Will Sativa Strains Induce Anxiety?
Medical marijuana is becoming increasingly popular among people interested in a holistic option for relief. If you are tired of suffering from daily debilitating symptoms, medical marijuana might be right for you.
While many people are turning to medical marijuana to combat anxiety, there are a lot of individuals out there that have found themselves getting even more anxious after using it. If you see yourself getting anxious after trying marijuana products, know that you are not alone.
Anxiety is a common side effect typically associated with sativa strains, but modern-day research shows that it is more complex than that. Not all Sativa strains will cause anxiety, and some Indica plants are known to increase it too.
What Does Anxiety Feel Like?
Anxiety is a mental health condition with symptoms that can be debilitating. Some people describe anxiety as a nervous state where they cannot relax. Symptoms can also include upsetting thoughts and worries, self-consciousness, and concerns that others can transparently see “something is wrong” through visual body language and behaviors.
People with moderate to severe anxiety can have other symptoms, including panic attacks, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Derealization, or feeling detached or not part of the world around you, is another common symptom. Some patients with anxiety also develop symptoms of depression.
What Happens if Anxiety Symptoms Are Not Addressed?
Ignoring the condition or avoiding medical help can make symptoms of anxiety worse. People living with undiagnosed or untreated anxiety may experience cognitive problems, disability, and loss of productivity. Untreated anxiety also increases the risk of developing clinical depression, addiction (as an unhealthy coping method), and self-harm.
Sativas, Hybrids, and Indicas
Choosing the correct strain as a medical marijuana patient is one of the most critical aspects of finding the right symptom relief. You may notice that they are commonly categorized into three groups: Sativas, Indicas, and Hybrids. These groups are intended to help patients predict the effects of the strains they choose, and generally, this is what they expect:
- Sativa strains are uplifting and produce cerebral effects that give energy and race your mind.
- Hybrid strains are a balance of Sativa and Indica effects.
- Indica strains produce the body euphoria. They are physically sedating and perfect for calming down.
However, those classifications are for describing the physical properties of the cannabis plants themselves, not the effects they give. Indica and Sativa have been a term in cannabis since the mid-1700s.
When Were Different Strains of Cannabis Identified?
In 1753, a Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus, identified cannabis plants as Cannabis sativa in his work Species Plantarum. Then thirty-two years later, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck observed the physical characteristics of the plants and found that C. sativa leaves were light and narrow. Still, another similar plant had broad, dark green leaves.
Linnaeus identified this as Cannabis indica. Almost forty-five years later, in 1930, Cannabis ruderalis was discovered by Russian botanist Dmitrij Janischewsky.
It is essential to consider that these terms were created for botanists and not pharmacologists. Botanists use these terms to classify plants based on shared characteristics, not their effects on the human body.
Throughout the years, crossbreeding has dramatically changed the chemical composition of the cannabis plant. As a result, there is really no such thing as a “pure” Sativa or Indica anymore. The effects of the different plant species probably aligned more with their physical characteristics in the 1700s than they do today.
The Importance of Terpenes and the Entourage Effect
Most modern cultivars of the cannabis plant are technically hybrids. This is technically good because hybrids have been bred to produce specific desired qualities and effects. The entire plant’s chemical composition produces these strain-specific effects.
Cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other parts of the plant are what cause both the medicinal relief and the euphoric effects a user will experience. This is otherwise known as the entourage effect.
What is the Cannabis Entourage Effect?
The entourage effect is the theory that the entire plant produces more effective relief than isolated cannabinoids do. This synergistic relationship between all of the chemical compounds gives off a different effect than concentrated cannabinoids do.
The dominant cannabis compound, THC, is just one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Each strain has its own cannabinoid profile and accompanying effect.
One of the main components besides cannabinoids like THC and CBD are terpenes. These essential oils are organic compounds responsible for a plant’s flavors and aromas and can be found all throughout nature. They help determine how a strain affects each individual.
Common Cannabis Terpenes and Wellness Benefits
When the terms Indica and Sativa were established, we did not have a full understanding of how vital terpenes were to the overall effects of a given cultivar.
Although hundreds of different terpenes have been found in the cannabis species, only a few of them are sufficiently present. The four most prominent terpenes in cannabis are:
This terpene has the signature “earthy” smell found in most cannabis strains. Similar to several other cannabis compounds, myrcene may be an effective anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.
In addition to cannabis, this terpene is found in hops, cloves, and rosemary. It also has an herbal scent that is similar to these plants. Like myrcene, caryophyllene has both anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.
This citrus-smelling terpene can be found in both cannabis and common citrus fruits. Limonene can potentially boost the immune system, alleviate heartburn symptoms, and even be used to help dissolve gallstones rich in cholesterol.
Terpinolene has a fresh herbal-citrus aroma and is commonly found in plants such as rosemary, lilacs, and apples. Human studies have shown that terpinolene is a potent antioxidant, has sedative properties, and might be used to decrease cell proliferation associated with cancer.
