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This article aims to assist individuals who experience anxiety or paranoia when using cannabis.
Based on my own personal experience, initially, using cannabis triggered a general feeling of unease. Gradually, this evolved into severe social anxiety, even in the presence of my closest friends. I experienced emotional exhaustion, a sense of desperation, and strongly believed that quitting was the only solution.
However, I eventually discovered few tips to enjoy the benefits of cannabis without experiencing excessive paranoia or anxieties, and I'm a pro now.
Some users claim that cannabis has a calming effect, while others state that it induces anxiety and even panic. Understanding the effects of cannabis on anxiety can be puzzling, as various factors come into play and conflicting reports exist. Surprisingly, it has been observed that even long-term cannabis smokers may unexpectedly experience episodes of "high anxiety" after years of regular use.
Now let's look into the different factors that can contribute to increased anxiety when consuming marijuana:
Many cannabis users mistakenly focus on the THC potency, and thinking that more is always better, while overlooking the importance of considering the full cannabinoid profile.
The cannabis plant is made up of many cannabinoids responsible for different effects once consumed. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is one of at least 113 cannabinoids. Cannabinoids can do all sorts of amazing things--some have anti-inflammatory properties, some can reduce headaches or nausea, and others even give you the munchies.
Yes, THC is the primary component in cannabis responsible for the intoxicating effects. However, excessive THC consumption can lead to anxiety and heart palpitations. Therefore, considering the different compounds present in the chosen strain is essential for achieving a well-rounded and balanced experience.
Related article: THC and CBD, and the Entourage Effect!
For those coping with anxiety, studying how to benefit from cannabis's therapeutic benefits can be life-changing. In areas where it is legal, acquiring the proper product from a dispensary is a straightforward process. It's critical to consult with your budtender because cannabis is remarkably intricate. Make sure to explain your anxiety symptoms and the context in which it manifests. This will help them recommend the best product for you and ultimately ensure that you have a good experience.
A study from the University of Western Ontario found that high amounts of THC tend to overwhelm those "sensitive" emotional parts of the brain (including the amygdala, which is where fear and worry live). By overloading those emotion-producing areas of the brain, we can begin to feel uncomfortable or worried even in environments in which we usually feel perfectly fine.
If you're experience anxiety when smoking weed, it's best to avoid high THC strains as they can potentially increase anxiety. Instead, consider using CBD-dominant products. Research indicates that strains with higher CBD content are commonly used for anxiety relief and offer various other medicinal benefits.
Most strains on the market are hybridized, mostly falling under either the Sativa or Indica family. Sativa dominated strains often give an uplifting boost of energy, making it a great choice for creative activities. Indica dominated strains, on the other hand, offers more of a calming and stress-reducing effect. For those seeking relief from anxiety, an Indica-dominant strain is often recommended.
Here are some strain suggestions, including both Indica- and Sativa-heavy hybrids:
Yes, terpenes matter, too!
These aromatic compounds can help determine your high, so they’re also important to consider when choosing an anxiety-relieving strain. There are over 100 different terpenes, with more being discovered seemingly every day, so it’s important to know which ones can help to relieve anxiety. Keep an eye out for products with the following terpenes:
Related article: What Are Terpenoids And What Do They Do?
With many terpenes exhibiting anxiety-relieving effects, these five are among the most commonly seen. When selecting a cannabis product, be mindful of these terpenes or seek advice from your dispensary personnel for the ideal choice for you.
The terpenes' concentration is worth noting, usually ranging from 0% to 3-4%. Anything above 2% is noteworthy.
Exploring alternative methods of consuming cannabis can assist in reducing feelings of paranoia and anxiety.
Dry herb vaping: What we hear from our customers who have experienced the effects of dry herb vaporizers shed light on the potential benefits. Some users have reported that vaping at lower temperatures, around 150-175°F, can provide a calmer and clearer high. They find that the vaporizer offers a more controlled experience, reducing the risk of excessive anxiety.
Moreover, vaping offers the advantage of preserving a wider range of terpenes and cannabinoids, which are responsible for the unique flavors and effects of different strains. These compounds, when inhaled through a vaporizer, might provide a more nuanced and well-rounded experience, minimizing the chances of overwhelming anxiety.
Adding to the complexity, the strains themselves can influence the anxiety levels experienced during consumption. Some users have found that pairing CBD-rich strains or CBD flower with their THC-rich cannabis can balance out the potential anxious effects, creating a more harmonious and soothing experience.
Here are my top 9 reasons why I switched to dry herb vaping
Edibles and tinctures: Edibles deliver a slower and more prolonged high, which can result in a more relaxed and gradual onset of effects.
It is important to note that proper dosage and responsible use are essential when consuming edibles to avoid overwhelming experiences. Living in a legal state where you can purchase edibles with precise THC and CBD content makes things much simpler.
Related article: Marijuana Edibles for the First Time, Dosage and What to Expect
Experimenting with different smoking methods helps individuals find what works best for them in reducing paranoia and anxiety. Start with small doses, gradually increase as needed, and consult knowledgeable professionals or experienced users for guidance.
In addition to trying out various strains to find the one that suits your needs, making simple adjustments to your environment can have a significant impact to enhance your ability to relax and unwind while high.
Here are some useful tips to keep a chill atmosphere.
Find a spot and familiarize yourself with the area. Before getting high, find a peaceful spot and take a silent walk to absorb the environment. This helps dispel any anxious thoughts, leaving you feeling fresh, calm, and ready to embrace the high.
