Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the US. That is 18% of the population.1 Current prescription therapies are effective, but they come with many side effects that leave patients seeking alternative options; medical marijuana being one of them. In fact, treatment for anxiety is one of the top condition’s patients report using medical marijuana to treat.
When considering conventional therapies for anxiety, the potential side effects should be considered. They vary greatly depending on medication type, mostly related to but not limited to Benzodiazepines and SSRIs. Side effects can include fatigue, confusion, and disorientation. Some conventional therapies also come with the risk of dependency.
Why Medical Marijuana?
Why is medical marijuana a promising treatment for anxiety? Let’s lean on science. In one study, scientists measured stress response of participants who were either habitual marijuana users or non-users. Habitual marijuana users were found to have a lower stress response than their non-user counterparts. In fact, they’re stress levels didn’t rise very much at all when presented the high-stress situation. Important to note is that these subjects had not used marijuana for 18 hours or more during the time of the study. The lower stress response seemed to linger long after use. Not only did researchers observe a lesser stress response via self-reported data, but a difference in cortisol measurements were observed.2 Cortisol is a hormone that is released in response to stress. This hormone isn’t always bad. It has been used to keep us safe by invoking the fight or flight response. However, high levels of cortisol for long periods of time are problematic. Habitual marijuana users had lower cortisol levels in response to stress.
Now we’ve recognized medical marijuana as a treatment option for anxiety, we should acknowledge the many strains available to users. Not all strains are created equal. There is a THC paradox. Some strains reportedly relieve anxiety, while others may induce it. It’s important to find the strain that works best for you. Fortunately, Whistler Therapeutics conducted some initial research that can point you in the direction of what strains to try first, helping to take some of the guesswork out.
The researchers in BC Canada, part of Whistler Therapeutics, have been attempting to isolate strains for anxiety. The following chart outlines the different strains that are recommended for treating anxiety.3 Working with one dispensary, researchers surveyed 442 patients. They used a 10-point scale to rate how well the strain relieved their anxiety. The list was limited to the top 25 strains sold at the dispensary. Each strain’s chemical composition was verified by an independent lab.3 You will notice 3 of the top 4 strains are derived from Kush.
2 Cuttler, C., Spradlin, A., Nusbaum, A.T. et al. Psychopharmacology (2017) 234: 2299. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-017-4648-z
3 Kamal BS, Kamal F and Lantela DE (2018) Cannabis and the Anxiety of Fragmentation—A Systems Approach for Finding an Anxiolytic Cannabis Chemotype. Front. Neurosci. 12:730. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00730