There’s quite a bit of confusion out there when it comes to cannabis and anxiety. Scientific studies have been published on the way cannabis affects our natural brain chemistry and mental health, and anxiety is one of the most regularly documented adverse effects of using marijuana.
On the other hand, there is a huge population of people who believe that weed helps them treat their clinical anxiety. In fact, psychologist researcher Carrie Cutler recently found that anxiety was the number two reason medical marijuana cardholders report using cannabis in the first place.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US affecting a whopping 40 million adults. Odds are you or someone you know suffers heavy from anxiety. Here’s everything we know about using cannabis to battle anxiety:
Current research on weed and anxiety
Unfortunately, like many claims about the health benefits of using cannabis, the scientific community believes that it’s too soon to offer any concrete evidence. Cutler said in an interview that “There is little research evidence on the effects of cannabis in treating anxiety or on the doses and strains that may be most beneficial.”
For example, experienced smokers claim that you feel anxiety when you smoke because you’re inexperienced which causes stress. Others say you feel the anxiety because the cannabis itself wasn’t flushed properly or may have some type of issue like mold or pesticides which are known to cause anxiety along with a plethora of other problems.
On the other hand, many believe that sometimes our bodies go through cannabinoid shortages in periods of stress and weed helps to simply even that out by supplementing your Endocannabinoid system with external cannabinoids. Being high usually brings relaxation and cuts the symptoms of stress and anxiety into something more manageable, which makes it seem like weed can stop anxiety in its tracks.
Essentially, Cannabis can affect everyone differently because we all have different bodies, different levels of homeostasis and different endocannabinoid systems. There are several lines of promising future research getting ready to take place that will help the common cannabis consumer determine clear and effective marijuana-based anxiety treatments.
Does the type of anxiety you have matter?
Cannabis contains over 100 known cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that people react differently to due to genetics. Different forms of anxiety affect different parts of your brain and its chemistry, which can lead to all sorts of different effects from weed.
There are several different types of anxiety, including chronic vs acute, traumatic anxiety, anxieties with different neurochemical roots that cause your brain’s panic sensors to light up. It’s important to keep in mind that cannabis may only affect certain aspects of a general anxiety condition and may also mask symptoms of anxiety while making the underlying cause worse.
THC vs CBD
Both cannabinoids interact with the systems of our brains that influence feelings of anxiety. At low doses, THC can work with these systems to reduce anxiety by stimulating our brains to produce calming chemicals. At higher doses, THC has the opposite effect and can actually trigger anxious feelings thanks to the powerful high brought on by THC.
On the other hand is CBD, which is non-psychoactive and won’t cause the head high. It is typically more reliable when it comes to promoting anti-anxiety effects. Carl Stevenson, a neuroscientist who has researched the effects of cannabinoids on anxiety said, “a higher ratio of THC to CBD is more likely to cause anxiety while a lower ratio may have the opposite effect—relieving anxiety.”
With science leaning more towards CBD as the better anxiety management cannabinoid, it’s becoming clearer that the strains high in CBD are better for managing anxiety. If you’re here to explore cannabis as a potential anxiety treatment, researchers recommend using high-CBD or CBD-only strains, or products with a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio.
If you came to this page, odds are you’re trying to gauge whether or not cannabis will help you with your anxiety. The fact is that what we know is mostly speculation. We don’t often hear about the limitations of cannabis because there are so many anecdotal reports of success and personal experiences to cloud out those who don’t see any results. If you try cannabis for anxiety and it doesn’t work, don’t stress since you’re not alone.