The recent legalization of medical cannabis shows that governments and health communities worldwide are beginning to recognize the health benefits of the substance.
One of the conditions that it’s known to treat is anxiety; the chemical compounds present in cannabis are believed to regulate fear and reduce anxiety-induced behavior.
But what is it exactly in cannabis that helps in managing anxiety and when can it be used to help? To understand how it works, it’s important to get to know the two most prevalent components of cannabis: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
CBD vs. THC
Cannabis produces eighty to one hundred cannabinoids, such as CBC vs. CBD vs. CBG. These are substances that interact with certain cannabinoid receptors in the brain, regulating cell communication. CBD and THC are often the main cannabinoids in medical cannabis due to their therapeutic effects. Both can be used in a variety of ways including vaping CBD and THC.
What Is CBD?
CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical primarily derived from the hemp plant, a type of cannabis plant that mostly contains CBD. It doesn’t make you high; instead, it’s known to treat psychotic disorders, type 2 diabetes, chronic pain, inflammation, and certain tumors.
Thanks to the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018, hemp cultivation is legal and, in turn, so are all types of CBDs. It’s legal in all fifty states, with varying degrees of restrictions. You can ingest it in different forms, such as oils, capsules, topicals, edibles, and even as vape juice.
What Is THC?
THC is the main psychoactive chemical of cannabis, responsible for the high that people feel when consuming the substance. It induces feelings of euphoria and relaxation, along with containing analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
How Does Cannabis Affect Anxiety?
When choosing between cannabis products, it’s important to note the amounts of THC and CBD, especially if you’re consuming it to treat anxiety. CBD is better at reducing anxiety and its symptoms. And while THC also works the same way in small doses, too much of it can actually increase your anxiety.
CBD And Anxiety
Pre-clinical trials and limited clinical evidence have shown that CBD is effective in reducing anxiety disorders, including:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic disorder (PD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
That said, since studies on the correlation between CBD and anxiety are limited, there’s no consensus on proper dosage.
THC And Anxiety
If a person’s anxiety comes with depressive moods or behaviors, THC can be a good option for treatment since it produces mood-lifting effects. However, since THC is a psychoactive stimulant and can, therefore, exacerbate anxiety through racing thoughts and an elevated heart rate, it isn’t as commonly recommended for the treatment of anxiety as CBD. That said, consuming CBD and THC together can be effective, especially if there are larger amounts of the former or if the substance contains equal parts of both. Additionally, THC in small doses can be similarly efficacious.
Is CBD Or THC Better For Anxiety?
Although both can be effective, CBD is safer when it comes to treating anxiety-related conditions. It’s also legal and easily available everywhere in different forms, making it simple to consume regularly. Whichever you choose, make sure that you take cannabis responsibly—ideally with a physician’s (and the state law’s) green light.