Cannabis may also have minor terpene content. But just because there are smaller quantities of a certain terpene in Sativa dominant strains or Indica strains doesn’t mean it’s without value. Linalool, for example, can help elevate low mood and help reduce anxiety and stress.
Combatting Anxiety Caused by Marijuana
When you are working toward managing anxiety, the last thing you want to do is choose a strain that can escalate your symptoms. Highly potent strains of cannabis (whether Sativa or Indica) are associated with induced symptoms of anxiety.
If you are a new medical cannabis user, it is important to avoid anxiety-inducing effects. There are three ways to help narrow down the best marijuana strains to help manage your symptoms.
1. Research Cannabis Strains Online
There are many more resources online today to learn more about cannabis types of medical marijuana strains before you purchase at your local dispensary. Some of the most popular online ‘directories’ of cannabis strains include:
If you want more in-depth knowledge of different types of cannabis, you can also find information from seed manufacturers. Websites tailored for cannabis growers have detailed information about lineage and genetics that can provide better clues about the psychoactive and physiological effects.
Ask for Advice From Your Local Medical Marijuana Dispensary
The staff at your local dispensary, or ‘budtenders,’ are ready to help you find the best strains for your needs. But often, patients who are new to using medical marijuana feel too shy to ask.
Many dispensaries allow patients to schedule an appointment for 1:1 time. That makes it easier to ask questions about the types of medical marijuana you want. Budtenders are the ultimate resource and are ready to help.
Buy Small Quantities of New Strains and Take Notes
One of the most common mistakes that patients make is purchasing a large quantity of a new cannabis strain. While researching strains online is a great place to start, the effects of cannabis can be different for each individual. And you won’t know if a strain really works well for you unless you try it.
If you purchase a small quantity of a strain and you don’t like it, you won’t waste time or money. And if you are pleased with the effects the type of medical marijuana has, you can return to the dispensary to purchase more.
What Can You Do if Cannabis Stimulates Anxiety Symptoms?
The best thing you can do to prevent getting anxious from new strains is to always start low and go slow. This allows you to ease into the effects of the strain without finding yourself getting overwhelmed. If you do find yourself getting anxious about a new product, it does not mean cannabis is not meant for you, but it can mean that a specific terpene doesn’t agree with you.
Realizing that you are in the midst of an anxiety attack caused by cannabis is the first step to being able to calm yourself down. This self-awareness makes you able to identify the problem at hand in order to fix it.
The next best thing you can do for yourself is to stop and begin taking deep breaths. Stepping outside for a few minutes or taking a quick shower can also be a big help. Next, try eating or drinking something. This will have an instant effect on the chemicals in your bloodstream.
Popular Strains of Cannabis for Anxiety Symptoms
If you are worried about trying marijuana because of the potential anxiety it can cause, consider starting off with these strains that are available in Florida:
ACDC is an energetic marijuana strain that also has a high CBD level. It is one of the most medically beneficial hybrid strains and is known for its mild and clear-headed effects. It is used to minimize the side effects of chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and chronic pain.
This strain is another high-yielding CBD strain that is a cross between FSL 1-3 & Nepali Hashplant. It makes a user feel relaxed, happy, sleepy, euphoric, and talkative, all while combating inflammation, pain, spasms, stress, and headaches.
Remedy is a strain that is high in CBD and low in THC. It is a cross between Afghan Skunk and Cannatonic. Because of the high CBD percentages in this strain, it has a relatively mild effect that washes away pain and anxiety.
Also known as “Grandaddy Purp,” this is a high-THC strain whose lineage is a cross between Purple Urkle and Big Bud. It makes users sleepy, euphoric, happy, relaxed, and hungry. It is good for chronic pain, lack of appetite, stress, anxiety, and insomnia.
A perennial favorite of many patients, Northern Lights was cultivated from the genetics of Afghani and Thai strains but takes on the heavy properties of Afghani. It is reported that it makes users feel happy, sleepy, hungry, and focused and offers light pain relief as well as anxiety relief.
Florida’s Leading Medical Cannabis Healthcare Provider
DocMJ is Florida’s largest and most recognized cannabis healthcare provider. Our team of physicians helps thousands of patients every year to navigate the safe use of medical marijuana. And we have thirty convenient clinic locations across the state, including St. Petersburg medical marijuana doctors to serve you.
Dr. Glider is a board certified Internal Medicine Specialist. He received his Florida Medical Marijuana Physicians Certification in 2017 and was one of the first recommending physicians with DocMJ. In addition to medical marijuana recommendations, Dr. Glider continues to practice Internal and Geriatric Medicine in private practice. Additionally, he serves as Medical Director for a home health company, supervising and educating staff, as well as supervising an advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners for a transitional care program.
Dr. Glider graduated from the College of Osteopathic Medicine & Surgery in Des Moines, IA and completed his residency at Saddlebrook General Hospital in Saddlebrook, NJ. He has received several honors and awards throughout his professional career, including a City of Des Moines Merit Award and a Chamber of Commerce Award (Port St. Lucie, FL). Dr. Glider is an experienced and caring physician who is loved and respected by his peers and his patients.