What Cannabis Strains Are Best for Depression and Mental Health?
Depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges are very serious conditions that can range from mildly inconvenient to debilitating. These mood disorders often manifest as feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and hopelessness along with other symptoms that make it difficult to go about your daily life. Depression also makes you feel like the world would be better off without you in it. To resolve these issues, it's important to find relief to begin feeling like yourself again.
There are a multitude of ways that people have found relief from their mental health symptoms, but many of them come with side effects. Some people use marijuana as a supplement to traditional pharmaceuticals, or even alternative treatment altogether, to help manage their symptoms. Marijuana occurs in many different strains, each one providing its own benefits for mental health. Be sure to always discuss your medication habits, including medical cannabis, with your physician!
Why Use Cannabis As A Supplement Or Substitute For Prescription Drugs?
It is not uncommon for the average adult to find themselves with a mental health challenge, whether it is depression, anxiety, or other conditions. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health notes that in 2019, an estimated 51.5 million Americans were living with a mental health disorder, equating to 1 in 5 people. For this large cohort of Americans, it can be difficult and frustrating to feel like you're not getting better, even with prescription drugs. There are a lot of reasons people choose to use marijuana as an alternative treatment.
The truth is, prescription drugs are some of the most dangerous substances on earth. They are addictive and can lead to a myriad of side effects, many of which last long after you stop taking them. For commonly prescribed SSRIs and SNRIs, these include, but are not limited to:
- Decreased sex drive
- Dry mouth
- Lethargic or sedating feelings
- Weight loss
There's also an alarming amount of drug interactions that can be potentially fatal when combined with other medications. This is why marijuana, or medical cannabis, is often considered safer than prescription drugs by doctors and patients alike.
Marijuana is a popular alternative to common prescription mental health drugs like antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and pain relievers. Unlike these prescription drugs, marijuana doesn't have the same addictive properties that lead to withdrawal headaches or even addiction. It also has a very low rate of fatal drug interactions with other medications, if any at all.
Many patients who have had success with marijuana also report that it has a more beneficial effect on mood and anxiety than the prescription drugs they were previously taking.
As stated by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, “It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works. It is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, and that care could involve marijuana. We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.”
- Prescription drugs are expensive and can come with dangerous side effects. Marijuana has not shown to be addictive, nor produce damaging side effects.
- Marijuana does not interact with other medications, while prescription drugs often do. Taking marijuana will not cause you to have a heart attack or interact with other medications like an antibiotic.
- Marijuana is natural and does not have harmful artificial ingredients in it, unlike prescription drugs.
- Patients are more likely to experience a complete and long-lasting recovery from their depression when they use marijuana as an alternative treatment, opposed to prescription drugs.
What Kind Of Medical Marijuana Is Best For Stress, Depression And Anxiety?
There are many strains that can help with mental health, including stress, depression, and anxiety. It is important to find something you enjoy so it can be an effective replacement for prescription medications. In order to determine what strains work best for which specific ailments, we have the Strain Assessment Program. Our Patient Pioneers are real patients who review products and strains across delivery formats (flower, concentrates, vapes, etc.) to help MÜV learn about these genetics, bring data to the cannabis space, and assist fellow patients in their medical cannabis journey.
Based on our collected patient Strainprint Data, we show the following strains work best for the symptom relief of stress and anxiety:
Cherry Punch is a hybrid strain that has been efficacious in mood management. Crafted by crossing Cherry AK 47 and Purple Punch, the cultivar is well-loved for its cherry, vanilla, and gassy notes, and boasts prevalent terpenes myrcene, limonene, caryophyllene, humulene, and linalool.
Clementine is touted as a sativa strain and, as a cross of uplifting Tangie and Lemon Skunk, provides euphoric effects. Its top terpenes include myrcene, caryophyllene, limonene, pinene, and linalool, which blend to lend a sweet-and-spicy scent profile.
