Cannabis as a natural remedy for depression is a topic of some controversy.
While many consumers report that relief from depression is one of their primary reasons for partaking in the herb, the limited science on the subject has yet to catch up to the consumer experience.
What research has found, however, is that both dosage and the unique chemical composition of certain cannabis cultivars may play the most profound role when trying to figure out whether the herb has a positive or negative impact on depression.
That means that high doses of the herb can actually have the opposite effect than moderate doses.
Large doses of THC may contribute to worsening depression in some people, while sticking to lower doses may prove beneficial.
Still, the dosage is only one factor to consider when trying to find the best cannabis strains for depression.
You also want to consider the cannabinoid and terpene profiles of a given cannabis sample for best results.
To help give you a clearer idea, here are five cannabis strains that may help depression, with some helpful tips at the end.
1. Super Sour Diesel
Searching for a quick pick-me-up? Super Sour Diesel is a popular morning time strain for a reason.
Energizing and stimulating, this plant is known to produce high levels of uplifting terpenes.
Terpenes are aroma molecules in the cannabis plant that contribute to each strain’s individual effects.
This particular strain is known to produce high levels of several mood-lifting terpenes, including beta-caryophyllene, limonene, and bisabolol.
In preclinical research, beta-caryophyllene (BCP) has been found to have anti-depressant properties. BCP is a sharp-scented terpene common in lemon balm and black pepper.
Similarly, limonene, which provides an invigorating citrus scent to some cannabis strains, has been found to have antidepressant effects in preclinical models of neuropathic pain.
Calming bisabolol is a floral terpene also found in chamomile flowers. This terpene has a soothing quality that may be helpful for those with dual anxiety and depression.
The downside to this strain? Super Sour Diesel can be very high in THC. As such, moderation is recommended for this plant.
Too much THC too quickly can worsen depression, especially after the euphoric effects of the plant wear off.
While some people find ample relief with THC, others report that it can make things worse over time.
To find the best strain for you, some experimentation is required.
2. OG Kush
Considered an afternoon treat, the OG Kush cannabis strain is a high-THC flower with a unique terpene profile.
Containing high levels of myrcene, BCP, limonene, and linalool, OG Kush offers consumers an easygoing and upbeat experience
Laid back terpenes like limonene and floral linalool are thought to offer mood-boosting effects, while musky myrcene acts as a hypnotic and sedative.
Linalool is an anxiolytic terpene most abundant in lavender, offering consumers a calm and contented vibe.
Altogether, these terpenes make OG Kush a mildly sedative yet emotionally upbeat flower that may be helpful to those who struggle to relax and enjoy the company of others.
Unfortunately, like Super Sour Diesel, the high THC content of this strain may not have positive effects in every consumer.
Some may find that the THC in OG Kush makes depression temporarily worse as the effects of the strain dissipate.
Others, however, may find that the euphoric properties of this herb inspire an uplifted and silly sense of wellbeing that makes it easier to find joy in daily activities.
3. Classic Cookies
Another high-THC strain, Classic Cookies is a mellow and relaxing daytime flower.
This contended hybrid plant is safe to consume during the day, so long as the consumer has a high tolerance for THC.
Easy going and uplifting, the Classic Cookies strain contains impressive levels of limonene, which is invigorating and calming at the same time.
The relaxed nature of this terpene is expected to promote a positive mood and mental clarity without causing excess stimulation.
An excellent choice for those seeking relief from depression, this plant also contains high levels of beta-caryophyllene and decent levels of calming linalool.
MediHaze is a CBD-rich strain that is often considered a sativa hybrid.
Often expressing a 1:1 or greater ratio of CBD to THC, this flower is an excellent choice for those searching for cannabis relief without the intoxicating effects of THC.
Safe to use during the daytime, this plant provides an uplifting sensation of mental energy.
While the anti-depressant effects of THC can be more challenging to balance, CBD is thought to have rapid-acting antidepressant effects.
In fact, preclinical research in rodents has found that CBD can boost levels of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin faster and more efficiently than pharmaceutical antidepressants.
Not only does MediHaze contain high levels of CBD, but this plant can also feature decent amounts of limonene, linalool, and beta-caryophyllene.
As a word of precaution, this strain can sometimes test with very high levels of myrcene. While myrcene is often thought of as a sedative, CBD tends to have an invigorating and energizing effect on consumers.
However, some samples of MediHaze may be more sedative than others.
Harlequin is another high-CBD strain very similar to MediHaze.
However, Harlequin more often features close to 2:1 ratios of CBD to THC.
Like Medihaze, Harlequin has tested positive for greater levels of limonene and beta-caryophyllene, giving this cannabis strain a calm, upbeat, and clear-headed vibe.
This strain also contains fairly substantial levels of myrcene, making it more laid back and quiet than cannabis strains without this sedative terpene.
Similar to many high-CBD strains, Harlequin does not produce a substantial intoxication and is safe to consume during the day.
Those hoping for help getting to sleep at night, however, may appreciate a cannabis variety with higher levels of myrcene and higher levels of THC.
Tips for choosing the best cannabis strains for depression
For the time being, choosing the best cannabis strains for depression is not an exact science.
Much of the research on cannabis and terpenes is based on preclinical evidence, not large-scale human trials.
Without solid research that determines exactly which compounds are useful for mental health ailments, the best any cannabis consultant or patient can do is to experiment and make educated guesses about what might work.
This is really how most medicines work. The difference with cannabis, however, is that it has such a high safety profile and is generally a very forgiving substance.
When searching for the best cannabis strains for depression, here are a few things to keep in mind to help you make informed decisions:
1. Every strain sample is different
While the strains highlighted in this article have tested positive for certain terpenes, not every strain sample will have the same results.
Although genetics play a role in which terpenes a plant can express, environmental and growth conditions also have a major impact on each individual sample.
As such, a plant grown in Toronto may produce different testing results than the same strain grown in Santa Monica.
Opting for strains that have been laboratory tested and learning how to read testing results can help you make more informed selections about which plants may be best for you.
Based on the early evidence thus far, strains that test high in the terpenes limonene, beta-caryophyllene, linalool, and bisabolol are likely good places to start when trying to find the right cannabis strain for depression.
2. Experimentation is necessary
While preclinical research allows for more educated guesses regarding which cannabis strains may be useful for depression, depression is different in everyone.
Further, each individual responds to different cannabinoids and terpenes differently.
So, in order to find the right strains and medical cannabis products for depression, some experimentation is necessary.
3. CBD may be more effective than THC
As mentioned above, THC has biphasic effects.
This means that while low to moderate doses of the euphoric herb may be effective in managing depression, high doses may have the opposite effect.
Those who are sensitive to THC or prefer a non-intoxicating experience may have better luck with CBD-rich medications, which are currently being studied for antipsychotic and mood-boosting effects.
4. Dosage is important
Going one step further, finding the right dose is of the utmost importance for continued relief with cannabis.
Working with a canna-savvy healthcare provider can help you better find which doses are the safest and most effective in your individual case.
For some, the right dose may be a small quantity of either high-THC or high-CBD cannabis. Others may require significantly more to maintain a positive effect.
No two people are alike and it can take some time to strike the right balance between various active cannabinoids, terpenes, dosage, and timing.
5. Track your strains
Want to fine-tune your cannabis experience?
Keeping a strain diary and recording your reaction to what you’re consuming may help you figure out what works best and what does not.
Plus, it’s a good way to keep track of how much you’re consuming and how it impacts your overall mood.