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The Best Cannabis Strains for Anxiety in 2024

As cannabis becomes increasingly integrated into medical and wellness practices, one of the most common inquiries pertains to its efficacy in managing anxiety and anxiety disorders. 

 

While individual responses to cannabis can vary widely, understanding how cannabis interacts with anxiety is crucial for anyone looking to use it as a therapeutic tool to treat anxiety. 

 

Notably, cannabis can both alleviate and, in some cases, exacerbate anxiety depending on several factors including the marijuana strain’s chemical profile, the dosage consumed, and an individual’s own biological predispositions.

 

Understanding cannabis and anxiety

The cannabis plant and its compounds interact with the human mind and body on a scientific level. There’s much more to weed than getting “high.” There is a whole world of interactions between cannabinoids, terpenes, and other cannabis plant compounds with something called the endocannabinoid system.

 

Cannabis contains compounds known as cannabinoids, with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) being the most prominent. These compounds interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which includes receptors such as CB1 and CB2 found throughout the brain and body. The endocannabinoid system is involved in maintaining balance in various physiological processes, including mood, appetite, mental health, chronic pain, and memory.

 

Impact of THC and CBD:

Cannabis contains numerous cannabinoids, with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) being the most prominent. But don’t forget about THTHC is primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, which can either induce relaxation or, particularly in higher doses, contribute to anxiety. Conversely, CBD is non-psychoactive and has been shown to counteract some of the anxiety-inducing effects of THC while offering its own anxiolytic benefits.

 

THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain’s reward system, which can produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation. This action can temporarily reduce anxiety for some individuals. However, it’s important to note that in higher doses, THC can paradoxically increase anxiety or cause paranoia.

 

CBD, on the other hand, does not bind directly to CB1 or CB2 receptors. Instead, it is thought to work by enhancing the signaling of anandamide, a naturally occurring cannabinoid in the brain, which can alleviate anxiety. CBD may also interact with other receptors like the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A, influencing mood and stress responses.

 

High CBD has been shown to promote neuroplasticity in the brain. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. This can help the brain adapt to stressors more effectively, potentially reducing the impact of anxiety triggers.

 

The role of terpenes:

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in many plants, including cannabis, and they play a significant role in influencing the plant’s effects on mood and wellbeing. In cannabis, terpenes can affect the body’s response to the plant, often enhancing or modifying the effects of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Here’s how terpenes might help with anxiety:

 

  1. Synergistic effects with cannabinoids (entourage effect): Terpenes can interact synergistically with cannabinoids in what’s known as the “entourage effect.” This phenomenon suggests that the whole cannabis plant, with its full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes, is more effective than isolated compounds alone. For anxiety, this means that terpenes can potentially enhance the calming effects of cannabinoids.
  2. Direct pharmacological effects: Some terpenes bind to receptors in the brain, much like cannabinoids, and can directly influence neurotransmitter systems involved in mood and stress regulation. Here are some specific terpenes known for their potential anti-anxiety effects:
    • Linalool: Commonly found in lavender as well as cannabis, linalool has sedative properties and has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress levels. It may help counteract the anxiety-provoking effects of THC.
    • Myrcene: This terpene is believed to have sedative effects. It’s thought to boost the therapeutic effects of THC and has been used traditionally as a sleep aid and muscle relaxant, which can indirectly help alleviate anxiety.
    • Limonene: Often found in citrus fruits, limonene might elevate mood and reduce stress. It has been shown to produce anti-anxiety effects in some animal studies and might also help with absorption and other effects of cannabinoids.
    • Beta-caryophyllene: This terpene can bind to CB2 receptors (primarily found in the body and immune system, not the brain) and functions as an anti-inflammatory agent. Inflammation is often associated with mood disorders, and reducing inflammation might mitigate some symptoms of anxiety.
  3. Impact on aroma and mood: The aromatic properties of terpenes can also influence mood and stress, similar to aromatherapy. Inhaling the scents of certain terpenes can trigger emotional and physiological responses that contribute to the reduction of anxiety.
  4. Modulation of neurotransmitters: Some terpenes may affect neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are directly related to anxiety. By modulating these neurotransmitters, terpenes can potentially exert anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects.

 

Indica vs. sativa:

Traditionally, Indica strains have been recommended for anxiety relief due to their sedative qualities. However, the distinction between indica and sativa can be too simplistic. More important is the specific cannabinoid and terpene profile of the strain.

 

Top weed strains for anxiety in 2024

We provide a detailed examination of the best marijuana strains of cannabis for anxiety based on current reviews and user experiences. Whether you’re making edibles, tinctures, or smoking the flower straight, this list is sure to alleviate your stress. Each strain’s unique properties are dissected to give you a clear understanding of why they might be suitable for anxiety relief.

 

Apple Fritter — Best overall body high for relaxation and stress relief.

