scorecardHow to prevent weed-induced anxiety, according to a cannabis expert
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How to prevent weed-induced anxiety, according to a cannabis expert

Julia Naftulin   

How to prevent weed-induced anxiety, according to a cannabis expert
LifeScience2 min read
  • Lo Friesen, a cannabis chemist and founder of cannabis extract company Heylo, told Insider her tips for weed users who are prone to anxiety.
  • She said cannabis users who want to avoid feelings of anxiety should look for strains that smell pleasant to them, a sign it will interact well with their bodies.

As more states legalize weed, an increasing number of people are using the substance to decrease feelings of stress and anxiety. But some say cannabis use has exacerbated their anxiousness.

Cannabis users who've experienced anxiety-provoking effects might not have to swear off weed completely, though.

Instead, they should consider changing their dose and the strains they use, Lo Friesen, the founder and CEO of cannabis extracts company Heylo, told Insider.

"I always encourage people to have an open mind and realize this is trial and error," Friesen told Insider.

She added that products and strains that reduce anxiety in one person could have a different effect on another person, so taking time to research and try various options can help weed users have a more positive experience.

Weed users should smell the product before they buy to test if the strain is the right fit

Cannabis strains comprise various compounds, including cannabinoids like THC, which creates a psychoactive effect in users, and CBD.

Weed also contains terpenes, a group of chemical compounds that add flavors and smells to various products like beverages, food, and even cannabis.

According to Friesen, a weed user can pay attention to how their body responds to certain terpenes to get a better idea of how they'll act when they consume it.

She suggested taking a whiff of the flower they want to buy while in the dispensary.

"Your nose knows. If it doesn't smell good to you, it probably means your body is telling you that won't be the right fit, but if it does smell good, that's the terpenes interacting with your body, telling you it would be a good fit," Friesen said.

She also said the terpene limonene, known for its zesty and citrus notes, is known to elicit an energized effect, which could exacerbate anxiety in someone prone to the condition.

People who use cannabis should look for strains low in THC and high in CBG to reduce anxiety

In addition to the common cannabinoids THC and CBD, weed strains often include a mixture of lesser-known ones.

Though researchers are just starting to study many of these cannabis compounds, some animal studies and anecdotal reports suggest the cannabinoid CBG can reduce anxiety more than THC and CBD in weed users, Friesen said.

That's likely because CBG is a less intoxicating cannabinoid than THC, Dr. Ethan Russo, Director of Research and Development at the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute, told Elemental.

Additionally, weed users prone to anxiety should try strains with low amounts of THC, said Friesen, as existing research suggests high doses of THC can increase anxiety.

Cannabis users should take it slow when trying a new weed strain or product

No matter the cannabis strain, everyone should take their time consuming it, according to Friesen.

That looks different depending on whether it's an edible, vape, or flower-based consumption method like a joint.

According to Friesen, people using edibles should start with between 1 milligram and 2.5 milligrams of THC. When it comes to vapes and joints, Friesen suggested users take one inhale, wait to experience the effects, and then decide how to proceed.