How Can I Keep Cannabis-Induced Paranoia At Bay?

January 2, 2018

How Can I Keep Cannabis-Induced Paranoia at Bay?

For some, cannabis is the most accessible and effective natural treatment for anxiety. And yet, for others, it pushes them in the complete opposite direction, resulting in that unique form of cannabis-induced paranoia. If that's you, we've got good news: sometimes a different strain can mean the difference between paranoid hell and pleasant relaxation.

So what makes the difference between these experiences?

The Endocannabinoid System and Anxiety

The endocannabinoid system modulates the brain’s response to stress, fear, rewards, and many other emotional responses. On the far end of this spectrum lies paranoia and anxiety.

Interestingly, the amygdala, a brain region that controls fear response, contains an unusually high level of CB1 receptors. Therefore, anything that stimulates CB1 receptors holds the potential to induce fear and anxiety.

And what stimulates CB1 receptors?


But the story doesn’t end there.

CBD in many ways has an opposite effect to THC. CBD does not stimulate the CB1 receptor, rather, it acts via the CB2 receptors in the body and the TrpV1 vanilloid receptor in the nervous system. This pathway can actually tone down a high and inhibit the action of CB1 receptors.

CBD can actually mitigate the paranoid effects of THC.

Using Cannabis to Reduce Cannabis-Induced Paranoia

First of all, let’s get real. You’re not going to die, even if you are convinced you will (check out this hilarious 911 call from a cop who stole cannabis, baked brownies, then called 911 on himself). You would literally have to smoke a metric ton of cannabis within 20 minutes to die from it.

You probably haven’t had that much.

But it’s still highly unenjoyable and because the time distortions created by THC, it can seem to drag on forever.

The best way to bring yourself down is actually CBD. Or, if you know you have a sensitivity to cannabis-induced paranoia, use a high CBD strain with a CBD:THC ratio of at least 1:1. The greater the ratio, the more mentally intense the experience will be.

Wisdom from the Past: How to Bring Yourself Down

Negative reactions to cannabis are nothing new. This plant has been around humankind for a long, long time. And, as you might expect, humans have found ways to deal with the unpleasant effects of cannabis.

A 10th-century Persian physician named Al-Razi claimed that to avoid the harms of cannabis ingestion, “one should drink fresh water and ice or eat any acidic fruits.” In Tunisia, lemon has traditionally been the cure for cannabis overdose. Another remedy from the ayurvedic tradition of India recommends calamus root, claiming that “smoking a pinch of calamus root powder will neutralize the toxic side effects of the drug.”

In his Natural History, Book XXIV, a Roman naturalist and philosopher wrote that pinenuts with pepper and palm wine could be taken to counteract the effects of cannabis.

The common thread to these ancient remedies? Terpenes. Specifically, pinene and limonene.

This also raises the possibility that cannabis strains rich in pinene and limonene may leave you less paranoid than those lacking them, but there’s no research to back up this claim.

How to Deal with Cannabis-Induced Paranoia?

From strain selection to emergency measures, here’s what you need to know to reduce cannabis paranoia:

  • Use a high CBD strain
  • Look for strains with a piney or citrusy scent
  • Drink some lemonade or have a piece of citrus fruit
  • Eat pine nuts
  • Eat peppercorns
  • Smoke some calamus root (good luck finding that one)

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