Using cannabis for anxiety? A new study aims to figure out which types of cannabis are best suited to the task.
Anxiety is one of the most common conditions that people treat with cannabis, but how cannabis affects anxiety has always been a complicated picture. Research suggests that cannabis is effective at relieving anxiety, but paradoxically, cannabis can also worsen anxiety. This may be partly due to the fact that cannabis’ main and secondary active ingredients — THC and CBD — help with anxiety at low doses, but worsen it with higher doses.
To add to the confusion, different varieties of cannabis are diverse in both their chemical composition and their effects, so some may increase anxiety while others reduce it.
Unfortunately, most of the current research has studied cannabis without mentioning the chemical composition of the strains used, or have simply looked at the effects of an isolated cannabinoid like THC or CBD.
But researchers from Whistler Therapeutics in BC, Canada aim to change that, by searching for the chemical fingerprint of cannabis which is well-suited to relieving anxiety. While their study, released in October, was small and had considerable limitations, it points the way for future research to begin tackling the complicated question of which strains work best for which conditions.
Searching For Anti-Anxiety Strains
Hoping to find a blend of cannabinoids and terpenes (called a “chemotype”) that can effectively treat anxiety, researchers on this study first looked at whether particular strains were associated with reduced anxiety.
“Patients report having distinct preferences for certain strains over others and little research has been done on what, if anything is different between strains they like or dislike for a condition” explained Daniel Lantela, co-founder and drug development director at Whistler Therapeutics.
“By asking patients which strains they liked or disliked, we could correlate their choices to the chemotype.”
To gather this information, researchers worked exclusively through one dispensary, surveying 442 of their patients about the specific strains sold there and reviewing two sets of independent lab tests on the strains’ chemical composition.
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