As more states legalize Cannabis, both for medicinal and recreational use, more and more people are turning to it in hopes of managing anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which I have. Although scientific research in this area is still sparse, there are anecdotal and new scientific reports of Cannabis creating a calming experience that temporarily relieves symptoms of anxiety for many people.
A new study out of Vanderbilt University found that cannabinoid receptors are present in the part of the brain associated with emotion in mice. These receptors, present in the area of the brain that dictates the fight or flight response, are closely linked to anxiety. It’s believed that these receptors are also present in the amygdala of humans, which could explain why medical marijuana is effective at helping people with anxiety.
While the option may sound appealing, especially if you’ve struggled to successfully manage anxious feelings, there are considerations worth weighing, as with any treatment option you are considering. In particular, it is generally accepted that Cannabis doesn’t seem to be a helpful long-term solution, in my opinion, I couldn’t disagree more. With opioid medications becoming less dependable as we progress, our minds and options should and need to be open.
Anytime you take it upon yourself to use a substance to treat or cope with a medical problem or symptom, it is referred to as self-medicating. Often, self-medicating produces an immediate relief of the uncomfortable symptoms, thereby reinforcing its use. The logic is simple: “Substance X makes me feel better when I’m anxious, so I will use it again as long as the risks and consequences are not too great.”
The problem with self-medication is that even though the use of Cannabis is becoming more acceptable, not enough is known about the efficacy of the drug for particular medical conditions as well as its long-term consequences. My argument for this is, without using it, without studying the effects, how are we to know? There are pharmaceuticals on the market as we speak that their mode of action and even efficacy is very poorly understood, especially in the arena of mental health. So, why not look into several options without writing it off right away.
Fortunately, the scientific community has recently started examining the effect of cannabis on anxiety, and the verdict is that short-term benefits do exist. Scientists at Washington State University published a study in the Journal of Affective Disorders that found that smoking cannabis can significantly reduce self-reported levels of depression, anxiety, and stress in the short term. However, repeated use doesn’t seem to lead to any long-term reduction of symptoms and in some individuals may increase depression over time. My solution to this comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine, as a medical system that has incorporated Cannabis in a number of ways into its treatment plans, it is generally accepted that Cannabis was never meant to be used by itself. Overuse or over dependency without proper instuction or supervision, whether by yourself or under a health care professional can result in a slew of unwanted side affects. Those who understand healthy Cannabis use, like myself, understand you need to nourish all parts of your body, and the path to health is not just a one stop shop kind of deal. It takes patience, understanding and failures.
Below you can find the best strains for anxiety, based on their high CBD and low THC content. Since anxiety can be triggered by Cannabis use, I suggest experimenting with strains high in CBD :
Harlequin is a 75% sativa-dominant hybrid that’s known for its higher CBD to THC levels. With a 5:2 ratio of CBD to THC, it typically has about 8–16% CBD with 4–7% THC. Harlequin is known to produce a clear head and people report feeling more alert following consumption. The strain is effective at reducing anxiety because high levels of CBD provide relaxation without sedation, in other words, you won’t get high! Harlequin is a good choice for people with anxiety due to its low THC content.
Harle-Tsu is known for its extremely high levels of CBD, which is often found at rates 20 times higher than that of THC. As such, the strain has strong anxiety-relieving properties. Harle-Tsu is known for producing relaxed and focused feelings, and it’s also effective at decreasing stress levels. People often report that they feel uplifted and happy after smoking this marijuana strain.
ACDC is one of the highest CBD strains around. ACDC has a 20:1 CBD to THC ratio, with CBD levels as high as 19%. This sativa-dominant cannabis strain is extremely effective at reducing anxiety, with little to no pyschoactivity due to its high ratio of CBD to THC. People report feeling relaxed and happy when they consume the ACDC strain. According to some reports, one possible drawback is the potential for dry mouth, just keep some water or candy handy.
4. CBD Shark
CBD Shark is an 80% indica-dominant strain that has an equal ratio of CBD to THC. This strain is very helpful at reducing anxiety without any overly intoxicating effects. A well-balanced strain, CBD Shark is known to produce clear-minded, happy and relaxing effects. This strain could be a good choice for evening use or if people have anxiety as well as pain, because it has enough THC to produce pain-relieving and sleep-inducing effects with borderline psychoactivity.
Canna-Tsu is a hybrid strain that’s a mix of Cannatonic and Sour Tsunami. Canna-Tsu is known for its higher levels of CBD. That said, it has a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC, which may result in some psychoactivity. Known to produce calming effects and mental clarity, Canna-Tsu is effective at reducing anxiety. And it provides anti-inflammatory benefits, too.
Haoma is a 70% indica strain that has calming and stress-relieving effects. It’s typically found at around a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC—meaning some may experience a psychoactive effect, if you are prone to anxiety attacks, I would not recommend this strain. Haoma helps to reduce anxiety because of its higher levels of CBD. Since there are a few different varieties of Haoma, each type varies slightly in the amount of CBD it contains. Because Haoma is an indica, it’s a great choice for people with anxiety who also need a strain that will help them fall asleep. As someone who experiences racing thoughts, this strain has really helped me sleep better. My advice, keep some black pepper or CBD handy, if you feel yourself getting to an uncomfortable point, take a hot shower, consume or smoke some pure CBD and do something to preoccupy your mind.
Cannatonic is known for its low THC content—often below 6%—and high CBD content, which can run as high as 17%, though it can sometimes be higher. The high-CBD strain is known for its relaxing and uplifting qualities with little to no psychoactive effects, depending on how much is consumed. Cannatonic holds acclaim as one of the top medical marijuana strains for reducing anxiety as well inflammation.
Trident is a high-CBD strain that helps people stay mentally focused. It usually has CBD levels hovering around 12% and THC levels under 6%. Known for its relaxing and focusing effects, Trident is very effective at helping people control their anxiety and stress. Folks may experience mild psychoactivity when consuming Trident, but people typically report feeling a more cerebral effect with this marijuana strain.
9. Sour Tsunami
Sour Tsunami is a cannabis strain that’s specifically bred for its high CBD content and as a result is highly sought after for its medicinal properties. This sativa-dominant hybrid has about 10–11% CBD and a THC content typically under 10%. This strain can help relieve anxiety, and it may also help ease painful conditions, because of its moderate levels of THC. Sour Tsunami is also known to combat inflammation. People often report feeling clear-headed after ingesting this popular medicinal strain.
10. Valentine X
Valentine X is a 50/50 hybrid strain with a 25:1 ratio of CBD to THC. A variant of ACDC, this marijuana strain is known to induce feelings of deep relaxation—a plus for those suffering from anxiety. Named after St. Valentine—the patron saint of lovers and folks with epilepsy, Valentine X can also help ease seizures, fatigue and inflammation.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you use Cannabis to manage your anxiety? Know anyone who does? Share your thoughts below!
Until Next Time,