(Editor’s Note: This article converses about PTSD from a high-level perspective, attempting to educate those who may not otherwise be familiar. In discussing this topic, sensitive issues may be broached; those familiar with PTSD may wish to skip directly to the “Best Marijuana Strains for PTSD and Anxiety” section.)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that affects one’s mental health, often occurring after an individual has experienced either a tragic event or series of events throughout their lives. Mental health concerns such as this and anxiety affect a large number of people on Earth.
Both of these conditions can be extremely difficult to deal with, and neither of them have a treatment plan that will fully cure the issue. Certain types of therapy have been prescribed to PTSD patients or anxiety patients including, but not limited to, group therapy, one-on-one therapy sessions, antidepressant drugs, cognitive processing therapy, and other prescription drug treatments to help suppress the trauma.
For many people, taking intense prescription drugs is something they aren’t willing to consider for treatment, which is where cannabis can come into the picture.
Though not conclusive, scientific research has been conducted on the effect using medical marijuana can have on one’s PTSD or anxiety symptoms, often to very promising results. There are certain marijuana strains that have been claimed to be particularly effective at helping these disorders, and in today’s article we’ll be recommending what are generally agreed upon as the best strains for PTSD and anxiety.
Will Cannabis Help with Anxiety and PTSD?
Research does suggest that marijuana use for PTSD and anxiety patients might be effective. Survey results show that the correlation between anxiety disorder and marijuana use is generally positive, however there is some opposing research that shows using cannabis can also increase anxious feelings.
That said, current research on the relationship between cannabis and PTSD (and anxiety disorders) is still in its infancy stage, and more conclusive studies need to be conducted. If your medical professional has suggested trying medical marijuana as a method of treating symptoms of PTSD or anxiety and depression, and you find you aren’t experiencing positive results, it may be best to consult your doctor for advice on a different treatment plan.
What is PTSD?
Oftentimes, patients will experience PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, after they have witnessed or otherwise been a part of something terrifying or emotionally scarring. Diagnoses of PTSD are not uncommon among war veterans who have served and fought in active combat.
Many veterans from war-time activity who have been diagnosed as suffering from PTSD deal with horrible memories as an aspect of their jobs, which can often induce anxiety and depression. PTSD sufferers have reported symptoms of flashbacks, depression, nightmares, night terrors, suicidal thoughts, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event itself. This is often life-consuming, and can be very difficult to live with without proper acknowledgment and treatment.
While PTSD is commonly diagnosed in veterans it can also be a result of many other traumatic events. For example, common PTSD sufferers include paramedics and firefighters, celebrities, and others who have experienced emergency situations. Traumatic events like bombings, terrorist attacks, sexual assault, violence, and abuse can also trigger PTSD symptoms.
Trauma is not something to be taken lightly; if you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, it is highly recommended that you speak to your doctor and start a treatment plan. Self-medication is not a reliable therapeutic method, and before you begin to treat any mental health issues with cannabis, you should always speak with your health care professional first.
Anxiety can be another common symptom of PTSD but is also a condition that affects a great number of people worldwide on it’s own. Most, if not all, people will experience anxiety at some point in their lives because it is our body’s natural response to stress.
However there are certain people who suffer from severe anxiety to the point where it is almost a constant state of being. This is referred to as having an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can be debilitating, including symptoms such as increased heart rate, restlessness, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, erratic behavior, rapid breathing, and feeling dizzy or faint.
If you feel you have any of these symptoms, there are different types of anxiety disorders, and it may be wise to familiarize yourself with them in further detail. These include panic attacks, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, extreme phobias, separation anxiety, and PTSD itself.
Common treatments for anxiety disorders include therapy sessions, anti-anxiety medication, lifestyle changes, meditation, and exercise. Marijuana strains have also been known to help patients with their anxiety – Specifically, cannabis strains with high CBD levels.
Though we go into this in more detail in our article “CBD vs THC: What’s the Difference?“, it’s important to remember that THC is psychoactive (IE: will get you high) while CBD will not. CBD is known to relax the body without the intoxicating effect of THC, which can sometimes heighten one’s anxiety. Cannabis strains with high THC content have the potential to induce paranoia or more intense symptoms of anxiety, making these strains to be avoided if anxiety while smoking has been an issue in the past.
