- Anecdotal evidence and early studies show that you might be able to use cannabis for anxiety.
- When trying cannabis for anxiety, experiment with CBD, THC, and strains with terpenes like myrcene and limonene.
can cannabis help relieve anxiety?
There’s no question that the past few years have upped our collective state of anxiety. Seems like there are more of those days when you’re feeling like Holly Golightly—except it’s on the morning after. Some people take anti-anxiety meds. Others turn to natural remedies, from meditation to cannabis. But should you be taking cannabis for anxiety? In the past, prohibition prevented scientists from researching cannabis as a viable treatment. But doctors are beginning to conduct clinical trials on cannabis for anxiety and other mental health issues. While the scientific jury is still out, there’s tons of anecdotal evidence that cannabis helps a lot of us cope. We speak from personal experience. Whether your anxiety is chronic or situational, here’s what we do know.
What is cannabis?
Most simply, cannabis is a plant. Many of us consume its flowers, leaves, and seed oil for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Cannabis includes over 120 different compounds and active ingredients. The two most abundant are CBD and THC.
CBD or THC for anxiety?
When it comes to anxiety, which cannabinoids might help you? The short answer is that both THC and CBD have helped us with our anxiety. But they can have very different effects. For the cannabis curious, THC is the chemical most responsible for cannabis’ psychotropic effect—the “high”. Unlike THC, on its own, CBD can relax you but is unlikely to make you feel high. So you have options. If you don’t want to be high, stick to CBD alone.
Using cannabis for anxiety
Everyone gets anxious from time to time—even people who aren’t diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. As we all know, getting stressed is totally normal. More and more of us incorporate cannabis into our wellness routines to help soothe these feelings. Although we need more clinical trials, there’s promising research about CBD for anxiety. A 2018 study looking at the effects of CBD on anxiety suggests that it might have benefits for those with anxiety-related disorders. CBD decreased anxiety symptoms in most of the participants in this small study with no adverse affects.
Find the combo that works best for you
While some of us solely use cannabis to manage our anxiety, that’s not for everyone. It’s all about finding the best mix for you. Many of us who’ve been diagnosed with serious anxiety disorders find that cobbling together a combo of Big Pharma meds with cannabis works best for us. Since the science about cannabis for anxiety is still in its infancy, you’ll likely have to experiment. But that’s no different from what most of us have done with Big Pharma meds. To find what works best for you, start with just CBD. Then, if that doesn’t do the trick, add in a little THC. The most effective strains that we’ve found for shutting off a spiral of anxious thoughts also tend to put us to sleep. But that’s ok. So maybe you pop a Wellbutrin in the morning and take cannabis for anxiety at night. There’s no wrong answer.
Want to use cannabis for anxiety but worried about feeling paranoid?
Some people experience paranoia when they consume cannabis. And there’s a scientific reason why. When you consume cannabis, the compounds of the plant bind to receptors in different parts of your brain. Depending on which receptors in your individual brain are most sensitive to it,THC can produce widely varying effects—from euphoria to paranoia. There are two ways to avoid feelings of paranoia. Either choose cannabis products that are low in THC. Or stick to CBD products, and steer clear of THC altogether. It just might take you a while to find the right cocktail of cannabinoids for you. Based on self-reporting, many of us have found ways to consume cannabis for anxiety without inducing paranoia.
Finding the right cannabis for you
Expect some trial and error. Anyone familiar with cannabis knows that there’s a lot to consider when picking out a product. Each strain is unique and will likely have different effects on you. But, once you find something you like, then you’ll be able to find related strains that can fine tune your experience to the effects you want. So, take some time to think about which effects you want to feel. Our advice is to take your time doing research. And, if you can, consult both your doctor and your budtender.
Here’s the quick low down on finding the right cannabis for you. Not all cannabis is the same. There’s different types that cause different effects. They’re mainly marketed as indicas, sativas, and hybrids. Most people think of indicas as relaxing, sedative strains for nighttime. Similarly, most people think of sativas as more stimulating, energy boosting effects. But, with more research, the indica/sativa divide is breaking down. Every strain also includes terpenes, and newer studies show that they’re likely to have a significant impact on how that particular strain of the plant effects you. That means that a sativa-dominant hybrid with lots of myrcene might be the ticket to reduce your anxiety. Whereas, a pinene-forward indica might put you on edge. The terpenes that show the most promise for easing anxiety are myrcene and limonene. So keep your eye out for those.
Best cannabis strains for anxiety we’ve found
There are countless strains out there that are perfect for both newbies and experienced smokers. But a strain that might make a world of difference for one person could be a no-go for someone else. Again, it depends a lot on your specific physiology. To get started, here are some strains that have helped us with our anxiety.
Mendo Breath—for when you want to knock out at night
You’ve had a stressful day and want some cannabis to combat your anxiety before bed. We like the indica-dominant, Mendo Breath. Its sweet, vanilla-and-caramel taste is derived from a combo of the terpenes, including camphene and caryophyllene. And it’s our go-to for a heavy, sleepy buzz. On those nights when you want to relax and unwind, try this strain.
Tangie—for when you want to stay active
For a mid-day anti-anxiety boost, give myrcene-rich Tangie a try. It kicks our anxiety to the curb and leaves us feeling happy and energized. This is a potent strain best suited for micro-dosing in your one hitter or, if you’re experienced, to large doses. Tangie is rich in sweet, citrusy aromas and flavors like tangerine. Some say it’s one of the best tasting cannabis strains out there.
Ways to consume
So, you’ve found the right strain or strains. Now what? This is your opportunity to experiment further. There are several ways to consume cannabis. You can smoke flower, give edibles and tinctures a whirl, or test out topical balms and salves. If you feel an anxiety attack coming on, your best bet is to seek immediate relief. Smoking will get the cannabinoids into your system the most quickly. But, if you’re treating anxiety-related insomnia, go for something longer lasting, like an edible. Those of us who deal with chronic conditions know that our best chance for relief includes pulling a variety of levers. So have some fun with it. There’s a whole world of cannabis and anxiety relief waiting for you.