Many people find that cannabis relieves symptoms of anxiety, but unlocking these benefits requires careful navigation so that you don’t take a wrong turn.
When it comes to anxiety, cannabis has the potential to be quite beneficial, but there are a lot of variables at play. Many consumers find that a smoke sesh, tincture, or well-timed edible is just the ticket for keeping symptoms of anxiety at bay. For others, weed can temporarily send them into spiraling worries or paranoia.
However, treating “cannabis” as a monolith either way is problematic. Delving into ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes, and exploring the qualities of various strains can pay dividends for those wondering if cannabis is good for anxiety, including people who have had negative experiences with cannabis products in the past.
It’s all about being self-aware and recognizing what works for you and what doesn’t, whether it’s the strain or the setting—or both.
Is Cannabis Good for Anxiety? Here’s the Research
While cannabis can have a range of effects when it comes to anxiety, it makes for an effective chill pill for many people. There’s no shortage of anecdotal reports of people utilizing cannabis to combat anxiety, particularly social anxiety.
Research published in 2020 hints at the neurological basis for how cannabis can provide mental relief effects. Scientists identified a certain molecule, 2-AG, that temporarily blocks the connection between the frontal cortex, associated with conscious processing, and the amygdala, a brain area highly associated with anxiety and stress responses. Researchers have found that this connection is stronger in people with clinical anxiety, and the neural receptors that respond to 2-AG are also activated by cannabis.
While speculative, the finding points to a neurological explanation of how cannabis can relieve anxiety by keeping the amygdala’s signals from disrupting the frontal cortex.
A study out of the University of Washington found that THC lowered anxiety at low doses and raised it at higher doses, while CBD lowered anxiety at any associated dose. But there’s a lot going on in cannabis beyond THC and CBD. The study authors acknowledge: “As a plant, marijuana is composed of more than 500 chemical substances. Only a fraction of these have been studied.”
In-depth clinical study of the interplay between these myriad compounds and how the human body interacts with them, known as the entourage effect, is still in the early stages. But scientists are laying the groundwork for further study of the mechanisms of cannabis and anxiety.
What Are the Best Cannabis Strains for Anxiety?
Cannabis affects different people in different ways, and that’s doubly true when it comes to anxiety.
As you consider aiding your anxiety management with cannabis, consider what amplifies or quells your symptoms. Are they activated by spiraling thoughts? Physical discomfort? Certain social situations? Also consider what alleviates those anxious thoughts. Feelings of wellbeing? A meditative state? Physical relaxation? Answering these questions will help steer you in finding cannabis strains that improve your mindset.
Because high-THC sativa strains are more likely to spark anxious thoughts in some people, at Veritas we recommend indica or indica-forward hybrids in our Alleviate and Rejuvenate categories, as these tend to have a nice mellowing effect, and starting with modest doses. If you find that’s the type of feeling you want, try different doses and strains in that same category.
Here are a few of our personal favorite strains in the Alleviate and Rejuvenate categories, and why we like them: Sunset Animal promotes feelings of tranquility, as do other indica-dominant strains like Sundae Float and La Kush Cake. If you’re looking for more of a boost of positive energy and sunshine, try Animal Mints or Papaya Cake. The First Cut exclusive Old Family Purple features the parent strain Purple Urkle, which many have found to be helpful for anxiety relief.
When it Comes to Cannabis and Anxiety, Stay Mellow
Experienced cannabis consumers can often navigate based on their own past experiences, but for people who are less practiced, or who have recently developed anxiety issues, the key is to take it slow.
Start with low-THC strains at modest dosages, and change course as needed and desired. When you’re in new mental territory, take it one step at a time. That gives you the best chance of finding where you want to go.
Learn more about Veritas strains and cannabinoids on our blog.
Datrianna Meeks∙ February 18, 2021 7:00 am PST | Updated 22 hours ago
Slap & Tickle, Granola Funk, Cat Piss, these are three strains that have at least one thing in common; their names garner visceral reactions, and that’s kind of the point. On the one hand, weed that “slaps and tickles” might make for an experience not unlike smoking your typical indica-dominant hybrid. On the other hand, cat piss is such an aggressive smell that’s so hard to get rid of that it’s almost unfathomable that anyone would want to smoke it. But as the weed adage goes, don’t trust a strain by its name.
As weed comes into the mainstream, breeders are coming out of the shadows and finding ways to express their unique perspective, stand out, and capture the attention of a variety of smokers. Enter strain names. They’re a breeder’s choice, and are often drawn from attributes like taste, smell, lineage, effects, and color, but can also be based on more hazy things like a random memory the breeder had or something they experienced while smoking.
Naming is a form of branding and self-expression for breeders, and they should retain that creativity and agency; however, novel names can be off-putting, which means people miss out on new experiences and effects they might otherwise benefit from.
