The 8 Best Medical Marijuana Strains for PTSD
Certain medical marijuana strains could be helpful for alleviating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, especially when treatments like group therapy and traditional medications aren’t enough. Moreover, some PTSD sufferers are interested in marijuana as a way to reduce or eliminate their dependence on conventional medications.
Before trying these marijuana strains for PTSD, consult with an experienced physician who has successfully used cannabis with other PTSD sufferers in the past. He or she will be able to help you find the strains, doses, and delivery methods that are the safest and most effective for you.
Best Daytime Strains for PTSD
Sativa strains are generally the best for daytime relief from PTSD symptoms because their effects are more uplifting and cerebral, allowing you to stay active and get things done rather than putting you to sleep.
In many states, including Arizona, PTSD is a qualifying condition for medical marijuana, meaning that if you book an in-person or MMJ telemedicine appointment and are approved for a card, you can purchase these indica and sativa strains from dispensaries excise-tax-free.
ACDC is a sativa-leaning hybrid strain with 16-18% CBD, 0.8-1% THC, and terpenes alpha cedrene, alpha terpineol, and borneol. ACDC is one of the best strains for PTSD because it can keep you feeling happy, calm, and focused and is said to provide relief from panic attacks.
Because ACDC has such a high percentage of CBD and a low percentage of THC, it's not intoxicating and the buzz is very mild. The effects, however, are long-lasting and the main side effect is dry mouth (easily solved by sipping on water). If you're new to cannabis, this is a great strain for your first time smoking medical marijuana. Take puffs throughout the day for gentle and soothing relief.
Harlequin is another of our favorite high-CBD strains for PTSD. This sativa-leaning hybrid strain has a balanced 6-8.5% CBD and 3-6% THC for a mild lift that won't leave you feeling stoned or paranoid.
After consuming this cannabis strain, expect to feel clear-headed, calm, and happy. Few, if any, consumers have reported unpleasant side effects. The aroma and flavor are reminiscent of mango and earthy musk. Terpenes alpha-pinene, terpineol, and caryophyllene contribute to this strain's pleasant flavor as well as to its calming and soothing effects.
Blue Dream, a strain that originated in California, is one of the most popular cannabis strains on the West Coast. For PTSD sufferers, this sativa-dominant hybrid strain offers several welcome effects:
An uplifted mood
Reduction of social anxiety
A generally more positive outlook
The child of the Blueberry and Haze cannabis strains, Blue Dream has a sweet blueberry aroma. The THC content is usually around 17 to 24% with a minimal 0.1 to 0.2% CBD. Blue Dream's uplifting properties also make it a popular strain for depression.
Pineapple Express is a sativa-dominant hybrid strain with around 20% THC and 0.1% CBD. While the movie of the same name depicted this strain as being very powerful, the experience, in reality, is said to be balanced and smooth.
After savoring the sweet pineapple flavor, consumers often feel creative, clear-headed, and alert, without the typical fear and hypervigilance that can interfere with daily life. This is a good strain to try if you feel anxious about going out.
If you struggle with feelings of anger, consumers report that this strain might help. With 6% THC and 6-17% CBD, Cannatonic boosts mood and quells anxiety, leaving the consumer feeling relaxed and calm.
Because of its balanced effects, Cannatonic is ideal for daytime relief. The high CBD levels complement the low levels of THC, and consumers don’t report experiencing feelings of paranoia, sedation, or couchlock with this strain (although it’s important to keep in mind that everyone reacts differently).
Best Nighttime Strains for PTSD
Flashbacks, anxiety, fear, feelings of regret, and hypervigilance can make it hard for PTSD sufferers to rest. If you're struggling to doze off at night, indicas and indica-dominant strains can help to calm your mind so that you can drift off to sleep.
OG Kush is an indica-dominant hybrid that's ideal for evening relief. This calming strain has THC levels between 20 and 24% and around 0.2% CBD. Myrcene is the primary terpene. After a few puffs, consumers report feeling euphoric and totally relaxed thanks to this strain's full-body effects.
Experienced cannabis consumers who struggle with PTSD-related insomnia might prefer Master Kush. This strain's strong euphoric and sedative effects are perfect for sending you off to sleep in a state of total relaxation and bliss.
While the THC content is medium (around 20%) with around 1% CBD, this indica strain is very potent and would usually prove overwhelming for beginners. If it's your first time trying cannabis, Harlequin and ACDC might better fit the bill.
For dessert, it's hard to find a better strain than Strawberry Banana. This indica-dominant strain is high in alpha-cedrene, alpha-pinene, and beta-caryophyllene, which contribute to the strain's sweet and fruity appeal.
After the first few puffs, negative feelings and thoughts melt away, transitioning to mild psychedelic effects that are based on your current surroundings (as opposed to hearing or seeing things that aren’t there). If you continue puffing beyond the initial few tokes, this delicious strain will make your eyes close and send you into a sweet and peaceful sleep.
How Effective Is Medical Marijuana for Reducing Symptoms of PTSD?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that medical marijuana can provide significant relief from symptoms of PTSD, although the federal scheduling of marijuana has made it difficult to conduct large-scale, placebo-controlled clinical trials.
So far, a study published in 2022 showed that PTSD patients who consumed cannabis to treat the condition were 2.57 times more likely to recover. In a small placebo-controlled crossover study that was published in 2009, taking Nabilone (a synthetic form of THC) significantly reduced trauma-related nightmares experienced by study participants with PTSD.
When considering cannabis as a treatment for PTSD, it's important to keep in mind that:
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be extremely debilitating—with high rates of unemployment, relationship difficulties, and suicide.
Conventional medications that are prescribed for PTSD can often have serious long-term side effects.
Some cases of PTSD are resistant to both therapy and prescription medications but do respond to cannabis.
Before self-medicating with cannabis for PTSD, it's important to try therapy and then consult with an experienced medical marijuana doctor. He or she will evaluate your symptoms, recommend the most effective strains, dosages, and products (such as tinctures, vaporizers, and flower), and monitor your progress over time.
Cannabis Can Play a Role in Treating PTSD
If you've experienced or witnessed a traumatic event and the aftershocks are affecting your ability to lead a normal life more than one month after the fact, an MMJ doctor may consider recommending cannabis to treat PTSD symptoms alongside other treatments like psychotherapy and prescription medications.
For effective relief without inducing paranoia, go for high-CBD sativas or hybrid strains in the daytime and indica strains at night. Start with the lowest possible dose and build up slowly over several days to find the lowest dose that provides effective relief.