Learn how your DNA can alert you to your genetic predispositions and help you mitigate adverse reactions with cannabis.
Does this sound familiar to you? You’re considering a cannabis product to help you manage your stress levels and calm your anxiety. You’ve been extra stressed lately and it’s starting to affect how well you do your job and take care of your kids.
Your best friend swears that a particular cannabis strain helps her manage symptoms just like yours, so you decide to give it a try. You buy some pre-rolled cannabis on your way home from work and smoke it in your garage.
Almost immediately, you get stressed out. Your heart rate speeds up, your breathing is erratic, and you can’t stop thinking about a mistake you made at work earlier in the day. You’re convinced he’ll fire you in the morning. You think you’re on the verge of a panic attack.
You tell your family you’re not feeling well and go to bed early.
When you tell your friend about your experience, she says you got unlucky and bought a bad batch. She laughs, calls you a lightweight, and says you can share her vape tomorrow.
The next day, you take a few pulls from your friend’s vape and feel your body starting to prick with sweat. When you start to have tunnel vision, you catch a cab home and spend the rest of the day locked in your bathroom.
In the morning, you rule out cannabis therapy and assume all cannabis products will make your anxiety worse. You’re left more discouraged than ever.
In the process of trial and error, though, you’ve overlooked an important component that determines your therapeutic experience with cannabis. Your DNA.
Nearly 53% of the general population is genetically predisposed to experiencing stress and could be at risk for an adverse event with THC.* In other words, under certain conditions more than half of the population is at risk of experiencing symptoms like sweating, worrying, or hyperalertness due to their genetic makeup.
If you’ve experienced stress or anxiety as an adverse event with THC, it’s likely because your cannabis therapy is misaligned with your unique genetic profile.
Experiencing increased stress and anxiety with cannabis is manageable. Think of it like this: the cannabis formulations you’re currently using aren’t optimally compatible with your DNA. To mitigate adverse reactions, you’ll want to use cannabis formulations that don’t trigger your unique genetic predisposition to stress reactivity and anxiety.
Below, you’ll learn more about stress reactivity, how cannabis interacts with your genetics, and how you can manage THC adverse events with the right science-backed knowledge and wellness plan.
*Endocanna Health used specific allele frequencies and genotype heterozygosity to determine general population percentages for genetic predispositions.
What is stress reactivity?
Stress reactivity is your body’s reaction to stressors. Depending on a host of factors, you may experience mild, moderate, or severe reactions to stress.
Environmental, developmental, and epigenetic factors all play a part to determine your mental and physical stress response.
Stress reactivity occurs along a spectrum. Sometimes your reaction to stress can be small and barely noticeable. For example, when you’re under stress your autonomic nervous system may become active and cause your pupils to constrict. This is a standard stress response, although you may not notice when it happens.
Sometimes your reaction to stress can be a bit more urgent and cause major changes throughout your body. For example, when you’re in a stressful situation, your body produces a surge of hormones that causes your blood vessels to narrow and your blood pressure to spike. You may notice your heart pounding or tightness in your chest.
Common stress response symptoms can include:
- Increased heart rate,
- Racing thoughts,
- Feelings of impending doom, or
- Panic attacks.
In some cases, stress symptoms are beneficial. They can alert you to danger, help you pay close attention, and prepare you for fight or flight in the face of a threatening situation.
In other cases, however, stress symptoms can be debilitating, especially when there is no tangible or immediate threat. When your body reacts to a perceived threat and sounds its internal alarms, you might be left feeling confused, afraid, nervous, or anxious.
If you’re prone to experiencing these symptoms, or if you’ve had a panic attack in the past, you may be genetically predisposed to high stress reactivity.
- Stress reactivity is your response to stressors.
- If you’re prone to experiencing symptoms like restlessness, increased heart rate, nervousness, anxiety, or panic attacks, you may be genetically predisposed to high stress reactivity.
Stress and anxiety as an adverse side effect of THC.
Like all chemical compounds, including prescription medications and other substances, cannabis can lead to side effects.
Some cannabis side effects are therapeutic. They allow you to relax and provide relief from disorders, diseases, or discomfort.
Other cannabis side effects, however, cause distress to the body and result in adverse events. Approximately 31% of the general population has reported experiencing an adverse event with THC, which means adverse reactions are fairly common.†
Adverse events with THC can leave you confused, afraid, or wondering if cannabis therapy is right for you—especially if you experience high stress reactivity or increased stress and anxiety with cannabis.
If you’re considering using cannabis for any reason, you should know your risks of experiencing adverse events with THC. With the right knowledge, precautions, and cannabinoid and terpene formulations, you can achieve the optimal experience for your therapeutic needs and mitigate feelings of stress and anxiety with cannabis.
Knowing your risks starts with understanding your genetic predisposition to adverse events.
You should always consult your healthcare provider when making decisions regarding your wellness routine and cannabis therapy.
†Endocanna Health determined the potential predisposition of THC adverse events in the general population.
If you’re genetically predisposed to high stress reactivity, you may be at risk of experiencing feelings of stress, nervousness, or anxiety as a side effect of THC.
The first step to mitigating stressful events with cannabis is understanding your genetic predispositions so you can determine if you’re at risk for adverse events.
Stress, THC, and your endocannabinoid system.
Your endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a system of messengers found throughout your body. Like most of your biological systems, your ECS is as unique as your thumbprint. It’s functioning is determined by genetic, epigenetic, developmental, and environmental factors. Along with a host of critical functions, your ECS is responsible for regulating important systems like your mood, appetite, and immune function.
When you use a particular cannabis varietal, strain, or product, the cannabinoid and terpene profiles interact with your endocannabinoid system. The external cannabinoids (exogenous cannabinoids) are added to your system’s internal cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), which can disrupt or augment your ECS messaging.
Psychoactive effects from cannabis, like stress and anxiety, are caused by cannabinoids binding to the cannabinoid receptors within your body. Depending on the cannabinoid and terpene ratios of your cannabis product and your own unique genetic coding, the resulting effects are either therapeutic or lead to an adverse reaction.
If you’re predisposed to high stress reactivity based on your genotype, you may be at risk for experiencing stress and anxiety as an adverse event with THC.
Interestingly, taking cannabis has also been found to activate the HPA axis, especially when taken in high doses. The HPA axis (a term used to represent the interaction between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands) plays an important role in the body’s stress response. This can further account for stress reactivity as an adverse event with THC.
When cannabinoids enter your body, they disrupt the normal functioning of your endocannabinoid system (ECS).
This can trigger symptoms of stress and anxiety in populations who are genetically predisposed to high stress reactivity.
How to mitigate symptoms of stress and anxiety when you’re using cannabis.
If you’ve experienced adverse events with THC, or if the risk of experiencing adverse events with THC is preventing you from trying cannabis therapy, you should know that adverse side effects are completely manageable.
The key to mitigating symptoms of stress and anxiety when you’re using cannabis is to decode your genetics, discover your unique endocompatibility, and use cannabis strains, varietal, and products with cannabinoid and terpene profiles that are aligned with your genotype.
With the right science-backed knowledge and wellness plan, you can find reliable products to optimize your cannabis therapy outcomes.
To learn more, take this 10 question quiz to find out if you may be genetically predisposed to adverse events with THC.
Endocanna Health is a biotechnology company committed to helping consumers find the right cannabinoid products to enhance their health and wellness. Using our breakthrough DNA test, Endo·dna, we empower you to take control of your health with access to over 55 different health reports that include suggestions for the best CBD and cannabis products that match your unique genetic code. Visit us here to find out more!