Maui Wowie is a coveted strain in the Püre vape line. Its tropical fruit flavor profile is present due to its top terpenes myrcene, caryophyllene, limonene, pinene, and linalool, and a host of others. This cartridge provides significant relief from mood disorders, according to MÜV Patients.
Slurricane is described as an indica strain, created by crossing Do-Si-Dos and Purple Punch. It features notes of pepper and citrus and, too, is highly efficacious in mood management, with top terpenes including limonene, myrcene, pinene, caryophyllene, and linalool.
Other Therapeutic Strains
If none of the products recommended above are hitting the mark for your mental health needs, don’t worry. There are a wide variety of other strains out there, with more being developed all the time. Each one offers a unique blend of active cannabinoids, meaning each different strain of cannabis might be better suited for certain patients or particular mental health needs than the next.
- Modified Grapes: a potent cross of Purple Punch and GMO, Modified Grapes is revered for its mood management and pain management abilities. Patients report hybrid effects that lean towards relaxation.
- Triangle Kush: this reported indica strain lends deeply relaxing effects, and aids in quelling mood disorder symptoms.
- Velvet Glove: Velvet Glove puts the glove to stress, anxiety, and insomnia, and is deeply sedating.
- Canna-Tsu: Canna-Tsu is a high-CBD strain, providing equal parts THC:CBD. Patients report relaxed yet uplifting effects, and easing of both stress and depression.
What Terpenes Are Good for Depression?
Terpenes are the natural compounds that give marijuana its unique smell, taste, and strain-specific effects. They also have different benefits for depression sufferers, depending on what you need. You can use terpenes to help you sleep better, relieve pain and inflammation, and are a natural anti-anxiety remedy. When shopping around for the best depression treatment plan, don't forget about these little helpers.
Common terpenes that may help with depression:
- Limonene: This is the most potent antidepressant terpene found in marijuana. It has been known to reduce anxiety and stress, as well as alleviate depression symptoms with regular use.
- Pinene: This terpene is found in rosemary, pine needles, and black pepper. It is believed to increase focus and alertness, which can be helpful for those suffering depression or struggling to focus.
- Linalool: A more subtle terpene found in lavender and rosewood oils. It is commonly associated with a calming effect that can decrease anxiety and stress.
- Caryophyllene: This terpene is found in black pepper, cloves, oregano, cinnamon, and parsley. It targets the CB2 cannabinoid receptor, which emerging research suggests can help regulate your mood.
How to Use Marijuana for Relief of Mental Health Symptoms
There are many ways to use marijuana as a supplement to or substitute for anxiety medications/antidepressants. It is important to find the best products for your needs, whether that be smoke-free or topical-based. Some common methods include:
- Smoking - This is the most common method, and it involves inhaling marijuana smoke through a device such as a bong or pipe, or by rolling a joint using highly quality cannabis flower. Smoking is a preferred method by many because the onset of effects is immediate, and last roughly 2-4 hours.
- Vaping marijuana - This method involves heating marijuana oil, wax, or flower to release the compounds in vapor form. The vapor is then inhaled, which provides a similar effect to smoking - a quick onset of effects lasting 2-4 hours.
- Edibles - This method typically involves eating marijuana-infused food, such as brownies or cookies. Edibles are a great solution for those with a high tolerance needing long-term effects; roughly 4-6 hours.
- Transdermal Patches - These are worn on the skin and provide a constant release of marijuana into your system. Transdermal Patches lend effects that begin roughly 15 minutes after application, and last 72 hours.
- Cannabis Concentrates - These are a more potent way to use marijuana due to their concentration of cannabinoids. You can add to flower, vape using a concentrate device, or dab the concentrate to consume. Like other inhalation methods, concentrates provide fast-acting effects that last approximately 2-4 hours.
- Cannabis Inhalers - These are a type of vaporizer that delivers vaporized cannabinoids in a familiar format. Many users enjoy the discreet nature of this application with the added benefit of easily measuring consumption levels. Inhalers, too, provide effects almost immediately, lasting 2-4 hours.
