The Best Cannabis Terpenes For Anxiety & Which Ones To Avoid
Anxiety. It lays heavy on the mind in a world that seems to move faster than the brain can process: the endless to-do lists, the relentless news cycle, jobs, family, climate change, war, political polarization, gas prices, pandemics, lockdowns, inflation…we all feel it…and we’d all like it to stop. But how do we cope? If you’re a cannabis consumer, listen up because we’ve got a guide to the best terpenes for anxiety and which ones to avoid.
It’s not simply THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids that determine the best cannabis strain for anxiety. Terpenes have a big role to play in what is known as the “Entourage Effect,” which refers to the combined effects of cannabinoids and terpenes working together. Several terpenes have been found to be effective in treating anxiety, while others you may need to steer clear of.
But first things first: What are terpenes?
What are Terpenes?
Twist the lid off that fresh jar of OG Kush and give it a big sniff. The piney, gassy aroma hits you hard. Terpenes, the aromatic compounds in cannabis, are what gives weed that distinctive nose and flavor.
Terpenes come from the trichomes of female cannabis plants. Beyond creating that beautiful smell and taste, they also support the health of the plant. Some terpenes may attract insects or birds that help spread pollen, while others repel herbivores that might otherwise eat the plant. Terpenes also protect cannabis from environmental stresses and pathogens by assisting proper immune system function.
From a consumer standpoint, terpenes are important because they modulate the effects of THC and CBD. They can make cannabis more or less psychoactive, affect how long the high lasts, enhance or reduce stress relief, and change the flavor profile. Different terpenes produce different aromas that can be described as fruity, earthy, minty, or floral.
How Do Terpenes Affect the Body?
Although the research is in its infancy, the early indications are promising but further research is coming. Interestingly, terpenes may affect the human body in a manner similar to their function in the plant, combatting microbes and pathogens. Terpenes work by binding to receptors in the brain, just like cannabinoids. These receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system, which regulates many important functions in the body, including pain, inflammation, anxiety, and sleep.
Every terpene profile is different, and each terpene interacts with the body differently. Some terpenes have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, while others may be helpful in treating anxiety disorders. Some terpenes have also been shown to increase cognitive function and memory retention.
Additionally, terpenes seem to work synergistically with cannabinoids like THC and CBD to produce therapeutic benefits that are greater than the sum of their parts — the entourage effect. The cannabis plant contains more than 100 different terpenes, each with its own unique effect on the human body.
Common terpenes include:
This terpene, as well as carvone and camphor, have shown antiviral capabilities.
Limonene may retard the growth of cancer cells and tumors without affecting healthy cells or causing side effects.
Many antidepressants use terpenes. Linalool is commonly used in these medications.
With all of these therapeutic benefits, it’s no wonder that terpenes are being extracted and used in all sorts of products, from essential oils to medical cannabis.
How Does Stress Affect the Body?
Chronic stress takes a toll on both our physical and mental health. Over time, it can lead to or worsen conditions like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression. Stress also suppresses the immune system, making us more susceptible to infections and illness.
In short: too much stress is bad for our health.
When we’re stressed, our body goes into “fight or flight” mode. This is a primitive response that helped our ancestors survive when faced with danger. In fight or flight mode, the body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones increase heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration to give us the energy and strength we need to either confront or flee from the danger. This response is helpful in the short term, but when it’s constantly activated, it takes a toll on our health. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to reduce stress in our lives.
What are common anxiety disorders?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the United States, affecting over 40 million adults.
There are many different types of anxiety disorders, including:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Agoraphobia and specific phobias.
Each type of anxiety disorder has its own unique set of symptoms, but all types share one common trait: chronic, excessive worry and fear that interferes with daily life.
What are extreme stress symptoms?
While different people experience stress in different ways, there are some common signs and symptoms of chronic stress. If you’re frequently experiencing any of the following, it may be time to find ways to reduce stress in your life:
- Feeling overwhelmed or like you’re constantly running on empty
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Irritability, anger, or aggressiveness
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Feeling constantly on edge
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Aches and pains
- Poor judgment
Again, these are just some of the most common symptoms of stress and they won’t all be present in every person.
