How to microdose weed and treat anxiety

What is microdosing? And how does microdosing weed help with anxiety? We spoke with a professional budtender to give you a step-by-step guide to microdosing

Feb 24, 2018
High Angle Portrait Of Man Smoking On Bed At Home

Photo Taken In Argentina, Buenos Aires (Photo credit should read Lucila Brunstein / EyeEm Getty Images)

Microdosing weed is all the rage in post-prohibition states. But what is a microdose of weed? And how do you microdose weed for anxiety?

What is Microdosing?

Microdosing is the practice of taking very small amounts of a drug for a functional experience. The term became popular a few years ago in reference to psychedelics, specifically Silicon Valley professionals who were microdosing LSD to boost creativity and productivity.

When it comes to weed, microdosing works much the same way. People are consuming small amounts of cannabis for the medical benefits with limited psychoactive effects. A micro-dosed serving of cannabis is typically around 2.5 to 5 mg but can be as low as 1mg.

“The size of a “microdose” can vary per patient or consumer since each individual has a different tolerance,” says social consumption consultant and Founder of Top Shelf Budtending, Andrew Mieure. “Generally speaking, anything 1mg to 5mg for edible products, extremely small dabs of concentrates (pinhead sized), or 1 small (1-2 second) puff from a joint, pipe or vaporizer is a microdose.”

“Cannabis affects everyone differently,” Mieure adds. “1mg may affect one individual much more than 5mg affects another. They key is to not feel any intense psychoactive feelings or traditionally “negative” side effects of cannabis, like sleepiness, racing mind, short-term memory loss, etc.”

In the world of recreational marijuana, it’s called a micro-serving and is used in social situations much in the same way as alcohol. It acts as a social lubricant without getting party-goers too high.

“Cannabis can act as a ‘social lubricant’ by inhibiting typical anxious feelings that would otherwise be felt without the presence of cannabis in the guest’s system,” says Mieure.

Microdosing weed is also great for new users. So many people are trying cannabis for the first time now that it’s completely legal in eight states and it’s becoming increasingly destigmatized. But, often first time users are trying products and strains that are way too strong with high levels of THC. Unfortunately, many of these newbies get too high, have a bad time, and decide weed is not right for them. But, if they were introduced to weed in a micro-serving, chances are they’d have a mellow high and a better time, thus increasing their curiosity to continue to try cannabis.

How Microdosing Weed Helps Anxiety

giphy How to microdose weed and treat anxiety

Microdosing weed is a great way to treat anxiety with cannabis. That’s because, when it comes to THC and anxiety, less is definitely more. Ingesting too much THC can actually increase anxiety as well as cause:

  • paranoia
  • sweating
  • increased heart rate
  • trouble sleeping

Yet, THC does have anti-anxiety effects if taken in micro-dosed servings. A study was done in 2014 where incarcerated men with anxiety and mood disorders were given a low dose of a synthetic cannabinoid for PTSD symptoms. After receiving only 4mg of the cannabinoid, a majority of participants had “significant improvement” from PTSD symptoms, including insomnia, nightmares, general symptoms, and chronic pain.

Andrew Mieure tells Herb: “I have personally been using microdose techniques for many years in the treatment of my severe panic disorder, PTSD, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). In my experience, cannabis consumption with panic disorder can be like ‘walking a tightrope,’ meaning that if I have too much cannabis my panic gets triggered and it is a miserable experience that I just have to ride out. While the correct (or lower) dose can make me feel less anxious and less prone to panic triggers, making my anxiety-prone mind bearable to live with.”

How to Microdose Weed for Anxiety

There are many options for microdosing weed, especially in states where cannabis is legal. But what’s best: smoking, vaping, eating an edible? What about percent THC? Aren’t we forgetting CBD and terpenes?

To keep the dose low and precise, we’d recommend skipping smoking and opting for vaping or consuming edibles, tinctures, or oils. In addition, look for products with low levels of THC and high levels of CBD, especially with an equal ratio of 1:1 THC: CBD.

“For anxiety/panic I typically recommend the ‘10/10 rule’ which is a strain with less than 10 percent THC and more than 10 percent CBD,” says Mieure.

You’ve probably heard that CBD is non-psychoactive and so doesn’t produce a high at all, which is true. So CBD-only products are also an option for anxiety. However, microdosed portions of THC are also good for anxiety and so shouldn’t be ignored completely. Plus, CBD helps to counteract the effects of THC, giving products with a 1:1 or similar ratio of THC:CBD a nice mellow and productive “high” or experience. High CBD products shouldn’t induce paranoia when microdosed and provide maximum benefits from a minimum dose.

Mieure has some detailed advice on micrdosing weed for anxiety: “Typically a microdose regimen for anxiety starts with set and setting. Ensure that you are in a ‘safe space’ where you feel comfortable and not overwhelmed. Try to always be very intentional about your consumption and try to be in the best possible headspace before consuming. Keep a notebook around and document the product and how you feel. If you have any overwhelming feelings, side effects, or too intense of a high, that means you have dosed with too much cannabis. Reduce the size of the dose until all of the undesirable effects subside and increase your dose as needed.”

Which Strains are Good for Anxiety?

Canna Tonic by Vancouver Island Exotics How to microdose weed and treat anxiety
Cannatonic Cannabis Strain

Strains like Harlequin, Cannatonic, and Sour Tsunami are great for microdosing weed for anxiety because of their low levels of THC and high levels of CBD. Check out Herb’s Top 10 best High CBD strains for anxiety here.

But don’t forget about terpenes. Many cannabis connoisseurs will tell you that strain names are actually less useful than looking at the whole cannabinoid profile of a product or flower, including terpenes.

“The terpene content in cannabis is what helps creates differing ‘head’ or ‘body’ highs,” says Mieure. “Specifically for anxiety, I suggest that you seek out strains high in ‘linaloo,’ which typically has a sweet, floral aroma. This same terpene is found in high concentrations within the lavender plant, lending to its sedative and anxiety-reducing characteristics. Plus, inhaled linalool has been shown to block panic responses in the brain.”

“Beta-caryophyllene is also fantastic, it is traditionally found in clove, black pepper and cinnamon. It smells spicy, woody and herbaceous,” adds Mieure.

Plus, there are some terpenes and cannabinoids that you want to avoid if you’re prone to anxiety. According to Mieure, the terpenes myrcene, terpinolene, and limonene can actually cause anxiety. He also says to avoid strains with high percentages of THC or that contain the cannabinoid THC-V.

“THC-V, often found in African landrace strains like Durban Poison, can be VERY psychoactive. Strains with THC-V often trigger my anxiety immediately,” says Mieure.

Products to Microdose for Anxiety

Any product can be microdosed if you’re taking less than 5mg, but there are also some products hitting dispensaries specifically designed for “low-tolerance” consumers. Mieure suggested a few delicious edibles great for microdosing weed for anxiety, including:

As far as vape pens go, some have been designed for microdosing, like dosist. These vape pens vibrate after you’ve inhaled 2.5mg, so you can control your dose precisely. Mieure also recommends Lucidmood concentrates pens, which come in specific “moods” or experiences, like energy, bliss, relax, and party. These vape pens are great because they all have an equal ratio of THC:CBD, for a functional “high”.

Microdosing weed for anxiety is easier than ever. For more info, check out Herb’s full coverage on best vape pens for anxiety here.

Feb 24, 2018