In a Jan. 2017 issue of the Journal of Epidemiol Community Health, UK-based Dr. Conal D. Twomey set out to analyze the association between cannabis use and the development of anxiety symptoms in the general population. His findings indicate that cannabis use doesn’t really cause cannabis users to develop anxiety symptoms, pointing to the notion that cannabis may slightly elevate anxiety levels, but the cause of anxiety is elsewhere. Not only can this research inform the debate surrounding cannabis legalization, it can also help cannabis users better understand their anxieties, and take proper steps to mitigate symptoms. Still, most of us have experienced taking a little too much weed (the best argument for microdosing) and having our anxieties or paranoias exacerbated. Here are five ways to combat cannabis-induced anxiety, from treating the symptoms to perhaps even treating the cause.
Avid spliff enthusiast Bob Marley is famous for encouraging people to either “Lively up yourself” or risk annoying everyone around you in his eponymous 1974 reggae hit on Tuff Gong records (named after Rastafari movement leader, Leonard “the Gong” Howell). Bob felt one of the best ways to lively up was through toking some grass and engaging in exercise. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics demonstrated that, on average, cannabis consumers have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than people who abstain. Essentially, this means the Merry Jane users are less obese. This is great incentive to combine the gym with piff and get those #GanjaGainz.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is THC’s Swedish massage therapist cousin. Both THC and CBD are primary cannabinoids found in cannabis. THC gets you lifted, while CBD keeps you mellow—think of the pairing like Yin and Yang. Flower or products containing an equal 1:1 ratio of both tend to be revered as the most therapeutic cannabis available. The balance creates a euphoric sensation with a relaxing body buzz. When you find yourself anxious after a smoke, it could be you smoked buds containing little to no CBD. Years of genetic modifications and breeding for high-THC content has separated these primary cannabinoids out of most retail cannabis plants. So, look for cannabinoid ratios while perusing the dispensary shelves. As a general rule, skewing towards greater amounts of CBD in your nugs will induce less anxiety and provide deeper chill.
Sometimes when we’re anxious, we need to chill the negative thought-loops in our mind and focus on something calming and stimulating. Few things provide relief like going headlong into an artistic endeavor. According to a 2012 report in the peer-reviewed journal Perspectives in Public Health, there’s a growing “international acceptance of the notion that participation in the creative arts can be beneficial for well-being and health.” Then, it’s no surprise why art and music therapies are being employed by clinicians around the world to assist patients with learning disabilities and mood disorders.
Bang on some drums, draw stick figures, journal your thoughts. Build a model, play a board game, or go fly a kite. The goal is to do something fun and creative rather than think about everything bothering you. There’s plenty of time for that when you’re not high. If you’re prone to cannabis-induced anxiety, set goals. Try one week of getting high combined with learning something new, like painting or guitar. Who knows, maybe you’re the next Picasso or Hendrix.
Pistachios, or Pistacia vera, are seeds from a small tree in the cashew family that originated in Central Asia and the Middle East. Raw pistachios contain the terpenes pinene and myrcene, both effective at reducing anxiety and inducing relaxation. Roasted pistachios typically contain pinene plus delta-carene, which is the same pine-scented terpene in rosemary and cannabis, widely recognized for causing cottonmouth and red-eye. It also provides relaxation and a sense of well-being. Dried pistachios contain limonene, which may not directly combat the already anxious, but can elevate mood and relieve stress. So, pre-empting your next sesh with dried pistachios may be a great way to settle into a few dabs or bong rips. Pistachios also contain the amino acid arginine, which converts to nitric oxide in our bodies. Nitric oxide is a powerful neurotransmitter that relaxes blood vessels and improves circulation, calming the system and nourishing the heart.
In a 2014 interview with Howard Stern, rebel musician Neil Young suggested chewing black pepper to combat cannabis induced anxiety. Turns out, there’s science behind this. Black Pepper, or Piper nigrum, is the dried fruit of a flowering vine in the Peraceae family, which typically expresses the terpenes myrcene, alpha-pinene, and caryophyllene, all known for calming and relaxing properties. Presumed to originate from South Asia, dried pepper has been used as a folk medicine since ancient times. It’s also the world's most traded spice. Just a few sniffs of black pepper can provide instant relief from anxiety for some. Perhaps that’s why peppercorns were found stuffed in the nostrils of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II as part of his mummification in 1213 BCE. Also, you should generally listen to anything Neil Young tells you.