There is an interesting school of thought which suggests cannabis consumption guarantees relaxation. The belief is that lighting a joint will help you chill out and get to sleep. However, certain marijuana strains, primarily sativa-dominant ones, are more likely to put a spring in your step.
Indica strains can help you sleep but are potentially sedating. Finding the right balance between relaxing and avoiding sleep isn’t easy, but you can do so by combining marijuana with well-known relaxation techniques. This article outlines the best consumption methods and strains while also taking note of dosage. Finally, we check out common relaxation methods and discuss how to mix them with cannabis for the best results.
Inhaling Cannabis is Potentially the Best Way to Relax
Research suggests that smoking a bowl, joint, or blunt to relax is more than a stereotype. A study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research in 2020 discovered something fascinating. The researchers looked into the effectiveness of inhaled cannabis flower for reducing anxiety, stress, and irritability.
They analyzed data from a real-time marijuana effects app called the Releaf App. It is free, and you can use it to record your experiences using weed. This includes whether it helped with your symptoms or led to any adverse effects. Keeping track of this information can help you determine which products are best for you and which ones cause side effects.
Overall, the research team looked at 2,300 marijuana administration ‘sessions’ by 670 people. In over 95% of sessions, the user reported decreased stress, irritability, or anxiety. In contrast, there was an increase in distress-related symptoms in just 2% of sessions.
One study found that individuals in 95% of marijuana consumption sessions experienced a decrease in their stress levels.
Interestingly, symptom relief improved by 0.02 points on average per percentage point increase in THC levels. In general, the perception is that high-THC strains are more likely to cause anxiety.
The research took place in New Mexico, where MMJ is legal. The team hypothesized that cannabis’ reputation for causing anxiety is more likely due to concerns over being arrested than the drug’s chemical impact.
How Much Cannabis is Enough When Trying to Relax?
It is fascinating to see that high-THC marijuana doesn’t necessarily increase the risk of anxiety. Nonetheless, it seems probable that excessive THC consumption, in general, makes it more likely that you’ll suffer from heightened anxiety. Therefore, it makes sense to try and determine the optimal marijuana amount for relaxation
One thing that virtually everyone knows about marijuana is that the drug is dose-dependent. The more you use, the stronger the effects. It is much easier to consume too much THC when using an edible than when smoking it.
One research team tried to investigate the ‘ideal’ amount of marijuana for relaxation. They chose 42 volunteers aged 18-40 who were not daily users but were familiar with the drug. The next step involved splitting the volunteers into three groups who then received one of the following:
- A placebo
- 5mg of THC
- 5mg of THC
The volunteers had two marijuana using sessions. They were asked to participate in a mock job interview while being taped two hours after consuming the THC or placebo. Next, the researchers gave the volunteers a five-digit number and asked them to subtract 13 from it repeatedly. After their next visit, they had to discuss a favorite movie or book and play solitaire.
According to the researchers, volunteers who used 7.5mg of THC per session showed reduced stress. Indeed, they reported being more relaxed than the placebo group. Also, their stress levels fell rapidly after completing the tasks. However, the 12.5mg THC group experienced higher levels of stress.
How Much Marijuana Does This Equate to?
According to The Cannabist, the average joint weighs 0.32 grams. Smoking half of this joint would provide 9-11mg of THC, assuming that a similar amount gets burned off. However, there is a huge amount of guesswork involved in calculating the THC content. This is the case even if you try to be precise with your figures.
For instance, imagine that the 0.32 grams joint contained 20% THC. This equates to approximately 64mg of THC. Research from 1990 suggested that we consume 20-37% of the THC from a joint. The rest is lost to sidestream smoke and pyrolytic destruction.
If we take the higher percentage, using the full joint would result in the consumption of 23.68mg of THC. Therefore, you should only smoke one-third of the joint to get 7.89mg if your goal is to relax.
However, the above figures are not precise. Also, the New Mexico study had a small sample size and wasn’t representative of how everyone will react. Experienced users are far more likely to tolerate a higher THC level than a novice. Even so, it seems clear that smoking only part of a joint is your best bet if you want to relax without feeling anxious.
What Marijuana Strains Are Best for Relaxing?
The consensus is that indica strains are more likely to help you relax. However, as the research above suggests, you are better off looking for lower THC strains or ones with a little CBD.
A study published in Neurotherapeutics in 2015 looked at CBD for helping with anxiety disorders. According to the researchers, CBD interacts with the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor and the CB1 receptor, and other receptors in the brain that regulate anxiety and fear-induced behaviors. Therefore, choosing a strain with CBD can take the ‘edge’ off any anxiety caused by THC.
Examples of such cannabis strains include:
- Sweet and Sour Widow
A Question of Terpenes
Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in plants. They are responsible for the smell and taste of cannabis. Certain terpenes are associated with relaxation. For instance, myrcene is known for its sedative qualities. Linalool is another terpene often found in marijuana strains. It is believed to increase serotonin levels and promote feelings of joy and contentment.
Therefore, it is arguably less about a strain being indica or sativa than it is about its terpene content. Look for strains with extremely high levels of linalool and myrcene, for instance.
- Blue Dream
- Sour Diesel
- Fire OG
What Are Some Common Relaxation Techniques?
Adopting some of the following relaxation techniques can help you manage stress better. The process of relaxation decreases the effects of stress on the body and mind. Benefits include lower blood pressure, reduced muscle tension, and improved digestion. Consider using one or a combination of:
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Autogenic relaxation
- Tai chi
- Music and art therapy
- Deep breathing
Putting It All Together
The great thing about using cannabis sensibly is that you can combine it easily with most of the above relaxation techniques. For instance, you could mix marijuana with gazing meditation.
The goal of gazing meditation is to help concentration and clarity by focusing on a fixed object. By doing this, you dismiss wandering thoughts and help your mind become clearer. Take a small hit of a strain such as Double Dream (associated with sharper focus), and look at ripples in a pool of water or a candle’s flame.
Combining cannabis use with relaxation techniques is a great way to enhance your overall feeling of relaxation.
Another option is to combine weed with deep breathing. This is a mix that could help release most of the tension from your body.
If you plan to pair cannabis with relaxation techniques, use the weed perhaps 30-60 minutes before proceeding. This is generally long enough for the THC to work if you smoke marijuana. It is also wise to stick with strains that contain enough CBD to counteract any anxiety-causing effects of THC.
Final Thoughts on Combining Weed and Relaxation
It is a misnomer to suggest that all cannabis strains promote relaxation. There are plenty of options that offer a cerebral high, which leads to a burst of energy. Also, users must be careful not to consume an excessive amount of THC. Research suggests a fine line between the right amount of marijuana for relaxation and too much.
Finally, check out a few of the best-known relaxation techniques and combine them with cannabis. You might find yourself feeling less anxious as the tension and stress that consumed you slowly leaves.