Does Cannabis Help With Anxiety

Does Cannabis Help With Anxiety? Mental Health Guide To Cannabinoids

Anxiety disorders are among the top most common mental health concerns in the US. In fact, an estimated 19.1% of US adults battle with anxiety disorders,1 leading many individuals to seek effective methods for managing their symptoms. 

With the growing interest in alternative approaches, cannabis has gained attention as a potential option for alleviating anxiety. 

This mental health guide aims to explore the relationship between cannabis and anxiety, shedding light on the effects of cannabinoids on mental health. 

We'll cover the following topics to provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject: 

  • What is cannabis? 
  • Benefits of using cannabis 
  • How does cannabis affect anxiety? 
  • How to use cannabis to treat anxiety 

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What Is Cannabis? 

Cannabis, also known as marijuana or weed, is a plant that contains various chemical compounds called cannabinoids. 

Out of the 100+ cannabinoids present in cannabis, the two most well-known and studied are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). 

THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects commonly associated with cannabis, while CBD is non-intoxicating and is believed to have potential therapeutic properties. 

For centuries, cannabis has been used for recreational, medicinal, and spiritual purposes in different cultures around the world. It is typically consumed by smoking or ingesting products derived from the plant, such as oils, edibles, or tinctures.

How Does Cannabis Work? 

Cannabis interacts with the human body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex network of receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids. The ECS plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes, including mood, sleep, appetite, and pain sensation. 

When cannabis is consumed, the cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, bind to the receptors in the ECS, influencing its activity and potentially producing various effects. 

THC primarily binds to the CB1 receptors, mainly found in the brain and central nervous system, leading to the characteristic psychoactive effects associated with cannabis use. 

On the other hand, CBD interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are distributed throughout the body, including the immune system. CBD's interaction with these receptors is believed to modulate the activity of the ECS, potentially influencing neurotransmitter levels and promoting balance within the body.


What Is Cannabis?

Benefits Of Using Cannabis 

Cannabis has been associated with a range of potential benefits. Some of the commonly reported benefits include: 

Pain Relief 

Pain relief is the most commonly cited reason for the medical use of cannabis.2 Cannabinoids like THC and CBD interact with the body's pain receptors, potentially reducing pain. 

A recent systematic review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that cannabis products with high THC-to-CBD ratios and sublingual, extracted cannabis products with comparable THC-to-CBD ratios were associated with short-term improvements in chronic pain.3

A few other studies have also suggested that cannabis may be particularly effective in alleviating chronic pain.4

Improved Sleep 

THC (one of the active compounds in cannabis) acts on the CB1 receptors in the central nervous system, promoting sedation and relaxation, which can help improve sleep quality.5 

When consumed in lower doses, THC has been found to reduce sleep onset latency and has been associated with greater ease of falling asleep, increased slow-wave sleep, and increased total sleep time. This makes cannabis a promising option for individuals struggling with sleep disorders or insomnia.5

Appetite Stimulation 

Cannabis has long been recognized for its ability to stimulate appetite, often referred to as the "munchies" effect. THC interacts with the CB1 receptors in the brain, increasing feelings of hunger and enhancing the enjoyment of food. 

A recent study published in the cancer journal "Annals of Oncology" found that cannabis significantly improved appetite and sense of taste in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.6 

This study highlights the potential of cannabis as a supportive treatment for individuals experiencing appetite loss or reduced food enjoyment due to medical conditions or treatments. 

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Different Forms Of Cannabis 

Cannabis is available in various forms to cater to different preferences and consumption methods. Some of the most common forms of cannabis include: 


The dried and cured flowers of the cannabis plant are commonly referred to as buds. They can be smoked in joints, pipes, or bongs, providing an immediate effect due to the rapid absorption of cannabinoids through inhalation.


These are highly potent cannabis extracts that contain high levels of cannabinoids. Concentrates come in different forms, such as crumble, waxes, shatter, or budder. 


Cannabis-infused food and beverages are known as edibles. These include items like brownies, cookies, gummies, chocolates, and drinks. Edibles provide a delayed onset of effects as they need to be digested and metabolized by the body.


Tinctures are liquid extracts made by soaking cannabis flowers or concentrates in alcohol or another solvent. They are usually consumed by placing drops under the tongue for quick absorption into the bloodstream. 

Oils are also often referred to as tinctures. These products are made by adding cannabis extract to a carrier oil like MCT oil, which can then be used sublingually, mixed with other products, and more.


Cannabis capsules contain measured doses of cannabinoids and are taken orally, similar to conventional medication. They provide a convenient and discreet method of consumption, and the effects are typically longer-lasting.

How Does Cannabis Affect Anxiety? 

When it comes to cannabis and anxiety, the effects can be subjective and dependent on several factors, including the individual's tolerance, the strain of cannabis used, and the dose consumed.

In some cases, cannabis can provide temporary relief from anxiety symptoms. CBD, in particular, has been studied for its potential anxiolytic properties. It is believed to interact with serotonin receptors in the brain, which may help reduce anxiety levels.7 

However, it's important to note that cannabis can also have the opposite effect and potentially worsen anxiety symptoms, especially when consumed in high doses.8 

It's recommended that individuals with anxiety or mental health conditions consult with a healthcare professional before using cannabis. They can provide guidance on strain selection, dosing, and potential interactions with any existing medications. 

