The Role of Strains and Dosage in Minimizing Paranoia from Cannabis
Feelings of paranoia can strike and be triggered by the most innocuous things. Has that van been parked outside your house for a long time? Or maybe you are sitting on your couch and fairly sure your cat is judging you harshly about your life choices?
There are mental health conditions where paranoia can be a side effect, such as Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) and Schizophrenia. Individuals diagnosed with a mental health condition that causes paranoid thoughts or delusions are not certified for medical cannabis, as marijuana use can exacerbate symptoms.
Symptoms of paranoia can vary from mild to severe, and while movies and television like to paint a comical scenario, it’s no laughing matter. Particularly for people with underlying health conditions, where stress caused by paranoia can lead to an adverse health event.
If you have already experienced cannabis-related paranoia, you know that the symptoms can feel very uncomfortable. And you will want to avoid strains of medical cannabis with a higher-than-average probability of triggering paranoid thoughts.
In this article, we’ll talk about why certain strains may cause paranoia and how to steer clear of them. We will also discuss why cannabis may cause paranoia and the steps you can take if you start experiencing paranoid thoughts after consuming marijuana.
What is Cannabis-Related Paranoia?
After consuming cannabis, if you start to feel anxious, suspicious, or scared, you may be experiencing marijuana paranoia. The expectation is for cannabis to make you feel relaxed, and often, cannabis can have a positive effect on mood. Providing a break from stressful thoughts and emotions.
There is still so much to learn about cannabinoids and how they impact the mind and body. There is scientific evidence that some strains can trigger changes in key cognitive mechanisms that can trigger feelings of paranoia. In some cases, when excessive amounts of cannabis are consumed (high-potency strains), marijuana may also cause mild hallucinations.
Common Feelings When Experiencing Cannabis-Induced Paranoia
Not every strain can cause a state of negative emotions, but when an individual experiences paranoia, it can affect individuals differently. Some people share that they simply feel uncomfortable and unable to relax, while others can have symptoms similar to a panic attack.
Varying for each person in intensity, paranoia symptoms can be mild to severe. Several factors, including mental health conditions, trauma, and other substances combined with cannabis, may increase the risk of experiencing paranoid thoughts.
Some of the common feelings you may have from cannabis-induced paranoia include:
- Irrational Suspicion (of others or your surroundings).
- Delusions (contemplating bizarre scenarios or conspiracy theories).
- Fear (discomfort around people or things you are familiar with).
- Hypervigilance (monitoring your environment for threats).
- Physical symptoms (sweating, rapid heart rate, and muscle tension).
The negative effects of cannabis-induced paranoia will subside with time as your body processes the THC. Drinking more water may help flush out cannabinoids more quickly, but avoid stimulants like caffeine beverages, as they can amplify feelings of anxiety. Higher doses of any stimulant (including cannabis) can prolong symptoms.
Who is Most at Risk of Experiencing Cannabis-Related Paranoia?
Women have a higher risk of experiencing cannabis-related paranoia. Some clinical studies have suggested that estrogen levels can substantially increase cannabis sensitivity. In one study, it estimated that women may have a 30% higher sensitivity to THC compared to men.
Some studies have suggested that people with a family history of specific mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, may have a higher risk of experiencing paranoid effects from cannabis use.
The scientific evidence is inconclusive on the matter, but researchers suspect variances in the amygdala area of the brain and the functioning of cannabinoid receptors, which may predispose some people to cannabis-related paranoia and psychosis.
Why Can Some Strains of Cannabis Cause Paranoid Thoughts?
Certain types of cannabis interact with the region of the brain that is responsible for creating emotions like anxiety, suspicious thoughts, and fear. Both Sativa and Indica dominant strains that have high potency are most likely to mess with brain chemistry in an area of the human brain (Amygdala) to turn up the fear response to abnormally high levels.
It should be noted that Indica strains are traditionally higher in cannabidiol (CBD) content, which can offset some of the effects of THC. Therefore, Indica strains may be less likely to cause paranoia compared to high-potency Sativa strains, but it may have the opposite effect for some patients.
Medical marijuana use is an exercise in trial and error. Low doses of cannabis, at mild potency levels, maybe the best way to avoid having paranoid experiences after consuming marijuana. Researchers do know that higher THC content increases the risk of unwanted feelings of anxiety or paranoia.
Strains With A Reputation For Causing Paranoia
Since spending the afternoon or evening feeling wound up, worried, and stressed out is as unpleasant as it gets, you want to make sure you are choosing your strains wisely. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to learn more about a cannabis strain before you buy or try it.
Strains you may wish to avoid if you have experienced symptoms of anxiety or paranoia include:
- Jack the Ripper.
- Girl Scout Cookies (GSC).
- Grandaddy Purple.
- Train Wreck.
- Tangerine Dream.
- Durban Poison.
- Willie Nelson.
