For millions of people, consuming cannabis relieves them from anxiety faster and better than prescription drugs. Anxiety has been identified as one of the most popular disorders treated with medical marijuana in places like Colorado and California. However, cannabis has also been identified to have an opposite effect on users, leaving them paranoid and anxious. While we might have experienced this feeling at one point or the other, many of us do not know the reasons for this.
Any foreign substance put into the body tends to have an effect one way or the other. The type of effect(s) depends on the chemical composition of the substance, the person’s own chemical make-up, and method of consumption. The brain responds to outside stimuli in several ways. Consequently, while some get relief from anxiety after taking cannabis, which is usually accompanied by a calming sensation, others do not get the same feeling. Something we know for certain is that in the short term, cannabis has been known to increase blood pressure. Which understandably might be alarming for someone trying cannabis for the first time. The science continues to grow and so far we have learned several more reasons for anxious affects to occur.
The major reasons for feeling anxious and/or paranoid after taking cannabis are:
- The percent of THC inside the cannabis being consumed, and
- How THC is processed individually through the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is tasked with how the brain responds to fear, stress, anxiety, and other emotional responses. The varying chemicals in the brain keep the ECS in check, and vice versa. A slight change in those chemicals can lead to a significant difference in an individual’s performance, mood and behavior.
One of the strangest things about the endocannabinoid system is that a single toke of cannabis can restructure the system, leaving the user completely calm and relaxed after the smoke session.
The indica strains, for instance, are known for being able to induce a sleepy, relaxing high. The sativa strains, on the other hand, are known for providing an uplifting, clear-headed feeling. Then there are hybrid strains that have a mix of both worlds. With each of the strains having a different chemical makeup and configuration, the variations are endless. This simply means that while a sativa or indica might not lead to anxiety or paranoia, other strains could cause these feelings. What it comes down to more, is the terpene profile and the percentage of the cannabinoids.
Depending on the type of cannabinoids and terpenoids in the cannabis strain, your ECS can have a completely different reaction that induces a feeling of anxiety and paranoia. High amounts of THC can actually exacerbate insomnia and anxiety. While lower doses of THC have been more effective in helping anxiety. Remember, it’s not just the dose though, it’s also the type of cannabis, and method of consumption.
The ways of consuming cannabis can also affect how the brain reacts to the consumption of cannabis. Typically when someone uses concentrates which have a high percent of THC and consumes through smoking in some way, that THC will go directly to the brain and can shock the system (depending on the person). If someone takes an edible and doesn’t wait the suggested amount of time before taking more, they will have crossed their prime threshold of what is medicinal into the “too much” point of no return. The general rule of thumb is: you can always eat more, you can’t eat less. This is why it is so important to educate yourself on your own body and how cannabis will affect you.
In addition to the reasons mentioned above, there are other factors that could affect how cannabis is processed. One such outside factor being the emotional condition of the user. There are several points to make here.
- You will have the type of high you manifest. So, if you are already anxious, and think marijuana will solve the problem, you’ve already set yourself up for failure. You may not know this, but we can rewire our brain by thinking positively or negatively. In fact, if you smile, you automatically begin to rewire your brain to be more positive!
- The other component is whether or not the person has a predisposition, or already has a diagnosis of some sort. Especially if they are taking medications for a mental health issue, they should consult with their doctors as well as find someone knowledgeable in cannabis. There can be chemical buildup and unintended reactions if people are taking prescription medications with cannabis.
The main thing to take into consideration is that with every person, there is a different way of processing. What works for one person, might not work for another. This is a basic rule of life and should be applied accordingly. If you do begin to panic because you took too much, CBD will help “sober you up”. Anxiety comes from thoughts about future or past events that we cannot change. Although, we can control our thoughts, rewire our brain and perhaps someday soon a cannabis chill pill will be available in stores near you!