Cannabis as an Anxiety Treatment
For many people, cannabis is an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. Cannabis has been shown to decrease cortisol levels and help people relax. Certain cannabis strains are more effective at reducing anxiety than others. These strains tend to have high concentrations of terpenes like caryophyllene, limonene, and linalool.
Cannabis strains with these terpenes are often used to treat pain, but they can also be helpful for reducing anxiety symptoms. CBD-rich strains are especially effective at treating anxiety because they don’t produce the psychoactive effects that some people find anxious or stressful.
What Are The Best Terpenes for Anxiety?
Because there are so many terpenes in cannabis, and their effects work in synergy with cannabinoids, it’s prohibitively difficult to boil this down to the single best terpene for treating anxiety. But there are a number of terpenes that show promise in being anti-anxiety terpenes.
This terpene may provide both anti-inflammatory and sedative effects.
Limonene may relieve anxiety and depression. This terpene is one of the most common in cannabis. With a strong citrus odor, it is also found in oranges, lemons, and limes. A cultivar with a citrus aroma is likely to have Limonene.
In 2014 the National Library of Medicine published the study “B-Caryophyllene, a CB2 receptor agonist produces multiple behavioral changes relevant anxiety and depression in mice” that found that beta-caryophyllene reduced anxiety and depression in mice.
Linalool is prized for its floral aroma. A study published in Phytomedicine titled “Effects of inhaled Linalool in anxiety, social interaction and aggressive behavior in mice” found that it decreased aggression in mice.
This terpene is responsible for that piney scent in some cannabis strains. It may improve cognitive function and reduce anxiety.
While it’s fantastic to have an idea of what terpenes may be effective in treating anxiety, you don’t buy pure terpenes at the dispensary, you buy weed. Thankfully, Whistler Therapeutics recently conducted a patient study to find blends of cannabinoids and terpenes in “chemotypes” that relieved the symptoms of anxiety.
The Whistler Study concluded that these four strains were the best for anxiety treatment:
- Bubba Kush
- Skywalker OG Kush
- Blueberry Lambsbread
- Kosher Kush
Which Terpenes Are Bad For Anxiety?
Frontiers of Neuroscience published a study in 2018 that examined the effect of terpenes on anxiety. Participants were asked to rank the most effective and least effective strains for anxiety treatment.
This terpene consistently appeared in the cultivars rated least effective.
Similar to Guaiol, this terpene also appeared in cultivars rated least effective for anxiety treatment.
Other terpenes, eucalyptol, g-terpinene, a-phellandrene, 3-carene, and sabinene hydrate also showed correlations with poor anti-anxiety effects. However, these terpenes were only present in trace amounts, so the results are inconclusive.
Again, it all comes down to strains. In the Whistler study, the four strains rated worst for anxiety were:
- Green Crack
- CBD Shark
- Tangerine Dream
Chocolope was rated as the least effective of all. Not surprisingly, the terpene terpinolene is prominent in Chocolope.
The takeaway is that terpenes matter when it comes to cannabis and anxiety. If you’re looking for the best possible anxiety relief, find a strain high in myrcene, limonene, linalool, or beta-caryophyllene. And avoid strains with terpinolene.
While THC may increase anxiety for some people, CBD is known to be effective in treating anxiety. So, look for a strain that has a high ratio of CBD and not too much THC. A good rule of thumb is to find a strain with at least a four-to-one ratio of CBD to THC.
Cannabis terpenes are also affected by the growing process, so it’s important to find a dispensary that takes care in cultivating their product. A good grower will have control over the terpene concentrations in their strains and can help you find the perfect one for your anxiety.
If you suffer from anxiety, talk to your doctor about whether medical cannabis is right for you. And if you do give it a try, ask your dispensary about natural compounds and terpene concentrations. It could make all the difference in finding the perfect calming strains for you.
The Higher Path Provides the Best Cannabis Products for Anxiety
Anxiety can be complex, and choosing the right product can be a daunting process. But at The Higher Path, we get by with a little help from our friends.
The Higher Path has a team of consultants trained to walk you through various ailments, including anxiety, and can provide the best recommendation for your specific treatment. Whether you’re looking for an Indica, Sativa, hybrid, or CBD-rich product, we have something that will fit your needs.
Stop by The Higher Path today or visit us online and take your first step on the elevated path to wellness!”