Life throws us curveballs all the time this is nothing new. There can be many ups and downs during a person’s lifetime, and even the calmest person may not be able to manage anxiety properly. People tend to take certain medications to help treat anxiety or even try an alternative form of medication like CBD products or medical cannabis as an effective treatment for anxiety-related disorders. For this reason, using CBD vs THC for anxiety comes up, and it comes up a lot.
Anxiety disorders like social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder can be debilitating. It can also create several physical health problems like muscle tension, headaches, increased heart rate, and many mental health conditions.
Human neurophysiology has been studied greatly over the last few decades, and it is clear that there are ways to help the symptoms of anxiety disorders. While some prefer to use a prescription medication, others explore using medical cannabis. But what about THC and CBD? What is the difference between the two for helping treat anxiety disorders?
Let’s explore which cannabinoid is best suited to manage anxiety. We’ll also explore at the pros and cons of using CBD vs. THC for anxiety, the key differences between the two, and how they affect a person’s ability to deal with stress and anxiety. First, let’s look at the leading causes of anxiety disorders.
What Causes Anxiety?
It’s not a simple answer. Many things can cause anxiety for many people for many different reasons. However, one thing remains consistent at every level; anxiety can be challenging to deal with.
Before we dig deep into the worlds of CBD and THC for anxiety, let’s discuss a few of the main reasons why people feel anxious.
Psychological Anxiety Disorders
When it comes to dealing with increased anxiety, social anxiety, or other mental health issues brought on by varying levels of anxiety, a few psychological factors come into play.
Here are the main ones:
- Your genetics
- If you have experienced any trauma
- Holding onto or the build-up of stress over a while
- If you are experiencing more than one health problem at the same time. Like having heart disease with diabetes
- Dealing with an illness or struggling with physical conditions like chronic pain or cancer-related symptoms
A person may be dealing with any number of these conditions, but the main reason a person experiences an anxious moment is their memories. If a person has experienced any form of trauma from people or situations of their past, it can manifest into anxiety disorders like stress, depression, or even panic disorders.
It can be quite rough. And that is an understatement.
Attempting to get through these memories and the anxiety it causes may take a lifetime of work to process the events and deal with them. It may involve using conventional medical treatment such as anti-anxiety drugs or pain medications or require medical marijuana as a potential treatment.
In today’s high-paced world, a person deals with anxiety right along with the daily stresses of life. It can be manageable for some, but for many, they will seek a professional who can help them deal with the anxiety.
In some cases, CBD oil or medicinal cannabis may be prescribed for medical purposes to treat the symptoms of anxiety.
Biochemical Causes of Anxiety
Anxiety is caused by the brain’s neurotransmitters experiencing an imbalance of sorts on a chemical level. These can be inherent chemical disharmonies, or they may develop over some time as you cope with certain experiences.
Some of the more common neurotransmitters that have a direct link to anxious responders are:
- Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
Dopamine, GABA, and Serotonin
Dopamine, GABA, and serotonin imbalances can make your neurochemistry more vulnerable to responding anxiously. But, the main biochemical trigger for many of the physiological symptoms of anxiety is norepinephrine.
Norepinephrine (more commonly known as adrenaline) triggers the body’s “fight or flight” responses. These responses lead to an increased heart rate, panic, sweating, and other common anxiety symptoms.
Are Both CBD and THC Legal?
THC is one of the main cannabinoids found in the cannabis Sativa plant (or hemp plant) that provides psychoactive effects to the user. Both CBD and THC are found in cannabis, but CBD is the compound that offers potential health benefits such as calming and relaxing.
Hemp-derived CBD products have been removed from the controlled substances act since the federal government passed the 2018 Farm Bill. This means, under federal law, that a CBD product can contain CBD and THC, but the amount of THC must be 0.3% or less for it to be legal.
One thing to note is that even though the cannabis Sativa plant has growing legalization on a federal level, state laws vary from state to state.
While some state laws allow the growing, cultivating, harvesting, selling, and buying of medical cannabis, other states still consider the cannabis Sativa plant illegal. Check your local state’s laws before you purchase medical cannabis products.
Does THC Help With Anxiety?
This depends on a few factors. The first thing to consider is how much CBD is consumed. According to peer-reviewed studies at the University of Washington, different doses of THC have differing effects. A low dose of THC seems to lower anxiety, while a higher dose increases it.
Study participants were given a low dose of THC (7.5mg). They experience a reduction in anxiety levels using a popular psychological stress test.
However, those same study participants were given higher doses of THC (12.5mg), and an increased level of anxiety occurred.
Research suggests that a gram of marijuana contains 20% THC (200 mg of the cannabinoid), but to get to the proper dosage for treating anxiety, meant dropping the THC amount down to 1/26th of a gram. This amount is equal to a tiny puff.
It has been shown that ingesting high doses of THC may create adverse effects. Rather than calming, it could create even more anxiety in the user. It is recommended that a person take much less THC to reduce anxiety.
This is the basis of most CBD products.
And if you’re worried about taking a CBD product with THC in it and drug tests, don’t worry. The small amount of THC in a full-spectrum CBD product will not show up on most standard drug tests. If this is a concern, stick to a CBD isolate product containing zero THC.
