Guys. We hate to break it to you but...stress is a part of life. At some point, we all feel anxious.
The good news is that a growing body of research indicates that CBD is a powerful tool for relieving stress. And many people—whether they’re dealing with chronic stress or everyday anxieties—are finding that CBD products are incredibly helpful. This may be the case even if they’re already taking prescription antidepressants and undergoing therapy. Clinical trials are currently underway to study CBD’s role in reducing anxiety. However, the current research shows CBD can help relieve:
One in four Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder at some point. These people experience feelings of dread, danger, racing thoughts, and physical symptoms. Genetics often plays a role in these conditions. Differences in people’s neurotransmitters and hormone levels may affect how their brains react to stress. Environmental factors and unhealthy lifestyles can affect the brain’s neurochemistry, too. When these factors combine, they can wreak havoc on someone’s stress levels.
Stress feeds general anxiety. Chronic stress changes the way the brain reacts to anxiety. The brain does not just respond to the stress of a specific situation. Instead, it begins working to predict and prevent other stress. This was a valuable feature during our evolutionary history. It helped us anticipate threats to life and limb. But modern life is pretty different from our prehistoric cousins’.
It’s known that chronic stress does immense damage to the body over time. Regardless of what happened to our ancestors, the human body is not equipped to deal with chronic anxiety. Stress hormones spike in response to stress, preparing the body’s fight or flight mode. However, chronically elevated stress hormone levels, like cortisol, cause damage throughout the body.
Perpetual stress can lead to:
Many treatment options ease or even resolve these problems. CBD could be a key component of treatment for many people. Anyone with experience using cannabis products knows the various outcomes of getting high. Often, people feel relaxed and content. However, some people experience stress and paranoia. These divergent reactions are the result of the unique makeup of phytocannabinoids and terpenes. When you use too much tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, your body’s CB1 receptors become overstimulated.
Here’s where CBD comes in. CBD, a nonintoxicating cannabinoid, suppresses the anxiety caused by too much THC. Cannabis strains all have unique concentrations of these and other cannabinoids. This is why strains can cause such different reactions.
Thanks to marijuana legalization efforts, people are discovering new ways to use cannabis. This means a lot of work has been done to produce CBD without THC. Products can use the health benefits of cannabis without the effects of THC.
CBD has already helped many people ease their anxiety. Further research is being conducted to gather evidence of its effects. That means research using—you guessed it—rodents. One recent review examined 32 separate rodent studies on CBD’s effects on anxiety and out of 32 studies, only one has results that were unhelpful. That means 31 out of 32 less-stressed rodents.
Remind me why we’re studying rodents? Turns out, human studies are more expensive and legally complex, so there have been fewer studies on CBD in humans. However, CBD has shown at least two invaluable uses in humans as well as rodents:
Experiments examining CBD’s effects on anxiety would put subjects under some kind of stress to measure their response. One study put mice in an enclosure with a boa constrictor. Not ideal if you’re, well, a mouse. Some mice were given low doses of CBD, the equal of about 20 mg for someone weighing 150 pounds. Turns out, the CBD-treated mice spent more time seeking out strategic places of safety. They were also far less likely to panic than their untreated counterparts. Mice: 1, Boa: 0.
An important part of relieving anxiety is through a process called extinction learning. This involves learning to let go of triggers when there is no longer a need to feel stress. Experiments that involve extinction learning train subjects to fear pain from something harmless. Subjects are then tested to see how long it takes them to stop being afraid when their pain ceases. These studies are extremely important for understanding conditions like PTSD.
When rodents are afraid, they freeze. This response was conditioned with electric shocks. Rodents who are given CBD, however, were less likely to freeze in anticipation of pain. This remained even after the CBD wore off. Human subjects were similarly conditioned to associate an electric shock with a harmless cue. Subjects that inhaled 32 mg of CBD were less expectant of being shocked even two days later. Shocking, right?
CBD has over 65 targets spread throughout the human body. This isn’t only why CBD is so effective, it’s also what makes it difficult to exactly determine the sources of its benefits. Research indicates that CBD stimulates neural regeneration and neurotransmitter systems (the mechanism that causes stress relief).
CBD also interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system which is instrumental in processing and conquering fear. The human body naturally produces cannabinoids for use throughout the brain and body—but this system can suffer and break down from chronic stress. Enter CBD: it helps restore balance to the endocannabinoid system by preventing the CB1 receptors from being overstimulated. CBD also improves the body’s own production of endocannabinoids.
When it comes to OCD, experiments on rodents showed CBD helps relieve symptoms and various anxious behaviors by stimulating the endocannabinoid system. This is a necessary step in extinction learning. CBD also improves neural regeneration since neurons are damaged by chronic stress.
All of these factors—from relieving symptoms to regeneration—make CBD a powerful tool in combating chronic stress and reducing anxiety. One last thing: if you are considering CBD to help relieve your stress, make sure you consult your doctor to ensure CBD will not interact with any prior medications.
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