Unique strains and the people who name them
Classic strain names like Sour Diesel and Blue Dream tell you what you can expect, and they’ll always be available. Still, these days, breeders are experimenting and perfecting new crosses, many of which might sound like things you’d want to steer clear of, yet the flavors and effects might surprise you. With this in mind, we chatted with four different cultivators about what funny-named strains they’re breeding and why you should try them.
Ethan Woods, co-founder, and CEO of Desert Underground worked to get the best genetics he could get his hands on and spent two years conducting R&D before launching Desert Underground. Today, Desert Underground has forty grow rooms and harvests every three weeks, so they’re continuously learning and perfecting the product.
Parks McMillan, Director of Cultivation at Seed & Smith, doesn’t play it safe when it comes to betting on strains. Seed & Smith’s strain catalog has depth and range because Parks makes sure to cater to connoisseurs, with unique strains, and newer smokers, with strains that have fruitier, sweeter profiles.
The lead Cultivator of Veritas Fine Cannabis, Shane Reynolds, uses his years of experience growing cannabis to acquire quality genetics and uses them to cultivate a number of strains on this list, many of which have names that pack as much punch as the flower itself.
Kenny Powers, aka Powerzzzup, has cultivated strains for a brand that is as close to a household name as you can get in the cannabis space: Cookies. Not only are his strains rapper approved, but they draw long lines of smokers to Cookies dispensaries. The Cookies Fam regularly garners crowds akin to that of a Jordan release day, before there was a SNKRS app.
Here are eight strains with off-putting names as recommended by the breeders and growers cultivating them.
GMO (Garlic Mushroom Onion aka Garlic Cookies)
We’d be remiss if we didn’t start with GMO, a strain that paved the way for a few of the strains on this list. A cross of GSC and Chemdog, GMO has a pungent, funky smell, similar to that of garlic. You might not come for the flavor, but you should stay for the effects which make the garlicky bite worth enduring. It can clear the mind and melt the body, making way for a calm focus without the intensity you might expect from a high THC strain. Find GMO strains
After you’ve tried GMO and are ready to hit the old dusty trail, grab Garlic Road, a phenotype of GMO with a name that’s a bit more on the nose. Garlic Road, a cross of GMO and I-95, named after a highway in Colorado, has a sweet aroma and GMO-like effects that lean more uplifting. GMO leaves most people relaxed yet focused, and Garlic Road tends to do the same — but with an added smile and pep in your step. Find Garlic Road strains
Yuk Mouth won’t ruin your teeth, but it might give you cottonmouth, so you may want to grab some mints before lighting up. This GMO and Dosidos cross has an aggressive nose, and if that’s not your thing, maybe the cerebral euphoria and full-body relaxation are.
Described by Reynolds as an “old school creeper,” Yuk Mouth’s effects might be latent, but when they hit, you’ll be forced into a horizontal position, wondering where the nearest drink is. Find Yuk Mouth strains
Let’s address the unicorn in the room. No, this strain doesn’t smell like poop. Unicorn Poop gives off citrusy, diesel notes thanks to its parents, GMO and Sophisticated Lady. As for the name, it’s a nod to the color and shine of the nugs. Unicorn Poop is a beauty, with a very distinct layer of trichomes that makes it shine.
If you’re still on the fence, please your inner child who probably would have loved to spend a few hours with a unicorn, and while that’s not what’s happening here, the giggly, euphoric effects are a close second. Find Unicorn Poop strains
While the name “Fly” comes from its parents, Florida Kush and The Y, it could also have been foreshadowing how the strain would enter the market: with a lot of buzz and difficult to catch. This Cookies strain, bred by Powerzzzup, hits the body hard, and prepares the mind for takeoff with it’s cerebral effects. The flavor is sweet with gassy notes — a bit more palatable than the name might imply. Find Fly strains
Poon Tang Pie
Come for the pie, stay for the tropical vibes. A cross of Tropicana, Grape Pie, and Papaya, Poon Tang Pie is for flavor chasers. With notes of berry, citrus, and pine, this strain will leave your mouth watering, mood boosted, and ease you into a euphoria that gently washes over the body. The name, believed to be a nod to the comedy film Pootie Tang, references the papaya and grape pie lineage that give the strain its sweet, fruity flavors. Find Poon Tang Pie strains
Who knew weed could taste like a hamburger? We owe a collective thank you to the genius who smoked and thought, “weed should taste like meat.” MeatBreath, a cross of Meatloaf and Mendo Breath, is relaxing yet cerebrally stimulating. It starts behind the eyes but follows up with a jolt of energy, making it perfect for evening creativity or focus time, before easing your eyes closed for the night. This strain is said to be named both as a result of lineage and homage, most notably Lamb’s Breath which had a breakout moment over a decade ago. Find MeatBreath strains
Not off-putting so much as simply unusual. Smoke like multi-hyphenate rapper/businessman Berner, and try Gary Payton. Cookies fam breeder Kenny Powers’ story of choosing the name “Gary Payton” gives us a glimpse into the cultivation process. What is now known as Gary Payton was formerly “strain number 20” of many phenotypes he was testing. Strain number 20 stood out, and it just so happened to be Gary Payton’s old number.
