Stress is something all of us encounter, whether on a weekly or even daily basis. It can strike at any time—for example, when you’re fighting with your kids, trying to meet a deadline or involved in a car accident. These kinds of stressors can affect not only your mental health but your physical health, too. Stress isn’t always a bad thing. It can keep you on your toes when you’re preparing for a test or getting ready to run a race. And it can save your life in situations where you need to be ready to fight or take flight.
That said, long-term or chronic stress—the kind of stress that just doesn’t let up—can bring on a litany of health issues, ranging from headaches and insomnia to irritable bowel syndrome and a weakened immune system.
Cue in cannabis, which appears to manage responses to stress. In a recent study, Washington State University researchers found that long-term, daily cannabis users experienced significantly less stress in comparison to individuals who hadn’t consumed marijuana in the past year. When subjected to a stress test, levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone) shot up in non-users, while cortisol levels remained almost the same in daily marijuana consumers.
And so, without further ado, we share with you our resident cannasseurs’ top picks for marijuana strains that best help them decompress after a stressful day. Bear in mind that the following strains are fairly potent when it comes to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels. For those new to cannabis, start with a small dose, then—assuming all’s well—slowly up your dose with plenty of breaks in between.
Strain 1: Trainwreck
Trainwreck is a sativa-dominant hybrid with THC levels ranging from 12–21%, and sometimes even higher. This marijuana strain is the love child of two sativas, Mexican and Thai, and an indica, Afghani.
Dmitry B., marketing videographer/editor: “I love Trainwreck for its flavor and creative energy flow. It makes me feel euphoric. It’s like a starburst candy. If you’re stressed, Trainwreck makes you very happy. For me, it’s about changing my mood. If I’m stressed, feeling happier makes the whole difference after a stressful day.
“In terms of the onset, it’s very rapid. That’s what’s great about Trainwreck. You can take just one hit, and you feel happiness just radiate into your head. From that point, you should decide if you want go full cowabunga and take more, or decide if that’s enough because you still have stuff to do.”
Dmitry recommends Trainwreck for: all levels, though he says to proceed with caution if you’re a newbie—starting with just one puff then waiting half an hour to see how you feel.
Strain 2: Sapphire Kush
Cross Titan OG with Pink Panties—both indica-dominant hybrid strains, and you get Sapphire Kush, which also has indica-dominant leanings. THC levels hover around or just above 20% in this cannabis strain hailing from Humboldt County, CA.
Veronica B., customer service specialist: “If I feel stressed, my favorite strain to unwind with is Sapphire Kush. Sapphire Kush has an amazing piney yet sweet smell that relaxes me as soon as I open the container, and once broken down, the flower becomes even more aromatic.
“After smoking Sapphire Kush, I enjoy the full body relaxation of an indica along with the uplifting cerebral effects of a sativa. It makes me feel mellow; however, it can ignite my creative thoughts as well. This cannabis strain can accommodate me if I choose to de-stress outdoors or in front of the TV. I keep Sapphire Kush in my medicine cabinet to help alleviate stress at any time.
“I notice the effects of Sapphire Kush almost immediately after consumption. And with a few deep breaths, I feel more of the full body effects.”
Veronica recommends Sapphire Kush for: more experienced cannabis consumers, though she says newbies can try it, but they should consume slowly and with caution.
Strain 3: Granddaddy Purple
Indica hybrid Granddaddy Purple registers at around 17–20% THC and less than 1% cannabidiol (CBD). This popular strain is descended from two indica strains, Purple Urkle and Big Bud.
Bart S., customer service specialist: “My favorite strain for stress relief—and it’s also my all-time favorite—is Granddaddy Purple. I enjoy Granddaddy Purple because it works well for stress relief by providing cerebral relaxation. It stimulates my appetite, which is usually lacking if I’m very stressed, plus it helps me fall asleep peacefully.
“The smell of Granddaddy Purple is a unique fruity berry aroma particularly resembling that of grapes—and I put a strong emphasis on unique. The flowers are purple in color, and the buds are very dense. The taste is very sweet and matches the smell of the flower if it’s high quality. It’s the smell and taste that distinguish this marijuana strain from others.
“Granddaddy Purple’s onset is a little bit delayed, but then it hits hard with a giggly knockout with a little bit of couch lock. I’d describe the effect as a dimmer switch where the lights are turned down just a little bit to provide relaxation and calm.”
Bart recommends Granddaddy Purple for: all levels, and anyone who likes the fruity taste of cannabis.
Strain 4: Sour Kush
Popular on the West Coast as well as in Colorado and Arizona, Sour Kush comes in at 15–25% THC with trace amounts of CBD and cannabinol (CBN). An indica-dominant hybrid, this marijuana strain is descended from indica hybrid OG Kush and sativa hybrid Sour Diesel.
Melissa N., office manager: “One of my go-to strains for stress is Sour Kush. A cross between Sour Diesel—my all-time favorite strain—and OG Kush, this cannabis strain is both uplifting and relaxing. I like Sour Kush, because it’s great for daytime use and doesn’t make you super tired. It melts away my worries and stress, and induces euphoria and the occasional bout of giggles. I like this strain after long days at work and when I go hiking.
“Sour Kush is a pretty fast-acting marijuana strain. A few puffs of my vape pen, and I can feel the effects kicking in within a few minutes. It’s a great all-around strain.”
Melissa recommends Sour Kush for: all levels, though—as with all strains packing a potent amount of THC—take care if you’re a newbie.
Strain 5: Girl Scout Cookies
A cross between OG Kush and Durban Poison, Girl Scout Cookies (GSC) is an indica-dominant hybrid with THC levels that start around 18% and can top out at 28%. It also contains less than 1% CBD.
Ryan G., customer service specialist: “With its sweet, earthy aroma, Girl Scout Cookies is the perfect marijuana strain to help me relax after a stressful day. It provides a full body relaxation without having the couch-lock feeling. Because GSC is a hybrid, not only do you feel relaxed and calm, but your mind is also stimulated. I tend to use this strain during high-stress times, because it stimulates appetite, which I seem to lose when I’m stressed.
“For me, the onset of GSC is intense, and that’s typically when the laugh attack starts to happen. A tip for when consuming GSC is to make sure you have lots of water next to you since it does give you cotton mouth.”
Ryan recommends Girl Scout Cookies for: all levels, though he says that less experienced cannabis consumers should gradually increase consumption.