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One of the most common self-reported reasons people choose to consume cannabis is to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. The research and science on cannabis and stress is still young, but early signs show that it can be helpful for both temporary relief after a stressful day or as a tool to help with chronic anxiety problems. This is because the THC and CBD in cannabis bind with the receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate things like anxiety and tension in the body. This not only provides relief in the moment, but can have positive effects that extend beyond the period of intoxication.
THC is the psychoactive component in cannabis, primarily interacting with cannabinoid receptors in the brain. With certain strains people may find the psychoactive effects calming and relaxing. You can even pair it with other relaxation methods, like breathing, scented candles or a hot bath to help unwind after a long day, easing your muscles and calming your mind.
It should be noted that not everyone responds to cannabis the same way and high-THC strains can increase feelings of paranoia and anxiety in some people, especially in high doses. However, recent studies have also shown that low-doses of THC can reduce overall levels of stress and anxiety people report feeling.
CBD is the second most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis. Despite being non-psychoactive, it has its own naturally calming properties. Early research has shown CBD to be a promising aid for general anxiety, social anxiety, mild panic disorders, PTSD and more. Some studies have shown that using only CBD in oil or capsule form can reduce everyday feelings of anxiety for extended periods, while low-temperature vaporizing with CBD-rich cannabis can relieve panic attacks in a few short minutes. CBD also counteracts some of the effects of THC, leaving you less intoxicated but still relaxed.
Cannabis strains, doses, and THC-to-CBD ratios can affect people differently. Always begin by having a conversation with your doctor. If it's decided cannabis can help, you may want to try a few different strains aimed at stress and anxiety relief—or better yet, at your specific condition—starting with small doses and working your way up until you and your doctor determine what is best for you.