We’ve all been there. Between work, relationships, family, and finances, it can seem like the stresses of life almost never gift us a break. CBD for stress might be the answer.
And when we say “we,” statistics back up the fact that feeling ultra-stressed isn’t rare: according to the American Institute of Stress, 73 percent of people in the U.S. regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress, 48 percent feel their stress has increased over the past five years, and 33 percent feel they are living with extreme stress. [*]
Some pretty large chunks of the population, to put it mildly.
CBD: A Possible Way to Alleviate Stress?
With these stats, it’s no wonder many people have turned to natural methods to find some form of stress relief. CBD, in particular, has risen in popularity due to claims that it can help significantly reduce stress levels.
We’re diving into the promising research to see how CBD may help alleviate stress, and how you can use it.
- May Help Regulate Serotonin
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in your mood and feelings of happiness. It has several receptors it “attaches” to throughout your nervous system, and CBD has also shown an ability to bind to those same receptors. Specifically, CBD binds to 5-HT1A, which is also the receptor thought to have the greatest link to various anxiety disorders (and we know how stress and feelings of anxiety go hand-in-hand). [*][*] The popular anti-anxiety drug Buspirone also binds to the same receptor, highlighting how CBD may be working in a similar fashion to relieve feelings of anxiety. [*]
- Encourages Neural Regeneration
You may be wondering what growing neurons have to do with alleviating stress, but animal studies have shown that CBD’s ability to ease feelings of anxiety may be due to its ability to regenerate neurons. One rodent study in particular found neuron regeneration played a key role in easing anxiety in chronically stressed mice. [*]
Researchers theorize that because chronic stress can damage our neurons over time, growing new neurons could lessen the symptoms of anxiety or stress.
- Has a Positive Impact on Anxiety
Many studies have been done on CBD effects on anxiety disorders. Anxiety, depression, and chronic stress are strongly linked and often occur together, making studies on anxiety disorders worth a look if we’re dealing with stress.
One found that pretreatment with CBD had significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort when put through the stress of public speaking. [*] Another, albeit animal study, found that mice put in a cage with a boa constrictor that was given low doses of CBD panicked less and spent more time scanning their environment strategically for escape than those that didn’t receive the CBD. [*]
- Can Reduce Cortisol Levels
Cortisol, aptly nicknamed the “stress hormone,” is one of the primary hormones released in response to stress. In normal amounts, cortisol is healthy, as it helps raise our glucose levels to provide us the energy to “fight or flee” in a dangerous situation. However, when we’re chronically stressed, our cortisol levels are also chronically raised because our body doesn’t recognize the difference between physical threats and emotional or psychological stress. [*]
This can result in inflammation, weight gain, and even blood sugar issues. [*]
CBD has shown in studies to reduce plasma levels of cortisol, which may provide relief from the physical side effects of stress. [*]
Other studies on CBD related to stress show:
- While more studies are needed, many have noticed a possible sedative effect of CBD on the nervous system, while also helping improve sleep (which may help with the racing thoughts that come with being stressed!). [*]
- CBD decreased subjective anxiety among 10 patients with social anxiety disorder compared to those using a placebo. [*]
How to Use CBD to Ease Stress
First things first: find a quality oil
Before we dive into your options when it comes to using CBD, you want to first make sure you’re choosing a quality oil and product. Checking labels and brand websites for information is extremely important since the growing conditions of the cannabis plant can affect the quality of the CBD. For instance, cannabis grown in dirty or environmentally polluted areas may contain traces of toxic chemicals or heavy metals from that environment. [*]
A few CBD oil facts to look for before investing:
- Look for products that are tested for contaminants. If testing information is not listed on the product, check the brand or manufacturer’s website.
- Read labels to make sure there are no added ingredients such as artificial colors or chemicals, as well as checking if there is any THC. Some CBD oils will contain microdoses of THC, which could cause the classic “high,” so make sure there is no THC listed on the label.
- Ideally, look for CBD produced in the U.S. This could reduce risks of China-based CBD, which could be contaminated.
Using CBD for Stress
There are multiple routes you can try when dosing CBD. Some of the most popular methods are vaping (inhaling) and using a tincture taken sublingually. If you’re using CBD for stress, the most important consideration when it comes to choosing a way to use it is your lifestyle: are you needing to take CBD every day at work? Do you only need it once in a while during high-stress times?
For more under-the-radar and quick ways of ingesting CBD daily, your best bet will be to use a tincture with a dropper you can place directly under your tongue, a CBD-infused cream or oil you can rub on when needed, capsules, or some type of small edible, like chocolate.
If you’re using a CBD supplement at home or prefer inhaling it, try grabbing a CBD vape pen. These come with refillable oil pods you can replace when needed.
Surprisingly, there are no specific dosages for CBD oil. Many people tend to dose by bodyweight, but keep in mind that everyone’s system is different. Your best bet with dosing is to start small and work your way up slowly until you reach the desired effect.
There are no known toxic effects from CBD oil, so don’t worry if you feel you need to increase your dose slightly if you aren’t feeling relief.
The Bottom Line
While research on CBD and stress is ongoing, the research we have now is extremely promising. Whether you’re dealing with chronic stress, or would simply like something for stressful time periods or specific situations, CBD’s positive interaction with your nervous system may be able to help. CBD for stress might be an answer.