Cannabis is a go-to remedy for some folks living with anxiety. But not all cannabis is created equal. Some strains can actually bring on or worsen anxiety.
The key is to choose a strain with a high CBD-to-THC ratio.
Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the main active compounds in cannabis. They’re both similar in structure, but there’s one very big difference.
While not a treatment for anxiety, using high-CBD strains might help ease certain symptoms, especially when combined with other tools, like therapy.
We combed through Leafly’s strain explorer to find 12 CBD-dominant strains worth trying if you’re looking for something on the mellower side.
Keep in mind that strains aren’t an exact science. The effects aren’t always consistent, even among products of the same strain.
Remedy is a 14 percent CBD strain that produces little to no psychoactive effects.
It’s got a lemon-pine scent. Most users recommend it for its ability to mellow you out without the intense head and body effects of high-THC strains.
This is another 14 percent CBD strain preferred by people looking to relieve stress, anxiety, and pain without feeling stoned.
It contains no relevant amount of THC. The two most common words used to describe its effects are “relaxed” and “happy,” according to reviews on Leafly.
Lifter is a newer player in the cannabis game. It averages around 16 percent CBD with next to no THC.
Its aroma is described as “funky cheese with a hint of fuel” (weird flex, but OK). It’s uber-relaxing effects won’t put a damper on your focus or function.
This is one of the best-known high-CBD strains. It contains around 13 percent CBD with little to no THC.
It’s used in several health and wellness products to help ease anxiety, pain, and depression without any psychoactive effects.
If you like the smell of wine and cheese, Cherry Wine’s your strain.
It averages around 17 percent CBD with less than 1 percent THC. According to user reviews, it relaxes your brain and muscles without mind-altering effects.
This CBD strain has an average CBD-to-THC ratio of 13:1, but strains as high as 20:1 can be found.
Ringo’s Gift is a cross of two high-CBD strains: ACDC and Harle-Tsu, which is actually next on our list.
Users report a big improvement in anxiety and stress levels after using this strain. Improved sleep is another effect users rave about.
This award-winning strain averages around 13 percent CBD but often tests much higher.
It was named best CBD flower at the 2014 Emerald Cup. Lab tests found it to contain 21.05 percent CBD and 0.86 percent THC.
This ratio makes it a favorite for people looking to lower anxiety and boost their mood and focus.
This was one of the first high-CBD strains ever bred and remains a fan favorite.
It has an average CBD:THC ratio of 13:1 or even lower THC. Users report feeling relaxed and happy without that “heavy body” feeling.
Elektra averages around 16 percent CBD with less than 1 percent THC. Some user reviews say it’s tested as high as around 20 percent CBD.
Its pungent smoke and aroma get mixed reviews, but people love it for its relaxing effect that doesn’t totally wipe you out.
This high-CBD strain has some sour notes as far as aroma, but it gets props from people who use it to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Sour Space Candy has an average of 17 percent CBD and only a trace amount of THC.
Suzy Q isn’t as high in CBD as some other strains. It comes in at about 11 percent CBD with little to no THC.
It’s considered a good choice for helping to relax an anxious mind and tense muscles without getting you high or knocking you out.
This strain contains more THC than the others we’ve listed, making it a good option if you’re still looking for a light buzz. It can contain anywhere from 4 to 7 percent THC and 8 to 10 percent CBD.
According to user reviews, people who don’t generally do well with THC find that this strain relaxes and calms without causing a green out.
Even if you’re going with a high-CBD strain, most still contain some THC, even if just a trace amount. Still, since it’s hard to predict exactly how any amount of THC will affect someone, a little caution is always a good idea.
Here are some tips that can help make your experience a little safer when trying a new strain:
- Go low and slow by choosing a strain with the lowest THC you can find. Give it ample time to work before considering having more.
- Consider nonsmoking methods, like CBD oils, to protect your lungs. Cannabis smoke contains a lot of the same toxins and carcinogens as tobacco smoke.
- If you do smoke, avoid deep inhalation or holding your breath to limit exposure to smoke’s harmful byproducts.
- Don’t drive for at least 6 hours after use, or longer if you’re still feeling any effects.
- Avoid cannabis entirely if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Also keep in mind that individual states have their own legislation regarding legal levels of CBD and THC. Check your state’s legislation for specific information. Be mindful of other state laws when traveling with cannabis.
Research continues into cannabis, specifically CBD, as a potential way to manage anxiety. While it isn’t a tried-and-true remedy, some people do find it helpful for easing some of their symptoms.
If you want to give high-CBD strains a try, just be sure to keep up with any anxiety treatments prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.