Anxiety affects some 40 million adults in the United States alone, making it the most common mental illness in the country. So it goes without saying that the mounting pressure to find relief has caused sufferers to seek out solutions that might go against conventional medicine – and hemp is one of them.
Studies have found that the use of hemp can impart profound benefits on individuals struggling with various types of mental health conditions. And while there have been reports of the herb working to mitigate the effects of anxiety, there are some who claim that hemp could work against the condition. So what’s the real deal?
A Note on Hemp Chemistry
Hemp comes from the Cannabis sativa L. plant which is also the same source for marijuana. The main difference between hemp and marijuana however is that the former contains only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. According to federal law, hemp is any part of the Cannabis sativa L. plant that contains no more than 0.3% THC.
The reason why law makers have placed a cap on THC is because studies have found that it’s mainly responsible for the feeling of a high that people get when using marijuana. That said, all of hundreds of other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant provide therapeutic benefits without causing a change in mental state or cognition.
Does Smoking Hemp Reduce Anxiety?
In many ways, yes it can. Studies have discovered that hemp in general produces a calming effect on the body. Cannabidiol or CBD – the most prolific cannabinoid found in all of hemp chemistry – has been studied rigorously, demonstrating its soothing, tranquilizing effects on both mind and body.
There are multitudes of people who self-medicate with hemp to relieve the symptoms of anxiety, and they report a variety of effects including:
- A sense of calm
- Slowed breathing and heart rate
- Improved sleep quality
- Ability to confront anxiety trigger
While it isn’t entirely clear how this happens, some research suggests that the effects have much to do with the presence of CBD. In fact, some studies claim that hemp strains with higher CBD content tend to do better at relieving the symptoms of anxiety.
Even then however, it helps to manage your expectations. While hemp should be able to help you cope with the symptoms of anxiety, you may still experience some discomfort even after a dose.
Some experts explain that if you experience at least seven panic attacks a day, using hemp could reduce that to just two or three. If you experience severe social anxiety that you can’t leave the house, hemp might be able to dial down your worry so you can head out with manageable levels of anxiety.
Are There Downsides?
It’s true that hemp can help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, but there are limitations to the kind of hemp that can achieve those results. Based on studies, hemp that’s rich in CBD is much better for anxiety relief than other strains. Another thing that researchers have discovered is that strains higher in THC can actually worsen the symptoms of anxiety.
That said, it’s important to know that there are two main categories of hemp which are segregated based on their effects. These include:
- Sativa – Also called ‘energizing strains’, sativa hemp strains are known to produce awakening effects. These herbs are ideal for individuals struggling with motivation and productivity. For people with anxiety however, sativa strains can exacerbate feelings of worry and apprehension.
- Indica – These strains are used for their sedative benefits. They work to calm the body and provide a sense of relaxation and ease. These are mainly recommended for individuals with anxiety for their tranquilizing, soothing effects.
One recommendation for people using hemp for anxiety would be to choose strains that manifest indica chemistry. But even then, it’s important to know that hemp batches tend to vary even when you’re buying the same strain from the same vendor.
With that, another important tip would be to read through certificates of analysis. Although no two strains will ever be exactly the same, you can get an idea of its effects by reading through its lab report. Numbers will fluctuate mildly, but as long as the herb showcases a high CBD concentration versus lower THC levels, then it should work to your advantage.
If you’re willing to try something other than CBD hemp flower, then broad spectrum oil or perhaps even CBD isolate might be a suitable alternative. Completely void of THC, these formulations provide effective relief against anxiety and reduce the risk of exacerbating symptoms.
Other Important Information
Anxiety is a mental health disorder that stems from an underlying experience. In many cases, anxiety is the result of trauma or prolonged stress. And although hemp may help improve the symptoms of anxiety, it won’t provide lasting, long-term resolution.
The only way to resolve anxiety for good would be to target the underlying cause. That’s why therapy and counselling are considered the most effective methods for resolving anxiety.
But the anxiety itself can prevent a person from stepping out and seeking the help of a professional. In which case, it becomes obvious that symptomatic relief – such as that provided by hemp – may be instrumental in the entire healing process.
The Bottom Line
Hemp has been found to demonstrate significant benefits against anxiety, but not all hemp strains will prove to be effective. For the most part, you’re going to want to use varieties that demonstrate a higher CBD content and lower THC. Willing users can also explore the benefits of broad spectrum oils and CBD isolate from plainjane.com which provide similar benefits sans the effects of THC.
And while hemp can’t replace therapy or counselling as a long-term solution for anxiety, the mere nature of the condition calls for timely symptomatic relief to help sufferers feel comfortable to step out and seek professional help. So all things considered, hemp might be a pivotal part of the entire treatment and recovery process.