Anxiety and How Cannabis Helps

I’ve written, and rewritten this blog three times now, each time changing the subject and each time finding some reason to scrap it and start over. It’s a cycle that I have become familiar with; the need to perfect whatever task I have put my attention on in order to deliver, not what someone else expects of me, but what I expect of myself. A standard that I sometimes put so high that it becomes impossible to reach. It causes my heart to race and my thoughts to speed through my head faster than my words can keep up with. Then, by trying to catch just pieces of those thoughts, I start to feel the familiar swell start in the back of my head. My foot will start to tap and my jaw will tighten. If I don’t slow down by this point my hands will start to shake and I’ll get tunnel vision. After that, I have a panic attack. Simply put, I have anxiety, but cannabis helps.

Before I dive in, I wanted to acknowledge that cannabis isn’t for everyone. I understand that not everyone enjoys the effects or finds them therapeutic. At one point in my life cannabis sometimes gave me terrible anxiety, but after spending some time exploring what cannabis could do, I found what worked for me. If you are considering giving cannabis a first time try (or another try) for anxiety relief, here are some tips from someone who has done the “field testing” for you. What works for me may not work for you and I wouldn’t recommend cannabis to anyone who wasn’t comfortable with the idea of using it in the first place but I hope some of you find benefit from these tips.

Tip Number 1. It’s not all about the THC. I started out by chasing the highest THC percentage that I could find. A high THC percentage tends to speed up my heart rate and that is absolutely not how my anxiety goes away. These days I find myself preferring around 18 percent THC.

Tip Number 2. It’s very easy to use more but impossible to use less. Start with a small dose and work your way up in small increments. If you’re smoking, take a drag and wait a couple minutes before taking another. If you would prefer to try an edible, take ½ or even a ⅓ of what’s recommended. It is important not to speed through finding the proper dose for yourself.

Tip Number 3. If it smells good, it will feel good. It sounds cheesy but it works for me most of the time. When I smell dried cannabis, I can feel my body relax a little when I find a terpene profile that will suit me best when smoked.

Tip Number 4. Learn where your tipping point is. This is less about cannabis and more about knowing yourself. If your anxiety is working up and you don’t feel comfortable or at ease with the thought of medicating or medicating more, then don’t.

Tip Number 5. Always remember, you won’t die from using cannabis. There has been exactly zero(0) deaths from cannabis overdose. Keeping that fact in mind will oftentimes help alleviate the anxiety caused from using cannabis… for anxiety.

As I said before, don’t use cannabis to medicate until you are comfortable with the idea of it in the first place. By no means is this the only path to take when using cannabis to help prevent or calm anxiety. If you ever have any questions don’t ever hesitate to ask your bud tender. Trust me, they like talking about cannabis and will love to talk to you about it. Now when dispensaries open up, hopefully these five tips can speed up the process of finding your effective dose range.

Demystifying Cannabis Genetics

Sourcing high quality cannabis genetics was once a dangerous and difficult proposition, but times have changed. Today, an unprecedented variety of cannabis genetics from across the globe are available to home growers.  Regular seeds, feminized seeds, and auto-flowering seeds adorned with endlessly creative and unique names are sold by entities reputable and otherwise, both domestically and abroad.  All were created by selectively breeding the three cannabis species: Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis. What follows is a description of their respective qualities to help the home grower choose what is most appropriate for their needs.

Unmodified (traditional) cannabis seeds are produced by pollinating a female flower (bud) with the pollen from a male plant, and typically have a 50/50 chance of becoming female or male. Some cultivators claim that when germinated under preferable conditions, a greater ratio of females to males can be achieved.  Most specimens are easy to keep as mother plants, and don’t often suffer hermaphroditic tendencies under normal stress loads.

Feminized cannabis seeds are produced by pollinating a female flower with the pollen of a hermaphrodite. A hermaphrodite has male flowers originating from a female flower, created by stressing a female plant during bloom. This is usually achieved by over-ripening, or by interrupting the plants dark cycle with a light leak.  Feminized seeds eliminate the need to identify and remove male plants from your garden to prevent seed formation in your flowers. It should be noted that it is quite common for hermaphroditism to become a genetic trait, with the offspring producing both flower sexes without the application of stress.

Auto-flowering seeds are hybrids between the sativas, indicas and hybrids known to North America, and ruderalis, a variety originating from Russia and Siberia. In this region, the growing season is very short and the day period during this time is 24 hours/day for about four months.  This means ruderalis must bloom when the day length is well over 12 hours/day, and must do so quickly.  When these traits are bred into sativas/indicas and their hybrids, a plant is created that many find more practical to grow since they finish fast and short, without requiring a timer for lighting.  It should be noted that due to a lack of selective breeding and the difficulty in separating desirable traits, ruderalis varieties are typically of a lower cannabinoid concentration.  To complicate this further, the addition of a third species of cannabis produces wildly unpredictable results regarding flowering times.  Some may have a vegetative stage of varying length, and others will immediately bloom with lower ending yields.  Compounding all these problems are breeders that create auto-flowering seeds that are also feminized.  With this additional genetic caveat, plants become completely unpredictable.  If such a specimen happens to be truly breathtaking, clones cannot be kept as mother plants to reproduce the same results. This forces the grower to either breed their own seeds, or continually purchase them.

