The media often misrepresents cannabis as a paranoia-inducing drug that comes with rapid heartbeat and anxiety. In reality, cannabis can actually do the opposite and greatly soothe anxiety and stress.
Scientific research on the link between marijuana and specific anxiety conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder is still sparse but interest is growing. Most evidence is anecdotal but a recent study in the Journal of Affective Disorders discovered that smoking cannabis may reduce self-reported levels of anxiety, depression, and stress in the short-term. In the context of social anxiety, a recent small study found that participants reported significantly less anxiety during public speaking after consuming CBD.
The paranoia effects of cannabis are often due to high THC concentration. Both THC and CBD interact with brain systems and receptors to influence anxiety: at low doses, THC can reduce anxiety but the wrong dose may tip an already anxious person over the edge. A known pain-reliever, CBD, on the other hand, has far more reliable anti-anxiety properties. It’s linked to relaxation, both physical and mental, and there are specific strands that have been known to specifically help with anxiety and high-stress response.
The way cannabis may soothe anxiety is through the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA. Anti-anxiety meds target the GABA receptors to induce calmness and relaxation. Cannabis can affect the GABA system in a similar fashion while also lowering the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.
Research is still being done on the potential anti-anxiety properties of cannabis. If smoking isn't your thing and a tincture or edible peaks your interest just remember to start off small. Microdosing is generally recommended in order to build your tolerance without experiencing unwanted side effects. Of course, more research will need to be done to examine the long-term effects and CBD’s potential but what we have so far suggests cannabis may be a far more efficient – and safer – alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.