Stress and anxiety are prevalent in the modern world, and with increased pressures comes numerous treatments and therapeutic remedies. In recent years, many have turned to cannabidiol (CBD) because of its reported calming effects.
With the legalization of industrial hemp at the advent of the 2018 Farm Bill, more studies are emerging, exploring CBD’s potential benefits for seizures, stress, inflammation, and other health conditions.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways that CBD may help feelings of anxiousness and overall stress to create a healthier, happier way of living.
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid found in the hemp plant extracted by manufacturers to create tinctures, capsules, topical products, and other products. Unlike another well-known cannabinoid, THC, it doesn’t produce a high feeling, although some report feeling calm or sleepy after taking it.
CBD is legal in most states, but some states only allow it for medicinal use with a prescription. Additionally, some states have determined that only hemp-derived CBD is legal and that marijuana-derived CBD is not. Before purchasing it, you will want to practice due diligence to make sure you’re allowed to have it in your state.
Cannabidiol interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for regulating homeostasis. Your body produces endocannabinoids that regulate various internal processes as well. To give an example, when you’re sick, your body will release its natural endocannabinoids into the bloodstream to bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors, which then signal for other processes to trigger.
Your immune system will generate more white blood cells to fight infection, and histamines make you cough and sneeze. Once the infection has run its course, your ECS will then release enzymes that consume the endocannabinoids, and everything goes back to business as usual.
How Stress Affects the Body
You’ve heard of the fight-or-flight response, which is stimulated when you sense danger. Your body releases the stress hormone cortisol that breaks down stored fat into blood sugar, which acts as fuel for you to fight or flee. Your heart pumps faster, your breathing accelerates, and your muscles are primed for battle. This response is supposed to last for a short amount of time, until the dangerous situation is cleared.
When people feel stress for long periods of time, the body is undergoing the same reaction that it would to danger. Unfortunately, people can remain in fight-or-flight mode for days, weeks, or even months at a time, and this can put your health in jeopardy.
Headaches, heartburn, tension, and digestive issues might be the most identifiable health issues. You might take a pain reliever or antacid to mask the symptoms. When stress is identified and resolved, these symptoms will typically go away over time. But if the stress and anxiety go on, they can turn into more serious conditions.
Combined with insomnia, the severity of anxiety-related health issues is compounded. High blood sugar can lead to weight gain, and eventually lead one to develop diabetes. A heart in overdrive for a long time can result in high blood pressure and an increased risk of a heart attack. Your immune system can become overwhelmed and suppressed, putting you at a higher risk of infection and illness.
Women can experience missed periods and fertility issues, and men could develop erectile dysfunction. Both men and women can suffer from low sex drive, which can further exacerbate stress and relationships.
Anxiety and stress can result from work, family, school, and significant life changes such as divorce, illness, or death in the family. So many times, these situations are difficult to avoid, but learning how to deal effectively with stress can put you in a stronger position to protect your health over the long term.
Does CBD Help Stress and Anxiety?
If you’re reading this, you’ve likely already heard from others that CBD has helped them in one way or another. But can CBD help to reduce the effects of stress and anxiety? Let’s take a look at some notable research published in recent years to better understand.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a short-term form of anxiety that can seriously disrupt a person’s life. In this study published by the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry in 2019, researchers studied CBD vs. a placebo for volunteers performing a public speaking test. They found that CBD taken before the test “significantly reduced anxiety during the speech.”
In 2019, a team comprised of researchers from several prominent Colorado universities studied the connection between CBD and its ability to help those with anxiety and insomnia. Of 72 participants, 57 reported decreased anxiety, and 48 reported better sleep within the first month. Over time, these results fluctuated, and further research is needed to learn more about how to best use CBD over several months.
A study published by Neurotherapeutics in 2015 looked at cannabidiol and its potential to treat anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety, stress-induced anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, PTSD, and fear. The research found that CBD demonstrated the potential to benefit these conditions for acute conditions, but did not have enough evidence to show its efficacy over long periods.
While these studies are certainly exciting and promising, there is much work to be done in this area. More research is needed to determine the best dose of CBD to take for these conditions and determine how long they are effective. Additionally, the FDA has approved CBD for only one prescription medication, so definitive claims cannot be made regarding its treatment for other conditions.
The amount of cannabidiol taken can have varying results, depending on the individual and the dose. Higher doses (300-600mg) may induce sleepiness and a feeling of calm in some. Conversely, some studies have found that lower doses could exacerbate feelings of anxiety if the endocannabinoid system is overstimulated.
When starting out, use lower doses and slowly titrate up. If you experience unwanted effects, stop taking it, or reduce your dose. Individual results vary, so listen to your body. We recommend that before you try CBD, you check with your healthcare provider and/or pharmacist to ensure it won’t interfere with other interventions.
How to Manage Stress
Stress and anxiety aren’t one-size-fits-all conditions, and when it comes to the best ways to manage, a holistic approach is vital. For those who have faced prolonged stress and anxiety, start with a health consultation to ensure that underlying conditions aren’t present.
In most cases, going to the root cause of stress is the best way to reduce stress. However, this can be tricky when the cause is out of your control, so working on the techniques below can provide balance and strengthen your resolve.
Taking a multi-faceted approach to fighting stress is most effective. Here are some ways you can start your regimen!
- Regular exercise: taking a walk, practicing yoga, or anything else that gets you moving can go a long way toward improving your overall health. Activity also helps you “work out” the built-up stress, and it releases endorphins.
- Deep breathing: deep abdominal breathing for 20-30 minutes a day increases oxygen to your brain and induces overall calm. This strengthens the connection between mind and body to allow you to take better control over your response to stressors.
- Cut down on stimulants: caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants can increase anxious feelings, increase heart rate, reduce blood flow, and interfere with regular breathing.
- Meditation: there are so many meditation techniques out there, including mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, movement, transcendental, and guided imagery. Meditation takes practice, so stick with it until you find what works.
- Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT): this type of treatment emphasizes people becoming their own therapists, so to speak They learn to identify stressors/triggers and then develop new ways of thinking to cope and control their reactions.
- Get creative: music, crafting, art, and other creative activities have been clinically proven to reduce anxiety levels. If you’re unsure how to start, look up a local art or music therapist to guide you.
- Improve your diet: sugar, refined carbs, and high-fat foods can spike your blood sugar, which leads to a crash that could make you feel worse than before. Seek out “whole” foods that support energy and mood.
- Have fun: indulge yourself! Self-care and fun are crucial to balancing the everyday grind. Make time for hobbies, play some games, and get together with loved ones.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Like any lifestyle change, it takes time to learn and to adjust to new habits. Be patient and give yourself grace along the way, and when you find what works, keep going.
Stress and anxiety affect us more than ever since COVID-19, and taking care of yourself should be a top priority. Focus on self-care so that you’re better equipped to handle what life throws at you, and that, in turn, will help you better care for your family and loved ones. It’s the same concept as the preflight checklist the flight attendant goes through—put on your oxygen mask before you assist those around you.
CBD may promote an overall sense of calm, and we recommend using it alongside other stress management techniques. Start with a low dose and slowly titrate up, paying attention to your body’s signals along the way.
At Ripon Naturals, we proudly carry the SunMed brand, one of the first CBD brands to bear the USDA Organic seal. We offer a comprehensive line of tinctures, edibles, topicals, skincare, and more, and have something for just about everybody. Take a look at our online shop or stop by our location in Ripon, Wisconsin!