Anxiety and marijuana have a complicated relationship, but different types of cannabis may play a role.
Many people who use marijuana say that it helps relieve anxiety. On the other hand, there are just as many who report feeling more anxious after using marijuana. Although the exact details remain a mystery, a possible explanation may lie in the specific chemical make-up of cannabis.
As most marijuana users are aware, not all cannabis is the same. There are a wide range of strains of cannabis available, and many are believed to have unique effects on their user.
What makes different strains unique from one another is their active chemical ingredients, also known as cannabinoids. Although clinical research is lacking, knowing the differences between strains and how they affect anxiety can be helpful.
The two most common chemicals in cannabis are THC and CBD. Although most strains contain both compounds, levels of THC and CBD tend to vary from strain to strain. Interestingly, research shows that the two chemicals can have opposite effects on anxiety.
THC is responsible for the marijuana high and is also strongly linked to feelings of paranoia, especially when taken in high doses. This is because THC activates an area of the brain responsible for fear — the amygdala.
CBD, on the other hand, is believed to counteract the mind-altering effects of THC. What’s more, studies have shown that when taken on its own CBD can lower anxiety in both healthy and anxiety-prone individuals.
High CBD strains have only recently become popular among cannabis consumers, due in part to growing awareness of the compound’s medical effects. As a result, there’s a strong chance that any marijuana you obtain will have more THC than CBD.
Other components in cannabis may also contribute to its effect on anxiety. Besides THC and CBD, cannabis contains over 60 different cannabinoids along with a variety of aromatic compounds known as terpenes.
Certain terpenes in cannabis have been found to possess anti-anxiety properties. Still, most of these chemicals are only present in trace amounts and little is known about their overall impact on marijuana users.
Read More: Leaf Science