Cannabis has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for anxiety. With the legalization of cannabis in many states, more people are turning to cannabis for anxiety as a way to manage their anxiety symptoms. While the research on cannabis and anxiety is still in its early stages, many patients report significant improvements in their anxiety levels after using cannabis. In this article, we’ll explore how cannabis helps with anxiety and what the research says.
How Does Cannabis Help With Anxiety?
Cannabis contains compounds called cannabinoids, which interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex network of receptors and chemicals that helps regulate many physiological processes, including anxiety. The two primary cannabinoids found in cannabis are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, and it is responsible for the “high” that users experience. THC can help with anxiety by producing a sense of relaxation and euphoria. One note of caution: as each body reacts differently to THC, it is best to “microdose” (take ¼-1/2 of the recommended dose for any product) when first starting to consume cannabis for anxiety. Higher doses of THC may increase anxiety in certain individuals.
CBD, on the other hand, is a non-psychoactive compound that does not produce a high. CBD can help with anxiety by reducing the activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain that is responsible for processing fear and anxiety. CBD can also improve mood and reduce stress, which are common causes of anxiety.
Together, THC and CBD work synergistically to produce a wide range of therapeutic effects, including anxiety relief.
What Does The Research Say About Cannabis for Anxiety?
While the research on cannabis and anxiety is still in its early stages, there is a growing body of scientific evidence to support the use of cannabis as an anxiety treatment. Studies have shown that cannabis can be effective for reducing anxiety symptoms in a variety of conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2010 found that CBD can reduce symptoms of social anxiety in patients with social anxiety disorder. The study found that CBD reduced anxiety levels, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in speech performance, and also reduced the amount of anxiety experienced in anticipation of the speech.
Another study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2019, found that cannabis use was associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression in patients with bipolar disorder. The study also found that cannabis use was well-tolerated and did not cause significant side effects.
Research has also shown that cannabis can be effective for reducing anxiety symptoms in patients with PTSD. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in 2019 found that cannabis use was associated with significant reductions in PTSD symptoms, including anxiety, hyperarousal, and avoidance.
How Is Cannabis Used For Anxiety?
Cannabis can be consumed in a variety of forms, including smoking, vaping, edibles, tinctures, and topicals. Each method of consumption has its own advantages and disadvantages, and patients should work with their healthcare providers to determine the best method for their individual needs.
Smoking and vaping are the most common methods of consuming cannabis for anxiety. These methods allow for rapid onset of effects and precise dosing. However, smoking and vaping can irritate the lungs and may not be appropriate for patients with respiratory conditions.
Edibles and tinctures are another popular way to consume cannabis for anxiety. These products are ingested orally and can provide longer-lasting effects than smoking or vaping. However, it can be difficult to accurately dose edibles, and the effects can take longer to onset.
What Cannabis Might Be Beneficial?
Cannabis research is in its early years of shedding light on scientific studies that are still too recent to be conclusive. Most cannabis therapeutic benefits are reported directly from patients who have consumed cannabis in various forms. As each patient’s body reacts differently to cannabis, most consumption may be trial-and-error starting with low doses to gauge its effectiveness and to identify any adverse reaction.
As stated previously, THC and CBD work synergistically to produce a wide range of therapeutic effects, including anxiety relief. Therefore, a 1:1 ratio of both might be the most beneficial for personal consumption.
Many patients have found success with short-term effect tincture products (lasting 1-3 hours with faster onset) such as Care By Design’s 1:1 Tincture or Mary’s Medicinals “The Remedy” Tincture (THC/CBD). First-timers might want to try Papa & Barkley’s CBD 30:1 Tincture which contains only a very low dose of THC (just enough to activate the beneficial CBD compound).
For anxiety patients who feel they need longer lasting relief, flavorful gummies can offer calming effects from 4-6 hours – especially beneficial when relaxing in the evening and before bedtime. A beginner’s favorite is Wyld Strawberry Fruit Chews CBD 20:1. For a more standard 3:1 CBD/THC option, try Camino Sparkling Pear 3:1 CBD Gummies.
Watch this short video for a quick insight on the potential benefits of cannabis use to help ease the negative effects of anxiety