Microdosing Weed for Anxiety- an alternative to medication prescribed for anxiety disorders
As shocking as the numbers might be, research has shown that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. With approximately 40 million American adults suffering from anxiety, it is believed that only about 36.9% of these people are receiving treatment. The problem is, the treatment that is provided through varying forms of pharmaceutical drugs is often expensive, ineffective and harmful. Why then would governments and pharmaceutical companies continue to push the use of prescription drugs and ignore the ‘buzz’ that surrounds cannabis and its incredible effects for disorders such as anxiety, you might ask? Well this is a topic for a different day but the good news is that since weed has been made legal in 29 states for medicinal use, we will no doubt see people becoming more open to using weed.
The biggest problem, hindering the general public's use of cannabis is of course it’s main component, THC. Due to its psychoactive effects and known to make users ‘high’, people are naturally turned against the idea of using weed. However, one of the latest trends to hit the marijuana world could change everything! Microdosing is a new phenomenon which involves the process of taking small amounts of cannabis in measured doses with the aim of getting the medicinal benefits minus the side effects. It’s a more ‘responsible’ way of consuming weed.
As the term suggests, microdosing is the practice of consuming weed in tiny doses throughout the day to eliminate the fear of intense psychoactive side effects. In other words, while you will feel a perceptible sensation it won’t be enough to get you high. Unfortunately though microdosing is a relatively unexplored practice. Many people are still under the impression that “more is better” and believe that dosing their bodies with high-THC cannabis is the best way to treat their specific medical condition, when if fact the opposite is true. Michelle Ross, the founder of the IMPACT Network, goes into more details on this, suggesting that medical research has proven that when it comes to weed, less can definitely be more. While there are a vast number of benefits associated with THC, it can be said that these benefits are often more vast and effective when not overshadowed in a ‘high’. In fact, high levels of THC could even be couterproductive. A good example of this is using cannabis for anxiety. Dustin Sulak, an osteopathic physician in Maine, he has gone as far as to suggest that high levels of THC could cause anxiety, rather than treat it.
Another interesting experiment was conducted in 2012, where 263 cancer patients took part in a five-week study. They were each given either low doses (1-4 sprays per day), medium doses (6-10 sprays per day) or high doses (11-16 sprays per day) of nabiximols, which is a synthetic THC/CBD compound. Surprisingly at the time, it was found that the patients who received the lowest doses experienced the least amount of pain and those with the highest doses experienced the most pain.
Microdosing is perfect for patients who are using marijuana medically for the first time or those who are casual or infrequent smokers. However, it should not be overlooked by experienced smokers with a relatively high tolerance, as its therapeutic effects can be life-changing. It’s important to consider that smoking a ton of weed, with a high THC content may actually be inducing side effects such as anxiety or paranoia. If you want to effectively address symptoms or illnesses, you should give microdosing a try.
How Does Microdosing Help Anxiety Specifically?
As mentioned a little earlier in this article, large doses of THC can in fact be counterproductive in the treatment of anxiety. The trick is to take it in small doses by means of microdosing. It’s a fine line when it comes to using cannabis to treat anxiety. If you consume too much cannabis, your anxiety can be triggered while consuming less can make you feel less anxious and have therapeutic calming effects. Even just a small puff of sativa has the ability to lift your mood and increase motivation, without the psychoactive effects of a ‘high’.
Understanding it on a more scientific level, when a person is exposed to stress, there can be a reduced production of natural endocannabinoids which causes an increase in anxiety levels. Smoking marijuana can reduce this anxiety because the effects of its cannabinoids on the cannabinoid receptors makes up for the reduction in the production of natural endocannabinoids. In other words marijuana fills in the gaps. But too much marijuana could result in an excessive production of natural endocannabinoids, which is why we need to microdose. There has also been a tremendous growth in CBD products used for anxiety which just goes to show that the general consensus is that too much THC is bad for anxiety. For those of you who don’t know, CBD is capable of counteracting the psychoactive effects of THC.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Microdosing Weed?
