An estimated three million Canadians, 18 and older, say they’ve experienced a mood or anxiety disorder. Medical marijuana can help reduce that anxiety. That said, at high levels, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can—for some people—increase anxiety levels due to its psychoactive qualities. However, non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) appears to help reduce anxiety.
A new study by Vanderbilt University found that cannabinoid receptors are present in the part of the brain associated with emotion in mice. These receptors, found in the area of the brain that dictates the fight or flight response, are closely linked to anxiety. It’s believed that these receptors are also present in the amygdala of humans, where emotions are processed and which is linked to anxiety disorders. This may explain why medical marijuana is effective in aiding people with anxiety.
CBD Is Most Effective at Reducing Anxiety
A 2011 study published in Neuropyschopharmacology showed that CBD was extremely beneficial for patients with social anxiety disorder. The study was conducted with 24 participants with social anxiety disorder, as well as a control group of 12 people who didn’t suffer from social anxiety disorder. Half of the participants with social anxiety disorder were given CBD, and the other 12 were given a placebo. All of the study participants were then instructed to complete a public-speaking test.
Physiological measures were taken before, during and after the public-speaking test. The physiological measures, as well as personal surveys taken after the test, showed a significant decrease in anxiety levels in patients who were administered CBD.
CBD can also help the body preserve anandamide—the endocannabinoid responsible for making you feel good and helping decrease anxiety. This is because it decreases the production of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which naturally degrades anandamide.
The Top 10 Strains for Anxiety
Choosing a strain of marijuana that helps control your anxiety may require some experimentation in order to find what works best for you. It’s important to choose a strain with levels of CBD that are adequate enough to control your anxiety. CBD levels should be higher than or balanced with THC, so that CBD can work in harmony with as well as counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. Here are some of the best strains for anxiety control:
Harlequin is a 75% sativa-dominant hybrid with a 5:2 CBD to THC ratio. It usually has about 4–7% THC and 8–16% CBD. Harlequin is known to promote a clear head with patients reporting that they feel more alert. It’s effective at reducing anxiety because high levels of CBD provide relaxation without sedation. Harlequin is a good choice for people with anxiety due to its low THC content.
Harle-Tsu is known for its extremely high levels of CBD, which is often found at rates 20 times higher than that of THC within the strain. This hybrid cross between Harlequin and Sour Tsunami has strong anxiety-relieving properties because of its high levels of CBD. Harle-Tsu is known for producing a relaxed and focused feeling, and it’s also good at decreasing stress levels. People often report that they feel uplifted and happy after smoking this strain.
ACDC is one of the highest CBD strains. This sativa-dominant strain has a 20:1 CBD to THC ratio, with CBD levels as high as 19%. ACDC’s high levels of CBD make it extremely effective at reducing anxiety, without any chance for pyschoactivity due to the high ratio of CBD to THC. Patients report that they feel relaxed and happy. A potential negative is that people also indicate a possibility for dry mouth.
4. CBD Shark
CBD Shark is an 80% indica-dominant strain that has an equal ratio of CBD to THC. Because ts balanced between CBD and THC, this strain is very helpful at reducing anxiety without any overly intoxicating effects. CBD Shark is known to produce clear-minded, contented and relaxing effects. This strain may be a good choice for evening use or for folks with anxiety and pain, because it has enough THC to produce pain-relieving or sleep-inducing effects with borderline psychoactivity.
Canna-Tsu is a hybrid strain that is a mix of Cannatonic and Sour Tsunami. Known for its high levels of CBD, Canna-Tsu has a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC, which may result in some psychoactivity. It’s known to produce calming effects and mental clarity. Canna-Tsu is effective at reducing anxiety while providing added anti-inflammatory benefits.
Haoma is a 70% indica strain that has calming and stress-relieving effects. It’s typically found at around a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC, so some may experience a psychoactive effect with its use. Haoma is effective at reducing anxiety because of its relatively high levels of CBD. There are a few different varieties of Haoma—each one has slightly different amounts of CBD. Since it’s indica-dominant, Haoma is an effective choice for people with anxiety who also need a strain to help them fall asleep.
Cannatonic is known for its low THC content, which is often below 6%, and its high CBD content, which can run as high as 17%, though it can sometimes be higher. It produces relaxing and uplifting qualities with little to no psychoactive effects, depending on how much is consumed. Cannatonic is considered to be one of the top medical marijuana strains, and it’s extremely effective at reducing anxiety.
Trident is a high CBD strain that helps people stay mentally focused. It typically has CBD levels around 12% and THC levels under 6%. Trident is known for its relaxing and focusing effects; it’s very effective at helping people control their anxiety and stress. Folks may experience mild psychoactivity when smoking Trident, but the majority report feeling a more cerebral effect.
9. Sour Tsunami
Sour Tsunami is a strain that’s specifically bred for its high CBD content and as a result is highly sought after as a medicine. This sativa-dominant hybrid has about 10–11% CBD and a THC content typically under 10%. It’s effective at reducing anxiety as well as inflammation due to its high CBD content, but it could also be helpful in relieving pain due to its moderate levels of THC. People often report feeling clear-headed after ingesting this popular medicinal strain.
10. Valentine X
Valentine X is a 50/50 hybrid strain with a 25:1 ratio of CBD to THC. A variant of ACDC, its known to induce feelings of deep relaxation. Named after St. Valentine—the patron saint of lovers and folks with epilepsy, Valentine X also helps ease seizures, fatigue and inflammation.
Do you have questions about cannabis? Go to HelloMD's Answers page where you can connect with a health practitioner or well-informed member of our community who will respond to your queries.