If you’re a medical marijuana user living in a prohibitionist state or country, you may consider the lack of easy marijuana access to be one of the great banes of your life. Conditions like anxiety, depression or chronic stress are some of the most popular reasons for medical marijuana use.
Unfortunately, until marijuana is legalized across the board, you will likely run into a weed shortage once and a while. When that happens, it’s best to be prepared with alternative methods for relief.
Here are some of the best and most easily accessible weed alternatives for getting your mental health back on track.
Go for a run to get a natural “high.”
Marijuana enthusiasts who are familiar with the “real” high—the kind you get after smoking a joint— might roll their eyes at this suggestion. But if that’s the case, I’d guess you’ve never experienced the runner’s high. You also probably didn’t know that, like weed itself, exercise actually activates your endocannabinoid system.
The runner’s high is not only characterized by light-headedness and euphoria, but also a sense of calm. As one scientific article says, the runner’s high has been characterized as “pure happiness, elation, a feeling of unity with one’s self and/or nature, endless peacefulness, inner harmony, boundless energy, and a reduction in pain sensation.”
Therefore, going for a long run is easily one of the most effective alternatives to marijuana for treating conditions like chronic stress, depression and anxiety. If it’s cold outside, consider just doing 100 jumping jacks in your home and seeing how you feel. No, I’m not kidding.
Kava kava is a root derived from the South Pacific Islands that has long been used in traditional medicine. It’s known for its calming, sedative properties which some compare to pharmaceutical drugs like Valium. Therefore, if you’re looking to achieve relaxation and reprieve from stress or anxiety without exercising, kava kava might be your best bet. It also helps with insomnia without making you tired.
Kava kava is typically ingested as a tea but can be taken in pill form. It can be found in most stores that sell vitamins, natural health foods and supplements. In some cities, there are now even kava kava bars—which are kind of like a cross between the hookah bar and cafe—where you can get buzzed on this herb socially. If you ingest kava kava, you’ll likely feel calm and stress-free.
There are many different kinds of meditation, but most boil down to the simple practice of mindfulness. In other words, closing your eyes, breathing slowly and deeply, and focusing on a single thing such as the sound of your breathing, or the repetition of a word like “relax” in your mind with each inhale and exhale. There’s really no way to “meditate” incorrectly. Despite common misconception, it’s not about “stopping your thoughts,” it’s just about noticing that they’re there. Still, if you’re intimidated by trying this (a lot of people are), consider downloading an app like Headspace which offers ten-minute guided meditations.
Research consistently shows that meditation can alleviate anxiety, stress, depression, and even allow for easier pain management. Consistent longterm meditation has also shown to develop parts of the human brain connected to memory, emotion regulation, empathy, and learning ability. It’s even good for your heart.
Like running, yoga is a form of exercise that activates one’s endocannabinoid system. In fact, the yogi’s high is almost like a combination of the positive effects of running and meditation. Therefore, yoga is one of the best practices for reducing anxiety and depression. In fact, research suggests that yoga actually modulates your stress response. It’s no wonder that most people leave a yoga class feeling calm, happy, euphoric, stress-free and generally content.
Even if you live in a state where weed isn’t legal, Blue Lotus can often be found at your local head shop. Some people smoke it, while others prefer to make tea out of it. Drinking steeped Blue Lotus tea has been known to create a relaxing, sedating effect. But be careful, too much Blue Lotus can prove slightly hallucinogenic. If you’re looking to calm your anxieties and relieve stress, drinking a cup of steeped Blue Lotus tea might help you get back in a relaxed, positive frame of mind.
If you’re a big marijuana fan, you’ve likely already heard about the alleged wonders of CBD—or cannabidiol. CBD is a compound that comes from the cannabis plant, but it’s legal in some states where cannabis is not because it doesn’t have THC, the component of cannabis that makes you “high.” Still, it’s said to have a lot of the same benefits of smoking weed including anxiety and chronic pain relief. If you live in a state where marijuana is still prohibited, just look up the laws on CBD. If it’s permitted, you can likely get some online or at a local head shop. Just make sure you look up the company that you’re buying from. CBD oil ranges widely in quality.