For many of us, being social doesn’t come easily. It’s one thing to occasionally avoid interactions with others. However, an intense, persistent fear of being judged by others is known as social anxiety disorder.
In the United States, 15 million adults suffer from this type of anxiety. And yet less than 37% of those suffering seek out treatment.
Although social anxiety is treatable, many doctors rely on medications like Zoloft and Prozac to treat their patients. That said, it can take up to three months on these drugs before seeing any improvement. And these medications can come with scary side effects like:
The Science Behind Why Marijuana Can Ease Anxiety
Meanwhile, in a survey of data from Strainprint, an app for cannabis consumers to track strains, doses and symptoms, there was a perceived 58% reduction in anxiety and stress following cannabis use. For these consumers, even two puffs of cannabis were sufficient in reducing ratings of depression and anxiety.
We asked HelloMD physician Dr. Richard Kim how cannabis works to reduce social anxiety.
“Cannabis promotes sociability by making us feel happy and relaxed. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) promotes happiness primarily by binding to the CB1 receptor in the brain, which responds by releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine. The increased dopamine signals the pleasure center of the brain: the mesolimbic pathway.”
Dr. Kim also noted that cannabidiol (CBD) can also help with anxiety, saying “CBD (cannabidiol) can increase serotonin signaling at the 5-HT1A receptor—the same neurotransmitter and receptor that SSRIs like Prozac influence.”
Dr. Kim cautions, however, that too much THC can actually have the opposite effect. “Too much THC can increase anxiety, because THC binds the CB1 receptor in three areas of the brain which affect anxiety: the amygdala, prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus—each with their own dose-response relationship to THC.”
When it comes to cannabis, everyone responds differently. While some people can consume cannabis without anxiety, some people can unintentionally experience marijuana-induced anxiety. It really comes down to a bit of trial and error to see what cannabis strain works for you.
That said, we asked some HelloMD staff members, which marijuana strains help them feel more at ease in social settings.
Chris B., partner development associate, prefers the light effects of ACDC: “My favorite strain to alleviate social anxiety is ACDC, a classic high-CBD strain, because it has a nice calming effect. ACDC offers full-body relaxation without getting too heady or increasing paranoia, which can worsen your anxiety. I find ACDC to be a good strain for light effects, so I can use it without overconsuming. Then I don’t worry about being too elevated in public.
“When I’m at a large gathering, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the quantity of people, especially if I’m in a crowd of new people that I’m not quite as comfortable with. Any time that feeling kicks in, ACDC can bring me back to that relaxed feeling without the cloudiness that accompanies certain high-THC strains. I’m still very clear-minded, and I can socialize easily.”
2. Jack Herer
** Melissa N., office manager**, tells us why Jack Herer is her go-to marijuana strain when she’s feeling anxious at a party: “To reduce social anxiety, I enjoy sativa-dominant Jack Herer. Sativa strains are generally uplifting, but some of them are heavy-headed. Jack Herer is more of a clear-headed high. It makes me feel less paranoid, and that makes it easier for me to be social.
“It’s a great strain for any time you’re feeling anxious. I like it if I’m going to a party or even in the morning. If I’m too tired, it’s a good option to wake up and get the day started, because it provides good energy.
“I’d recommend Jack Herer especially for people who are new to cannabis, because it’s an uplifting sativa. It doesn’t have that sluggish feeling like some strains do. For me, there’s less paranoia, so it’s great for newbies. But advanced consumers love it, too.”
3. Skywalker OG
Ryan G., customer service manager, says Skywalker OG is his pick for when he has to do any public speaking: “I really like Skywalker OG to help me with social anxiety. I tend to overthink a lot, so having a strain that provides full-body effects really helps me.
“I can get really anxious when I’m speaking in front of large crowds or even just a small group of people. I feel I’m very socially awkward and that makes me very self-conscious, so having an indica-dominant strain like Skywalker OG helps quiet those thoughts, and it puts me at ease.
“Cannabis affects everybody differently, so it’s a good idea to start low and slow, and increase consumption as needed. But I’d suggest Skywalker OG, because it’s not a super heavy indica that will make me feel lazy. This strain gives me energy, but at the same time reduces my self-consciousness, which helps alleviate my anxiety.”
4. Wedding Cake
** Bart S., customer service specialist**, says Wedding Cake tastes great and helps him start conversations without feeling self-conscious:
“Recently, I’ve been enjoying Wedding Cake, an indica-dominant strain also known as Pink Cookies. I think it’s a very good strain for social situations because it makes me feel happy and relaxed. It’s also energizing so it doesn’t make me anxious, but it gives me the motivation to strike up a conversation.
“Sometimes I feel anxious before social situations like a big party or an event with large amounts of people. Wedding Cake helps to relieve that anxiety so once I arrive I can be relaxed, talking and happy.