Additionally, starting with a low dose and gradually increasing it can help individuals gauge their response and find a dose that works best for them.

Clinical Evidence Of Cannabis Use And Anxiety 

While there are limited human clinical trials on the specific effects of cannabis on anxiety, there is a number of evidence, from animal studies to cannabis user surveys, suggesting its potential role in anxiety management. 

In a 2015 review, researchers analyzed existing preclinical and clinical studies. They found that CBD showed promise in reducing anxiety-related behaviors in various anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).7 

A 2018 survey also reported that approximately 58% of medical cannabis users experienced reduced anxiety and stress symptoms.9 

Another study published in 2010 found that CBD oil effectively reduced anxiety symptoms in people with social anxiety disorder.10 

These findings suggest that cannabis may have therapeutic potential in managing anxiety. However, further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms and long-term effects of cannabis use for anxiety management.

How To Use Cannabis To Treat Anxiety 

When considering the use of cannabis to treat anxiety, it's essential to approach it with caution and consult with a healthcare professional. While some individuals report anxiety relief from cannabis use, the effects can vary depending on the individual and the specific strains or products used. 

Here are a few considerations for using cannabis to potentially manage anxiety: 

Strain Selection 

Different cannabis strains have varying levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, which contribute to their unique effects. High-CBD strains or those with a balanced THC-to-CBD ratio are often preferred for anxiety relief, as CBD is believed to have calming properties. 

Consumption Methods 

The method of consumption can also impact the effects. Oral ingestion through edibles or tinctures results in slower onset but longer-lasting effects. Start with low doses and gradually increase as needed to find the right balance. 

Individual Sensitivity 

Each person's response to cannabis can vary due to factors such as tolerance, metabolism, and overall health. It's crucial to pay attention to your body's reaction and adjust your usage accordingly. 

Potential Risks And Side Effects 

Cannabis use may have side effects such as dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, and temporary memory impairment.11 

Additionally, high THC doses or certain strains may exacerbate anxiety in some individuals.8 

It is advisable to avoid cannabis use if you have a history of substance abuse or certain mental health conditions that could potentially be worsened by cannabis. Consult with your doctor to learn more about interactions and other factors that may play a role in your experience. 

Differences In Cannabis Strains And Their Effects On Anxiety 

Cannabis strains can vary in their chemical composition, particularly in the concentrations of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. These differences can influence the effects of cannabis on anxiety. 

THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, is known to have the potential to induce anxiety and increase feelings of paranoia, especially when consumed in high doses.8 Therefore, strains with high levels of THC may not be suitable for individuals prone to anxiety or those seeking relief from anxiety symptoms. 

On the other hand, CBD has been found to have anxiolytic properties, meaning it can potentially reduce anxiety.7 CBD may counteract the anxiety-inducing effects of THC and promote a more relaxed state of mind. Strains with higher CBD and lower THC content are often recommended for individuals seeking anxiety relief. 

Additionally, terpenes, aromatic compounds found in cannabis, may also play a role in modulating the effects of cannabis on anxiety. Some terpenes, such as linalool and limonene, have been associated with anti-anxiety effects.12 13

Which Cannabis Product Is Best For Anxiety? 

When finding the best cannabis product for anxiety, it's important to consider your individual needs and preferences. 

CBD-dominant products are often recommended for anxiety due to their non-intoxicating nature and potential anxiolytic properties. CBD is believed to modulate the endocannabinoid system's activity, potentially promoting a sense of relaxation and calmness. 

CBD products, such as oils, gummies, capsules, or topicals, with low to no THC content, are commonly used for anxiety management. These products provide the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD without the psychoactive effects of THC. 

Some individuals, however, may find that a balanced THC-to-CBD ratio works better for their anxiety symptoms. The combination of THC and CBD may offer synergistic effects, where CBD can counteract the potential anxiety-inducing effects of THC. Such balanced products are often available in the form of oils, capsules, or gummies.

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Read Also: 


How much THC is safe for anxiety? 

The safe amount of THC for anxiety can vary from person to person, as individual responses to THC can differ. However, it is generally recommended to start with low doses of THC and gradually increase as needed.

Which edibles are good for anxiety? 

CBD-infused edibles are often recommended for anxiety relief. CBD is known for its potential calming and anti-anxiety effects. Therefore, when consumed as edibles, CBD can provide a soothing experience and help alleviate anxiety symptoms. If you do take edibles that have a high concentration of THC, go with the lowest possible dose and work your way up. Taking too much THC can be an unpleasant experience. You can always eat more, but you can never take less after you’ve eaten something. 

Is Sativa or Indica better for ADHD? 

Generally, Indica is often associated with calming effects, while Sativa is typically considered uplifting. Therefore, for individuals with ADHD, Indica strains may be more beneficial in promoting relaxation and reducing hyperactivity. However, it works differently for everyone, you may even end up enjoying a hybrid strain most. 

What is the difference between THC and CBD? 

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are two of the most well-known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The main difference between THC and CBD lies in their psychoactive effects. THC is the compound responsible for the "high" sensation often associated with cannabis use, while CBD does not produce intoxicating effects.