Though our list contains a wide variety of cannabis strains, we recommend sticking to our recommendations with a high CBD content/low THC cannabinoid ratio, to best prevent new anxiety issues from sprouting up.
Best Marijuana Strains for PTSD and Anxiety
Blue Dream is a classic Sativa-dominant, hybrid marijuana strain that many people like to use for cerebral stimulation, as well as relaxation. The Blue Dream cannabis strain is grown by crossing Blueberry and Haze, making it a perfect choice for a balanced, uplifted, relaxing experience.
The THC content in Blue Dream is a high-but-not-too-high 18%, which is great for new users as well as veteran cannabis consumers. You can expect feelings of euphoria, happiness, and deep relaxation after using this cannabis strain, and it has been said to aid with depression.
Middlefork x Pineapple Express
Middlefork x Pineapple Express is a Sativa marijuana strain that also typically contains 18% THC, though some buds of Middleford x Pineapple Express can contain even higher amounts of THC, beyond 20%. This means if you are a new user, or prefer strains that provide a minimum of psychoactive effects, MxPE may not be the sativa for you.
If, however, you enjoy feeling high, you may find it useful to treat your PTSD or anxiety. This strain is known to be energizing and uplifting, and is best used during the day rather than before bedtime.
Air Jordan OG
Air Jordan OG is a native, California-grown cannabis strain that is purely Indica. Due to its Indica dominance, Air Jordan OG is a very relaxing marijuana strain that will be sure to get you into a sleepy zone. For people who struggle to fall asleep due to their anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, Air Jordan OG may be a good option. Users typically do not report energizing effects from this strain, making it an excellent end-of-day choice.
Miss USA is a hybrid cannabis strain that is known to give a very euphoric effect. 44% of users with PTSD stated that Miss USA helped their PTSD symptoms. Miss USA is known to be a very uplifting and joyful strain that encourages laughter, happiness, and a good time. This Indica hybrid could be a great option for individuals who suffer from depression symptoms or who are being treated as a patient for PTSD or anxiety.
Humble Pie is an Indica dominant cannabis strain known to relax and uplift users. The primary terpene is caryophyllene which gives uplifting, relaxed, and happy effects. Suggested usage of Humble Pie is in the evening, after a long day when you need to relax and feel happier. Since Humble Pie has 23% THC, it can offer very heavy psychoactive effects.
Pennywise is a CBD-dominant, Indica cannabis strain known to help people who suffer from PTSD and/or anxiety. Pennywise has high CBD levels, and CBD-dominant strains are usually preferred to most individuals because they tend to stray away from the typical psychoactive high sensations that THC-dominant strains provide. Pennywise has been known to enhance the user’s mood and focus levels, which is helpful when treating PTSD.
Sour Kush is a cross between OG Kush and Sour Diesel. This strain is an Indica dominant cannabis strain that is said to be very relaxing, uplifting, and sleep-inducing. For people who struggle with night terrors, anxious sleep, or insomnia, Sour Kush is worth trying since it can cause sleepiness and aid in relaxation. For this reason, Sour Kush is considered best consumed in the evening.
Harlequin is a staple strain to have on hand if you are an individual who has been diagnosed with PTSD or anxiety. Harlequin is a Sativa dominant, CBD-rich marijuana strain, making it less likely to give intense psychoactive sensations. The CBD content is higher than the THC content, making it a great option for daytime use for individuals with PTSD; most recommend Harlequin as best consumed when you have things to do where being particularly high might be a poor choice.
Webster is a very stimulating Sativa strain, making it a great choice for those with PTSD due to it’s motivating, uplifting, and energizing nature. People say it is a good medical cannabis choice before going to the gym; physical exercise is listed as one of the natural remedies for PTSD and anxiety. If you aren’t feeling motivated on your own to go to the gym, this is one of the best strains for PTSD patients who need that extra push to get a good workout in. Webster is also known to reduce stress, clear the mind, and improve fatigue.
Biddy Early is a low THC content, hybrid, medical cannabis strain that has uplifting, creative, and euphoric effects. Many who have experienced a traumatic event and suffer from PTSD have expressed that Biddy Early has helped them cope. Biddy Early is recognized as one of the best cannabis strains for PTSD because it has the potential to lift spirits, encourage creative activities, and provides relief for both the mind and the body. The low THC content makes it an excellent choice for all users; not too overwhelming for new users but with still noticeable, if minimal, psychoactive effects.