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Best Strains for Anxiety

  • Can marijuana help with anxiety? For many patients, yes—and that can look like both managing and recovering from anxiety. But it’s important to remember that everyone responds differently to cannabis and that no two cases of anxiety are the same.
  • While you may choose to start with indica strains like Granddaddy Purple or CBD-forward options like Charlotte’s Web, sativa-heavy hybrids like Girl Scout Cookie shouldn’t be discounted.

If you’re at the end of your rope with standard treatments for mental health challenges—like counseling and pharmaceutical medications—you might be considering alternative healing methods like medical cannabis. Can marijuana help with anxiety?

For many patients, marijuana is an immensely helpful tool for both everyday symptom management and long-term recovery from the root causes of anxiety. But where should newcomers start their journey to plant-based healing?

In this guide, we’re breaking down everything people living with anxiety need to know about strains—subtypes of the Cannabis sativa plant that are carefully cultivated to produce specific effects. While newcomers with anxiety might consider indica strains or high-CBD products, experimentation is key: Let’s dive into how you might respond to different strains of cannabis.

An Introduction to Strains

First, let’s define what a strain is:

  • A strain is a subtype of the Cannabis sativa plant. A helpful analogy is dog breeds—while all domesticated dogs share a biological name (Canis familiaris), different subtypes have unique physical and behavioral characteristics. Individual cannabis strains are like individual dog breeds: different types of the same base organism.
  • Strains are specially cultivated by expert growers to create products with unique characteristics. Hemp strains, for example, are cannabis plants cultivated for their low THC and high CBD content.
  • Strains are highly unique, and new strains are hitting the market constantly. It can be difficult for patients to keep up with cannabis innovations, but experts like medical marijuana doctors and budtenders (dispensary workers) can help patients navigate new products.

Cannabis strains are divided into three categories: indica, sativa, and hybrid strains.

Indica Strains

While everyone responds differently to cannabis products, indica strains are generally recognized for their mellowing effects. People using indicas typically report:

  • Increased calm
  • Decreased anxiety and worry
  • Physical relaxation and pain relief
  • Drowsiness
  • Hunger and thirst

Some of the most popular indica strains on today’s cannabis market include:

  • Ice Cream Cake
  • Granddaddy Purple
  • Northern Lights
  • LA Confidential

People living with anxiety who have trouble sleeping or maintaining a healthy appetite may benefit from the calming, sleep-inducing, and appetite-enhancing effects associated with indica strains.

Sativa Strains

While some sativa strains can produce relaxing effects, sativas are most commonly associated with:

  • Feelings of creativity
  • Complex thought
  • Extroversion and talkativeness
  • Increased engagement in activities or hobbies
  • Improved focus and mental clarity

Some of the sativa strains you’re most likely to encounter on your next trip to the dispensary or pharmacy include:

  • Tangie
  • Sour Diesel
  • Pineapple Express
  • Durban Poison

Some sativas, unfortunately, can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety. Because they offer a somewhat stimulating effect, sativas aren’t always the best choice for people looking for anxiety symptom relief. However, experimentation is key, and you might find relief or support from a mellowing sativa strain.

Hybrid Strains

Hybrid strains are some of today’s most popular options for medical cannabis users: they’re cultivated from a combination of indica and sativa plants to create a blend that offers the best of both.

Hybrids can be:

  • Sativa-heavy
  • Indica-heavy
  • Relatively balanced in sativa and indica genetic content

As a result, the effects across hybrid strains can vary widely. In general, hybrid strains seek to blend sativas’ creativity and complex thinking stimulation with indicas’ mellowing, calm-inducing effects.

Some of the most common hybrid strains on the market include:

  • Girl Scout Cookie
  • Cherry Pie
  • Blue Dream
  • OG Kush

As you might imagine, hybrid strains are a favorite among people living with anxiety: they offer versatile support for a variety of symptoms of anxiety.

Anxiety and Medical Cannabis: Considerations for Patients

With all of the above in mind, what should patients consider before trying medical cannabis for anxiety? Let’s dive into three key aspects to think about before your next dispensary visit.

