Chewing on Peppercorns Could Reduce Anxiety While You're High

<p>Photo Illustration by Amelia Manley for Verywell Health; Getty Images</p>

Photo Illustration by Amelia Manley for Verywell Health; Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • Some social media users say chewing whole black peppercorns might be able to ease cannabis-induced anxiety.

  • Like cannabis, black pepper contains a type of aromatic compound called terpenes, which could help relieve stress and anxiety.

  • Existing research on this connection is generally conducted in animals, and there's not enough evidence to prove that black pepper can help reduce weed-induced anxiety in humans.

If you get weed-induced anxiety or paranoia, chewing a few whole black peppercorns might help.

Black peppers contain terpenes, a type of aromatic compound found in cannabis and other plants. The terpene caryophyllene—which is present in spices and herbs like black pepper, rosemary, and lavender—is associated with reducing symptoms of anxiety, according to Leah Sera, PharmD, MA, BCPS, co-director of the medical cannabis science and therapeutics program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

However, the research on the link between peppercorns and weed-induced anxiety is limited.

“These studies have generally been carried out in animal populations. Since animals are not people, that makes it hard to draw conclusions about the effects of this terpene in humans. I’m not aware of any clinical trials examining the effect of caryophyllene or peppercorns to treat or prevent cannabis-induced anxiety,” Sera told Verywell in an email.

Although recreational cannabis use is legal in 23 states, the drug is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Schedule I drugs are defined as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse," and the classification makes it challenging for researchers to conduct proper studies.

Related: New Law Weeds Out Some Blockers to Medical Cannabis Research

“There are many anecdotal ways people report counteracting cannabis-induced anxiety, but there is little to no supportive data by way of controlled experiments,” Tory R. Spindle, PhD, an associate professor and researcher at the Johns Hopkins Cannabis Science Laboratory, told Verywell in an email.

“Even if the terpenes present in peppercorns were proven to have such an effect, it would be unclear how many peppercorns someone would have to eat to actually reduce their anxiety,” Spindle said. “I imagine it would be very unpleasant to eat very many.”

Related: More Young People Are Using Weed to Cope With Social Isolation and Anxiety

What Causes Cannabis-Induced Anxiety?

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, is what gets people “high,” but it can also induce anxiety in some users.

While you can feel the effects of smoking within minutes, edibles can take between 30 minutes to two hours to kick in, and the high lasts longer. Depending on when you last ate and what other substances you’re using at the same time, you might also react to the edibles differently. The effects of edibles can be unpredictable, so it’s best to “start low and go slow” with the dosage.

Sera said that the amount of THC in the products may also contribute to how much anxiety someone feels.

It can be difficult to know the THC strength of a cannabis-infused product, especially if it’s made at home. Edibles purchased from a licensed dispensary are more likely to be tested for the amount of THC, but the effects can still vary from person to person.

“There is evidence that THC can relieve anxiety at lower doses and cause anxiety at higher doses,” Sera said. “Therefore, individuals who have concerns about cannabis-induced anxiety might consider using lower THC-products or balanced THC:CBD products.”

Read Next: Can Cannabis Relieve Menopause Symptoms?

What This Means For You

Black peppercorns might help ease weed-induced anxiety, but there's very limited research to confirm the connection.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.