Posted on March 10 2019
With marijuana legalization soaring across the country (and the world), more and more people are quickly discovering the many benefits of the cannabis plant. One reason that many people turn to cannabis is to help manage anxiety, and there is even some research linking cannabinoids to anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects.
If this sounds a bit weird, it may be because you’ve heard that smoking weed has also been linked to inducing anxiety in some people. It’s true, cannabis does give some people the jitters. In fats, some people may be more sensitive to THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, than others. Most often, though, adverse reactions are related to taking too much, and smaller doses may not have the same negative effects.
It’s a sort of cannabis paradox that made room for a new dosing trend: microdosing weed for anxiety. Now, people are using microdosing techniques to manage all sorts of symptoms. Many people even utilize microdosing throughout the day without severe effects on cognition. People who have experienced negative effects from cannabis before are often able to microdose weed with no issue, and most are quick to rave about the benefits to their friends. Even some doctors and research professionals support the idea of microdosing, which might make cannabis a suitable option for anyone.
What is Microdosing?
Microdosing is not a new concept at all and is often used in pharmaceutical testing for new drugs and medications. The idea behind microdosing is simple and straightforward: take the smalled possible dose necessary to achieve the desired effects. This is how many doctors prescribe medication, too. That’s why your doctor is likely to start you on the lowest dose of anti-anxiety medication, and will slightly increase your dose after assessing the effects for a few weeks.
Microdosing weed is exactly the same, and the dose will still vary for each person. Many people start with doses as low as 1mg of THC, while others regularly microdose with 5 mg. Of course, the best dose for you will vary based on many biological factors, like weight, age, and even gender. Your doctor may be able to help you decide on a starting dose for microdosing weed.
These small doses are taken at least semi-frequently throughout the day. Typically, the effects of cannabis can last anywhere from 2-6 hours, with 3-4 hours being the average. When microdosing, these time frames still apply, so people may choose to take their microdose every 3-6 hours, depending on what's needed for symptom management.
The dosing regimen will vary for each person, and when microdosing for anxiety the dosing routine may vary based on environmental factors. For instance, you may only need to take a microdose before an activity that is likely to induce anxiety but may not need a dose when just relaxing at the house. Either way, the microdosing trend has plenty of support, including peer-reviewed research and experts that are quick to recommend these low doses to their patients.
The Science and Support Behind Anxiety and Cannabinoids
Research has identified the anxiolytic effects of cannabis and some studies mark it as a possible treatment for certain anxiety disorders. Some studies lend the anxiety relief to THC, while others focus on another cannabis compound, CBD. In reality, both cannabinoids may function in a similar manner to help manage anxiety. Many people with THC restrictions or sensitivities may prefer microdosing CBD for anxiety. Others combine the two since both cannabinoids may work together to boost each other’s effects.
One research effort supports this exactly. Scientists at Washington State University conducted a unique study that looked at the effects of inhaled cannabis in medical marijuana patients that were using cannabis privately at home. Other studies concerning the effects of cannabis on anxiety are often conducted in a laboratory setting with THC or CBD concentrates, which isn’t a good representation of how cannabis affects the average person. This study from WSU identified that low doses, like one puff of high-THC cannabis, were best for treating depression and only two puffs worked best for lowering anxiety. These results were self-reported by the user, and identify exactly why many experts are likely to recommend microdosing to medical marijuana patients looking to ease their anxiety.
Dr. Dustin Sulak, an integrative medicine physician, oversees thousands of patients who use medical marijuana. He recommends microdosing to many patients and suggests that he has witnessed a dosing threshold for many people. According to Dr. Sulak, the dosing threshold differs for each person. He believes that at or below the threshold, cannabis seems to have the most benefit. Over the threshold, the patient may experience no benefit at all, and taking too much can lead to adverse effects or worsening of symptoms.
Best Products for Microdosing for Anxiety
It is possible to microdose cannabis flower, which is many people’s preferred consumption method. To utilize small doses of bud through inhalation, many people use a small smoking device, like a one-hitter. Others just take small hits of a joint throughout the day. Of course, these methods make it difficult to measure the dose, which can make it impossible to maintain a precise microdosing routine.
For some, small doses are fine and don’t need to be measured. For maintaining anxiety, though, many people benefit from precisely measured doses, which helps them learn the exact dose needed to manage certain symptoms of anxiety as needed. Cannabis products that allow you to precisely manage your dose will help you design a specific dosing routine that achieves optimal relief with the smallest possible amount of cannabis. Some of the most popular products for microdosing include:
- Tinctures: Tinctures are oral supplements that are placed under the tongue. Low potency tinctures make it easy to deliver doses as low as 1-3mg of THC or CBD as needed, and they usually begin to take effect in as little as 10-15 minutes.
- Edibles: Cannabis edibles are the most popular choice among microdosers, probably because they are the most convenient method. Edibles, like THC gummies or candies, come in pre-measured doses that make it easy to take a specific amount as needed throughout the day. They are often individually packaged and easy to transport. They do take longer to kick in, sometimes up to an hour, because they need to be metabolized by the digestive tract. Some people report that the effects last longer for the same reason.
- Vapes: Vaping THC or CBD also allows you to take small hits that take effect immediately. Not all options will allow you to precisely measure your dose, but certain vape batteries have a built-in time that delivers a metered dose each time. Vaped cannabis kicks in quickly, in 10-15 minutes.
Is Microdosing Right for Me?
Microdosing cannabis may be the best dosing method for many patients. Microdosing may be especially helpful for those who refrain from using cannabis because of a THC sensitivity, or for people who experience increased anxiety when using cannabis. If you think microdosing may be right for you, talk to your doctor. Those who already use cannabis regularly may benefit from adopting a microdosing routine, and it’s likely the best way for beginners to get a feel for cannabis and the way it affects them. If you do decide to try a microdosing regimen, there are multiple products that make it easy to measure your dose and carry it with you wherever you go.