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12 High-CBD Cannabis Strains to Ease Anxiety

Cannabis is a go-to remedy for some folks living with anxiety. But not all cannabis is created equal. Some strains can actually bring on or worsen anxiety.

The key is to choose a strain with a high CBD-to-THC ratio.

Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the main active compounds in cannabis. They’re both similar in structure, but there’s one very big difference.

THC is a psychoactive compound, and CBD is not. It’s THC that causes the “high” associated with cannabis, including the anxiety and paranoia that some people experience.

While not a treatment for anxiety, using high-CBD strains might help ease certain symptoms, especially when combined with other tools, like therapy.

We combed through Leafly’s strain explorer to find 12 CBD-dominant strains worth trying if you’re looking for something on the mellower side.

Keep in mind that strains aren’t an exact science. The effects aren’t always consistent, even among products of the same strain.

Remedy is a 14 percent CBD strain that produces little to no psychoactive effects.

It’s got a lemon-pine scent. Most users recommend it for its ability to mellow you out without the intense head and body effects of high-THC strains.

This is another 14 percent CBD strain preferred by people looking to relieve stress, anxiety, and pain without feeling stoned.

It contains no relevant amount of THC. The two most common words used to describe its effects are “relaxed” and “happy,” according to reviews on Leafly.

Lifter is a newer player in the cannabis game. It averages around 16 percent CBD with next to no THC.

Its aroma is described as “funky cheese with a hint of fuel” (weird flex, but OK). It’s uber-relaxing effects won’t put a damper on your focus or function.

This is one of the best-known high-CBD strains. It contains around 13 percent CBD with little to no THC.

It’s used in several health and wellness products to help ease anxiety, pain, and depression without any psychoactive effects.

If you like the smell of wine and cheese, Cherry Wine’s your strain.

It averages around 17 percent CBD with less than 1 percent THC. According to user reviews, it relaxes your brain and muscles without mind-altering effects.

This CBD strain has an average CBD-to-THC ratio of 13:1, but strains as high as 20:1 can be found.

Ringo’s Gift is a cross of two high-CBD strains: ACDC and Harle-Tsu, which is actually next on our list.

Users report a big improvement in anxiety and stress levels after using this strain. Improved sleep is another effect users rave about.

This award-winning strain averages around 13 percent CBD but often tests much higher.

It was named best CBD flower at the 2014 Emerald Cup. Lab tests found it to contain 21.05 percent CBD and 0.86 percent THC.

This ratio makes it a favorite for people looking to lower anxiety and boost their mood and focus.

This was one of the first high-CBD strains ever bred and remains a fan favorite.

It has an average CBD:THC ratio of 13:1 or even lower THC. Users report feeling relaxed and happy without that “heavy body” feeling.

Elektra averages around 16 percent CBD with less than 1 percent THC. Some user reviews say it’s tested as high as around 20 percent CBD.

Its pungent smoke and aroma get mixed reviews, but people love it for its relaxing effect that doesn’t totally wipe you out.

This high-CBD strain has some sour notes as far as aroma, but it gets props from people who use it to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Sour Space Candy has an average of 17 percent CBD and only a trace amount of THC.

Suzy Q isn’t as high in CBD as some other strains. It comes in at about 11 percent CBD with little to no THC.

It’s considered a good choice for helping to relax an anxious mind and tense muscles without getting you high or knocking you out.

This strain contains more THC than the others we’ve listed, making it a good option if you’re still looking for a light buzz. It can contain anywhere from 4 to 7 percent THC and 8 to 10 percent CBD.

According to user reviews, people who don’t generally do well with THC find that this strain relaxes and calms without causing a green out.

Even if you’re going with a high-CBD strain, most still contain some THC, even if just a trace amount. Still, since it’s hard to predict exactly how any amount of THC will affect someone, a little caution is always a good idea.

Here are some tips that can help make your experience a little safer when trying a new strain:

  • Go low and slow by choosing a strain with the lowest THC you can find. Give it ample time to work before considering having more.
  • Consider nonsmoking methods, like CBD oils, to protect your lungs. Cannabis smoke contains a lot of the same toxins and carcinogens as tobacco smoke.
  • If you do smoke, avoid deep inhalation or holding your breath to limit exposure to smoke’s harmful byproducts.
  • Don’t drive for at least 6 hours after use, or longer if you’re still feeling any effects.
  • Avoid cannabis entirely if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Also keep in mind that individual states have their own legislation regarding legal levels of CBD and THC. Check your state’s legislation for specific information. Be mindful of other state laws when traveling with cannabis.