Get a little bit high. After finding a spot that brings you satisfaction and a sense of comfort and security, begin your session. Avoid smoking excessively; aim for just enough to achieve a pleasant buzz. You can choose to have music playing or take a leisurely walk, but keep these activities minimal for now. If you decide to go for a walk, it's best to stay away from unfamiliar areas and strangers.
Smoke a little more. Take another hit or two, and wait a little bit for the high to settle. Remember, the objective of this exercise is not to get extremely high. It is to gain insight into your tolerance and discover the most suitable level of high for you.
Finally, and gradually, get out of your comfort zone. Once smoking by yourself goes well, consider trying it with a close friend next time. Once that goes smoothly (and it will, trust me), you can gradually increase the number of people you smoke with, the amount you consume, and the settings you choose. Take small steps and don't hesitate to step back if needed.
Once you get comfortable while high when you're by yourself, the feeling will carry over to be comfortable while high around friends, and eventually around strangers. Simply take your time and acknowledge your emotions.
Okay, so you’re already high and didn’t get the chance to set yourself up for success. That’s no big deal, and definitely something we can fix! Here are 11 ways to calm down if you’re already high and anxious:
Meditation. Breathing exercises, which are the root of meditation, can work wonders. Just find a place away from everyone, even if it’s the bathroom, to close your eyes and focus solely on your breath. You can also try this self-guided mediation to further relax.
Join a Conversation. Instead of being lost in your head, turn into your most trusted friend and listen to what they're saying. Try to ask questions and engage in the conversation, and make a conscious effort to listen and participate. This will help you to redirect your focus or attention to something other than your paranoia state of mind. Simply, give your brain something to do.
Listen to Music and/or Watch TV. If you find yourself constantly spacing out, try watching a show you enjoy (preferably a comedy, or something that doesn’t make you think too hard). If there’s music playing, focus on the lyrics and instrumentals. Music and pot go together like peanut butter and jelly, and it can definitely help you relax.
Cooking Something. Making food can be a great way to prevent paranoia. Cooking is therapeutic, it will indeed help you to redirect your thoughts to the task at hand. If you’re super high, I recommend something simple like ramen, mac ‘n cheese, or a homemade pizza. An added bonus--you’ll have something (hopefully) delicious to eat in case you get the munchies!
Listen To Your Inner Dialogue. If your paranoia really won’t quit, then face it head on. You’d be surprised at how un-scary those feelings become when you accept them. Take a minute alone, go to the bathroom or even a short walk and allow your thoughts to flow freely. Accepting your train of thought and accompanying feelings works wonders. Wait for it, wait for it... and suddenly you will find yourself in a completely different mindset. It’s like magic.
Stay Hydrated! Drink some ice water or hot chamomile tea--the different temperatures will help keep you grounded in your body. Staying hydrated is also simply good for you, and can help your whole body and mind stay balanced in the face of stressors. Chamomile tea also has calming, stress-relieving benefits, which makes it especially good if you’re facing down some anxiety.
Aromatherapy with Lavender. Lavender essential oil from this flower has anxiolytic, analgesic, as well as antiseptic and sedative properties. The oil can be added to a warm bath, used in an essential oil diffuser, or inhaled. It does wonders to calm you down, and can even help you sleep.
Check Your Blood Sugar. Sometimes feelings of anxiety can be exacerbated by low blood sugar. For a quick fix, eat some fruit. I would steer away from fruit juice, however--when you eat an actual piece of fruit (like an apple), you ingest fiber as well as sugar. The addition of fiber helps to prevent a sugar spike and subsequent crash.
Eat Some Pepper! Believe it or not, eating or smelling some black peppercorn (don’t snort it, just smell it), can calm you down. It can pretty much instantly relax you and bring you back to the high you want. (Source: How Black Pepper relieves Cannabis Anxiety)
Grab A Fidget Toy. Fidget toys can actually be one of the best ways to relieve anxiety and stress. I enjoy playing with them regardless, but they’re especially captivating when you’re high. Many of us have anxiety issues in general and it can be hard to overcome, so here are some the best fidget toys to help you cope with anxiety.
Although generally mild or even favorable, it is important to be aware of some potential medication interactions with cannabis.
Cannabis may reduce insulin resistance, therefore actually improving blood sugar control for diabetics (I’m no doctor, though, so please consult your physician about this).
THC can also increase blood pressure for a short period of time, typically 10-15 minutes, so if you struggle with keeping your blood pressure under control, you should consult your doctor or at least be mindful of how much THC you’re ingesting.
Due to the popularity of cannabis for treating conditions like anxiety and depression, more research is needed to understand if there is any interaction between THC and antidepressants. The available research on this topic, however, suggests that there are little to no adverse effects with SSRIs and SNRIs. Due to the anxiolytic effects of cannabis, most report a favorable effect in further inducing relaxation. With regards to MAOIs and benzos (sedatives), there could be adverse reactions, however. Again, I’m no doctor, so please talk to yours!
With the growing prevalence of cannabis, research will continue to grow in terms of medications reactions. Hopefully we’ll see that cannabis can be enjoyed by everyone!
The cannabis industry is growing swiftly; there are a wide variety of products available and it is important to find a product that is suited to individual needs. Thanks to advances in strain and cannabinoid concentration, cultivators can effectively combine natural processes with custom-made medications. Joining this team is an attractive prospect.
We here at 421Blvd hope that this article was helpful in easing some of your cannabis-anxiety. Now get out there and put these helpful tips and tricks into practice to enjoy your next high!
And stay toasty my friends.