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6 Best Marijuana Strains for Anxiety

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Living with anxiety disorders can be challenging and disheartening, turning even the most mundane tasks or situations into overwhelming experiences. Many people with anxiety use cannabis to cope with their symptoms, with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) proving to relieve anxiety in several research studies.

For those curious about how medical marijuana may help you manage your generalized anxiety disorder, some of our picks for the best strains for anxiety include:

  • Harlequin

  • Pineapple Express

  • Burnt Toast #4

  • Orange 43

  • Blue Dream

  • Northern Lights

  • Ice Cream Cake

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How Cannabis Affects Anxiety

While medical marijuana generally lacks peer-reviewed research studies, much existing research supports cannabis as an effective, long-term solution for those with anxiety.

Cannabis interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which maintains homeostasis in several processes, including memory, appetite, metabolism, immune response, and stress. Because the ECS plays a significant role in managing stress and anxiety, cannabis fits like a hand in a glove to provide relief.

Recent studies show that cannabis interacts with the body similarly to existing, FDA-approved anxiety medications. Many anti-anxiety medicines deal with GABA activity, one of several neurotransmitters responsible for balancing stress levels. Research shows that cannabis – and CBD in particular – can change the activity of GABA in the body. This means that cannabis can manage stress levels via the exact mechanisms as prescription anti-anxiety treatments.

Cannabis can have a calming effect because it impacts cortisol levels in the body, another hormone that directly correlates with higher or lower stress levels. A study found that patients with anxiety experienced noticeable drops in cortisol when given marijuana, indicating that they entered a more relaxed, stress-free state.

Medical marijuana also can address insomnia, which is a common symptom of those with generalized anxiety disorder. Many strains – particularly those with high levels of CBD – anecdotally improve sleep, and studies have found that sleep quality improves with decreased levels of experienced anxiety.

CBD has particularly shown promise as a powerful tool to reduce anxiety in the long term. Researchers found that when CBD was provided to individuals diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder (SAD) over several sessions, they reported a significant decrease in subjective anxiety.

Best Ways to Use Cannabis for Anxiety

Anxiety is a personal experience, so the cannabis consumption method best suited for treating the condition depends on the person, physiology, and unique use case.

Smoking or vaping cannabis are two consumption methods that take effect quickly. The cannabinoids enter the bloodstream via the lungs and circulate throughout the body in about 30 minutes. Effects can last up to three hours, making it a useful short-term method of managing stress or handy when you need quick relief to stave off a panic attack.

Edibles offer a longer-lasting cannabis treatment for anxiety. However, the onset time takes up to 90 minutes for effects to occur. When purchased from dispensaries, edibles can offer precise, reliable dosing that allows you to consistently control your consumption and avoid using too much, which could make you more anxious.

Not all cannabis strains will help anxiety; some cultivars in particular, or too high doses with high THC, can cause more stress and worsen symptoms. Medical users say indicas and hybrids are typically better for anxiety.

However, terpene and cannabinoid profile is even more important to consider. Look for strains high in caryophyllene or linalool and low or absent in pinene and terpinolene. Strains with higher CBG and CBD content may produce better outcomes.

Best Strains for Anxiety

Harlequin

Harlequin is a sativa strain with high levels of CBD (9%) and lower levels of THC (5%). Its dominant terpene is myrcene and produces uplifting effects for users. The high CBD content is perfect for medical patients with anxiety or panic disorders. 

Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express is a sativa-dominant hybrid strain. Its THC content is considered high (20%) and it contains around 1% of cannabigerol (CBG). This strain’s dominant terpene is myrcene that produces energizing and happy effects for users. Medical cannabis patients use Pineapple Express for anxiety, stress, and depression.

Burnt Toast

Burnt Toast is a hybrid strain with a THC content of approximately 24% and CBG content of 1%. It has happy, euphoric, and relaxing effects and its dominant terpene is caryophyllene. Medical cannabis patients use this strain for anxiety, stress, and depression. Since this is a high-THC strain, it’s important to pay attention to dose. A lower dose may produce better results for people with anxiety. 

Blue Dream

Blue Dream is a staiva-dominant hybrid strain that produces creative and uplifting effects for users. Its dominant terpene is myrcene. Medical cannabis patients use Blue Dream for depression, anxiety, nausea, and chronic pain. 

Northern Lights

Northern Lights is an older and popular cannabis strain known for its relaxing, sedative properties. The cultivar contains more THC than CBD and a profile with higher levels of myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and pinene. These terpenes work together to relax patients and relieve stress while cultivating happiness.

Ice Cream Cake

Ice Cream Cake is an indica-dominant hybrid strain perfect for night time use thanks to its relaxing and sleep-inducing effects. Its dominant terpene is caryophyllene and it has relatively high THC levels of 22% as well as 1% of CBG. Medical patients use this strain for anxiety, stress, and pain.

Be sure to discuss your options with a medical marijuana doctor and explore options with lower THC levels and more CBD content.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What strain helps with anxiety the most?

Our list above covers a few options. However, no one size fits all, and you may want to experiment with different strains and doses to find what works best for you.

What strains do not cause anxiety?

Strains with high levels of THC and little-to-no CBD can cause more stress and worsen anxiety symptoms.

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