Anxiety is among the top reasons medical cannabis consumers take interest in the herb.
Calming and euphoric, the plant can make it easy to leave stresses and worries behind and focus on the present.
Or it can help you troubleshoot the problems giving you anxiety in the first place.
In fact, a 2017 survey found that 13 percent of medical cannabis patients preferred the flower to benzodiazepine medications.
The survey included 271 participants, of which a whopping 63 percent reported that they chose the herb over pharmaceutical drugs in general.
However, the relationship between cannabis and anxiety is a complicated one.
Some types of cannabis may worsen or induce anxiety, while others have the opposite effect.
Research has also shown that some people may have a genetic predisposition that causes them to experience more anxiety with cannabis than others.
Further research still has found that low to moderate doses of cannabis may relieve stress, while higher doses tend to be more stress-inducing.
So, how do you find cannabis strains for anxiety?
To help you sort through the data and put science to use, here’s how to find the best strains for anxiety.
Cannabis strains for anxiety
Finding the right strains to fit your individual needs can take some trial and error.
Every person responds differently to the herb and what works for one person may feel disastrous for another.
Unfortunately, the lack of formal research on cannabis in human test subjects means that there is no sure-fire way to tell whether or not an individual strain will be helpful for anxiety.
However, based on the available clinical and preclinical research thus far, it is possible to make an educated guess as to which strains may be most beneficial.
For those searching for the right flower, here are the best cannabis strains for anxiety:
With an almost one-to-one ratio of THC to CBD, the Pennywise cannabis strain is a calming indica flower.
The high CBD content in this strain makes it ideal for consumers who would like to explore the benefits of cannabis without an over-the-top intoxicating experience.
Along with CBD, the Pennywise cannabis strain can contain relatively high levels of the terpene aroma molecule, linalool.
Linalool is a sweet and floral-scented flower most abundant in the lavender plant.
In both clinical and rodent trials, inhaled lavender oil which contained high percentages of linalool successfully reduced anxiety and aggressive behavior.
When combined with CBD, some experts speculate that the presence of linalool may increase the anti-anxiety and anticonvulsant effects of the herb.
With potentially high levels of linalool and other calming terpenes, Pennywise is an excellent candidate for an anxiety-reducing strain.
2. Stephen Hawking Kush
Another high-CBD cultivar, the Stephen Hawking Kush strain is considered a calming indica cross.
This strain frequently produces CBD:THC ratios of 1:1 or greater, providing consumers with a mellow and pleasant experience that doesn’t get out of hand.
Like Pennywise, Stephen Hawking Kush can produce a substantive amount of linalool.
However, this floral-scented strain also features strong notes of sharp limonene and musky myrcene.
These two terpenes together offer a calming, tranquil experience. When combined with CBD, these terpenes are thought to have more pronounced anxiolytic effects.
Unlike THC, CBD tends to have an energizing effect.
While this plant is classified as an indica, a CBD-dominant indica will not be as sedative as many indica strains high in THC.
Stephen Hawking Kush is safe to use during the day.
3. Skywalker OG
While high-THC strains can sometimes exaggerate anxiety, a large portion of consumers find that the psychoactive successfully decreases anxiety and promotes a sense of mindfulness and presence.
Not everyone with anxiety is prone to THC-induced anxiety.
However, your chances of experiencing THC-induced anxiety increase with larger doses of the cannabinoid.
Skywalker OG is an indica-dominant cannabis strain that can feature very high levels of THC.
As such, starting low and going slow with this plant is recommended.
Still, Skywalker OG has tested with high levels of anxiolytic terpenes like limonene, linalool, and bisabolol.
Limonene is an aroma molecule found in citrus fruits.
This terpene is energetic and clear-headed, yet it is also known for its calming nature.
Bisabolol is another floral terpene most abundant in the chamomile flower, thought to be at least in part responsible for the plant’s relaxing and stress-relieving properties.
4. Master Kush
Master Kush is another high-THC indica strain with the unique ability to produce an abundance of calming terpene aroma molecules.
This plant has tested positive for significant amounts of bisabolol, limonene, linalool, and another useful terpene called beta-caryophyllene.
Beta-caryophyllene is a terpene that acts similarly to CBD in the body, potentially making it a useful companion to psychoactive THC.
Often found in black pepper, preclinical research has found that this spicy terpene engages receptors in the body that are implicated in both anxiety and depression.
Naturally anxiolytic, this spicy terpene may provide an extra layer of relaxation to anxiety-prone individuals that respond well to THC.
Sometimes a strain with little to no THC may work best for those who suffer from chronic anxiety.
ACDC is an energizing, high-CBD cannabis strain with a focused vibe.
An excellent morning time flower, this plant is known to express uplifting beta-pinene.
Pinene is one of the most abundant terpenes in the plant kingdom, producing a sharp, pine-like scent and a clear-headed experience.
Yet, the ACDC strain has also tested positive for substantial levels of inspirational limonene and calming bisabolol.
Altogether, these compounds create a plant that provides mental stimulation and anxiety relief at the same time.
While anxiety is often treated with sedatives and tranquilizers, those who respond well to this strain may find that ACDC provides anxiety relief without drowsiness.
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Tips for choosing the best cannabis strains for anxiety
As already mentioned, cannabis can have both positive and negative effects when it comes to anxiety.
However, it is possible to find relief with this medicinal herb.
Here are some quick tips that will help you choose the best cannabis strains for anxiety:
1. Try strains with higher levels of CBD
Especially if you’re just starting out with cannabis therapies, THC can sometimes be aggravating for those with anxiety.
Plus, as THC wears off, some individuals may experience a rebound anxiety that becomes uncomfortable.
CBD is a natural anxiolytic, so opting for strains with 1:1 CBD:THC ratios and above may be beneficial to those with anxiety, regardless of their terpene content.
2. Read testing labels
While the cannabis strains included in this list have been found to test positive for calming, anxiolytic terpenes, every individual sample is different.
For example, some ACDC samples may test positive for high levels of tranquilizing myrcene while others may express more pinene.
Reading the individual test results for the strain you are consuming can help you figure out whether or not a plant actually contains the content that you are seeking.
3. Opt for strains that include specific terpenes
While many of the terpenes found in cannabis have calming properties, some may be more helpful than others.
If you are able to find testing results, here are some terpenes worth considering:
4. Dose carefully
To take from the great Paracelsus, “it’s only the dose that makes the poison.”
Those that either know or are concerned that they will experience greater anxiety with THC or CBD products should always start with the lowest dose possible.
Cannabis has biphasic effects, meaning that just the right amount of the herb may be extremely helpful to an individual.
However, when the dosage is too high, you are more likely to experience negative effects.
One of the most common negative side effects of cannabis is anxiety and paranoia.
Want to avoid feeling lousy with cannabis?
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Demystifying Strain Names & Why You Must Focus On Strain Profiles.