- Oral Products - Oral cannabis products allow you to consume marijuana without smoking, which is an added benefit for those who struggle to inhale any type of substance but are looking to experience the benefits of marijuana for their conditions. As with edibles, oral products may have a delayed onset time, though providing longer-lasting effects, approximately 4-6 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cannabis and Depression or Anxiety:
How does cannabis help with mental health issues?
The key to marijuana’s therapeutic effects may lie in something called the entourage effect. This phrase is used to explain how the unique chemical composition of each cannabis strain can result in different experiences for the user.
The “entourage” being referred to is the complex ratio of chemicals—THC, CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids and compounds—present in each strain. Chemicals that interact with cannabinoid receptors have the ability to alter a person’s mood and increase their overall sense of well-being. The vast variety of possible terpenes and differing cannabinoid ratios create countless possible effects, meaning that a single well-chosen strain might even have the potential to ease mental health and pain symptoms simultaneously.
What do mainstream physicians say about using marijuana for mental health?
It’s important to remember that widespread medical use of marijuana is still fairly new. With decades of prohibition and stigma only now coming to an end, further research and data are still needed before the medical community as a whole willingly embraces cannabis. That being said, they’re starting to come around! In a piece for CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta enthusiastically endorsed marijuana’s medical potential and retracted earlier anti-weed statements. He shared the story of a young seizure patient who replaced seven different medications with the one thing that finally “calmed her brain” – medical marijuana.
Are there studies showing how cannabis can help with mood disorders?
Yes, and research is still very much ongoing. A 2018 survey, for example, showed that 58% of respondents reported that marijuana use reduced their anxiety and stress, while a paper from 2015 concluded that “CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.”
Can cannabis replace opioids for pain relief?
Yes, some patients have successfully replaced their harsher pain meds with cannabis or CBD products. According to a 2017 review aggregating a wide variety of previous research, marijuana is unquestionably proven to help with chronic pain, and in fact found that pain is the number one reason medical marijuana patients cite when seeking treatment.
Doesn’t marijuana decrease motivation and cause eating disorders and paranoia?
There is a lot of anecdotal “wisdom” out there about marijuana’s stereotypical side effects, but studies so far have shown little evidence of medical marijuana decreasing motivation or increasing anxiety (though some studies have had results that are inconclusive or complicated).
Are there negative mental health side effects to marijuana?
Most marijuana users using an appropriate dose never experience serious side effects. However, symptoms similar to anxiety or panic attacks can be possible if you use too much. Dry mouth, dizziness, and issues with coordination may also be experienced at high doses. The best way to avoid unpleasant side effects is to start with a small dose and increase it in tiny increments until you find a routine that suits your needs.
Further Research for Cannabis Medicinal Benefits
Our understanding of the medicinal benefits of marijuana continues to grow and change. The Strainprint program is dedicated to continuing to build an understanding of the benefits of marijuana use when it comes to helping with depression and mental health. This program relies on real medicinal patients to guide both providers and breeders to continue to create strains that can make a real difference in someone’s life.
Research continues to focus on what is best to treat stress, anxiety, and depression, especially outside of the use of prescription drugs. Battling with these ailments aren’t easy, but no one needs to do them alone.
If you are looking for relief without prescription medication, medicinal marijuana may be exactly what you need to finally find true relief without a lot of side effects.
Content Manager for MÜV Florida and Contributor for Zen Leaf Dispensaries. A cannabis connoisseur with a passion for explaining the miraculous possibility of the plant, Swan began her journey with cannabis as a recreational user and quickly realized its positive impact on her depression and severe anxiety. She joined the cannabis industry as Receptionist and MedTender and witnessed first-hand the immense potential of the plant for a wide variety of ailments, deepening her passion for alternative medicine. Swan is dedicated to self-education on the plant and sharing its potential with all. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Iowa.