Reducing Anxiety with Marijuana: How To Pick The Best Strains

As medical and recreational marijuana legalization has expanded across the United States, more people have been experimenting with it for the purpose of treating anxiety.

Millions of Americans suffer from anxiety. Many of them are undiagnosed due to insurance problems, untreated or diverted to medications with side effects that may be worse than general anxiety. For those people, marijuana represents a possibility, if not the key to relief itself.

If you have considered using marijuana to provide relief from your anxiety, you may have many questions. How likely is it that marijuana will have positive effects on your anxiety? is there any medical evidence of the benefits? how should you choose strains on your own?  

Those are some of the questions that will be answered for you by the information below. We’ll take you through what you need to know about using weed for anxiety, and at the end, recommend 5 strains that you can experiment with to find out how your anxiety responds.

Marijuana for Anxiety?

If you’ve never experimented with marijuana for anxiety, or with marijuana at all, you may be skeptical of the claim that people are using marijuana to relieve their anxiety. After all, doesn’t weed have a reputation for making people more anxious—even paranoid?

You can’t believe everything that you see on TV. Cannabis is a plant that has been cultivated for thousands of years. The different strains available have very different effects from one another. How people choose to use them can also have a strong impact on how effective they are at treating different conditions.

Many people who are both new and long-time users of marijuana have reported that marijuana had a positive effect on their symptoms. On the popular marijuana review site, Leafly, hundreds of strains have been assessed for their calming, stress-relieving properties by tens of thousands of reviewers.  

You may be looking for stronger scientific evidence than that, but understand that there are serious legal hurdles to any strain getting access to the scientific testing it would take to officially advertise stress-relieving properties.

Is there Medical Proof of Anxiety Relief?

Personal experiences have been recorded for centuries, but whether any medical claim can be made about marijuana is under the supervision of a much younger organization. To be able to legally claim that it can treat anxiety, weed would need to be tested rigorously by the FDA.

Unfortunately, there is very little federal-level research that can confirm marijuana’s ability to treat most conditions. That’s not the same as no research. Various tests by private testers and other nations have suggested that low doses of THC can relieve stress.

FDA testing, however, is done at the federal level only. Even if legal states were to perform their own rigorous testing to show that marijuana can treat anxiety, it would not be considered relevant to the FDA approval process.

As long as Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, the FDA will not conduct the testing necessary, and therefore marijuana cannot be legally sold with the claim that it treats anxiety. However, self-reporting by thousands of users carries its own weight. You just need to understand that you’re relying on the experiences of different users and not a medical claim.

Tips for Choosing the Right Strains

So, now you understand where the anti-anxiety claims come from, and why people are beginning to explore marijuana as a treatment. It’s not possible to predict whether weed will work for you immediately, or how you will react to each strain, but there’s a probability that you may experience the positive effects already enjoyed by so many.

There are ways that you can more effectively hedge your bets while you’re looking for the strain that gives you the results that you need. Consider these tips to find a strain that fits your needs, and don’t miss the strain recommendations that are listed right after this section.

Tip #1 Don’t choose strains with an excessive THC%

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of the most two major chemicals responsible for the effects of marijuana. THC is responsible for the psychological effects, including feelings of intense pleasure and creativity along with minor visual and auditory hallucinations.

THC may be helpful to those who are attempting to treat anxiety because its effects help to cut through old patterns of thinking to allow new perspectives to prevail. Those who are trapped in patterns of negative thoughts may be able to briefly escape those thoughts or recognize that they’re not real with the help of THC.

However, THC is also the chemical that is most strongly associated with paranoia, and yes, anxiety. Even long-time smokers may sometimes experience feelings that are too intense to be comfortable while enjoying marijuana.

As with many things in life, the key to satisfaction seems to lie in moderation. Some THC is helpful at relieving anxiety, but too much of it can create more (temporary) anxiety.

While you’re looking for the right strain, make sure that you choose strains that don’t have too much THC. This is information that you can find right on the label. If you’re a beginner, you may want to focus on strains that have around 18% THC content. For comparison, some of the most potent strains can have THC levels as high or higher than 30%. Some concentrates exceed 80%.

Easing yourself in with low-THC strains will help you find a comfortable dose more easily. You may find that you don’t even need more THC after you’ve experimented with strains at the lower end of the spectrum.  

Tip #2 Consider strains with a high CBD (Cannabidiol) content

Another way to more quickly locate strains that are effective for anxiety is to start with strains that have a high ratio of CBD to THC. CBD is the second major chemical responsible for the effects of marijuana after THC, and the ways that it interacts with the body are entirely different.

While THC is psychoactive, CBD’s effects are more subtle. It dulls pain, fights inflammation and may even work to partially neutralize the psychoactive effects of THC. CBD is currently being researched for a possible role in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, metabolic disorders, and skin inflammation. It may even have a role to play in treating cancer with enough research.

However, what should be most important to those suffering from anxiety is that CBD has been found to be independently effective at treating anxiety in clinical trials.

Like THC content, CBD content is information that you will always be able to find on the labels of our products. It may be listed after THC, or independently of it if the strain contains almost no THC.

