Can CBD Alleviate THC Induced Panic Attacks?
Many people use cannabis for both recreationally and medically for various medical conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, and more. However, because internal human chemistry often differs slightly from person to person, not everyone has the same experience.
Some users find that its effects range from relaxing to euphoric. Others find that consuming certain strains or consuming too much induces paranoia and/or panic attacks. Fortunately for those few who enjoy the positive effects of cannabis but, not the paranoia or panic attacks, carefully choosing the strains that they consume can be an effective way to enjoy cannabis. You can do it without experiencing the paranoia that consuming cannabis can sometimes induce. Ingesting CBD can be an effective way to alleviate marijuana panic attacks after smoking weed.
Why Cannabis Can Induce Paranoia and Panic Attacks
Why does cannabis sometimes induce these feelings in some users but not in others? The answer to this question lies in Human physiology and more specifically, the structure of the human brain and our Endocannabinoid System.
The human brain has a region that is called the Amygdala is responsible for controlling our response to fear. It contains an unusually high level of CB1 receptors. In addition, the human body contains a system called the Endocannabinoid System which is responsible for modulating our brain’s response to stress, fear, rewards, and many other emotional responses. It does so by producing two types of endocannabinoids which have been designated as CB1 and CB2. Consequently, any cannabinoid that is capable of binding to a CB1 receptor has the potential to induce fear and anxiety.
Does Marijuana Cause Anxiety?
In fact, certain studies have shown that the brains of people who suffer from PTSD have insufficient levels of Anandamide which is a natural endocannabinoid that is structurally similar to THC. Therefore, when a person consumes cannabis, the THC that it contains stimulates the brain’s CB1 receptors. This results in some users experiencing a euphoric effect. It replaces the missing Anandamide with the THC contained in cannabis can help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and paranoia. This could explain why THC induces a relaxing, anti-anxiety, effect in some people.
However, the THC contained in cannabis can over-stimulate the brain’s neural pathways. Marijuana causes feelings of anxiety and/or fear, especially in individuals who are new to consuming cannabis.
CBD and CB2 Receptor
Cannabis also contains a second type of cannabinoid called Cannabinoid (CBD) which, instead of stimulating the brain’s CB1 receptors, stimulates its CB2 receptors as well as its TrpV1 Vanilloid Receptors. This moderates the effects of THC on the CB1 receptors. Therefore, ingesting CBD can reduce, or even eliminate, the adverse affects that some users experience when consuming cannabis.
Definition of Paranoia and Panic Attacks
Exactly what are panic attacks and what is paranoia? Well, a weed panic attack is defined as sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, numbness, or a feeling that something bad is going to happen.
Paranoia is defined as an instinct or thought process and is believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality.
Pre-Existing Anxiety Can Affect Your Cannabis Experience
Researchers acknowledge that anxiety is highly individualized and it is based on a number of different risk factors. Researchers noted that regular cannabis users tend to see a decrease in anxiety whereas, occasional and new cannabis users were more likely to experience heightened paranoia.
In fact, a 2009 review of anxiety and cannabis studies concluded that “frequent cannabis users appear to have higher levels of anxiety than non-users,” . It also said that “a considerable number of subjects developed anxiety disorders before the first symptoms of cannabis dependence.”
In addition, these same studies concluded that anxiety was also more likely to occur among new and occasional cannabis users when high doses of THC were ingested. This evidence led researchers to the conclusion that people who are prone to anxiety tend to use cannabis as a self-prescribed anti-anxiety medication. This directly opposes the idea that consuming cannabis causes anxiety in some users.
While it is impossible to say how cannabis will affect you personally unless you’ve already tried it. Understanding the biological and environmental factors at play can help guide you to a better experience.
How to Avoid a Cannabis-induced Panic Attack
As a general rule, when a person has a bad experience, they tend to avoid the substance or circumstances that caused them to have a bad experience. This may make you wonder why a person would continue to consume cannabis if they have had a bad experience with it?
Well, the answer to this question is that the paranoia and/or weed panic attacks that some people experience when consuming cannabis are often due to overconsumption of strains with a very high THC versus CBD content.
In fact, CBD acts as an antipsychotic and it can counterbalance THC’s psychotic properties. Therefore the ratio of these two cannabinoids has a large impact on the psychological effects of cannabis.
Consequently, a person may very well experience a pleasant, even euphoric effect when consuming a small number of certain strains of cannabis. Consuming too much can lead some people to experience the adverse effects of panic attacks and paranoia.
THC vs CBD Ratio
While many cannabis cultivators choose to give their proprietary stains fanciful names, the main difference between them is the ratio of THC to CBD. Thus, the best way to avoid the paranoia and/or panic attacks after smoking weed is to choose one or more strains with a lower ratio of THC to CBD
In fact, many of the traditional “landrace” cannabis strains such as Acapulco Gold and Thai Stick originally contained only about 5 percent THC and 3 to 4 percent CBD. But, due to intensive selective breeding over the last few decades, cannabis cultivators have been able to develop strains with THC levels as high a 28%.
By carefully choosing the strains of cannabis that you choose to consume or by limiting the amount that you consume at any given time, you can enjoy the pleasant effects of cannabis. All this can help avoid the unpleasant effects caused by overconsumption.
How to Alleviate a Cannabis-induced Panic Attack While High
However, according to historical records, humans have been consuming cannabis for centuries and negative reactions to cannabis are not new. As you might expect, humans have found ways to deal with the unpleasant effects of cannabis.
In fact, a 10th-century Persian physician named Al-Razi claimed that in order to avoid the negative effects of cannabis overconsumption, “one should drink freshwater and ice or eat any acidic fruits.” In Tunisia, lemon has long been a traditional cure for over consumption of cannabis. Another remedy from the Ayurvedic Tradition of India recommends smoking Calamus root, claiming that “smoking a pinch of Calamus root powder will neutralize the toxic side effects of the drug.”
Furthermore, a Roman naturalist and philosopher wrote in his natural history book that pine nuts combined with pepper and palm wine could be taken to counteract the effects of cannabis.
But, the one ingredient that all of these traditional remedies have in common is Terpenes, more specifically, Pinene and Limonene; both of which are contained in abundance in certain strains of cannabis.
Cannabis strains that contain either Pinene or Limonene may enable a person to enjoy the positive effects of cannabis without experiencing its negative effects.
Since internal human chemistry tends to differ slightly from person to person, it can often be difficult to predetermine what effects a given strain of cannabis will have on any given individual. In the event that a person inadvertently chooses to consume a strain that does induce overwhelming anxiety or a weed panic attack while high, then ingesting CBD can be a highly effective way to alleviate the unpleasant symptoms.
So, if you are one of those people who enjoy the positive effects of consuming cannabis but who sometimes experiences negative effects, then choosing a strain with a relatively low THC to high CBD ratio could be the perfect solution. In the event that you do find yourself experiencing overwhelming anxiety or a panic attack due to cannabis consumption, then keeping a bottle of CBD oil on hand is a wise precaution since CBD has the ability to counteract over stimulation of the brain’s neural pathways caused by THC.