Strain Choice Should Depend on Symptoms

No two cases of anxiety are the same. Anxiety can look like:

  • Persistent worry or stress
  • Unfounded fears
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sweating or trembling
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty socializing
  • Physical pain (e.g., headaches, heart palpitations, muscle aches)

While some strains of marijuana may be well-suited to some of the symptoms on this (non-exhaustive) list, don’t rule out the possibility that you may need multiple strains to help manage different symptoms.

  • If you’re struggling with sleep, you might use an indica strain to support a deeper and more restful slumber.
  • If you’re typically most anxious in social settings, an extroversion-boosting sativa strain might work well on an as-needed basis.
  • If muscle aches and tension are impacting your quality of life, a topical CBD-heavy product might work best for relieving acute discomfort.

Simply put, there’s no need to limit yourself to just one product: you might find support across the cannabis strain spectrum.

Strains and Self-Reflection

Throughout this guide, we’ve touched on both symptom relief and long-term recovery from anxiety. What could the latter look like?

Young woman looking in the mirror smiling-TeleLeafThe difference between management and recovery is typically intentional use. Many patients leverage medical cannabis to:

  • Help ground themselves during a panic attack or stressful experience
  • Slow down their thoughts so they can be processed more easily
  • Unpack triggers and memories in a more relaxed state
  • Work through reflection or journaling exercises to process trauma and other root causes of anxiety

While one experience using medical cannabis likely won’t solve your anxiety for good, recovery from anxiety is possible with the right approach and tools.

This is when mellowing sativa strains and sativa-heavy hybrids can be of immense usefulness for people looking to overcome anxiety for good. Since they can inspire critical thinking and creativity, sativas can help anxiety patients explore their innermost thoughts to work through roadblocks on the path to healing.

But it’s not always the right time for self-work: consider keeping a strain on hand that can support your self-reflective, recovery-focused activities and a supply of a more mellowing product for acute symptom relief. A multi-strain solution is often the most effective approach for people living with anxiety.

Experimentation Tips for Finding Your Ideal Strain

A strain that works for a friend with anxiety may not have the same effect on you: medical cannabis treatment requires experimentation. Here are some tips that can help newcomers experiment safely and efficiently to find their ideal strain:

  • Ask professionals for advice – Your medical marijuana doctor (i.e., the provider who offers a recommendation for medical cannabis) and your budtender (the person working behind the counter at your pharmacy or dispensary) are invaluable resources throughout your medical marijuana journey. They can help guide you toward potential strains and help you fine-tune your product selection.
  • Document everything – Consider writing down your symptoms and your response to each strain in a journal or keeping a log in your smartphone. Collecting data will help you identify trends and find the products that offer the most effective relief.
  • Start low and slow – No matter which strain you choose to try first, start at the lowest possible dose and increase your dosage slowly over time. For smoking and vaping applications, that might look like just one or two puffs; for edibles, a quarter of a gummy or baked good; and for tinctures and oils, just one drop. You can always increase your dose to effective levels, but you can’t quickly reverse the effects of the “green out”—the sometimes unpleasant effects of overconsumption. Taking a cautious approach will help you find your perfect dose without overdoing it.

TeleLeaf: Connecting Patients with Anxiety Relief and Recovery

Can you get a medical card for anxiety? In some states, yes. But if you’re not sure where to start managing anxiety with medical cannabis, TeleLeaf is your number one resource.

Our mission is simple: to connect patients with the all-natural, plant-based medicine they need to manage (or even recover from) debilitating medical challenges. Whether you’re struggling with the everyday realities of anxiety, recovering from a harrowing life experience, or working through a depressive episode, we’re confident that medical cannabis can revolutionize your healing. We’ve seen the results firsthand.

If you’re ready to start your journey with medical cannabis, schedule your first appointment with TeleLeaf today.


Sources:

Healthline. Cannabis 101: A Guide to Indica Strains.
https://www.healthline.com/health/indica-strains

Santa Cruz Sentinel. The 15 Best Sativa Strains to Try in 2024 for Energy, Creativity, Focus, and More.
https://www.santacruzsentinel.com/2023/11/28/best-sativa-strains/

Mile High Dispensary. The Top 5 Hybrid Strains of 2022.
https://mhdbuds.com/the-top-5-hybrid-strains-of-2022/

World Health Organization. Anxiety Disorders.
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/anxiety-disorders

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