It won’t be difficult to choose the right dosage of CBD, because the chemical does not become unpleasant in high doses like THC. You may find that there are diminishing returns to the effects when you experiment with higher doses, but there’s not going to be a point where you have to deal with a few hours of discomfort.

Tip #3 Experiment with Microdosing

Even if you have severe anxiety, it’s not necessary to begin your experimentation by trying to consume a heavy amount. You don’t need an entire joint, or even an entire ½ gram bowl, in order to experience the anxiety-relieving effects.

Earlier in 2018, we published a piece by Nora Dourak about her experiences with microdosing to treat crippling anxiety and depression. By the time she tried microdosing, she had already had bad experiences with citalopram, SSRIs, and NDRIs—most of the popular medicines for treating anxiety.

Over a period of four months, she experiments with taking only two drops of oil per night. She experienced a new sense of peace and the resolution of several debilitating symptoms including insomnia. Similar results have been documented by many other writers with doses as small as 5-10 milligrams.

Most of the personal experiences with microdosing involve tinctures with oil, but you can still microdose if you prefer flowers. Use a one-hitter pipe or some mini rolls that allow you to easily limit your intake.

Experiment with only taking a single puff or a single drop to see how the experience plays out for you over the next few hours.

Tip #4 Consider indica for after-work use

If you’re new to experimenting with marijuana for anxiety, you should know that there are two main other strains that most others fall under Sativa and Indica. While the two strains are more than capable of breeding together (known as hybrids) they’ve been cultivated independently from each other for a long time, and have very different effects.

Sativa is the strain most recognized for having a “head high”. That is, the strain produces strong psychoactive effects that lead to feelings of curiosity, euphoria, social adventurousness and creativity. Most people who use sativa report that it makes them want to do things like meet people, play around with hobbies or listen intently to music.

Indica is the strain most recognized for a “body high”. That is, the strain produces strong physical effects that lead to relaxation, contentment and meditative ease. Most people who use Indica report that they lose the sense of pains or aches and feel ready to drift into a couch and just let the world pass by peacefully.

While many people prefer indicas for relaxation and the clearing of invasive negative thoughts, there is a problem: It’s not effective for getting things done at all. Users of indica often report a feeling called “couch lock”, where they don’t feel inclined to move from a comfortable position.

Indica may be more effective for your anxiety, but it’s most effective when it’s taken after work when it won’t interfere with your duties. If your symptoms include problems like insomnia, which is mainly a problem experienced during off-hours, indica strains may be the most effective solution for you.  

Tip #5 Experiment with different ways of taking marijuana

There isn’t one application of marijuana that will work effectively for all people trying to treat anxiety. If you want to know what will work best for you, you should experiment with different ways of taking marijuana until you understand what makes your state of mind respond in the most beneficial way.

In addition to standard smoking, you can try taking oil sublingually (under the tongue), ingesting edibles, vaping as an alternative to smoking, or rubbing on the skin. Your mind and body may react differently to each type of application, and to the doses used for each application, so make sure that you do some extended testing with each one if you don’t get the results you want at first.

5 Strains to Try for Anxiety Relief

There are hundreds of different strains out there, so it can be very difficult for a newcomer to choose the strains in particular that are likely to have an effect on anxiety.

We’re going to take some of the work out of your experimentation process by starting you off with some of the best strains for anti-anxiety that are widely available in a number of different forms—whether that’s flowers, pre-rolls or vape oil.

Lemon Banana Sherbert

Lemon Banana Sherbert is a famously relaxing strain with a zesty citrus taste.

Many reviewers have left their thoughts on this strain. Most found that it had a positive effect on depression and stress, alleviating those and similar symptoms for at least a couple hours. It was not found by any reviewers to have negative psychoactive effects, though some reported dry eyes and mouth.

This stain is often available in multiple forms, including flowers (and pre-rolls), vapes and concentrates.

Platinum OG

Platinum OG is a strain with a long history and hundreds of fans. It’s a strong indica-dominant hybrid that reviewers report as having a positive effect on many of the common symptoms of anxiety, including depression and stress, but most notably, insomnia. This is a good starting strain if your anxiety is keeping you up at night.

This stain is often available in multiple forms, including flowers (and pre-rolls), vapes and concentrates.

Cherry Bomb

Cherry bomb is a great sativa-dominant strain for new users because of its balanced and moderate effects. Its many reviewers report that it makes them feel happy and relaxed, and that it provides a comforting temporary relief from stress and depression. Though it’s not as relevant to anxious users, the strain is also effective at pain relief.

This stain is often available in multiple forms, including flowers (and pre-rolls), vapes and concentrates.

Tahoe OG

Tahoe OG is a strain for those looking for some powerful and fast-acting effects. The effects come off like a true hybrid, with both the indica-driven pain relief and the sativa-driven euphoria reported by reviewers. It is reported by users to be effective at insomnia in addition to stress and depression, but maybe a little strong for new users unless taken by microdose.

This stain is often available in multiple forms, including flowers (and pre-rolls), vapes and concentrates.  

Granddaddy Purple

Granddaddy Purple is an indica strain with nearly 15 years of history of great effects on the mind and body. Reviewers report that it’s effective for stress and insomnia and effective for symptoms like appetite loss that can also result from anxiety.
This stain is often available in multiple forms, including flowers (and pre-rolls), vapes and concentrates.