It’s no secret that most people smoke weed to unwind. After all, why would our ancestors have bothered cultivating marijuana if it didn’t make them feel good? Sure, these buds look great, but pot isn’t exactly a “house plant!”
Since marijuana has such a strong association with stress relief, it’s only natural that more anxiety sufferers want to “chill out” with cannabis nugs. Indeed, as medical marijuana becomes mainstream, it’s getting easier for mental health patients to apply for MMJ cards.
While marijuana may seem like an all-natural anti-anxiety aid, there are cases where THC could make a patient’s symptoms worse. In fact, some evidence suggests high doses of THC could provoke panic attacks. Before anyone tries THC for their anxiety, they should understand the potential risks of this cannabinoid. As a safer alternative, patients should also research microdosing with low THC hemp strains.
So, Is THC Bad For Stress? — What We Know About THC And Anxiety
First, some good news: THC may reduce stress in the short term. In fact, a recent survey out of Washington State University found that patients who took high-THC strains reported an immediate reduction in anxiety symptoms. Interestingly, these positive results were particularly pronounced in women. Unfortunately, the results from this survey weren’t all rosy for THC fans. In fact, researchers found that self-reported scores for depression increased the more a person took THC. There’s also some evidence that suggests long-term use of THC could adversely affect memory.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, there are many cases where too much THC could make patients extra stressed out. Frequently, patients already prone to anxiety notice an uptick in symptoms like heart palpitations and paranoia when they take high-THC strains. Excess THC could also trigger nasty side effects like uncontrollable vomiting and visual delusions.
While high doses of THC may not be ideal for stress management, there is solid evidence that microdosing THC could be beneficial. For example, in a recent University of Illinois study, participants were given a placebo, 7.5 mg THC, or 12.5 mg THC before completing stressful tasks. Scientists kept a careful eye on stress signals (e.g., blood pressure and cortisol levels) throughout these trials.
Interestingly, patients who took the ultra-low doses of THC performed the best. These findings suggest taking THC below the “buzzed” threshold is ideal for long-term anxiety relief.
What About Using CBD For Anxiety?
Unlike THC, scientists feel more confident about CBD’s effect on stress. In fact, we now have brain scans of social anxiety patients who were given CBD or a placebo. According to this Brazilian study, patients who took CBD had significantly less activity in the limbic system, which is associated with strong emotions like anxiety.
These findings were confirmed by research out of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte. According to neuroscientists, CBD seems to affect brain regions like the amygdala and hippocampus, which play a significant role in panic disorders.
All of this neuroimaging work shows that CBD positively affects stress without psychoactive side effects. In fact, since CBD blocks THC from landing on the brain’s CB1 receptors, it should help reduce the risk for an adverse reaction.
While research into CBD is ongoing, all of these studies suggest high CBD strains are the optimal choice for long-term anxiety management.
Could Terpenes Influence Weed’s Anti-Anxiety Properties?
Although cannabinoids are unique to the cannabis plant, please don’t discount the importance of other compounds like terpenes. Besides influencing a strain’s smell, terpenes may have a pronounced effect on a smoker’s experience.
Arguably, beta-caryophyllene is the most significant cannabinoid for anxiety patients. Commonly found in black pepper, this hot terpene shows phenomenal potential for stress reduction. In fact, a recent rat trial out of Dubai found that beta-caryophyllene directly influenced the brain’s CB2 receptors. In addition, scientists noted that beta-caryophyllene seemed to decrease symptoms of psychological distress in mice.
While beta-caryophyllene has the most science backing it up, plenty of other terpenes are known for their anti-anxiety effects. Anecdotally, people who take strains with linalool, myrcene, and eugenol often report deep relaxation after their smoke session. For more detailed info on how different terpenes affect users, be sure to check out this previous Cannaflower post.
Sativa vs. Indica — Does Strain Type Make A Difference For Stress?
Another feature anxiety patients should examine is whether their strain is indica or sativa dominant. Traditionally, indica strains are associated with deep, full-body relaxation, making them better choices for stress relief. Conversely, since sativas are linked with energizing effects, they have a higher risk of triggering undesirable effects like lightheadedness and a rapid heart rate.
However, this doesn’t mean all sativas are bad for anxiety patients, especially if you’re using a low THC strain. As long as there’s more CBD vs. THC, there shouldn’t be as significant of a difference between sativa and indica strains. Just be aware that these cultivars can have unique effects on users. If you’d like to learn more about the intricacies of indicas vs sativas, be sure to read our previous guide on choosing indicas.
How Do You Microdose THC For Anxiety?
The key to successfully microdosing THC is to ensure it has a “sub-perceptible” effect. This means you shouldn’t feel “high” or even “buzzed” after a microdosing session. If microdosing gets in the way of your daily tasks, then you’re taking too much THC.
As hinted above, the easiest way to safely microdose THC is to use low THC products like Cannaflower’s hemp buds. The less THC there is, the lower chance you’ll go over your microdosing limit.
But it’s not enough to take ultra low doses of THC for anxiety. Remember: CBD and hemp terpenes have natural anti-anxiety properties. So if you’re only focusing on THC, you’re missing out on all of the benefits these compounds have to offer. Plus, since CBD helps tame THC’s psychoactivity, it’s less likely you’ll feel its adverse effects when smoking high CBD strains.
If you’re not interested in smoking low THC hemp flowers, then you must look for CBD goods labeled “full-spectrum.” Unlike broad-spectrum or isolate products, full-spectrum CBD should contain ≤ 0.3 percent THC. This tiny trace of THC should be enough to have an impact without adversely affecting your productivity.
Kick Anxiety To The Curb With Cannaflower’s Powerful Hemp Buds
THC can be quite the trickster when it comes to anxiety. While many people feel chill after taking some THC, there is a dark side to this cannabinoid. Indeed, some users may experience an uptick in panic after taking too much THC.
There is, however, plenty of evidence that suggests microdosing THC may be beneficial for anxiety patients. THC also seems to have a higher therapeutic potential when paired with CBD and complementary terpenes. Arguably, the most effective way to microdose THC for anxiety is to try well-cured hemp buds like those on Cannaflower’s website. All of our artisan-grande buds come with third-party lab results that guarantee there’s no more than ≤ 0.3 percent THC. Whether you enjoy vaping or smoking these terpene-rich buds, they should help transform your tension into tranquility.
Discover your favorite new Cannaflower strain. This Taster’s Menu is a great way to sample some of our most popular flower!