“I would recommend Wedding Cake because it’s a great tasting strain, but it also helps me break the ice at a party or social gathering. It helps me start talking and go with the flow so I’m no longer worried about the situation that I’m in.”
5. 24 Karat Gold
** Kevin P., customer service specialist**, says 24 Karat Gold helps him be present in conversations with others: “My favorite strain to reduce social anxiety is called 24 Karat Gold, otherwise known as Kosher Tangie. It’s a cross between indica strain Kosher Kush and sativa strain Tangie.
“Since 24 Karat Gold is a hybrid, it doesn’t get me too in my head or too sleepy. Although technically a 60/40 indica-dominant hybrid, it calms me down physically, so I don’t talk as much with my hands. I’m also not as nervous, and it frees my mind up for really interesting conversation.
“It gives a really classic high feeling, where I feel like I could just sit around and talk to people for a really long time—that’s a big part of being social for me. I find it’s appropriate to consume anytime I’ll be around other people.
“With so many different strains of marijuana out there, I like the ones that alleviate my social anxiety, but also taste great. The nice thing about 24 Karat Gold is it has really sweet citrus notes from Tangie and a little bit of pineyness from the Kosher Kush, so it always tastes really fresh. It feels like it cleanses my insides, and that psyches me up to get socializing.”
6. Sunset Sherbet
Nik S., customer service specialist, goes for indica-dominant Sunset Sherbet for the taste and physical effects: “To reduce my social anxiety, I like to go with Sunset Sherbet. Not only for the taste and effect, but because of the genetics: Sunset Sherbet is an indica-dominant strain descended from GSC.
“If I’m in crowded areas or any place I’m not familiar with, but I still want to remain social and have a good time, Sunset Sherbet works for me. With Sunset Sherbet, I notice the physical stress being relieved, and as a result it makes the social anxiety vanish. That iffy feeling and any feelings of anxiousness disappear. Not only do I get the physical relaxation, but mentally I feel more like myself. I get much more uplifted, and I start to notice that it’s easier to open up around people.”
If you’re new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 index of articles. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation; it’s easy, private and 100% online.
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Here are 6 marijuana strains that can take you from being a wallflower to a social butterfly. Our picks include Jack Herer, Wedding Cake and Skywalker OG.
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Twenty Strains That Are High on Energy and Low on Anxiety
While most people think smoking weed is purely for couch reasons, more marijuana consumers are starting to use the plant for productivity. Certain strains can help medical issues such as insomnia and eating disorders, but energy is one of the most sought-after effects of recreational pot right now.
Most daytime strains give users a buzzing, motivational high, inspiring us to finish chores around the house, get outdoors or tackle a creative project. Unfortunately, common side effects of energetic strains are anxiety and paranoia, neither of which are helpful in public or while making decisions. So to help you get up, get out and get something done today, here are twenty strains that are both uplifting and gentle on the psyche.
Just remember: Smoking marijuana affects everyone differently, so try these strains out slowly.
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That uptick expected from Diesel or Cough strains isn’t jolting, but what Strawberry Diesel’s high lacks in energy, it makes up for in focus. Delicious and uplifting without pushing you over the edge (though you can certainly do that yourself), the high is productive without heightening the nerves, allowing you to be creative, finish chores and deal with boring conversations.
While that fresh-squeezed smell of orange or grapefruit juice can be enjoyed and even beneficial in the morning, an extra glass of sugar and acid gets internally disruptive as we get older. I’m consistently two steps behind if I smoke Citrus Farmer all day, but one step blissfully ahead if I keep it limited to one bowl mid- to late morning.
Maybe it’s just the simpler genetics, or luck, that creates such a harmonious collision of old-school chronic with Chiesel. Initially uplifting, the high won’t taper off if you have something to concentrate on. and, unlike with many stimulating strains, that isn’t impossible to do with Chiesel. Any strain can give you the weirds if you smoke too much, but I rank Chiesel up there with some of the most productive highs I’ve ever had. The fact that it tastes like a weed charcuterie board doesn’t hurt, either.
Treat Tang Tang like coffee that makes you hungry instead of wanting to poop: A little is extremely blissful and productive, but too much is disorienting, and your wit drains by the second. I use it for stress, slight anxiety, neck pain and a touchy stomach.
Lemon Meringue’s head high can seem very intense initially, but it calms down quickly once you find something to focus on. Although that energy is best used for physical activity, the visual aspects and focus can also be fitting for a fun movie or thrilling read. The best part? The comedown is minimal, leaving you relatively unzomibified.
While the body feels a quick jolt of energy, the mind stays relatively calm, with some users even slowing down a bit mentally. That conflicting combination can be confusing at first, but can help with simple-minded tasks and exercise if dosed correctly. The strain’s medical benefits can include treating pain, glaucoma, headaches, eating disorders, stress and other minor forms of mental anguish.
