wrote a blog postabout it on the federal agency’s website, stating that Patel’s study “suggests that THC and/or other external cannabinoids found in marijuana may also serve to reduce anxiety by binding to CB1 receptors in the amygdala, rendering neurons less active.”

Collins went on to say that further research was needed and he cautioned against chronic marijuana use, especially for teenagers who might be experiencing high levels of anxiety and might be experimenting with cannabis as a potential treatment option. But still, the blog posts arguably reflect shifting attitudes—even at the federal level—regarding the medicinal value of marijuana for mental health.


Some people experience adverse psychological effects after smoking pot, of course. Even seasoned stoners sometimes feel paranoid and anxious after smoking too much or eating potent, cannabis-infused edibles. Moderating use and selecting strains of cannabis that are commonly recommended for anxiety treatment (i.e. indicas) can help reduce the risk of having an unpleasant experience with pot, but that advice is based onanecdotal evidence.

That said, more research really is needed. Approximately 3.3 million Americans suffer from anxiety, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. It can be a debilitating disorder that affects how people socialize and cope with daily stress. And though there are pharmaceutical options available—including benzodiazepines such as Xanax—the fact of that matter is, those drugs are highly addictive and dangerous. Marijuana is non-toxic and non-addictive, and it is still an effective form of treatment. 

And for a surprisingly insightful, musical explainer on the subject, here’s one of my favorite cannabis-themed songs, titled “Acid Raindrops,” by the Los Angeles Hip-Hop group People Under the Stairs.


Save on Heat with Fire Bricks | Attainable Sustainable

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, space heating accounted for 63% of natural gas consumed in U.S. homes in 2009. Whether you’re using natural gas, propane, firewood, or other methods for heating your home this winter, it can be a heavy hit on your pocketbook and the environment.

The more efficient we can be in heating our homes, the better.

One incredibly simple thing you can do, saysJennifer Margulis? Make the most of your oven’s heat by placing several fire bricks inside when you bake. The fire bricks will absorb the heat from the oven and once dinner’s done, they’ll continue to emanate heat long after your oven is off. If you don’t have fire bricks handy, you can still capture some of that heat by placing a baking stone or piece of cast iron cookware inside the oven while you bake.

Once you’re done cooking, prop your oven door open to allow the heat to escape. Of course, you’ll want to use extreme caution with this method if you have young children in the house.

Firebricks are more expensive than regular red bricks, but they go for less than $5 in most locations. Not a bad expenditure for lowering your fuel and energy consumption. 

Using Your Body To Change Your Brain –

You know that your brain controls your body, but did you also know that your body controls your brain? It’s a feedback loop that works both ways.

The activity in your brain changes every second based on what your body is doing — a process called biofeedback. You may have heard of and thought that biofeedback required some equipment, like a finger heart rate monitor or software application. While technology can make measuring bodily changes easier, it’s not necessary. You can alter your brain’s function with conscious biofeedback simply by paying attention, which can have a huge impact on your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and stress level.

Your brain is perfectly capable of noticing what’s going on with your body — heart rate, breathing, muscle tension, sweating — and in fact, it does all the time anyway. To practice conscious biofeedback, you just have to become aware of this happening.

Image: parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Via: Alila Medical Media | Shutterstock.

How Biofeedback Works

Your brain is constantly receiving signals from the rest of your body informing it of the environment and telling it how to think and feel. Information coming from your senses first gets interpreted by your brain as emotion, and then your brain adds its own subjective “special sauce” to produce feelings. (See: What’s The Difference Between Feelings And Emotions.)

A gnawing feeling in your stomach could mean that you’re hungry or it could just be that you are feeling anxious about that meeting tomorrow. In his book, The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time, Alex Korb explains it this way:

“These types of signals are like your car’s check engine light — alerting you that something is happening, but not being very helpful in telling you what. Calmly doing a self assessment of your feelings can help distinguish the signals.”

The neural signals for your heart rate, breathing, digestion and other bodily functions are carried by the vagus nerve which runs throughout your upper body ending in your brainwhere they’re given meaning. Many physical sensations, like a queasy stomach, tight muscles, or miscellaneous aches and pains, have an emotional component which your brain may be correctly or incorrectly adding on.  It’s up to you to interpret and influence the physical sensations coming into your brain.

Unknowingly, people tend to automatically generate many types of negative biofeedback, especially in the case of depression. For example, frowning or scowling expressions and timid or withdrawn postures increase feelings of sadness. Studies have shown that people with depression have greater muscle tension which increases anxiety and lowers heart rate variability reinforcing the depression.

Image: sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Via: Alila Medical Media | Shutterstock.

Heart-Rate Variability

Heart rate variability (HRV) is the change in the time interval between heartbeats and is directly related to a person’s health. HRV is regulated by the autonomic nervous system which is made up of your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), the calming brakes of your nervous system, and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), the gas pedal of your nervous system. (See blog: Calming Your Brain And Body.) Every time you exhale, information travels along your vagus nerve causing your heart rate to slow down increasing your HRV. SNS activity increases your heart rate decreasing HRV.

