Anxiety, like marijuana, comes with a stigma, but with the increasing impact of anxiety disorders on family life and the economy, it’s no wonder everyone seems to be looking for a salve.
The relationship between cannabis and anxiety disorders exists, but seems to continue to be wholly misunderstood. Anxiety presents differently in every patient, and there is no definitive cure with conventional drugs, so just imagine something as variant as the cannabis plant.
Evidence suggests that cannabis has powerful anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties, and when administered as-needed, helps provide relief from several anxiety disorders, including generalized and social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder, as well as depression. It might even help with a fear of public speaking.
Just one puff could be enough for anxiety
One thing holding people back from using cannabis to treat anxiety has been the belief that it made the condition worse through the manifestation of paranoia. Some cannabis users feel a sense of heightened fear and worsened anxiety from marijuana, but it is a side-effect that can likely be controlled with smaller doses and a cannabinoid profile that does not produce the effect. The thought is that that paranoia is a reaction to strains with higher THC content.
A 2018 study conducted by Washington State University researchers, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, assessed how varying levels of cannabinoids (chemicals found in cannabis) affected people’s moods and feelings of well-being. The team found that a single puff of cannabis high in cannabidiol (CBD) and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was enough to reduce depression symptoms. After two puffs, patients felt less anxious, and after 10, they were less stressed, researchers cited results as showing.
Excessive exposure to trauma is thought to contribute to a disordered endocannabinoid system. / Photo: adamichi / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Photo: adamichi / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Although the body manufactures its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, excessive exposure to trauma is thought to contribute to a disordered endocannabinoid system (ECS). Some experts believe cannabis can help replenish and condition the ECS, resulting in a balancing effect that quells anxiety, physically, psychologically and emotionally. What is still lacking is data on the most therapeutic dosages and strains for anxiety.
While this study suggests that one puff of cannabis can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety, experts insist that prolonged use over time had the opposite effect.
Strains of cannabis for anxiety
Cannabis consumers have a few tools at their disposal when choosing a strain, but, ultimately, beyond the recommendations of a budtender, the patient must find their own perfect balance of cannabinoids and terpenes. No varietal works quite the same for two people.
What makes a person with anxiety a unique cannabis consumer is that he or she is probably not looking for something high in THC because just most current studies point to CBD as the critical ingredient for calming anxiety. The interest in CBD’s anxiolytic effects means there are more high-CBD marijuana strains and products out there than ever.
Using the app, patients can track just about any diagnoeable condition. / Photo: KatarzynaBialasiewicz / iStock / Getty Images Plus Getty Images/iStock Photo
The Washington State study is one of the first to provide guidance on various strains and dosages for helping to reduce stress, anxiety and depression To track their data, the researchers used a new app called Strainprint that helps medical marijuana users record how different doses affects their wellbeing.
The free cannabis journalling app is used among patients who want to track just about any diagnosable condition and the medical marijuana they are using.
A new report from Strainprint tells us that anxiety is now one of the top symptoms, along with pain and arthritis, attracting cannabis use among citizens 50 and over. Complemented by the many studies being conducted on cannabis and the flow of legalization, that means more definitive answers on cannabis for anxiety are likely on the way.