Using Marijuana to Treat Anxiety
Anxiety. Stress. Drama. We may hate it, but we still have to deal with it.
Because here’s the thing: anxiety is supposed to be good for us!
When we feel anxious, it means our body is warning us that danger is ahead. It’s why we look both ways before crossing the street and avoid areas of a forest where we know the grizzly bears are hanging out.
Anxiety helps us stay alive. It’s like your own ADT security system, only it’s inside you.
The problem is when you can’t turn that security system off.
Imagine if you had a home alarm system going off all the time, even though there’s nobody breaking into the house. You’d go crazy! You’d have to move out of that house, no question.
That’s what chronic anxiety can feel like. It’s so pervasive and enduring that it interferes with your ability to work, sleep, maintain healthy relationships with others, and be happy.
So can you use medical marijuana to treat anxiety?
Yes. Yes, you can. Provided it’s the right kind of marijuana!
Why Medical Marijuana Helps You Relax
When you use medical marijuana, its active ingredients – cannabinoids – interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system.
(We know that’s a mouthful, but don’t worry. You don’t have to say it; you just have to know how it works).
So what does your endocannabinoid system do?
Well, a lot actually, but one of the things it does is controls your moods – in other words, it manages how you feel.
Now this is the very important part:
Marijuana’s cannabinoids can help support your endocannabinoid system.
The two most popular cannabinoids are THC and CBD.
THC is known mostly for its psychoactive effect (the marijuana “high” that we all know and love), and CBD is popular because of its anti-anxiety properties.
Both THC and CBD have many other benefits, but we need to focus on these two for now.
Because as it turns out, the amount of THC and CBD in your marijuana will determine whether it’s the best type of marijuana to treat anxiety.
What is CBD:THC Ratio?
The CBD:THC ratio of a product is pretty straight forward; it’s the amount of CBD in a product compared to the amount of THC.
For example, some products might have a 0:1 ratio – which means it’s all THC.
Others might have a 2:1 ratio, which means the product contains twice as much CBD as it does THC.
Because THC gets you “high,” many patients make the mistake of thinking that the best products are the ones with the most of THC.
While there’s nothing wrong with high-THC-percentage products (they can be very effective at treating highly severe pain), it’s important to remember that more does not equal better.
Especially when it comes to managing anxiety.
Because if you take too much THC, you may experience anxiety as a side effect, which is something you want to avoid if you’re using medical marijuana to treat anxiety!
CBD Counteracts THC’s Side Effects
CBD and THC work best when they’re working together, a phenomenon known as “the entourage effect.”
More specifically, CBD counters the anxiety that THC can cause; it makes you feel more relaxed as a result.
So if you’re using marijuana to treat anxiety, you definitely want to consider products with at least a 1:1ratio.
The general rule of thumb is that the higher the CBD number, the more relaxed you’ll feel. Consequently, you’ll also experience less of THC’s euphoric effects.
For this reason, some patients may find that these “CBD-favored” products are a better fit for them, especially if they need to medicate during the day but want to keep a clear head!
Using Medical Marijuana to Treat Anxiety: General Guidelines
- Use indicas instead sativas. Indicas and sativas are the two main types of marijuana. Sativas give you a “head high,” giving you energy and stimulating your mind. Indicas give you more of a “body high,” which relaxes you. Indicas also contain more CBD than sativas, so that’s a definite plus for anxiety treatment. Also, indicas have high concentrations of myrcene, a chemical compound also associated with sedation and relaxation.
- Check products for CBD: THC ratio.Nevada law requires marijuana product labels to show you how much THC and CBD are in your products. Stay away from products that emphasize THC and don’t carry a lot of CBD. If you don’t know the right ratio for your needs, products with 1:1 or 2:1 ratios aren’t a bad place to start. You can always work your way up from there if you need to.
- Ask the dispensary staff for recommendations. If you let your budtender know exactly what you’re looking for, he or she should be able to show you a product that will best serve your needs.
- Create the proper set and setting. Your environment and the company you keep have a huge effect on your state of mind. Some people don’t mind using medicine around others. Others prefer to be alone, in the privacy of their own homes. Figure out what type of set and setting works best for you while consuming your medicine. You want to manage your anxiety, not amp it up!
- Combine meditation/yoga with your medical marijuana use. Meditation and yoga help you relax and connect with your body. They also help you observe your thoughts and emotions without getting sucked into them. Using these tools in combination with medical marijuana can be a powerful way to stay centered and calm.
- Eating edibles for the first time? Start with small doses! An average edible dose can range anywhere from 5 to 10 milligrams of THC. Start small and work your way up. Remember, it can take up to two hours or more for edibles to kick in, so you shouldn’t expect to feel the effects immediately. Be patient and don’t jump the gun and bite off more than you can chew – so to speak.
- Most importantly, speak with your physician and/or mental health counselor before starting any treatment regimen. Not every anxiety disorder is the same, so if you’re considering using medical marijuana to treat your anxiety, please speak with your doctor first to see if marijuana truly is the right fit for you. And if you’re seeing a therapist or psychiatrist, be sure to inform them as well, so they can weigh in and track your progress.
Have you ever used medical marijuana to treat your anxiety? What were the results? We want to hear your stories, and we know our other readers do too! Please give us a shout-out on our social media pages.
And if you don’t have a medical marijuana card, and you suffer from a qualifying illness, schedule an appointment with our doctor so we can get you on the path to pain relief!