Research continues into cannabis, specifically CBD, as a potential way to manage anxiety. While it isn’t a tried-and-true remedy, some people do find it helpful for easing some of their symptoms.

If you want to give high-CBD strains a try, just be sure to keep up with any anxiety treatments prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.

Cannabis and anxiety have a complicated relationship. For some, cannabis works wonders for their symptoms, but for others, it ramps them up. If you're looking to use cannabis for anxiety, high-CBD strains are probably your safest bet.

The ins and outs of smoking CBD

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Contents

  1. The difference between smoking CBD and THC
  2. Is smoking CBD safe?
  3. The benefits of smoking CBD
  4. How does smoking CBD feel?
  5. Can you smoke CBD oil?
  6. Does CBD kill your high?

Smoking cannabidiol (CBD) might not be the only way to consume this increasingly popular cannabis compound, but believe it or not, there’s reason to believe that it is one of the most effective ways to experience the benefits of this non-intoxicating cannabinoid.

The method of consumption plays a critical role in how long it will take to feel the effects of CBD. Inhalation is considered an effective method of delivery for CBD because of how quickly it’s absorbed in the body. When CBD is smoked or vaped, cannabinoids are sent directly to the lungs and are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and put into circulation throughout the body.

It reaches peak concentrations in plasma within 3 minutes of consumption.

A 2007 study states that CBD can be detected up to 72 hours after smoking. In another study, volunteers were given soft-gelatin capsules containing cannabis extract containing 2.5 milligrams of THC and 1.35 milligrams of CBD. The research team found that CBD was only detectable in the blood for up to 6 hours after ingestion.

There is mounting research on CBD’s potential medical benefits, including scientific evidence for its effectiveness in the treatment of epilepsy by reducing seizures. CBD is also commonly used to alleviate depression and anxiety, as well as for those suffering from insomnia.

While some consumers and patients prefer to take their CBD through oral administration or topical application, others have found inhalation to be the most effective consumption method.

Many consumers typically prefer consuming or smoking CBD through a pipe, joint, or a vape pen. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Many consumers typically prefer consuming or smoking CBD through a pipe, joint, or a vape pen. Of course, CBD can also be consumed by swallowing in pill form or administering through a lotion or tincture, but vaping or smoking CBD provides unique benefits that other forms of consumption generally lack.

The difference between smoking CBD and THC

To be high, or not to be high? That is a question that may appeal as the easiest illustrate the difference between smoking high-CBD flower and THC-heavy flower.

But it’s a bit more complex than that.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD are the most prevalent among the 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants. In fact, CBD is the second-most-abundant cannabinoid found in the plant. CBD is often touted as “non-psychoactive,” however this statement is somewhat misleading — and a more accurate way to describe CBD is as a non-intoxicating substance. Any substance that has a direct effect on the function of the brain, which CBD does to a certain extent, is considered to be psychoactive.

Both THC and CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Both THC and CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system is a group of cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body. These receptors are located in the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, and the immune system.

THC binds with the CB1 receptors in the brain to produce a high, while CBD has shown to have the opposite interaction with CB1 receptors, acting as an antagonist. Therein lies the main difference between the two cannabinoids.

In other words, CBD, which can be extracted from either the marijuana or hemp plant, is a non-intoxicating compound, meaning it does not produce a high when used by itself or in tandem with other non-intoxicating compounds.

Is smoking CBD safe?

While more research into the effectiveness of CBD consumption methods is needed, most evidence suggests that vaping or smoking CBD itself will not cause intoxicating side effects. The primary concern for users is getting unadulterated CBD and, for those who prefer smoking, the potential long term effects on the lungs.

It’s important to note that the act of smoking cannabis, even high-CBD strains, could potentially lead to respiratory issues. A 2007 study published in the Harm Reduction Journal examined self-reported respiratory symptoms in participants who used cigarettes and cannabis, and discovered that using a vaporizer could decrease respiratory symptoms in regular cannabis users who smoke.

Smoking has been shown to increase bioavailability, which is the proportion of a drug when it enters the body’s circulatory system. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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An often-cited study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, published in 2017, found a disturbingly wide range of CBD concentrations when testing products purchased online. Of the products tested in the study, 26% contained less CBD than labeled, which could negate any potential positive clinical response, according to the study.

Some issues have to public attention with CBD vapes, but those problems may stem over poor regulation of the vaping market.

