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How to Use Edibles for Stress and Anxiety

Are you feeling the squeeze of a high-stress life? Find out how cannabis edibles can contribute to your coping routine.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with life, you’re not alone. According to Statistics Canada, 23% of Canadians over the age of 15 reported that most of their days feel “quite a bit” or “extremely” stressful. Researchers know that a manageable level of stress can be beneficial—coping with challenges can increase our resilience, self-confidence and motivation1. But if we get weighed down with more stress than we can manage, it can weaken us physically and emotionally2, and make it harder for us to make healthy choices3. That’s why it’s so important to take an active approach to stress and our health.

 

Read More: Taking Control of Stress

 

Can Cannabis Help You Cope with Stress?

Managing stress is a common reason for consuming cannabis4 5 6. Some people find that the anti-anxiety properties of CBD7 8 or the mood-regulating properties of THC9 10 11 are helpful in their self-care routine. Whether they find ease with non-intoxicating CBD or a restorative sleep from low-dose THC, many consumers choose cannabis to help them let go of built-up stress and feel ready to face new challenges.

 

Read More: Cannabis Routines for Self-Care.

 

Are Edibles a Good Fit in a Stress-Management Routine? 

For people who find cannabis helpful, edibles offer a unique format that can be well-suited to stress-management and self-care. For example, when you incorporate CBD into food, especially fatty foods, it makes it easier for your body to absorb the cannabinoid and leads to stronger effects than by taking CBD oil alone12. With THC, digesting it in food can make it feel more potent than if you had inhaled the same amount.

Like CBD, THC is lipophilic—it binds to fats. When you eat THC in fatty foods, it becomes more available in your blood to connect to your body’s receptors and you get stronger effects. A second process that increases the potency of THC edibles occurs in your liver. When you eat THC, your liver transforms about half of it into a substance called 11-hydroxy-THC13. This metabolic product is more potent than THC14. That’s why gram per gram, edible THC can give you stronger effects than THC that is inhaled.

The effects of edibles also last longer than inhaled cannabis. When you smoke or vape THC, it gets to work quickly. It enters your lungs, then your bloodstream and crosses into your brain within minutes. Edible THC, on the other hand, spends hours travelling through your digestive system and actually gets activated twice. Edibles go into your stomach and get passed through your liver, where part of the THC turns into 11-hydroxy-THC. The partly metabolized mix of THC and 11-hydroxy-THC circulates in your bloodstream and crosses into your brain. However, some THC remains in your blood and gets sent back through your liver for a second pass to create more 11-hydroxy-THC15. This long metabolic process results in a long duration of effects from edibles, which can be helpful if you’re using THC to relieve stress-related pain or insomnia. One relatively low-dosed edible (anywhere from 1.25-10 mg of THC, depending on your tolerance), can give many hours of relief.

 

Cannabis Edibles for Stress and Anxiety

Tips for Using Edibles for Stress and Anxiety 

Start Low

If you’re already struggling with stress and anxiety, the last thing you need is an unpleasant trip. Microdosing (using a very small dose) can help offer relief without unwanted effects, like feeling unpleasantly high or paranoid16. Most microdosing routines begin at 1.25 or 2.5 mg of THC in an edible.

 

Go Slow

Because of the slow-acting nature of edibles, it’s important to wait at least 1–2 hours before increasing your dose. Some inexperienced consumers think their edible isn’t working and pop another, only to ultimately find themselves way too high. Remember, because edible THC has to go through your stomach and liver, you typically won’t start feeling effects for anywhere from 30–90 minutes17. And because of the second-pass metabolism, the effects won’t peak for 2.5–3.5 hours18. Don’t overload your system while you’re waiting for the show to start.

 

Reach for the CBD

Since CBD helps reduce anxiety19 and can also reduce additional anxiety caused by THC20, it’s smart to include it in your stress-management plan. Start with a CBD gummy or oil and if you want more intense relaxation (and don’t have to drive, work or manage critical responsibilities), you can gradually move to CBD products with a low ratio of THC or those with a 1:1 mix.

 

Read More: Routines to Use THC Responsibly

 

Avoid Alcohol

Mixing alcohol and cannabis might seem like a relaxing thing to do, but it’s not a good idea. Alcohol makes your body more receptive to THC and can take you on an express trip to a “bad high”21.

 

Plan Ahead

Since it takes up to 90 minutes for an edible to kick in, try eating one an hour or two before an event that you know will cause anxiety or stress. Pre-dosing with CBD can make it easier to face a fear like public speaking22 and won’t make you high. Another issue with the metabolic delay is that edibles aren’t ideal for sudden anxiety attacks. A sublingual CBD oil (taken under the tongue, which is absorbed quickly) or vaped CBD would be better in terms of delivery speed.

 

Immerse Yourself in Comfort

Why not try cannabis-infused comfort foods? Whether you crave a bowl of mac ‘n cheese or a soothing mug of tea, infused cannabis oils can be added to just about any recipe. Just be mindful of the dose per serving.

Another way to boost your stress relief is to eat foods that contain terpenes with anti-anxiety properties. Just like in cannabis, terpenes in edible plants can activate receptors in your body to give you certain effects. Some that have been proven to ease anxiety include beta-caryophyllene (found in black pepper), alpha-pinene (in rosemary), linalool (in lavender and mint), limonene and nerolidol (in citrus rind), and alpha-bisabolol (in German chamomile)23.