Light on focus, Pucker’s high is all gusto. The energy and motivation put users in a hurry no matter the task at hand, but it’s a fun hurry. Concentration might be lacking, but anxiety is also light, making it a good option for daytime. Medical users have used Pucker to treat exhaustion, anxiety, mental anguish, minor pain and headaches.
A stupid, happy bliss is almost immediate, with an accompanying energy that can be difficult to contain without tasks or activities in front of you. The strain’s comedown isn’t too hard, but it does get stronger the more you consume. Mango Kush has been used to treat minor pain, headaches, muscle spasms, glaucoma, stress and minor mental anguish — and severe boredom.
Super Silver Haze
Super Silver Haze’s flavor may stack up with other old Haze strains, but the high is still relatively calm, despite its reputation. Although it causes time to move a little slower than your brain and makes you prone to cottonmouth, the strain is still very reliable in the daytime and for creative projects. Medical benefits have included treating exhaustion, stress, eating disorders and excessive apathy.
Sour Tangie isn’t quite as intense as Tangie, nor does it provide as much focus as Sour Diesel, but its high is more euphoric and relaxed than either, and it becomes very predictable after the first use. Its effects have been known to battle anxiety, depression and stress, eating disorders, nausea and minor pain.
This sativa’s unflappable yet active high is prime for daytime and outdoor fun, uplifting users without getting them lost in their own minds. It’s great for social use because of its tame-able effects, but it also eases minor pain, stress and appetite disorders.
Ecto-Cooler is a prime strain for daytime use, after-work fun or entertaining the after-party. Its energetic effects can relax the body’s daily aches and pains, providing euphoria without making the mind think too much. But stay a hit or two short of your limit and the strain can also be productive, allowing users to maintain focus during the rush. Medical benefits include treating exhaustion, stress, mental anguish, minor pain and nausea.
Although named after a powerful rifle, AK-47 doesn’t put a hole in your head. Its alert, euphoric effects are perfect for daytime chores and social activities, while its focus and slight body high keep the anxiety at bay. Still, a couple puffs too many will eventually bring a strong comedown. It’s been used to treat anxiety, exhaustion, stress, eating disorders and mental anguish.
Although it’s a CBD strain, Harlequin packs quite the sativa uplift, known for melting away pain and anxiety while easing stress and fatigue. The strain is much more popular for medical use than recreational, but its relaxing yet invigorating effects are a favorite for the productive smoker. Just remember to keep a water bottle with you: The cottonmouth is strong with this one.
Hercules carries the designation of an all-day strain, and rightly so. It stimulates the mind while loosening the body without draining either, making it great for sessions from morning to night, inside or outdoors. The strain can also have an array of medical benefits: It’s used to treat eye pain, eating disorders, anxiety, stress and other forms of mental anguish.
Even with the OG in its name and THC percentages reaching the low 20s, WiFi is one of my favorite daytime strains. It rarely causes drowsiness unless I smoke too much, and it’s great at leveling off caffeine and anxiety while inducing my appetite in the afternoon. Medical patients suffering from stress- and depression-related disorders, as well as chronic pain, nausea and exhaustion, can benefit from WiFi, thanks to its high potency and function-able buzz.
Some users report an initial energy burst after smoking Panama Punch, but a strong dose of lethargy can take over within an hour. The high is extremely blissful, however, devoid of paranoia and great at dissolving inhibitions. Its effects can treat sinus issues, headaches, eating disorders, minor pain and insomnia.
One of the easier landrace sativa highs to manage compared to Durban Poison’s drowsiness or Maui Wowie’s racy, anxious effects, Colombian Gold is sessionable and uplifting. Its energizing sativa high without paranoia and fatigue makes it a timeless all-day strain. Medical patients use it to treat appetite disorders, exhaustion, soreness and stress.
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Considered close to a 70/30 hybrid, Citrus Sap uplifts like a shot in the arm or a morning toke, giving users a relaxed state of mind despite the powerful body high. That high THC content can be a double-edged sword, though, making tokers useless from a lack of focus or body debilitation until a nap kicks in. The strain has been used to treat pain, stress, headaches, anxiety, exhaustion and nausea.
Lamb’s Bread’s uplifting high is more clear than those of popular sativas such as Haze strains and even landraces like Durban Poison. A great daytime smoke for potheads and medical patients alike, the sativa is good for exhaustion, stress, anxiety and headaches, as well as for amplifying creativity and decreasing social inhibitions.
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Unfortunately, common side effects of energetic strains are anxiety and paranoia, neither of which are helpful in public or while making decisions. So to help you get up, get out and get something today, here are twenty strains we've reviewed that are both uplifting and gentle on the psyche.