It’s no secret that in the world we live in today, many people lead incredibly stressful lives. Much of the population isn’t happy, aren’t sleeping particularly well, and some are even suffering from extreme issues with the nervous system. If left untreated, all of this adds up to becoming a concerning health problem that could have severe consequences to one’s quality of life.
Believe it or not, severe stress can actually kill you because it causes damage to the gut, brain, heart, and so on. In reality, there is no bodily function that won’t be negatively affected by stress. The more stress you experience, the more impact it will have on your health. While many of these problems can be, and often are, treated with pharmaceutical drugs, this isn’t necessarily the safest option and could also lead to long-term damage.
But what about CBD? Could taking CBD regularly be a credible solution? In just a short space of time, CBD seems to have become the stress-reducing miracle of the moment. CBD helps to reduce stress and improve mood by naturally and gently calming the overactive mind. After taking CBD you should feel more relaxed, peaceful, and in control. In this article, we will explore what stress is and how it affects people, how CBD can help to treat stress, and what medical research has found with regards to CBD and stress relief.
Overview of Stress
Stress is the way that the body reacts to any change that requires a response or an adjustment. It’s a normal reaction that happens when change occurs. The body will react to these changes with mental, physical, and emotional responses. It’s important to realize that it’s a normal part of life, and you can experience stress from your body, environment, or your thoughts. Even positive changes in life such as a mortgage, birth of a child, or a job promotion can induce stress.
In everyday terms, stress is a feeling that people have when they feel overloaded and are struggling to cope with demands. The demands could be related to relationships, finances, work, or other situations. The point is that anything that poses either a perceived or real challenge or threat to an individual’s well-being could cause stress.
In some cases stress may be a motivator – it can be crucial to survival. The fight-or-flight mechanism is able tell us how and when to respond to danger. But, if this mechanism is triggered too easily, or if there are too many stressors at the same time, it could undermine a person’s physical and mental health and become harmful.
According to the annual stress survey that was done by the American Psychological Association (APA), the average stress levels in the U.S increased from 4.9 to 5.1 on a scale of 1 to 10 from in 2015. The main reason for this was determined to be money and employment.
Stress slows down the normal bodily functions, such as the immune and digestive system. All resources are then concentrated on blood flow, alertness, rapid breathing, and muscle use. How we react to a tough situation will ultimately affect how stress affects us and our health. People who feel like they don’t have enough resources to cope are more likely to have a stronger reaction – one that can trigger health issues.
The good news is that CBD could be the much-needed answer to stress relief. While a lot more research is still needed to confirm the exact benefits, CBD does have a much potential when it comes to relieving pain, anxiety, and other ailments.
How and Why CBD Could Help in the Treatment of Stress
CBD has more than 65 targets that are located throughout the body, and this makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact sources of its various therapeutic benefits. Studies currently indicate that CBD counters stress and anxiety by stimulating neural regeneration and neurotransmitter systems. Here’s the rundown:
Your body produces cannabinoids naturally – these are used throughout the brain and body in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Under chronic stress, the ECS can become dysregulated. However, CBD can help to restore the balance in the ECS by preventing the overstimulation of CB1 receptors and by boosting the body’s natural production of endocannabinoids. Rodent experiments have found that CBD relieves OCD and anxious behaviors by acting on the ECS, which is the system involved in processing and forgetting our fears.
The majority of people associate serotonin with happiness. But, in reality, the role of this neurotransmitter is a lot more complicated, and its effects depend on where it is and what it binds to. Contrary to what many believe, more serotonin is not necessarily better. Dysfunction can occur because of low or high levels of serotonin, or because of a malfunction with their receptors. Serotonin contains at least 14 different receptors, but CBD binds specifically to 5-HT1A which is believed to have the strongest role in anxiety disorders. Buspirone is an anti-anxiety drug that also binds to this receptor, which explains why CBD has these anti-anxiety effects on rats that are exposed to stressful situations.
