Anxiety can be naturally addressed and soothed with terpene-specific cannabis
Cannabis has a wide range of applications, from recreational to medicinal, and anxiety is just one of many issues that can be helped, or healed, with this beautiful herb. While not a panacea, cannabis boasts a wide range of positive health benefits.
Within the realm of medicinal cannabis, many consumers are curious as to which marijuana strains can remedy specific ailments. Dispensaries are now hotspots where people can find everything from pain relief to anti-anxiety solutions.
Now that cannabis consumption is becoming more socially acceptable, people are learning more about what actually comprises marijuana strains at a molecular level. One such focus as of late has been on terpenes.
Terpenes are found all across nature, not just in marijuana.
Terpenes give certain plants their unique flavor and odor properties. Diving deeper into terpenes, researchers have identified medicinal properties that they exhibit as well.
In the case of marijuana, many growers are using what is known about terpenes to grow cannabis plants with specific terpene profiles, providing an array of targeted medicinal remedies.
There is currently a huge interest in anti-anxiety cannabis strains.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.” Fortunately, there are several terpene variants that are known to remedy anxiety, and these can be cultivated in marijuana strains. Below are some of the most well-known and effective anti-anxiety terpenes, as well as the best cannabis strains that contain them.
One of the most studied terpenes is Caryophyllene due to its potential as a cancer-fighting agent. But aside from that, it also contains pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties that ultimately lead to soothed anxiety.
Caryophyllene is commonly found in the following herbs:
- black pepper
This is what gives caryophyllene cannabis strains a spicy, earthy smell and taste.
Caryophyllene is the only cannabinoid that binds to the CB2 receptor in the endocannabinoid system. For this reason, it causes some of the same effects that the consumption of pure cannabidiol (CBD) does. It acts as a great compliment to CBD and other similar cannabinoids in producing an entourage effect of medicinal properties. Entourage effects occur when there is a beneficial synergy between two or more chemicals.
Popular Strain: The best cannabis strain that contains the highest level of Caryophyllene is known as Death Star (a Star Wars reference). Death Star is an Indica-dominant strain that is known for producing feelings of relaxation and euphoria.
As its name suggests, limonene is commonly associated with citrusy smells, such as with orange or lemon peels. Not only is it found in many citrus fruits, but it’s also found in rosemary and peppermint. Limonene is also used in manufactured goods such as fragrances, household cleaners, and food flavorings.
Due to its highly potent smell, limonene is often used in aromatherapy. It is said to energize people with its sour, citrusy smells. In this way, consuming it through cannabis helps to reduce anxiety.
Popular strain: Pretty much any strain preceded by “lemon” is sure to contain high amounts of limonene. The great thing about limonene is that it’s distinct and easy to detect. When shopping for cannabis, do a smell test and make sure the strain has a strong citrus smell.
Myrcene is a highly ubiquitous terpene found in some quantity in just about every cannabis strain. It acts as a precursor to many other terpenes. Outside of the cannabis industry, myrcene is commonly used in perfumes since it acts a precursor to other fragrances. Hops used in beer are also known to contain high amounts of the terpene. The aroma associated with myrcene is usually described as earthy and pungent.
Its anti-anxiety properties are due mostly to its sedative effects. Found in many Indica strains, its ability to relax the consumer makes it a popular choice for calming the mind, particularly before bedtime. In fact, myrcene is one of the primary indicators of whether or not a strain is Indica or Sativa.
Popular strain: The earthy cannabis strain known as White Widow is commonly associated with high amounts of myrcene. It also contains limonene and caryophyllene.
This terpene is known for its lavender-rich aroma and is mostly found in flowers. Thanks to its pleasant scent, it is also used in hygienic products like shampoos and soaps.
Linalool has strong behavioral benefits that help reduce depression and anxiety. Most of these benefits are thought to take place in the brain. Researchers have found that linalool reduces acetylcholine levels and enhances adenosine, two brain chemicals associated with muscle relaxation.
The linalool terpene is also said to enhance the sedative effects of other terpenes and cannabinoids through the entourage effect. The combination of muscle relaxation and increased sedation is most likely what causes the strong anti-anxiety effects of linalool.
Popular strains: Amnesia Haze appears to have the highest amount of linalool in its terpene profile. It is a Sativa-dominant strain with a citrusy and earthy smell due to it also containing high amounts of limonene.
Searching for the right cannabis strain based on terpene content
When searching dispensaries for the perfect cannabis strain, it’s important to know that most strains are going to contain a variety of different terpenes. For anti-anxiety strains, it’s best to look for a strain with a combination of all of the terpenes mentioned above.
Talk to your budtender about your symptoms and what you’re looking for in a strain. With so many strain names, finding the right one can be confusing and maybe even a bit overwhelming. Based on what you’re looking for in a strain, your local medical marijuana dispensary budtender can help you find something that will work for you.
Be prepared to answer the following questions:
- Have you used cannabis before?
- How does your body respond to weed?
- Are you looking for a strain that will help you sleep in addition to easing your anxiety?
- Maybe you’re looking for a cannabis strain that will help your anxiety but also give you an uplifting effect that may help with creativity and sociability.
- Do you want flowers, oil, edibles, concentrates, or vaporizers? Not sure? Talk to your budtender about how different forms of cannabis enter the bloodstream, how long the effect lasts, and what your expectations are.
- Remember, cannabis doesn’t always have to contain high amounts of TCH; in fact, it doesn’t have to contain any at all.
Medical cannabis doesn’t have to get you high.
If you are a person who is sensitive to THC or you simply prefer just to be healthy without the high, you can choose cannabis strains in flowers, tinctures, or edibles that are CBD dominant and contain little or no THC.
CBD and THC are the two main attractions among the cannabinoids contained in cannabis. They both affect cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) brain receptors. However, they impact those receptors differently.
THC activates these receptors. This causes euphoria or the “high” typically associated with marijuana.
CBD, on the other hand, is a CB1 antagonist. It blocks any intoxicating impact caused by the CB1 receptors. Taking CBD with THC may inhibit the effects of THC. In fact, if you use THC and feel “too high” you can mitigate the sensation by taking CBD.
CBD is a great medical cannabis alternative to THC for those who want to get healed but not high.
That said, a full-spectrum medical cannabis approach gives the most benefits.
If anxiety has got you down, medical cannabis with targeted terpenes can be a great alternative to traditional western medicine prescriptions, which can be addictive and hard on your body.
Lynette Garet is a bilingual freelance writer. A U.S. ex-pat living in Costa Rica with her wife Silvia, when not busy with writing projects, she can be found hanging with her favorite “stinky boys” (the Grand-Littles), tending to her garden, cooking, reading, enjoying good wine, and dancing in the kitchen to music from a limitless list of genres.