When a person is depressed, they have less activity in their vagus nerve, which means their heart does not change speeds as much, instead remaining steady. This is so significant that one treatment for stubborn depression is electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve.

HRV is affected by many factors including aerobic fitness, age, genetics, body position, time of day, and health status. During exercise, HRV decreases as heart rate increases. Generally, increased HRV with longer intervals is found in a well conditioned heart at rest. Your heart rate is intimately tied to the your bodily functions and emotional and mental states. I’m sure you can think of times when your heart raced with excitement or “missed a beat” in surprise.

However, HRV patterns are much more significant than simply their rates. In states of stress, anxiety, anger, and sadness the variation tends to be disordered and chaotic. In positive emotional states such as love and gratitude, the variation tends to be ordered and rhythmic. This state of rhythmic variation is known as coherence and is highly efficient and healthy for your mind and body.

On the HeartMath Institute’s website, [a post entitled] “Article Explains Importance of Heart Rate Variability for Your Health,” says:

‘“An optimal level of HRV within an organism reflects healthy function and an inherent self-regulatory capacity, adaptability, or resilience,’ [Rollin] McCraty and [Fred] Shaffer write.

Although generally the greater the HRV, the better, they note that too much variability, or instability ‘such as arrhythmias or nervous system chaos is detrimental to efficient physiological functioning and energy utilization… ‘Too little variation indicates age-related system depletion, chronic stress, pathology, or inadequate functioning in various levels of self-regulatory control systems.’”

Many studies have correlated learning to regulate HRV or achieving greater HRV coherence with physical and emotional health benefits including: enhanced cognitive function and memory, reduced cortisol levels, anxiety, and blood pressure, and increased mood and physical stability.

You don’t need expensive equipment to benefit from biofeedback. Via: Monika Wisniewska | Shutterstock.

Biofeedback DIY

In HRV biofeedback training using equipment, a computer would analyze your heart rate and respiration, usually via a finger monitor to measure coherence. This information is fed back to the person training in real-time, so that they can learn how to alter coherence. There are systems available for you to learn how to do this on your own, and with training, most people can easily learn to engage in slow, effortless diaphragmatic breathing at a rate that will synchronize breathing with their natural heart rhythms to put them into a state of heart coherence.

When healing from a brain injury, I learned how to do this inneurofeedback therapy and even bought a home device for my son to learn to calm himself.

But you don’t have to have equipment to use your body to alter your brain or to stimulate your vagus nerve. You just have to become aware of and influence your body through your own actions. Some ways to do this are:

Splash cold water on your face – Rinsing your face with cold water stimulates your vagus nerve. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious try filling a sink with cool water and splashing your face.

Use the power of music – Music has been shown to increase HRV. While just listening to music works, making music has been shown to have an even greater positive effect. Music engages most of your limbic system which largely governs emotions.

Smile – It’s a simple thing to do and really can improve your mood. Even a fake smile causes your brain to release dopamine. Think of a fun time, a silly situation or your favorite joke. There’s not much difference in your brain between provoked and genuine smiling.

Stand Up straight – Studies have shown that standing up straight in a more confident posture makes you feel more decisive and confident in your own thoughts and beliefs. A confident posture also proved to be correlated with being more optimistic. Posture is an important source of feedback not only for your brain but for those around you. A confident posture makes others more confident in you. One study even showed that standing up straighter increases energy while slouching decreases energy levels. Sitting up straight has similar effects.

Calm your face – There’s a muscle in the middle of your forehead in between your eyebrows. In the same way your brain thinks you’re happy when you smile, if your brow is furrowed and this muscle is tense, your brain interprets it as you being worried or upset. On bright days, wearing sunglasses will reduce squinting and relax this muscle making your brain feel calmer.

Relax your jaw and tongue – When stressed, you tend to clench your teeth and tense your tongue. Consciously loosen your jaw, wiggle it around, and open your mouth. Make it a point to relax your tongue which also calms your mind. (See: Why Your Eyes Look Up And Your Tongue Tenses When You Think)

Change your breathing – Taking long, deep breaths into your tummy, slows your heart rate and activates the calm, parasympathetic nervous system. Place your hand on your diaphragm, the center of your stomach a couple of inches below your lungs, and take slow, full breaths counting to six making your hand move in and out with each inhale and exhale. Even better — get a device and learn how to consciously alter your HRV. After you get the hang of it, you can practice diaphragmatic breathing anywhere without using anything. Conversely, breathe faster to get more energy.

Clench and relax – Sometimes it’s actually helpful to clench your muscles and relax them to fully know the difference. Take a deep breath and intentionally flex a tense muscle for a few seconds. After holding it, exhale and relax the muscle. The most important muscles to relax are in your face, but don’t forget your hands, neck, butt, back, and stomach.

