The Best Strains for Racing Thoughts

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Disclaimer: None of what is published on is intended to be professional medical advice. Consult your health practitioner regarding any medical treatment or diagnosis.

We've all been there. You're trying to focus on work or a show or a book -- or just trying to fall asleep -- and your brain won't shut off. Buddhists call it "monkey mind," and it often feels like your thoughts are like monkeys swinging through the branches of your brain and chattering to each other. In the English-speaking world, the most common term for this is racing thoughts.

Since many people use cannabis to calm their minds, so it follows that cannabis products might be a good place to turn to silence the monkeys. There are, however, many different types of cannabis products, made from many different strains of the plant. So the first step in using cannabis to handle racing thoughts is finding the right strain for your needs.

Let's run down what factors to look for when choosing a cannabis strain for your overactive thoughts, and highlight our favorite selections.

What Causes Racing Thoughts?

If you get monkey mind a lot, you might want to consult a doctor, because it's one of the symptoms of anxiety disorders. Lots of anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety disorder, as well as bipolar disorder, induce racing thoughts.

Even if you don't have a disorder, however, anxious thoughts can intrude upon your mind at especially stressful times. Often these thoughts start a negative feedback loop where the fear of intrusive thoughts -- and the attendant lack of sleep -- further exacerbates the anxiety and thus the racing mind. Therefore, the best approach is to interrupt the cycle and manage the underlying stress and anxiety. That's where cannabis may help.

How Does Cannabis Help Relieve Stress?

While medical marijuana is not officially approved to treat anxiety, there's a good deal of early-stage research indicating that it can help with anxiety management. This is largely because of the cannabinoids, of which the best known are THC and CBD. They plug into the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate a whole lot of functions, including your mood.

The different cannabinoids act on your body and brain in different ways. THC is relaxing but also has psychoactive effects, which many people like but also induces greater anxiety or paranoia in a minority of users. CBD is calming but not psychoactive, so a high-CBD strain is a good choice if you're looking for anxiety relief without unwanted side effects.

Another, lesser-known way that cannabis can help ease anxiety is with its terpenes. Terpenes provide the aroma and flavor to plants, but they also have health benefits of their own. While research in that area is also ongoing, some evidence indicates that the best terpenes for anxiety are guaiol, beta-caryophyllene, and limonene. 

Finding the Best Cannabis Strain

The cannabis that people use comes in two species, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. In general, indica has a reputation as being more relaxing, even sleep-inducing, while sativa is said to be more energizing (though still soothing). However, breeders have been busy developing a whole array of strains, some hybrids of indica and sativa. The important things to look for in strains to help racing thoughts are the right balance of THC and CBD and the best terpenes to reduce anxiety levels.

Personal lifestyle and taste are also factors here. Everyone's reaction to cannabis products is a little different. You might find yourself using certain strains at different times of the day or week -- a high-THC indica strain at night, for instance, with a CBD strain during the day when you need to focus. That way, you can get the best of both worlds. With that said, let's jump to our top strains.

The Best Strains for Racing Thoughts

Hawaiian Haze

Hawaiian Haze is a sativa strain, a hybrid of Hawaiian and Haze (as it says on the tin), known for its fruity flavor. It can also be cultivated to have a relatively high CBD content. It's one of the best cannabis strains for anxiety because of its ability to calm the mind without causing heaviness or sleepiness. Therefore, it's a good strain to choose if you want the benefits of THC without getting knocked out. Its terpene profile is heavy on limonene.

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Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie is an indica-dominant strain bred from Granddaddy Purple and F1 Durb. This marijuana strain has a medium-high THC content and fairly little CBD, so pick this one if you're going for more intensive psychoactive effects. It's one of the more popular strains for stress relief, with its sweet flavor brought by its terpene profile heavy on myrcene and caryophyllene.


ACDC is a hybrid strain with a high CBD content and very little THC. With high levels of guaiol and caryophyllene, the strain is ideal for staying focused while calming racing thoughts and anxiety. It also has something of a cherry flavor with woody tones.


Cannatonic is another hybrid strain that's high in CBD, but it's less lopsided than ACDC, with about a two-to-one ratio of CBD to THC. Users find it lightly intoxicating, helping to relieve anxiety without too much psychoactivity. Its terpene profile includes caryophyllene.


Harlequin is a sativa-dominant strain that also has a nice balance of CBD and THC. Its terpene profile includes caryophyllene as well as pinene, which gives it a musky, earthy quality. Users say it can help stimulate creativity while aiding relaxation, making it a good work-time helper.

Zombie Kush

Enough of all this daytime activity -- what if you just want to turn off your brain? Zombie Kush, an indica-dominant strain, has some of the highest cannabinoid levels out there -- including both THC and CBD. That potency gives it its name: users say it makes them just lie down and not want to get up, making it one of the best strains to help you sleep at night. It's well stocked with both caryophyllene and limonene.

Other Tips to Help Racing Thoughts

While using these various cannabis strains to help relieve your anxiety is one way to try to control your monkey mind, cannabis use should not be your whole program. There are also certain habits to cultivate that help you cope with stress and slow down your thoughts, such as:


Getting your body moving is a remarkably effective way to distract yourself from your racing mind, and reduces your stress hormones to boot. It doesn't have to be anything strenuous; just taking a walk or doing a few calisthenics in your room can help reduce feelings of anxiety and calm your mind.


"Mindfulness" is another term that crossed over from Buddhism and historically involved some pretty elaborate practices, but you don't have to do anything complicated to get some relief from anxiety and racing thoughts. The most basic method is to focus on your breathing: count to 10 with each inhalation and exhalation, or simply think, "I am breathing in, I am breathing out." This focus helps crowd out other thoughts that swarm your brain.

Don't Try Too Hard

One of the most vexing things about trying to handle anxiety and stress is that fighting them often brings on more anxiety and stress. Keep in mind that racing thoughts are a very common mental health condition and don't necessarily mean there's something wrong with you; they can be a quite reasonable response to a stressful situation. So rather than try to kill off monkey mind entirely, consider its chattering to just be a primitive response to stress, like shivering from cold, that doesn't have to be listened to.

Final Thoughts

As with all matters of mental and physical health, using cannabis strains to help racing thoughts, and identifying the right cannabis strain for the purpose, is a highly personal decision. The effects of cannabis vary from person to person, and what works for a friend or family member might not work for you. Just listen to your experience and experiment with different ways of handling anxiety symptoms, and you should find your own regimen to help control the chattering monkey.

For even more cannabis products to relieve stress and anxiety, check out Evn's THC gummies as well as its cannabis-derived sleep products.


Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

An Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System

The “Entourage Effect”: Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Exercising to Relax

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