Side Effects of Taking CBD for Anxiety
Although there is no conclusive evidence on the benefits of taking CBD, researchers found very few adverse effects from taking CBD products. From low doses to doses as high as 1,500mg, it has been shown that CBD is safe for humans to take.
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However, THC and CBD are vastly different in this department. High doses of THC found in marijuana have been shown to affect the user, even those who take marijuana for recreational purposes.
Even though scientists have mixed results on testing the effectiveness of CBD to treat anxiety, a systematic review of CBD studies has been found that CBD does not have the potential to increase anxiety symptoms.
Although CBD in cannabis appears to show anxiolytic properties, there is no conclusive evidence to support this claim. And any claims made by companies are not FDA approved.
So, buyers of CBD should be aware and do their own research regarding the products they will be buying.
CBD Vape for Anxiety vs THC
It all comes down to what works best for you, AND, if you want to get high or not. Remember, THC is highly intoxicating. It has a strong affinity for the CB1 receptor, so when you ingest THC it will get you very high.
Some people like this, some dont.
If you don’t want to get high, CBD is a far better option. Some studies even show CBD works better than THC for anxiety because consuming CBD doesn’t cause paranoia like THC can.
Safety and Side Effects of Using THC for Anxiety
Unlike THC, CBD is much different when it comes to adverse effects. There are several drawbacks to taking that active psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis, if even for recreational use. Although THC’s intoxicating effects may mask the feelings of anxiety, it doesn’t necessarily treat the symptoms of anxiety, stress, or depression.
Those who take THC for anxiety symptoms or depression can quickly become tolerant to THC. This means that the user may feel the need to take higher concentrations each time to feel the effects. Taking cannabis could lead to drug dependence.
Drug dependencies and tolerances are common with most psychoactive substances. This can result in a very dangerous drug addiction since these substances are highly addictive. Prolonged use of cannabis containing high levels of THC can create a variety of mental health changes.
Chronic users of cannabis tend to have mood swings, irritability, and aggressive behavior that seems to worsen as the addiction sets in. Another affected factor is the individual’s ability to think clearly, and cognitive impairment sets in.
The user will convince themselves that they need to continue to take THC to try and combat their anxiety. Many users claim that recreational use of cannabis isn’t as bad as drugs like Zanax or other pharmaceuticals. However, prolonged use of cannabis cannot be considered a safe alternative.
As always, talk to your doctor to see if taking cannabis is suitable for you. Never use cannabis as an alternative to prescribed medications from your doctor.
Do your research on all of the products you are interested in taking to help combat your anxiety and depression.
How Does CBD Differ From THC?
Many people can tolerate CBD products. The amount of THC is not enough to produce a “high feeling” in the user. Instead, those who choose to take CBD do so for the therapeutic benefits they feel. Let’s take a look at the primary forms of CBD products available on the market and the level of THC in each:
A full-spectrum CBD product has the highest legal THC level of all the forms. These products will contain all the plant offers cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and no more than 0.3% THC. Most full spectrum products have about 0.1%, or so, THC levels.
Regardless, this is no where near enough THC to get you high. Don’t worry about that.
A broad-spectrum CBD product is very similar to a full-spectrum product in that it contains all of the terpenes, flavonoids, and THC.
However, the difference between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum is that a broad-spectrum CBD product has only a trace amount of THC.
CBD isolate contains only CBD. There are no terpenes, flavonoids, or THC, just CBD. It looks like a fine white powder in its raw form.
Comparing Cannabis Sativa Plant Cannabinoids CBD and THC
Even though they are from the same cannabis plant, CBD is much different than THC. Even if taking small doses of THC might not make you overdose, it can become toxic at relatively low concentrations. At the same time, CBD has an incredibly high toxicity threshold.
The system functions quite differently when it comes to the endocannabinoid system and how the cannabinoid receptors work with CBD and THC. The endocannabinoid system helps regulate the body’s systems for things like pain or appetite.
Related read: Interested in cannabinoids? Check out our comprehensive list of cannabinoids and read all about these plant chemicals.
This system relies on its own version of a cannabinoid, called endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids are produced inside the human body and respond when things like pain or anxiety threaten the system.
However, CBD and THC respond very differently to this system and create different feelings within the body. CBD also does not cause any toxicity as THC does. CBD is not intoxicating. Its effects on the endocannabinoid system provide a feeling of being relaxed and calm, rather than the feeling of being high that THC does.
The other significant difference is that CBD does not appear to have habit-forming euphoric effects like THC does. Although THC seems to provide some immediate relief for anxiety, the result is not inherently anxiolytic.
Instead, THC offers a surge of dopamine that can create an imbalance in the individual’s neurochemistry over a while.
Is CBD or THC Better for Treating Anxiety?
When it comes to cannabis and the cannabinoids THC and CBD, THC should never be used to treat anxiety. In some users, it can create substance abuse issues and only temporarily inhibit anxiety symptoms.
On the other hand, CBD is still being researched as a possible way to treat anxiety. It shows great potential with animal studies, but not enough human studies have been done to give CBD any clout as a possible treatment for anxiety.
With more research and great CBD products available on the market, CBD oil could be a household name when used to help those with anxiety. For more information on great CBD products that are third-party lab-tested and use only organic natural ingredients, talk to the fine people at New Phase Blends. We’re here to help!