Make Your Home Smell Good : Fall Simmers – Clean Mama


by Becky 4 Comments

I love the way a warm scent can conjure up memories or just make a smelly room smell better.  Want to invoke that fall feeling in your home? Try a little simmer – it will get your home smelling fallish in a hurry.  Gather any combination of the following ingredients – you only NEED one or two things, but you can combine to your heart’s content.


lemonsorangesapplescranberriescinnamon stickswhole clovesfresh herbsextracts – vanilla, almond, etc.essential oils (just a drop or two is all you need) – optional but a drop or two will up the scent-ification4 cups water





sage leavescranberriesoranges


vanillacinnamon stickscloves

Combine ingredients with water in a saucepan and put on your stove.  Set heat to low and let the ingredients simmer away as long as you’d like.  (Keep an eye on the water so it doesn’t boil over or scorch.)

TIP: If you have a small crockpot you can combine the ingredients and let your simmer bubble away on low all day.

Doctor Sells His Practice, Opens Up “Farmacy” Using Food as Medicine Instead | The Mind Unleashed

The brilliant Dr. Robert Weiss did something completely unheard of in the medical community.  He sold his medical practice and decided to teach the importance of diet and nutrition in health by opening a “Farmacy”.

Dr. Weiss believes that we all need to change our focus for medicine and health and reconnect with the basic knowledge that has been shunned and suppressed by big pharma.

Dr. Weiss Opens the first ‘Farmacy’

After selling his New York medical practice, Dr. Robert Weiss built the very first farm-based medical practice on his 348-acre farm.  Located in Long Valley, New Jersey the ‘farmacy’ is focused on treating patients with plant foods as the medicine.

“Plant-based whole foods are the most powerful disease-modifying tools available to practitioners — more powerful than any drugs or surgeries,” said Dr. Weiss.

Billions of people have been drugged with synthetic chemicals.

In order to treat diseases big pharma has pushed the sale and consumption of synthetic chemicals.  All while the research and awareness for the benefits of plants and herbs have taken a major back seat in society.  Even though plants have been used quite successfully since ancient times many people go straight to pharmaceutical drugs whenever they are sick.

Even our diets have become ridden with processed and highly preserved food like ingredients that perpetuate disease and illness in our bodies.  Truly Dr. Weiss is following the advice from the father of modern medicine who said:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates


The priority for the new Farmacy approach is to bring the body back into balance through eating vegetables, grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and beans.

“I am not saying if you fall down and break your ankle, I can fix it by putting a salve of mugwort on it. You need someone to fix your fracture,” Dr. Weiss said. “I am talking about treating and preventing chronic disease — the heart attacks, the strokes, the cardiovascular disease, the cancers … the illnesses that are taking our economy and our nation down.”


The natural parts of plants contain nutrients that allow your body to heal.  For example many foods such as turmeric act as an anti-inflammatory.  Inflammation or swelling is believed to be the cause of many different chronic diseases.

During the interview for the new Farmacy Dr. Weiss spoke about the lunch that was prepared on location,

“a salad of baby kale, radicchio, purple carrots, cucumbers, onions and cherry husk tomatoes tossed with a walnut vinaigrette, followed by eggplant rollatini with tofu instead of cheese, and dairy-free chocolate pudding garnished with raspberries”

Even something simple like this salad contains many important medicinal ingredients.

Society needs to get its drug dependence under control.

The main goal is to reduce societies over-dependence on dangerous pharmaceuticals.   This will help remove the negative side effects including addiction, overdose, and even death.  Another one of his goals is to avoid unnecessary surgeries through bringing balance back to the body.


In the case of 90-year-old Angelina Rotella from West New York, Dr. Weiss mentions her incredible success story.  The night before Christmas Eve Angelina Rotella came into his office with congestive heart failure and in a wheelchair.

“I asked her, ‘Do you want me to call 911 and admit you to Palisades General? Or will you let me feed you sweet potatoes and kale?’ Amazingly enough, with the help of her daughter, she chose this,” Dr. Weiss said. “She doesn’t have diabetes anymore and chronic heart failure. She is cooking, sewing and walking around town. I’m not saying it’s easy, but she seized the opportunity and she is transformed.”

Her prescription was a strict diet which included “grains (such as whole-grain brown rice and sweet potatoes), steamed greens (including kale and spinach), fruit (a big serving of wild organic blueberries is a must) and water.” Her daughter, Angie Rotella-Suarez, calls it “more than a miracle,” because her mother was able to stop taking her blood pressure heart medications 2 weeks later.

News of the great success spread and daughters Rotella-Suarez and her sister decided to try the same diet where they became no longer pre-diabetic and lost around 40 pounds.

90 families have joined the farmacy.

90 families have joined the local farmacy and in addition to paying a membership fee they volunteer their time harvesting vegetables and picking weeds.   Not only is this great exercise but it helps people get more interested in eating healthy by becoming involved in the food production process.

“Human health is directly related to the health of the environment, the production of food and how it is grown,” said Dr. Weiss, who also got his undergraduate degree in botany from Rutgers College of Arts in Science. “I see this farm as an opportunity for me to take everything I’ve done all my life, all the biology and chemistry of plants I have studied, and link them to the human biological system.”

In addition to spreading awareness about health and nutrition, a recent study showed that when you work in the earth such as with gardening you make contact with bacteria in the soil that will release serotonin in your brain that helps you become smarter and feel happier.

Do you feel that we should do this all over the world?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.