Microdosing is not an easy practice for experienced and frequent smokers who are accustomed to smoking in large doses daily. While for many, it’s a great practice since you can enjoy all the medicinal benefits without getting ‘high’, it can be difficult for experienced smokers to establish and follow a consistent routine of moderation.
The key is finding the dose that is right for you. While many articles will try and give you a guideline, the reality is that this number will vary from person to person. While 2mg may have have the desired effect for one person, it might be completely ineffective for another. At the end of the day it’s all about the dose. It can take a bit of time to perfect, especially if you are a newbie, since you will have no idea what your threshold is. It’s a good idea to start off as low as possible and up your dose from there, depending on whether you achieve any noticeable effects. Dr. Dustin Sulak has provided some top quality suggestions for microdosing where he advises patients to consume one mg of THC, abstain for two days, and then consume one mg of CBD on day three. This should preferably be done via an oil tincture to ensure you make accurate measurements. There are also a few questions that you should ask yourself to ensure maximum comfort, health and safety before consumption. These questions are the following:
- How easy is it to breathe?
- How calm and comfortable does my body feel?
- How easy is it to generate a genuine smile?
You should then grade each of these questions on a scale of 1 - 10. Consume the cannabis, wait 45 minutes and then grade the three answers again. If there is no change in scores, you can increase the dosage by 1mg. You can keep doing this until the scores change. When you do eventually experience a significant change, it means that you have likely discovered your minimal effective dose. You can keep increasing the dose until you don’t notice any further improvements on your condition.
Microdosing Consumption Methods
The three main methods for microdosing:
- Smoking - This the most traditional way of consuming marijuana but it is the most difficult for microdosing since it’s so difficult to be precise with the amount of weed that you are using. It’s generally recommended that you take one puff of a joint, wait 10 minutes and only then take another puff if necessary. This is vital to avoiding an accidental high.
- Edibles - This has become one of the most popular methods over the years, especially for non-smokers. Unlike smoking, it’s very easy to measure and control the amount of weed that you are using when it comes to edibles. The impact however, is a lot more graduate than smoking, so don’t expect immediate results.
- Vapourizing - This option is for those looking for a healthier route than smoking. This method also allows for an accurate reading on your dosage. In general, this would be a better method than smoking since you can control the dosage.
What Are The Best Cannabis Strains for Microdosing?
Sativas are without a doubt the best marijuana strains for microdosing. With a reasonable level of CBD to counteract the effects of THC, sativas are known for providing an uplifting experience.
Here are 3 strains that work great for microdosing for anxiety:
Pineapple Thai cannabis - This is a strain that sets itself apart from the rest with a high CBD content of 5% and up to 24% THC. Pineapple Thai has an infusion of tropical aromas and offers a long-lasting head high. It has the ability to administer pain relief without sedation along with numerous other health benefits. However microdosing is essential to maximise these benefits.
Pinetrak - This is an incredibly rare, high THC sativa variety and is a powerful combination of Mexican and Thai sativa strains. With the ability to give users a rush of creativity and energy, this strain is great for treating depression. It typically contains 21% THC and 4% CBD which is helpful in counteracting the psychoactive effects of the THC.
Tsunami Crush - Also commonly known as “Sour Tsunami”, this is a 100% pure sativa strain and is a combination of NYC Diesel and Sour Diesel. With unusually high CBD levels, this potent strain has an almost even ration between THC and CBD, each level at about 11%. Users describe the Tsunami Crush high as a slowly creeping high that offers pain relief as soon as it peaks after around 30 minutes.
If you are interested in strains with more CBD and less THC check out our list of 5 best high CBD/low THC strains!
Final Thoughts on Microdosing Cannabis for Anxiety
It’s still somewhat of a mystery why more resources and powerful voices aren’t being thrown behind the numerous health benefits that are associated with microdosing. More specifically, to treat anxiety, which is the leading mental health disorder in the United States. At the end of the day studies have proven that you can consume cannabis without the effects of getting high. If you are lucky enough to live in a state where weed is legal and have been thinking about using marijuana to treat a specific medical condition, you should definitely give it a go.