Cannabis can help you feel good and relaxed, but for those of you who are prone to anxiety, cannabis, especially THC, can trigger anxiety, so you need to be careful. In this article, I will talk about how to use cannabis to not trigger anxiety.
I have Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder and have successfully used cannabis for the past 5 years when I am aware and use cannabis with intent. I trigger panic attacks if I get carried away, not thinking about how much I’m consuming, like mindlessly inhaling from my vaporizer while scrolling Instagram, then oopsie, I’m way too high and feeling nervous.
Consuming cannabis with intention has always provided me with a pleasant and calming experience. You just need to be careful with your intake so you don’t accidentally take too much and trigger anxiety.
Watch this video on how to use cannabis with anxiety
Why THC triggers anxiety in some people
Our body has something called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)the ECS regulates many body functions such as sleep, appetite and mood, it is basically responsible for keeping our body in a state of homeostasis.
The ECS has many receptors that can be found throughout the body and brain and the cannabinoids from the cannabis plant bind to these different receptors.
Everyone is different in how their own ECS works and how their brain chemistry works. Therefore, THC will affect everyone differently. Some people may take large amounts of THC and barely feel it, while others may have a bad reaction to even the smallest amount of THC.
The only way to know if THC is safe for you with an anxiety disorder is to try it. Let’s review the best methods, and doses to try, to minimize THC-triggered anxiety.
Best Methods to Try When You Have Anxiety
There are several ways to consume cannabis: inhalation, ingestion and topical application. When you suffer from anxiety, there are certain methods and products that you should avoid. First I will talk about what products and methods you should avoid:
Avoid smoking– smoking cannabis is essentially setting fire to the plant and inhaling the smoke. This not only makes it very tough but also contains many toxins such as tar which is not good for anyone. Smoking is a method that is more likely to trigger anxiety than other methods and is a method to avoid.
Avoid concentrates- Concentrates are very potent and should be avoided when suffering from anxiety. Methods like dabbing are very likely to trigger anxiety, even in people who aren’t usually prone to anxiety, so if you’re offered a dab, walk away.
Vape pens, on the other hand, come in low dose options, such as Dosing pens that are formulated to be low dose and buzz when you hit 2.5mg, so this pen can be a good option for anxiety, but in general concentrates are best avoided.
Avoid certain foods– edibles are long lasting and can take several hours to dissipate. If you try an edible and it triggers anxiety, you’ll have to wait a while for the effects to wear off and that’s not something you want to do when you have anxiety.
Methods and products recommended in case of anxiety
There are a few options to try when you have anxiety that will reduce the chances of it triggering a panic attack.
Recommended method – vaporizing dry herbs: This is the best way to consume cannabis when you are prone to anxiety. Vaporizing dry herbs puts you in control of the cannabinoids and terpenes you release, so you can personalize your experience and minimize the chances of it triggering anxiety.
Using a dry herb vaporizer on a low setting will leave you feeling calm and it dissipates in 30 minutes (may take longer for some people) giving you a good idea if you can use the THC .
Recommended items: How to buy the best dry herb vaporizer for your lifestyle
Recommended method – fast acting edibles: fast-acting edibles have a similar onset and duration to inhalation methods as they bypass the liver and go directly into the bloodstream.
The start is about 15 minutes and the duration is about 60 minutes (on average, this may vary). This means you don’t have to wait long for it to go away, if it triggers anxiety.
Fast-acting products to try:
All beverages, alcohol based tinctures (most dyes in Canada are oils and last a long time), soluble which can be mixed into drinks or strips that dissolve in the mouth, work quickly, there are also some fast acting candies. Any fast-acting edible (other than beverages) will be listed as such in my product reviews section.
Recommended dose for anxiety
When you’re anxious, you want a small dose for any cannabis product containing THC. A low dose is different for each method.
|Vaporizing dry herbs||Less than 10% THC
Over 5% CBD
|Vape pens||Less than 30% THC
at least 30% CBD
(long and fast action)
|2 – 2.5mg of THC
Preferably 5mg + CBD
When you visit a cannabis store, ask the staff which low dose products they recommend for the method you have chosen to try. This will ensure that you get a product that is not too strong.
*Note – by law in Canada they are not allowed to recommend products for specific conditions like anxiety, just ask for low dose options
Recommended items: Cannabis 101: How to find the ideal dose and method
If you’re just very nervous trying any amount of THC, there are THC-free products you can try that will allow you to experience the benefits of the cannabis plant, without triggering anxiety.
CBD products will help relieve your anxiety, look for products high in CBD 50mg+ but start at around 20mg and see how that makes you feel. CBD doesn’t cause intoxication, so it won’t trigger anxiety, but it can sometimes be stimulating (like caffeine) in doses below 50mg, so keep that in mind.
The CBD products you should try should be made from hemp, as hemp is grown to contain less than 0.3% THC, all other CBD products will contain some THC, so check the bottle for THC amounts per ml , if you’re concerned about that.
Topicals are not psychoactive and won’t get you high, unless it’s a transdermal patch formulated to slow the release into your bloodstream. Other products like bath bombs, ointments and intimacy products won’t get you high or trigger anxiety even with THC because they don’t enter the bloodstream.
The only thing to consider with topicals containing THC is when you apply it to your face, where the skin is thinner. Some THC can be absorbed into the bloodstream, but in general topicals are safe to use when you have anxiety.
Get comfortable and start low and go slow
Always start with a low dose and go slow. This means waiting a while before trying more THC if the first dose wasn’t the right amount. We want to avoid overlapping your dose (especially with edibles) as this can make it difficult to know what the right dose is for you.
With edibles, I recommend waiting to try more until the next day, so you have a fresh start. With inhalation, I recommend waiting at least 15 minutes to try more, if the first dose wasn’t enough.
You also want to be in a calm and relaxed setting before trying THC. I find the evening to be the best time because that’s when the kids are in bed and I know I won’t be disturbed. Whenever this moment is right for you, wait until you know you are comfortable before trying THC, it will help you have a better experience.
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