Around 40 million US adults have an anxiety disorder. But feelings of anxiety are also on the rise across the whole population. In a 2018 APA poll, 39 percent of Americans reported feeling more anxious than the year before.
Alongside the gradual legalization of weed in the US, this increase has fueled a growing interest in using marijuana for anxiety. Although the link between weed and anxiety isn't fully known, 47 percent of US adults believe that cannabis relieves anxiety.
But are they right - is marijuana good for anxiety? With limited but promising research findings, it looks like weed could offer help for many anxiety sufferers.
Read on to find out more about the link between weed and anxiety.
Not All Weed Is Created Equal
Before we delve further into using marijuana for anxiety, you need to recognize that not all marijuana is the same. First, cannabis contains two main active ingredients: THC and CBD.
Different Cannabis Compounds: THC and CBD
THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the mind-altering cannabis compound. This provides the 'head high' that many of you who enjoy hitting back with a Stoned Genie bong will be familiar with.
THC is still an illegal substance in most US states. But it can be used in treatment for a variety of illnesses, including cancer, chronic pain, and anxiety.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is the secondary cannabis compound, providing 'non-psychoactive' relief. While CBD doesn't intoxicate you like THC, it can help with everything from epilepsy to anxiety. And, unlike THC, CBD products are legal throughout the whole US.
Different Cannabis Strains: Sativa and Indica
It's also important to understand the different effects of Sativa, Indica, and hybrid strains of cannabis. One of our top weed starter tips is to select a strain that suits your personality and provides the effects you want.
Sativa strains have a higher THC to CBD ratio. Sativas often provide a euphoric head high, increased creativity, energy, and focus. In comparison, Indica strains have a higher CBD to THC ratio. Indicas encourage total mind and body relaxation and can induce sleep.
Hybrids fuse both Indica and Sativa strains to produce a more personalized effect. These are great for those who know how specific plants affect their body and mind.
Is Marijuana Good for Anxiety?
There's no doubt that many anxiety sufferers have found relief by using weed, including both CBD and THC. The top reported benefits include greater relaxation, tranquility, and improved sleep.
Research into CBD supports its use as a potential treatment for many anxiety disorders and symptoms. These include social anxiety, specific phobias, sleep disruptions, and PTSD trauma responses. There's also evidence that low doses of THC can help reduce stress.
But how does marijuana help with anxiety? While research is still very limited, it's thought that marijuana eases anxiety by helping the body produce serotonin. This plays a role in regulating emotions, so an increase in serotonin can help boost your mood.
A 2019 animal study found support for this theory. CBD enhanced a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A in rats and reduced their 'anxiety-like behavior,'
But some of the most compelling evidence comes from this review analysis of 49 existing studies. Researchers concluded that CBD could be an excellent way to manage anxiety and panic disorders.
While preliminary findings are promising, doctors urge that marijuana is not a full cure for anxiety.
It's true that it can help patients reduce and manage symptoms to enjoy a better quality of life. But internal work (e.g. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and lifestyle changes are also necessary. These help patients manage stressors and triggers, and without them, the resulting anxiety often stays the same.
Anxiety sufferers should view and use marijuana as a support, which, like any medicine has its limitations as a mental health aid. Often, it's a combination of treatments that has the best effect. And there's enough research and anecdotal evidence to suggest that weed is a valid and effective part of that combination.
Choosing Marijuana for Anxiety
When self-medicating with marijuana for anxiety, choosing the right strain is imperative. Choose the right strain and you may be able to relax enough to complete anxiety-inducing tasks or reduce unwanted behaviors. But choose the wrong strain and you may end up more anxious than before.
Keep these considerations in mind to ensure you get the right cannabis product for your needs:
First, you need to know what you're trying to achieve by using marijuana for anxiety.
Most anxiety sufferers will need a cannabis product that encourages relaxation. But some symptoms and specific forms of anxiety might require a different approach. For example, if you're trying to overcome a phobia of speaking in public, a THC-based strain such as White Widow would ensure you can still deliver a compelling speech.
Discuss your personal objectives with a cannabis dispensary assistant to help you get the right strain for your aim.
If you're new to cannabis, start with a less potent strain. The hybrid strain Pineapple Express is a good 'entry-level' option for first-time users thanks to its mild and tolerable effects. Once you have an idea of how a certain strain makes you feel you can start to experiment with different strains and blends to achieve a better result.
If you're taking medications for anxiety or for any other existing medical condition, talk to your doctor before combining these with cannabis. Although weed is natural, it can interact with other medical conditions and medications and may not be suitable for everywhere.
As well as many different methods for smoking weed, you can also consume cannabis via chewables and gummies. Smoking and vaping tend to provide faster and more potent effects than edibles. But not everyone likes the sensation of smoking so marijuana-based foods might be better for some.
Take all these considerations into account and it'll be a lot easier to find the right weed to manage your specific anxiety symptoms.
Weed and Anxiety: How Marijuana Can Help
The relationship between weed and anxiety might still not completely understood. But ongoing research is beginning to paint a very promising picture.
For those suffering from anxiety, having access to cannabis offers new hope for enjoying a better quality of life. And, when combined with other tools, such as therapy, anxiety marijuana could be viable for many people.
For more information, feel free to contact us today!