Whether cannabis will induce feelings of relaxation or anxiety often feels like a coin toss. Now, however, researchers from the University of New Mexico have found that inhaling cannabis is more likely to reduce anxiety than to cause it.
For the study, the researchers examined data from Releaf App, a free app on which cannabis users can record how cannabis affects them. There, users can record factors, including their symptoms before using cannabis, what products they are using, how well cannabis helped their symptoms, and whether they had any side effects. They can also record details specific to the session, such as how long it lasted, and different levels of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD in the cannabis they used.
In total, the researchers analyzed data from 2,306 cannabis sessions from 607 people. In particular, they homed in on sessions where respondents reported distress-related symptoms before using cannabis. These symptoms included anxiety, stress, and agitation/ irritability. They also focused on cases in which people smoked or vaped cannabis flowers.
In the end, the researchers found that distress-related symptoms, including anxiety, stress, and irritability, decreased in 95.51% of sessions. They also found that negative symptoms only increased in 2.32% of sessions, with 2.16% of sessions reporting no change at all.
Positive effects, of which occurred in 66% of sessions, included feeling more peaceful, optimistic, relaxed, comfy ad happy. Meanwhile, negative effects included restlessness, irritability, and paranoia, and appeared in 13% of sessions.
The researchers also noted a strong correlation between more relief from distressing symptoms and the use of cannabis with higher levels of THC. While both CBD and THC have the potential for relieving anxiety, other studies have found that differing CBD levels have little impact on reported anxiety levels.
While interesting, the researchers say that their research has limitations, especially due to the self-reported nature of the study. Nevertheless, they say that their findings suggest that patient-directed cannabis therapy may be beneficial in treating mid-level anxiety.