People have been using cannabis to help treat all manner of problems for millennia. While there have always been doubters, cannabis has been shown time and time again to help out with a vast number of issues.
One thing you might not consider using cannabis to treat is nail-biting. Everyone is familiar with nail-biting as a symbol of anxiety or a coping mechanism, but it can be pretty problematic. So, is there a way you can overcome it?
Could you use cannabis to try and help ease nail-biting? We explain.
What Is Nail Biting?
The idea of biting your nails can seem weird to those who don’t do it. After all, if you don’t want to bite your nails, you can just stop doing it, right?
However, nail biting is a lot more insidious than you would think. Scientifically known as onychophagy, it is a seriously irritating habit and is actually classified as a compulsion. Nail biting is one of the most common compulsive habits that exist, especially in children, with upwards of a quarter biting their nails consistently.
It is frequently associated with the obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, and it can actually be dangerous. It can lead to infections of your skin or malformations on your nails that make them grow back unpleasantly.
Nail biting can also affect your teeth, as human teeth aren’t designed for chewing on nails. It can lead to gingivitis and malocclusion of your teeth.
As you can see, nail biting is not a great habit to get into, yet many people find themselves unable to stop.
So, how can cannabis help?
Why Would Cannabis Help Your Nail Biting?
Cannabis is more than just a therapeutic, relaxing drug to ease your stress; it can also have innumerable benefits for your health, as well as improving your life. There are two significant ways that cannabis could help you with nail biting: By helping to treat anxiety, and by occupying your hands with someone else.
#1 – Anxiety
Everyone is familiar with anxiety as a broad concept; indeed, most people would say they have experienced anxiety at some point in their lives. Medical anxiety, however, is a bit different. This is the tendency to always veer towards the negative, to harbor unkind and dissociative thoughts, and to experience anxiety about your life.
It is severe enough to be classified as a medical condition, and there are a number of treatments available for it.
Nail biting is a prevalent symptom of anxiety, as it is a coping mechanism. When someone struggles with anxiety, it is common for them to do something that gives them comfort as a sort of automatic reaction, nail biting being one of them.
To help alleviate this, you could also be using cannabis to help treat your anxiety. Cannabis has long been used to treat mental disorders like anxiety, but recently more info has emerged about how it works.
The main component of cannabis that can help treat anxiety is the other primary cannabinoid, CBD. Studies, such as this famous one by Blessing et al., have found that CBD is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders.
It works with the endocannabinoid system in our bodies, triggering the release of beneficial neurochemicals in our brains. In this way, CBD can help retrain your mind to avoid feelings of anxiety, through careful manipulation of your mental state.
Additionally, the THC in cannabis helps soothe your worries and lends you a feeling of calm and peacefulness.
By using cannabis to treat your anxiety, you can hopefully avoid nail biting, saving your nails and your teeth from irreparable damage.
There is also another way that cannabis can help treat nail-biting, albeit indirectly, by forcing you to use your hands at something else.
#2 – Using Your Hands
The primary reason that people develop the habit of nail-biting is as a sort of emotional crutch to help them cope with stressful situations. After a while, this association, also known as a coupling, carries over into a person’s healthy life.
This is why people bite their nails, even when there is nothing stressing them out; it merely becomes a habit.
A frequently used method to treat nail biting is something called decoupling, whereby you retrain your brain to avoid nail biting and instead do something else. A common one is to use an elastic band and snap it against your wrist instead of biting your nails, but you can do other things as well.
Cannabis is a great way to keep your hands occupied, as it requires near-constant hand use. As long as you stick to regular smoking, you can keep your hands occupied near indefinitely by merely holding a cannabis joint.
This does mean that you can start to associate nervousness and stress with cannabis smoking, but that is less of a risk. Cannabis smoking is not inherently addictive, and it is challenging to use regularly throughout the day due to its powerful high.
By reaching for cannabis rather than biting your nails, you can train yourself to push your anxiety aside instead of damaging your nails.
This obviously works best when it is coupled with the previous benefit of treating anxiety, so it is likely better for you to stick to a CBD-rich strain. Since it is the CBD within cannabis that primarily helps with anxiety, you don’t want to stick to only potent, THC rich strains.
Final Thoughts on Cannabis for Nail Biting
Nail biting is one of those things that people assume they will always suffer from. No matter how much damage it does to your nails, teeth, or overall mental health, people assume that they can never escape it.
However, by retraining your brain through decoupling, and through general mental health improvement, you can overcome it.
While everyone likely bites their nails at some point in their lives, it isn’t healthy to do as an adult. Thankfully, cannabis could help at least a little in getting rid of your nail biting, by improving your life and your mental health.
Just make sure that you don’t overdo it – the critical thing is to try and make yourself better, not switch from one coping mechanism to another.