A patient in Illinois on Aug. 23, 2019, became the first known to die of a mysterious lung illness linked to vaping. The death occurred as doctors and hospitals nationwide are reporting an increasing number of vaping-related respiratory illnesses over summer, with 193 reported in 22 states, the New York Times reported.

The benefits of smoking CBD

So, what does smoking CBD do? Are there benefits to this method in comparison to oral ingestion or topical application, for example?

For starters, smoking has been shown to increase bioavailability, which is the proportion of a drug when it enters the body’s circulatory system. When medications are administered in ways other than intravenously, the bioavailability rate naturally drops. This is due to incomplete absorption and what’s known as first-pass metabolism — when the concentration of a drug is reduced before it reaches the circulatory system.

Smoking has been shown to increase absorption. One study, Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics published in 2017, states that “smoking provides a rapid and efficient method of drug delivery,” although the bioavailability can vary broadly based on how the CBD is smoked (duration, spacing of puffs, hold time, and inhalation volume).

When smoking or vaping CBD, the cannabinoids are sent directly to the lungs before being rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and put into circulation throughout the body. It reaches peak concentrations in plasma within 3 minutes after consumption, meaning the effects can be felt almost directly after use.

When smoking or vaping CBD, the cannabinoids are sent directly to the lungs before being rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and put into circulation throughout the body. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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With ingestion, CBD is first sent through the digestive tract and metabolized in the liver, where it is broken down before finally being sent into the bloodstream. This process, known as the “first-pass effect,” takes place when cytochrome P450 (CYP450) oxidases enzymes in the liver, reducing CBD concentration and sending the remainder to the bloodstream and eventually throughout the body. On the other hand, the permeability of CBD is tenfold higher than THC when topically applied to the skin, peaking after 90 minutes.

Some evidence from clinical trials suggests that one among the numerous benefits of CBD is an aid to those who wish to quit smoking cigarettes. A 2013 study by researchers at the University College of London showed CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by study participants by roughly 40%.

How does smoking CBD feel?

The effects of smoking CBD will vary depending on the product and the individual who is consuming the CBD. For example, dabbing a pure CBD isolate will likely cause different effects than hitting a high-CBD vape pen that also contains some THC.

While CBD doesn’t get you high or intoxicated, it has been known to provide a sense of calm, relaxation, and well-being. CBD can make some people feel sleepy, relaxed, generally at easy, happy, or even energetic. While there are no serious side effects reported with CBD, overconsumption can cause nausea, fatigue, and irritability.

In addition to a feeling of relaxation, smoking CBD has been noted to provide quick relief of swelling and pain. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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While THC binds with the CB1 receptors in the brain to produce a high, CBD affects multiple sets of receptors throughout the body by exerting indirect influence on these receptors, thereby increasing the levels of endocannabinoids produced naturally by the body. In addition to a feeling of relaxation, smoking CBD has been noted to provide quick relief of swelling and pain.

Can you smoke CBD oil?

CBD can be infused into a variety of products, including vape juice, edibles, capsules, and CBD oil tinctures. CBD tinctures are strictly for ingestion, while CBD oils are made for inhalation.

CBD vape juice, sometimes referred to as CBD vape oil, may vary in concentration depending on state-specific laws. It is legal in 30 states. Another 17 states have CBD-specific laws that enable some level of use or consumption.

CBD can be infused into a variety of products, including vape juice, edibles, capsules, and CBD oil tinctures. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not stepped in to regulate CBD products, but the FDA approved the prescription use of Epidiolex in 2018, a purified form of CBD oil for treating epilepsy.

Rick Simpson Oil, named after its Canadian developer, who claims he cured his own skin cancer with a custom blend of cannabis oil, is a popular form of CBD oil that is commonly smoked.

CBD oil derived from industrial hemp plants only contain CBD, while marijuana-derived products, such as Rick Simpson Oil, have a high concentration of THC and the full range of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.

Does CBD kill your high?

The answer isn’t clear, but CBD has demonstrated the ability to moderate a high produced from THC by preventing the body from breaking it down. Some people say they use CBD when they get too high to reduce the effects. Evidence suggests CBD actually interferes with the activity of the CB1 receptor, especially in the presence of THC.

So, when THC and CBD work together to affect CB1 receptor activity, users tend to feel a more mellow high and are said to have a reduced chance of experiencing paranoia compared with the effects felt when CBD is absent in a product. This synergistic relationship is often referred to as the “entourage effect,” which explains why certain combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes seem to enhance the benefits of cannabis.

The ins and outs of smoking CBD Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents The difference between smoking CBD and THC Is smoking CBD safe? The