The relationship between cannabis and anxiety disorders exists but is still largely misunderstood. Because of the unique nature of how anxiety presents itself in each patient, there is no definitive cure with conventional drugs. With cannabis being equally variable from strain to strain, the relationship between how the plant may affect anxiety becomes more complex.
Evidence suggests that cannabis has powerful anxiolytic properties, and when administered as needed, can provide relief from several anxiety disorders, from generalized and social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder to panic disorder and even depression.
Just One Puff is Enough
One thing that often holds people back from treating anxiety with cannabis is the persistent myth that anxiety was made worse through the manifestation of paranoia. In truth, while some cannabis users feel a sense of heightened fear and worsened anxiety from the plant; it is a side effect can be controlled with smaller doses as well as a cannabinoid profile that does not produce anxiety-inducing effects. Paranoia is most likely to occur with strains that have higher levels of THC.
A 2018 study by Washington State University researchers found that a single puff of a cannabis strain high in cannabidiol (CBD) and low in THC was enough to reduce depressive symptoms. After 10 puffs, many participants reported feeling less stress and anxiety.
Our body manufactures its own cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids. However, in the fast-paced lives we find ourselves living we are susceptible to shortages of them. Excess trauma to the ECS (endocannabinoid system) can create unrest and cause a lack of balance. Experts believe that cannabis may help balance the ECS which would, in turn, quell anxiety but data is sparse regarding the mot therapeutic dosages to take care of anxiety and depression.
Strains for Anxiety
Smokers have a few tools at their disposal when choosing a strain, but beyond the recommendations of a budtender, the internet or friends, the patient needs to use a bit of trial and error to find the perfect balance of cannabinoids and terpenes. Because of the unique qualities of both weed and anxiety, no strain will work exactly the same for two different people.
The one take-home point that most experts can agree on is that someone looking for the anxiolytic effects of marijuana should not choose a strain high in THC, as most studies point to CBD as the cannabinoid responsible for reducing anxiety.
The Washington State study started a cannabis journaling app called Strainprint, which allows patients to track almost any diagnosable condition and what they are using to treat it.
The app has given many insights regarding cannabis use. A new report shows that anxiety is now one of the top symptoms along with pain and arthritis, attracting cannabis use amongst citizens 50 and over. That, along with the thousands of studies being conducted on cannabis, means that more definitive answers for how it may help manage anxiety and depression are on the way.
When consuming cannabis, especially for medicinal purposes or if you’re new to cannabis, remember the golden rule – Start Low and Go Slow.