This collaboration is the real deal, folks. Cookies worked with Gary Payton to license and bring this strain to the market. If you’re familiar with Gary Payton’s revered NBA career, then you might expect this strain to feel like a full-court press, but it’s quite balanced. Gary Payton delivers relaxed energy that eases body pain while providing mental clarity. It’s no surprise that Berner contacts Powers for this strain before his studio sessions.Find Gary Payton strains
Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
How to use cannabis sublinguals: Here’s everything you need to know to get up to speed on this unique form of cannabis consumption.
Typically, we think of cannabis in two ways: It’s something you can inhale, either by smoking traditional flowers or vaping, or it’s something you can eat, in various forms of edibles.
However, there’s another type of cannabis product that’s rising in popularity because it has a faster onset time than edibles, provides more exact dosages, is super discreet and puts no stress on the lungs: cannabis sublinguals.
What are cannabis sublinguals?
Cannabis sublinguals are a form of delivery in which cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are consumed by placing a dose under the tongue (hence the Latin “sub-lingual”), and letting it dissolve. From there, the cannabis compounds enter into the bloodstream by absorbing into blood vessels in the mouth. While not as fast-acting as any method involving the lungs, the onset is typically quicker than edibles—around 10 to 20 minutes, as opposed to up to two hours.
Sublinguals typically come as concentrates or tinctures. You also might find strips or sprays, similar in appearance to breath fresheners.
Concentrates designed for sublingual consumption are highly potent oils that tend to have the texture of honey or molasses. Tinctures are cannabis extracts diluted in a neutral food-grade “carrier” substance, typically ethanol alcohol or a plant-based oil such as coconut or olive. They often come with a dropper to help you measure out exactly how much you want to consume.
How are cannabis sublinguals made?
The tincturing process is relatively straightforward. Low heat is applied to ground cannabis to activate the cannabinoids, a process called decarboxylation (this step is similar to activating cannabinoids by applying a flame to a bowl or joint). Then the cannabis plant matter is steeped in oil or alcohol for a period of time to extract the plant trichomes that contain cannabinoids and terpenes before the plant matter is filtered out, leaving the infused liquid ready for consumption.
Concentrates have a more intensive manufacturing process that requires expensive equipment to safely capture flammable solvent gases, aka a closed-loop system. The trichomes are extracted by a solvent—a hydrocarbon such as butane or propane, or supercritical CO2 that in liquid form acts as a solvent—in a process that generally involves high heat. The solvent is removed after the concentrate is made, but hydrocarbon residue may persist in the final product at trace levels, which is why it’s important to seek out tested products in the regulated market.
How to use cannabis sublinguals
Because cannabis sublinguals have a fairly quick onset time, and can be metered out in precise doses, new cannabis consumers are advised to start small and work their way up until they reach the desired effect. The same advice holds when trying a new product.
Concentrates and tinctures can be highly variable in how powerful or diluted they are, so always make sure you know the potency of what you are consuming. Concentrates may be several times the strength of smokable flower.
Tinctures tend to be easy to measure out, because one typically uses a dropper to ferry a dose from bottle to mouth. Many consumers find oils to have a pleasant taste, and that cannabis interacts well with fats—a notion that will be familiar to anyone who has baked with cannabutter.
Be especially mindful when using concentrates, as it is very easy to consume much more than you were intending. One can use a precision digital scale to measure out doses (and again, if you aren’t sure how your body will react to concentrates, start with a minimal dose, and add only a little more if needed—keeping in mind that it’s a cumulative effect). Due to its sticky, viscous texture, some concentrate consumers put it on something edible, such as rice paper, so that they can measure out how much they want without making a mess.
Finally, remember the “sub” part of “sublingual.” Whatever form they take, cannabis sublinguals are meant to be absorbed into the membranes underneath your tongue, not through your stomach. If you apply your dose to the top of your tongue, you probably won’t get the desired results.
As a smoke-free, discreet, and precise consumption method, sublinguals are seeing increased popularity, and that trend is likely to keep going as more people try them out. Both trepidatious novices and experienced cannabis aficionados have good reason to give cannabis sublinguals a try.
Check out the Veritas blog to learn more about scientific discoveries and cannabis trends.