 

Infused Lemongrass Bone Broth

If you’re into the sensory experience of home cooking, try this canna-comfort recipe from Chef Elycia Ross. Head chef on Calgary’s premier gourmet food truck, Lil’ Truck on the Prairie, Ross took some time out to concoct a stress-relieving dish just for us. Her Infused Lemongrass Bone Broth radiates warm, fragrant relief right into your soul.

 

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours 
Serves: 4 
THC content: approximately 10 mg THC per serving (you can adjust according to your tolerance or preference)

 

Ingredients

- 1 kg beef or chicken bones 
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 segments of lemongrass (3 inches long)
6 slices of ginger 
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp turmeric 
2 shallots 
3 stalks of celery 
3 carrots 
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste 
2 L cold water 
2 tsp cannabis infused coconut oil

We used a homemade infused oil at ~4 mg THC/ml, and the total batch contained about 40 mg THC. Adjust your measurement depending on the strength of your oil. Aim for 10mg or less per serving.

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees 
2. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil on medium-high 
3. Hit each piece of lemongrass with the back (blunt edge) of your chef’s knife. This will release the oils and flavour your broth with a background note of lemongrass. Add the crushed sections to the hot oil.
4. Slice ginger, garlic, turmeric, shallots, celery and carrots into medium sized chunks and add them to the oil and lemongrass.
5. Place your beef or chicken bones on a baking sheet and put them in your preheated oven 
6. While your bones are roasting, stir your aromatics and vegetables and squeeze the lime juice into the pot
7. Once the bones are caramelized and golden brown, add them into the soup pot and pour cold water to cover the bones
8. Bring the water to a boil and then lower to a simmer
9. Simmer your bone broth for 3 hours, skimming the fat off the top as you go with a ladle
10. Strain the bones, veggies, and aromatics from the broth.
11. Once it's time to serve, add 1/2 tsp of infused coconut oil (or roughly 10 mg THC) to each bowl or mason jar.
12. Enjoy! 

You can refrigerate the bone broth for up to one week in mason jars.

Since each bowl is dosed individually, you can adjust the amount of THC to suit each person’s tolerance. Remember to always keep THC oil and infused foods labelled and locked out of reach of children and pets.

References

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[2] Thoits PA. Stress and Health: Major Findings and Policy Implications. Journal of Health and Social Behaviour. 2010;51(1_suppl), S41–S53.

[3] McKenzie SH, Harris MF. Understanding the relationship between stress, distress and healthy lifestyle behaviour: a qualitative study of patients and general practitioners. BMC Family Practice. 2013;14:166.

[4] Cuttler C, Spradlin A, McLaughlin RJ. A naturalistic examination of the perceived effects of cannabis on negative affect. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2018;235:198-205.

[5] Sexton M, Cuttler C, Finnell JS, Mischley LK. A Cross-Sectional Survey of Medical Cannabis Users: Patterns of Use and Perceived Efficacy. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2016;1(1):131-138.

[6] Webb CW, Webb SM. Therapeutic benefits of cannabis: a patient survey. Hawaii J Med Public Health. 2014;73(4):109-111.

[7] Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-836.

[8] Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naive social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-1226.

[9] Fabre LF, McLendon D. The efficacy and safety of nabilone (a synthetic cannabinoid) in the treatment of anxiety. J Clin Pharmacol. 1981;21(S1):377S-382S.

[10] Glass RM, Uhlenhuth EH, Hartel FW, Schuster CR, Fischman MW. Single-dose study of nabilone in anxious volunteers. J Clin Pharmacol. 1981;21(S1):383S-396S.

[11] Turna J, Patterson B, Van Ameringen M. Is cannabis treatment for anxiety, mood, and related disorders ready for prime time? Depression and anxiety. 2017;34(11):1006-1017.

[12] Birnbaum AK, et al. Food effect on pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol oral capsules in adult patients with refractory epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2019;60(8):1586-1592.

[13] Wall ME, Perez-Reyes M. The Metabolism of Δ9 Tetrahydrocannabinol and Related Cannabinoids in Man. J Clin Pharmacol. 1981;21(S1):178S-189S.

[14] Lemberger L, et al. Comparative Pharmacology of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and its Metabolite, 11-OH-Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol. J Clin Invest. 1973;52(10):2411-2417.

[15] Wall ME, Perez-Reyes M. The Metabolism of Δ9 Tetrahydrocannabinol and Related Cannabinoids in Man. J Clin Pharmacol. 1981;21(S1):178S-189S.

[16] Zuardi AW, Shirakawa I, Finkelfarb E, Karniol IG. Action of cannabidiol on the anxiety and other effects produced by delta-9-THC in normal subjects. Psychopharmacology. 1982;76(3):245-250.

[17] Huestis MA. Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics. Chemistry & biodiversity. 2007;4(8):1770-1804.

[18] Cone EJ, et al. Marijuana-Laced Brownies: Behavioural Effects, Physiologic Effects, and Urinalysis in Humans Following Ingestion. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 1988;12(4):169-175.

[19] Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-836.

[20] Zuardi AW, Shirakawa I, Finkelfarb E, Karniol IG. Action of cannabidiol on the anxiety and other effects produced by delta-9-THC in normal subjects. Psychopharmacology. 1982;76(3):245-250.

[21] MacCallum CA, Russo EB. Practical considerations in medical cannabis administration and dosing. Eur J Intern Med. 2018;49:12-19.

[22] Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naive social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-1226.

[23] Nuutinen T. Medicinal properties of terpenes found in Cannabis sativa and Humulus lupulus. European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 2018;157:198-228.