Article written by
Tina MagrabiSenior Content Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Many people use cannabis as a study aid, as the plant may have the ability to help your mind focus better. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not directly a qualifying medical condition for obtaining a medical marijuana card. Still, other comorbid conditions may be (e.g. autism, PTSD, anxiety, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia, or even addiction treatment).
Whether you have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD or simply need to focus on a project due tomorrow, cannabis may be able to help. Strains (cultivars) shown to help with focus include:
- Sour Diesel
- Jack Herer
- Durban Poison
- Super Silver Haze
- Strawberry Cough
- Lucid Blue
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How Cannabis Affects Focus
There is no definitive evidence that cannabis can benefit focus, but some claim that the plant’s energizing effects help them concentrate better. Some people also feel that using cannabis makes them more creative, and there are dozens of artists and other prominent figures who agree.
On the other hand, cannabis can make some people feel fatigued or foggy-headed, making concentration a much more difficult task. For people with ADHD, focusing can be difficult under any circumstances. The right cannabis strain (cultivar) with the right chemical profile could help some people with ADHD, but more research is needed.
These differences in effect could be due to the stimulating properties of some cannabis strains (cultivars) lower in sedative terpenes like myrcene and humulene and higher in stimulating terpenes like limonene. Some terpenes, like pinene and terpinolene, can have both stimulating and sedative effects, depending on dosage and combination of different terpenes. Many of cannabis’s ability to inspire creativity could also be due to its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects.
If you have ADHD and take prescription medications like Adderall or Concerta, be aware that cannabis could interact with these medications. Specifically, cannabis, in conjunction with these and other ADHD medications, could increase your heart rate to dangerous levels. Always speak with your doctor before starting a cannabis regimen to determine if it’s the right course of treatment for you.
It is important to note that although cannabis may help you focus, it is not advisable to use cannabis if you need to stay awake to drive. Not only is driving under the influence of cannabis potentially hazardous, but it is also illegal. In many states, using cannabis while operating a motor vehicle could lead to the same penalties as a DUI, even if you hold a medical card.
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How to Use Cannabis for Focus
Smoking and edibles are two of the best ingestion methods when you need to focus. Both deliver potent hits to the system, with edibles taking longer to set in but ultimately providing a stronger high for most people.
Start with a few puffs of marijuana and see how you feel. The same “start low and go slow” rule of thumb applies even more to cannabis edibles, which can produce unwanted effects if you consume too much. Take a nibble of a pot brownie rather than devouring the entire square. Wait and see how you feel in an hour or two, as edible effects optimize after that length of time and could last well into the next day. Many prefer oil-based cannabis tinctures, which can be easier to dose than edibles and yet still provide a long-lasting effect, on top of being smoke-free and far more discreet.
For those who prefer not to smoke or eat cannabis, topical marijuana products offer a great alternative. Try massaging a few drops of cannabis oil into your temples and near the nasal region. The natural aromatherapy fragrances of cannabis can uplift you as the terpenes and flavonoids mingle with your senses.
Best Strains for Focus
The following cannabis strains are known for their clear-headed highs and possible beneficial effects on concentration. Leafwell’s Top 6 list includes pure sativa and sativa-dominant hybrid strains, often praised by users for their mood-lifting effects. However, although there are some patterns, it is best to remember that there is very little to distinguish between “sativa” and “indica” types of cannabis. The chemical profile of the plant, its growing conditions, and whether its parents are more from Equatorial or Kush Valley regions may give a better clue.
Dosing also matters, as cannabinoids are biphasic, i.e., they can have opposite effects at different dosages. Low doses of tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) have anti-psychoactive effects that can reduce THC’s effects, whereas higher doses of THCV have psychoactive effects and may contribute to a more cerebral high. Similarly, cannabidiol (CBD) can be stimulating in low doses and sedative in higher doses, and Cannabigerol (CBG) may also be stimulating in low doses.
The combination of terpenes also matters; Cultivars lower in myrcene and higher in a combination of limonene, pinene, beta-caryophyllene, and terpinolene may be uplifting and stimulating. Cultivars higher in myrcene, humulene, and linalool tend to be more relaxing and sedating. For those seeking less THC, many below have CBD-rich versions with similar uplifting terpene profiles that may be more suitable for daytime use or those sensitive to THC.
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Cross Chemdawg with Super Skunk, and you get one of the most popular sativa-dominant strains. Sour Diesel contains only trace amounts of CBD (less than 1%) and up to 25% THC. Like most high-THC strains, Sour Diesel is not for beginners but could provide the energy boost experienced users seek.
No list of sativas would be complete without mentioning Mr. Jack Herer, cannabis author, activist, and inspiration for his namesake strain. THC levels clock in as low as 15% and as high as 25%, making Jack Herer a solid energizing choice when you need to pull an all-nighter. CBD-rich versions of Jack Herer are also available.
If you’re looking for a pure sativa, Durban Poison is among the most powerful. This strain is sure to contain more than 25% THC, moderate levels of THCV (more common in strains from Equatorial regions), a terpinolene-dominant terpene profile, and almost no CBD to keep you awake. However, those sensitive to THC or prone to anxiety may want to dose Durban Poison carefully. THC’s relaxing and sedative effects can still come into play towards the end of this strain’s effects.
Super Silver Haze
Super Silver Haze (SSH) dominated the High Times Cannabis Cup in the 1990s, winning an impressive three times for a good reason. Creativity is one of the most commonly reported effects of THC-rich Super Silver Haze, making the strain a potentially good choice if you’re working on a creative project. Super Silver Haze CBD is a CBD-rich variant of SSH that may be ideal for those seeking a more balanced THC:CBD profile.
Strawberry Cough is a THC-dominant strain with mysterious origins. Although no one knows precisely where Strawberry Cough came from, we do know that its terpene profile could make it the right strain if you need to stay awake and alert.
Very high THC ratios make Lucid Blue a great strain for focus, and this hybrid combines the gold standard of Blue Dream with Grateful Breath. These parent strains come together with a little CBD, at most 4%, meaning you can expect extreme energy bursts when using Lucid Blue. Lucid Blue also has a pinene-forward terpene profile, alongside beta-caryophyllene and myrcene, and this could contribute to Lucid Blue’s uplifting effects.
While everyone will react differently to the above strains (and all marijuana strains), they are best to use when you want to stay awake. Cannabis may be able to treat insomnia in some people, but there are different strains and terpene profiles that work best for sleep.
See what cannabis can do for your levels of focus when you obtain a medical marijuana card in your home state. Reach out to Leafwell’s medical team today and start the easy online application process.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is sativa or indica better for focusing?
Indica strains have a reputation for making people feel relaxed or sleepy, and Sativa strains are generally considered better for focus due to their reputed energizing effects. But these descriptions are very general and leave room for variation depending on the strain you use and your body chemistry.
What strain is best for anxiety and focus?
If your anxiety makes it difficult for you to focus, some popular strains to try are CBD-dominant rather than THC-dominant. Research suggests that CBD may help treat anxiety, whereas other evidence points to THC sometimes exacerbating anxiety. Any sativa-dominant strain rich in CBD could help you focus better, whether you need to study for an exam, prepare a presentation or simply read a book.