More Cannabis Isn’t Always Better

At Rebalan, we are constantly gathering stories about people’s experiences with cannabis. Last week, a woman told us about her first edible experience. Her husband offered her a gummy with 10 mg of THC, assuring her that the effects were minimal. He barely felt the effects with only one gummy, so she should be fine, he assumed. She quickly learned the lesson that the dosing that works for one person isn’t right for everyone. The 10 mg gummy led to her having an uncomfortable night of nausea and high anxiety, instead of the relaxation and deep sleep that she was hoping for.

You’ve probably heard at least one horror story of someone having negative side effects after trying cannabis. Maybe you’re skeptical that cannabis could be a healthy solution to stress and sleep issues if some people experience worse anxiety or sleep when they try it. With most medications, increasing the dose provides a stronger effect. Cannabis is a unique substance, however, because of its biphasic properties. This means that higher doses of cannabis actually have opposite effects of low doses.

The Research

The more that the effects of cannabis are studied based on varying doses, the more we learn that the effects can’t be generalized. One shared conclusion of recent research is that certain cannabinoids, like THC, have inverse effects in higher concentrations.

For years, most people, even scientists, accepted that the THC in cannabis impairs memory.  Some studies indicate that low concentrations of cannabis can in fact improve memory and cognition, while only high concentrations impair mental function.  Researchers are actually looking into ways of using cannabis in low doses to aid with mental impairments like dementia.

In terms of emotional effects, studies show that smaller amounts of cannabis can relieve anxiety, while higher amounts do the opposite. High doses of cannabis can lead to increased anxiety, nausea, paranoia, disturbed sleep, and, in extreme cases, even psychosis. This is why cannabis horror stories exist; it’s all about the dose.

Getting Started

This bell curve graph represents the interaction between dosage and benefits due to the biphasic effects of cannabis.

Practically speaking, starting with a low dose and slowly increasing it will mean stronger effects, but only to a certain point. At some level, the dosage will lead to some of the exact symptoms you’re looking to alleviate. For each consumer, cannabis is about finding the sweet spot of dosing that works for you. This looks different for everybody, based on weight, tolerance, and other factors.

There isn’t a way to know what the ideal dose is for you other than evaluating the effects you feel with gradually increasing dosages. We always recommend starting low and slow, even with just 1-2 mg of THC. If, after a few different occasions of trying a dose, you don’t feel the desired relaxation or sleep effects you’re looking for, slowly increase your dosage by a milligram or two each time. Be cautious in increasing your intake, because it could be a matter of a few milligrams that cross your threshold into negative side effects.