  • Potency: Balanced THC and CBD levels, typically around 20% THC.
  • Lineage: Hybrid cross of Sour Apple and Animal Cookies.
  • Strain type: Hybrid.
  • Overview: Apple Fritter is known for its quick onset of euphoric effects that simultaneously relax the body and ease the mind. This strain carries a sweet and earthy flavor profile with hints of apple pie, making it pleasant for evening use to unwind.

 

Northern Lights — Deep sedative effects, ideal for severe anxiety and sleep disorders

  • Potency: High THC content, often reaching up to 22%.
  • Lineage: Pure Indica from Afghani and Thai landrace strains.
  • Strain type: Indica.
  • Overview: Northern Lights is a highly sought-after strain for its ability to promote deep relaxation and mental tranquility. Its resinous buds produce a sweet and spicy aroma, enveloping users in a comforting blanket of calm.

 

Snoop Dogg OG — Euphoria and relaxation with a strong mental and physical buzz

  • Potency: High THC content, typically between 22% to 28%.
  • Lineage: Likely descendant of OG Kush and an unknown strain.
  • Strain type: Indica-dominant hybrid.
  • Overview: Named after the famed rapper, Snoop Dogg OG packs a powerful punch with its potent effects that can alleviate stress and relax muscles, making it perfect for those battling chronic anxiety.

 

White Widow — Uplifting and energizing, suitable for managing anxiety while maintaining alertness

  • Potency: Balanced THC to CBD ratio, THC usually around 18%.
  • Lineage: A mix of Brazilian sativa landrace and a resin-heavy South Indian indica.
  • Strain type: Balanced hybrid.
  • Overview: White Widow is famously recognized for its resin-drenched buds that deliver a burst of euphoria and energy, cutting through stress and mood disorders. Its flavor is often described as earthy with a hint of pine.

 

Laughing Gas — Induces laughter and happiness, excellent for social anxiety and mood enhancement

  • Potency: Moderate to high THC content, about 18-20%.
  • Lineage: Cross between Sour Diesel and Cherry Pie.
  • Strain type: Sativa-dominant hybrid.
  • Overview: As the name suggests, Laughing Gas offers a joyful, euphoric high that can lighten the mood and encourage social interactions. Its unique blend of diesel and sweet cherry flavors makes it a favorite among users looking to enhance gatherings.

 

Hazy Girl — Strong cerebral high with creative and uplifting effects.

  • Potency: High THC levels, usually around 20% or more.
  • Lineage: A sativa-dominant strain with unclear genetic origins, possibly related to Haze variants.
  • Strain type: Sativa-dominant hybrid.
  • Overview: Hazy Girl is excellent for daytime use, providing a boost in energy and creativity without overwhelming sedation. It’s perfect for users who experience anxiety yet require clear-headed functionality.

 

Wedding Cake — Relaxing and euphoric effects, which help manage pain and anxiety

  • Potency: High THC content, often over 25%.
  • Lineage: Cross between Cherry Pie and Girl Scout Cookies.
  • Strain type: Indica-dominant hybrid.
  • Overview: Wedding Cake delivers a sweet aromatic essence with hints of earthy pepper. Ideal for evening use, it can provide significant anxiety relief and help with sleep issues.

 

Hazy Kush — Relaxation and mild euphoria with a focus on stress relief

  • Potency: Moderate to high THC levels, around 18-22%.
  • Lineage: Likely a cross between traditional Kush strains and Haze varieties.
  • Strain type: Hybrid.
  • Overview: Hazy Kush combines the best of both worlds, offering the relaxing effects of Kush with the uplifting and cerebral influence of Haze strains. It’s suitable for those who need anxiety relief without deep sedation.

 

Fruity Gum — Sweet, enjoyable high that is both relaxing and mood-enhancing

  • Potency: THC levels around 17-19%.
  • Lineage: Genetic background includes fruity and gummy strains, specifics often vary.
  • Strain type: Hybrid.
  • Overview: As its name implies, Fruity Gum offers a sweet, fruity flavor profile with a gummy candy undertone. It’s excellent for those looking to manage mild to moderate anxiety levels.

 

Wedding Cheesecake — Provides relaxation with noticeable mental clarity and focus

  • Potency: High THC content, usually around 20-23%.
  • Lineage: A mix of Wedding Cake and an unknown Cheese strain.
  • Strain type: Hybrid.
  • Overview: This strain blends the sweet, earthy qualities of Wedding Cake with the sharp, cheesy notes typical of Cheese strains, offering a unique experience that calms without overwhelming sedation.

 

Ice Cream Cake — Sedative effects that help with both physical and mental stress

  • Potency: Very high THC content, typically exceeding 20%.
  • Lineage: Cross between Wedding Cake and Gelato #33.
  • Strain type: Indica-dominant hybrid.
  • Overview: Known for its creamy flavor and powerful relaxing effects, Ice Cream Cake is perfect for end-of-day relaxation, helping to alleviate anxiety and promote restful sleep.

 

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