Stress is a very common occurrence that nobody can escape. Work, finances, relationships and even sports can trigger stress. Although many people turn to traditional drug-based therapies for help with stress and stress-related symptoms, marijuana can offer a safe alternative for relieving both acute and chronic stress.
What Exactly Is Stress?
Basically, stress is the body’s automatic response to defend itself against perceived threats. Stress can be a good thing in the sense that it can energize you to perform better in responding to short-term challenges. Stress can be acute with immediate responses to serious urgent challenges. But it can also reach peak levels and persist long term. This is when stress becomes chronic and can have negative consequences for your health.
Chronic stress occurs when a person is faced with constant challenges over a longer period of time. Chronic stress can stem from marriage problems, persistent poverty and an unrelenting negative working environment. Chronic stress can negatively impact:
- The digestive and immune systems
- Muscle function
- Sleep routine and patterns
All of this long-term stress can result in physical effects like:
- Profuse sweating
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Weight gain
On the emotional level, chronic stress can trigger feelings of:
What the Research Says on Cannabis as a Stress Reliever
In April 2018, The Journal of Affective Disorders published an article about research performed by Washington State University. According to the research, cannabis products with high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) promoted a significant reduction in stress symptoms. Most effective for stress relief were products with a THC content of 26.5% and CBD levels of above 11%.
Another group of researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago found that cannabis reduces stress, but only if used in low doses. If high doses of marijuana are consumed, it could have the reverse effect, increasing rather than decreasing stress levels.
Scientists at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute in turn found that cannabis combats depression specifically caused by chronic stress. They found that THC and CBD replace those chemicals missing from a person’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) and then act as a mood stabilizer, helping ease stress-related depression. Again, low doses were found to be most effective.
Best Marijuana Strains to Reduce Stress Levels
There are a number of tried and tested cannabis strains to combat stress. Since everyone’s different, it may take a bit of experimentation to find the strain that works best for you. Here are a few options to consider:
- OG Kush: This marijuana strain comes from sativa or indica plants. OG Kush is ideal for those who find themselves stressed out at the end of a busy work day. OG Kush also seems to be effective at easing stress-induced migraines. It provides an almost immediate sense of happiness and improved mood. This strain should be consumed at home and before bedtime, as many consumers report that it makes them drowsy.
- White Widow: This strain is known worldwide among cannabis consumers. It’s a hybrid between the resin-heavy South Indian indica and Brazilian sativa plants. White Widow results in a strong sense of euphoria, and according to users, boosts energy levels and enhances creativity.
- Sour Diesel: This strain is sativa dominant and is popular for helping consumers feel alert and energetic. Sour Diesel is popular among consumers who experience acute stress with accompanying symptoms such as pain, anxiety, lack of appetite and insomnia.
- Cannatonic: This cannabis strain is generally well balanced in terms of the THC to CBD ratio, though some breeds clock in with a higher CBD content. As a result, Cannatonic has a calming effect that neutralizes anxiety and paranoia.
- Green Crack: Like most of the other marijuana strains, Green Crack also boosts energy levels and creates feelings of happiness. However, this sativa-dominant strain doesn’t make you feel tired or drowsy. In fact, most consumers report that Green Crack imparts mental clarity.
- Blue Dream: Another sativa-dominant hybrid, Blue Dream, tends to have higher THC levels. As a result, it can bring on physical relaxation and boost mood.
- AK-47: Contrary to the intimidating name, AK-47 is known for spurring creativity while providing relaxation. This sativa-dominant hybrid is also known to stimulate appetite, which can be useful for those who lose their desire to eat when their under a lot of stress.
All of these cannabis strains help create feelings of happiness and relaxation, so can serve to treat acute or chronic stress. However, as a number of studies have pointed out, cannabis must be taken in low, moderate doses to effectively relieve stress.
Consult with your medical practitioner to get advice on how best to combine cannabis with other types of stress treatment and/or medicines.
Photo credit: Abigail Keenan