Remember that resources such as Leafly or Weedmaps have extensive information about every strain available in American dispensaries. So make that your first stop to get the facts about any new strain you want to try. And watch out for the “may cause feelings of paranoia” warning in the strain review.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Experiencing Cannabis Paranoia
When you are purchasing marijuana for medical purposes, you are aiming for a beneficial therapeutic effect. Not hours of emotional discomfort. The good thing is that there are several steps that you can take to help avoid choosing a cannabis strain with a high probability of symptoms of paranoia.
Research Different Cannabis Strains Online
In the days before state legalization of medical or recreational marijuana, there were very few online resources. And if we’re being honest, everyone was afraid to be typing marijuana-related search terms into Yahoo or Google search browsers.
But today, there is a wealth of information about specific strains of cannabis online. Choose a trusted resource, and explore the possible psychoactive effects of each strain you want to try. Before you visit the dispensary or order online for pick-up, you can have the information you need to choose
Aim for Strains With High CBD Ratios
Strains of cannabis that have higher than average ratios of cannabidiol (CBD) are safest. That is because cannabidiol can suppress the psychoactive compound in cannabis, which is THC. More research is needed, but so far, clinical studies have suggested that CBD may block from binding with a percentage of CB1 receptors in the brain.
Purchasing strains with good CBD content can balance the psychoactive effects of cannabis. Another good reason to look for medical cannabis with CBD content is that it can help with generalized anxiety and inflammation in patients with chronic pain.
Try Lower Potency Medical Cannabis Products
Medical cannabis products are available at different levels of potency. When a patient is new to using medical marijuana, and they are suffering from debilitating symptoms such as chronic pain, muscle spasms, or PTSD, they may overestimate the correct potency for their needs.
Using marijuana with higher THC content may also contribute to paranoia and other negative symptoms. One study reported that consuming 7.5 mg of THC was sufficient to reduce negative feelings and anxiety. However, doses exceeding 12.5 mg of THC were found to increase anxiety.
Make Note of Strains That Make You Feel Paranoid
Keeping a journal of the different strains you try may sound weird and like a lot of extra work. But it can help you on your journey to mastering the strains that work best for your wellness needs. At the very least, keep a list of any strain that caused symptoms of discomfort, including paranoia.
5 Things to Try When Experiencing Cannabis-Related Paranoia
Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to help flush THC out of your body, and it can take up to four hours for psychoactive effects to subside, depending on the potency and type of cannabis you have consumed. For example, cannabis edibles can continue to produce psychoactive effects for up to seven hours after consumption.
But there are some things you can do that may help create relaxing effects that can make it easier to cope with higher-than-normal stress levels caused by paranoia.
1. Try to Relax
Easier said than done, we know, when your mind is full of weed-induced paranoid thoughts. But taking a shower or a bath could help. Take out your yoga mat and try doing some stretches. Both options can help reduce cortisol levels and make you feel more calm. Take a deep breath, stretch, and repeat, then see if it helps.
2. Terpene Aromatherapy
There are natural terpenes you probably have in your kitchen or refrigerator that can help you reduce cannabis impairment, which may also help lower your symptoms of paranoia and anxiety. If you are experiencing bad feelings or a bad trip from cannabis, inhaling terpenes can be effective.
Start with fresh peppercorns. Pour some into a container and inhale the scent. Peppercorns have high pinene and caryophyllene terpene content. Both terpenes are known to reduce the psychoactive effects of THC. Other spices, such as cloves and cinnamon, also have high caryophyllene content, which can help.
Citrus fruits are also high in a different terpene called limonene. It is found in high concentrations within the peel of lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits. Score (or slice) the peel of your citrus fruit to unlock the terpenes and inhale. It may help provide relief.
3. Consider Taking a CBD Supplement
If you have CBD capsules or a tincture at home, try taking a dose. Cannabidiol (CBD) helps to suppress some of the psychoactive compounds and can be used anytime you are feeling uncomfortably impaired by cannabis.
Make sure you are reaching for a CBD supplement (with 0.30% THC or less). Using a medical cannabis product with CBD will only add more THC and could increase your stress response and anxiety levels. Many people report that cannabidiol helps reduce weed paranoia.
4. Phone a Friend or Invite Someone Over
Sometimes, feelings of paranoia can cause deep distress and emotional paralysis. If you feel your symptoms are serious or threaten your safety and well-being, contact someone you care about to talk. If possible, ask for a visit from a friend or family member so that you can ride out the symptoms in safety.
5. Took Edibles? Eat Some Carbohydrates
Don’t feel bad about reaching for some Cap’n Crunch® cereal; it might help you reduce your anxiety and paranoid thoughts. And reach for the big bowl. A large meal of carbohydrates can help reduce the absorption of THC through the digestive tract (if you have consumed edibles).
Stay away from fast food, however, because fatty foods can actually accelerate the absorption of THC through the digestive tract. If you have smoked cannabis or used a tincture, however, the THC passes directly into the bloodstream, and carbohydrates (while satisfying) will not help reduce psychoactive effects.
I am a Chief Marketing Officer at DocMJ, a leading provider of medical cannabis health services to qualified patients. I have over 20 years of experience in healthcare marketing and communications, with a proven track record of delivering impactful and compliant campaigns that educate, inform, and empower patients to make better choices for their health and wellness.