While chronic stress may damage neurons or even shrink brains, there are some areas of the brain that are still capable of regeneration. During our lives, we continuously make new connections, grow our brains, and form new neurons – and CBD reportedly boosts this process. This means that CBD has the potential to counterbalance any brain damage that is caused by chronic stress. Multiple studies have found that CBD encourages neural regeneration, specifically in the hippocampus. The ability that CBD has to reduce anxiety in chronically-stressed mice is because of its power to stimulate the growth of new neurons.
The reason that CBD is thought to reduce stress is because of the various receptors that are found throughout the ECS; many can be found in the part of the brain that regulates our stress levels and mood. The interaction between these receptors and CBD has been found to reduce erratic stress signals and improve the stress response by regulating how we process stressful situations, while also improving how we respond to future situations of the same nature.
Medical Findings: Effects of Cannabinoids and CBD on Stress
Multiple studies have been done over the years, and new ones are underway that explain how exactly CBD relieves the symptoms of anxiety and stress. For instance, CBD has been known to treat the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. People who suffer from PTSD experience anxiety and pain because they continue to relive traumatic events from the past. According to a report that was published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, preclinical trials that have been done on rodents have found that CBD can both block the reconsolidation of aversive memories and facilitate their extinction. Put simply, CBD can help people to forget traumatic memories and stop them from re-consolidating them.
In a first-of-its-kind study, Washington State University scientists explored how people’s self-reported stress-levels, depression, and anxiety were affected by consuming different strains of cannabis. The study was published in the Journal of Affective disorders in April 2018 and suggested that smoking cannabis could significantly reduce stress levels. The research team found that taking 10 or more puffs of cannabis that is high in CBD and low in THC produces the biggest reduction in stress.
A 2010 study found that CBD reduced social anxiety symptoms in individuals with social anxiety disorder. The same research reported that CBD altered the way that people respond to anxiety, which could be due to changes in the blood flow in parts of the brain that are associated with feelings of anxiety.
Medical Benefits of Using CBD to Treat Stress
Despite the studies that we have mentioned above, research on CBD for stress is still in its infancy. However, the results thus far have been positive. Using CBD for stress relief represents a simple and safe method for combating the symptoms of stress.
If you allow stress to take hold of you for too long, it can eventually impact your mental and physical health. Prolonged exposure to stress is likely to lead to depression. Chronic stress has a significant effect on the ECS, and since CBD impacts the CB1 and CB2 receptors, it makes sense that it’s a potential chronic stress buster.
How to Take CBD for Stress
The question that is often asked by new users of CBD is how much CBD should they take for stress relief? The answer varies. This is because CBD will react differently for each person. Since we all have a unique physiology, finding the right amount of CBD will be personal to each person. Your weight and height can also play a part in choosing the right dosage.
So how much is best for stress relief? Ideally, you should start with a low dose and build up until you feel the desired effects. There are no specific guidelines in place, so time and patience are key to finding the most effective dose for you. Here are some things to think about:
- Before you start using CBD for stress relief, consider your weight, as well as how severe your condition is.
- You could choose to start with just a drop of CBD oil a day. This low dosage will give your body time to adapt to using CBD.
- Slowly increase the dosage. Perhaps you want to increase your dose to two drops a day for a week to check if you notice any significant reduction in your stress levels. CBD can take time to affect you, so changes may take a while to notice. Stick to the same amount of CBD for at least a few days before increasing the dosage.
- Separate the dosage into smaller doses throughout the day. This could enhance the efficacy and absorption rate of the CBD oil, as well as keeping stress at bay for longer.
Based on research published online from those who use CBD oil, doses anywhere between 40 mg and 600 mg appear to be most effective.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Insomnia
Stress is a common health issue that plenty of people suffer from. Although it is a natural response that allows us to anticipate danger, it can cause untold amounts of distress when not treated.
Stress is a complex condition, and while the causes are often simplified, in reality, they can be wide-ranging. This means that stress relief is not as simple and easy as prescribing a pill. A holistic approach is best, and CBD can play a major role in restoring you, your body, and your mind back to full health.