Cannabis is often used as an effective antidote to anxiety, but the extent to which it works depends largely on how you use it. Since weed can either ease anxiety, or cause it, you need to be sure you’re utilizing the right strain and not consuming too much.
Anxiety manifests in various ways. Whether you can’t sleep, can’t eat, or can’t stop biting your nails, these and other symptoms of anxiety are all often treatable with cannabis. According to a 2014 study at Vanderbilt University, researchers found that in mice, cannabis increases the production rate of endocannabinoids in the amygdala, a part of the brain responsible for processing memory, decision making, and emotional reactions. This often leads to a reduction in chronic stress or anxiety. Another study from 2016 conducted in Canada found that cannabis helped 40 percent of subjects get off anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals.
So if you’re looking to replace your meds with something more herbal, or merely need a way to unwind after work, here are some tips to help you relieve anxiety with weed.
Pick out the right strain
This first step is the most important. The effects of cannabis can be massively diverse from one another, depending on the variety you consume. An indica is more likely to give you a sedative body high, while a sativa carries a greater risk of inducing paranoia. That said, there are a number of sativas and hybrids that will also ease your anxiety and help you think differently about your mental state. According to weed encyclopedia Leafly (which you should consult when you’re at the dispensary), some of the best strains for anxiety include Granddaddy Purple (indica), Jack Herer (sativa), and Cannatonic (hybrid).
Don’t skimp out on CBD
CBD, a prominent non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, is known to have anxiolytic effects. You can take regular doses of CBD every day, as you would a vitamin, for anxiety relief over time, or a higher dose of CBD all at once if you’re freaking out, especially from too much THC. You may also want to veer toward a strain of cannabis high in CBD, such as AC/DC or Harlequin.
Consider your mode of consumption
If you’re trying to ease anxiety, you may want to start with smoking flower or vaporizing cannabis oil. Both allow you to self-regulate one hit at a time so you can track how you’re feeling per puff. Edibles may be more variable, so only use them if you’re already familiar with how your body will react. When you digest THC, your liver turns it into 11-Hydroxy-THC, an active metabolite that’s a little more psychedelic and which lasts longer than smoked or vaporized THC. Edibles will also give you less control over your high, and if you eat too much, there’s no going back.
Remember that weed has a biphasic effect
This means that lower doses of cannabis may have the opposite effect as higher doses. Smoking half a joint may get you calm and relaxed, but finishing the entire joint (i.e. too much) could make you anxious, socially awkward, or paranoid. Start low and go slow, as experts say. Better to feel a minimal high than to get too high and freak out.
Curate your surroundings
Make sure you’re surrounded by people with whom you’re comfortable, that the music (if there is any) is to your liking, and that overall you’re in a relaxing environment. If you’re at a party or somewhere social, be sure to have someone nearby who you can trust, or if you’re alone, be sure to have an escape plan if you’re not digging the scene. Better yet, though, unwind at home with a joint, healthy munchies, a bubble bath, your favorite movie, or your favorite book. Bud, books, and bubbles are a recipe for ultimate relaxation.