Incredible cannabis genetics can come from any of the aforementioned origins, but it is important to choose what is practical for your growing environment and skill level.  Keeping mother plants or breeding for seed production isn’t practical for most, and the type of seeds you purchase will determine what can you can do with them. Endless hours can and should be spent researching online forums and gaining insights through trial and error. However, In the end, it may be best to purchase proven genetics in the form of clones from your local medical dispensary professionals.

PRO TIP: Be certain there are no hitchhiking pests, molds, or viruses on genetics that you acquire by keeping a small quarantine area under observation for a week or so before introducing to your permanent garden. Thank me later.

Cannabis Therapy and Pain Management

By: Aspen Jewel

Over the past decade, cannabis has regained popularity as a therapeutic treatment for those experiencing pain. Many people find that prescribed drugs do not work after time; it has a lot to do with the buildup of these drugs in your body. The discovery of the endocannabinoid system has resulted in over 16,000 studies in the U.S. alone. A systematic review of clinical trials over the past 40 years has proven that cannabis can be incredibly effective at managing pain associated with debilitating illnesses such as chronic pain, neuropathy, arthritis, and cancer.

Chronic Pain

A large portion of patients I meet are experiencing chronic pain on many levels. Studies show that only three in every ten chronic pain sufferers find relief in prescribed pharmaceutical options (Hauser, 2019). Chronic pain is the most studied ailment in the cannabis research community. Overall, cannabinoids have been found to block the transmission of pain. Combined with opiates, cannabis increases efficacy of drugs used for chronic pain by up to one thousand percent. It is important that someone interested in trying cannabis knows that the process to find your perfect “blend” can take a few months. Like any medication regimen, cannabis therapy will include trial and error. For example, the strain White Widow might help inflammation and pain, but the tired & groggy feeling wouldn’t be suitable for daytime use. Professional bud tenders will be able to discuss the reported effects associated with any medical cannabis products.

Neuropathic Pain

Damage to the nervous system can result in chronic pain, otherwise known as neuropathy. This disease typically causes weakness or numbness in the area affected. Clinical trials over the past decade have proven cannabis to be highly useful in the treatment of pain. Steroids that are often given to help combat inflammation in the nerves can lower the efficacy of the immune system over time. The nervous system and endocannabinoid system work closely in the body; both are involved in homeostasis. This feedback loop creates balance in the body when it comes to temperature and maintaining a stable internal environment. In addition to neuropathy, cannabis has been proven to help with neuropathic pain linked to trauma, vascular disease, multiple sclerosis and more.

Arthritis

Cannabis is famously used for this common movement disorder. Arthritis causes inflammation in the joints, which results in pain when moved. Cannabis relieves pain by working closely with the nervous system while reducing inflammation simultaneously. Juvenile arthritis is often treated with a high-CBD strain to reduce euphoric side effects. One-to-one ratios of THC to CBD in cannabis have been proven to help children’s arthritic symptoms. It is recommended to “microdose” this ratio throughout the day (about every 2 hours). I would suggest doing 2.5mg CBD with 2.5mg THC (1 to 1) for first timers. Those with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis will often use a good inflammation-targeting strain in conjunction with a cannabis lotion. Essential oils such as camphor and lavender can help with absorption of the cannabis, which is why a lotion is often preferred over using a tincture topically. There are many inflammation-targeting strains, from the relaxed Grand Daddy Purp to the uplifting MediHaze. In an animal trial, researchers found that cannabis blocked progression of arthritis if used regularly “without evident side effects,” (Hammell, 2015).

Cancer

Research has proven that cannabis can stop certain types of abnormal cell growth. Along with helping to stop the growth of cancerous tumors, cannabis helps with the side-effects of traditional cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation. The nausea and other aching systems that individuals undergoing pharmaceutical treatments experience can be drastically reduced with a regular cannabis regimen. Cannabis is known to increase appetite and reduce hyperemesis (vomiting). Relaxing, broad-leaf cannabis strains for nausea and lack-of-appetite include Northern Lights and Blueberry Diesel. Uplifting, narrow-leaf anti-nausea strains include Super Lemon Haze and White Fire OG. Many who experience insomnia due to cancer treatment will use a broad leaf cannabis strain to combat the irregular sleep/wake cycles without known side-effects. 

Cannabis can work with the nervous system and endocannabinoid system to reduce pain and inflammation. When used regularly, cannabinoids can build up in your body and provide a greater therapeutic use. Research has shown that cannabis has an array of uses ranging from anti-inflammatory to appetite stimulating. The side effects of pharmaceutical drugs are often combatted by cannabis use. Be sure to talk to your doctor when using cannabis in conjunction with any other medications. Ask your local bud tender about the right cannabis regimen for your conditions and day-to-day lifestyle.

Aspen Jewel
General Manager, Health & Wellness
Kansas City Cannabis Company
[email protected]

Häuser, W., Welsch, P., Klose, P., Radbruch, L., & Fitzcharles, M.-A. (2019). Efficacy, tolerability and safety of cannabis-based medicines for cancer pain. Der Schmerz, 33(5), 424–436. doi: 10.1007/s00482-019-0373-3

Hammell, D., Zhang, L., Ma, F., Abshire, S., Mcilwrath, S., Stinchcomb, A., & Westlund, K. (2015). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European Journal of Pain, 20(6), 936–948. doi: 10.1002/ejp.818