In the world of cannabis, there are two truths. For some people, cannabis creates anxiety. And for others, cannabis is an effective way to manage anxiety. In fact, according to Anxiety.org, anxiety management is the second most popular reason for medical cannabis use. Research is still limited, but here’s what we know about treating anxiety with cannabis.
As with all things cannabis, research on the effects it has on anxiety is minimal. Anecdotal evidence is everywhere, which is why you’ll find recommendations from publications like Leafly about the best strains for anxiety. But at this point, evidence-based research is limited to primarily animal-based studies, with conflicting results that only serves to further muddy the waters. That’s not to say that individuals aren’t finding anxiety relief with cannabis, only that there is no recommended strain or dosing that has been clinically proven at this time. Still, many researchers are optimistic about science nailing down exactly that at some point in the future.
To date, research findings include:
- Confirming that CBD is linked to anxiety reduction, while THC is associated with promoting anxiety
- Those suffering with PTSD or chronic pain show a reduction in anxiety symptoms when using cannabi
- Chronic recreational users may be at risk of increased anxiety during withdrawal period
Research limitations, including small sample sizes and short testing periods, mean no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cannabis and anxiety. Currently, there are several clinical trials investigating how cannabis use affects anxiety.
So What Do We Know?
The research to date aligns with conventional wisdom. It’s understood that both THC and CBD work with the brain in ways that impact anxiety. It’s also understood that CBD, the non-intoxicating cannabinoid, tends to offer a more consistent modulating effect on symptoms of anxiety. The exact science still eludes us, but opting for a high-CBD strain seems to be the best option.
For now, treating anxiety with cannabis is very much a trial-and-error process. Much of the information that can be found in support comes from anecdotal evidence or personal experience. If you’re interested in exploring cannabis for anxiety management, look for a high CBD or CBD only product. Ask a budtender for a recommendation, and be ready to discuss your desired effects, preferred consumption method, and level of experience. The more your budtender knows, the better equipped he or she will be to guide you. Start slowly with a low dose, and try to be methodical in gauging efficacy.