MEDICAL CONDITIONS

CBD and Stress

CBD effect for stress
Written by Stefan K.

The experts are well aware of the oft-cited difference between good stress and bad stress.  Whilst good stress helps people to overcome difficult situations and challenges under fraught conditions, bad stress occurs in situations which are only subjectively stressful, rather than objectively so.

Stress can affect both the mind and the body. Stress produces effects which can favour the development of certain medical conditions, such as colds[1]. Some of the most common complications associated with excessive stress include problems with the digestive system. Such problems can range from mere indigestion to a full-blown stomach ulcer.

In addition to external triggers, over the years experts have also identified the body’s own stress hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline or cortisol as an additional factor. Stress caused in this way can lead not only to “minor” conditions such as bruxism (dental damage caused by grinding of the teeth), but also to long-term damage of the blood vessels. In addition to the effects already mentioned, stress can also be a contributory factor in people becoming overweight[2].

CBD as a stress killer

In cases of stress, CBD can be soothing and helpful in as many different ways as there are causes, symptoms, and sequelae. One of the primary effects which CBD has on stress is that it is calming. During periods of stress, CBD can also help to regulate the hormones via the endocannabinoid system (ECS; nervous system).

The causes of stress

A fundamental distinction can be made between psychological and physical causes of stress. Psychological stress factors include what are called stress factors. These often manifest themselves in everyday life as ambition, fear of rejection or of responsibility, poor time management, and even as weekends packed with too many activities. In summary, psychological overload without any relief to balance things out can lead to stress.

According to anthropologists, physical stress originally arose as a reaction to help us react quickly in dangerous situations. If, however, there is an imbalance in the body’s own production of the hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline or cortisol (it’s usually a case of overproduction), this can lead to an unprovoked stress response.

In the case of stress, CBD can have a regulating effect. On the one hand, it can regulate the balance of hormones, and on the other, it can alleviate possible psychological factors in advance. If they take CBD before the onset of stress, people find themselves breathing more easily, experiencing less stress, and being able to tackle problems which had previously induced stress from a new perspective.

How anti-stress medication works

Of course, if some conflict constitutes the trigger for the stress, researchers emphasise that such conflicts need to be resolved. Stress which derives from conflict can end up being expressed in the form of emotional, muscular, cognitive, social and autonomic-hormonal reactions. Remedies for this form of stress include stress management techniques such as autogenic training, the Feldenkrais Method, mindfulness-based stress reduction and even positive self-instruction.

Many experts consider physical activity to be a particularly good remedy for stress. Sports such as running, swimming or cycling are particularly good for reducing stress.

CBD alleviates stress, and thus functions as an anti-stress agent. One way in which it achieves this is by improving one’s mood, thereby raising self-esteem. Those who see the world in more positive terms also have a more relaxed and positive perception of themselves.

CBD and stress – How can cannabidiol help?

At this point it is important to mention the fact that CBD is derived from cannabis. However, unlike the related substance THC, it is not psychoactive, nor does it cause intoxication or addiction.

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Generally speaking, CBD has anticonvulsive and anti-inflammatory effects. It also gets used as a THC antagonist, as it has antipsychotic effects in addition to its relaxing properties. These fundamental mechanisms of action of CBD help against stress by returning the body to a state of calm. The various forms in which CBD can be taken, such as CBD oil, CBD e-liquid, CBD salves and ointments, and CBD cream mean that everyone should be able to find a way of taking CBD which works for them.

During periods of stress, CBD is able to fundamentally counteract the pre-existing psycological stress, as one of the effects which CBD exerts via the ECS is to influence levels of adrenaline (a chemical messenger). Besides harmonising adrenaline levels, CBD also plays an important role when it comes to cortisol. As a chemical messenger, cortisol is directly involved in stress responses. As it has an important role in the human fight-or-flight response, cortisol is involved in triggering positive stress.

However, in addition to causing weight gain, elevated cortisol levels can also lead to mood swings and feelings of anxiety, both of which can trigger stress. The higher the level of cortisol is, the greater the stress. In one double-blind study[3] one half of test subjects were given CBD and the other half were given a placebo. In the CBD group, one finding was that their cortisol levels had decreased significantly and that they were experiencing much less stress.

cbd-stress

At this point it ought to be mentioned that although, CBD can have many useful and beneficial effects in stressful contexts, CBD is by no means a solution to constantly elevated stress levels. If such a solution is sought, CBD can help by relieving the triggers and the symptoms of stress. This serves as a first step out of the spiral of stress, which is important in preparing for treatment.

Stress triggers include both feelings of anxiety and sleep disorders. Anyone who finds themselves in a permanent state of anxiety-driven tension is suffering from chronic stress. In the case of anxiety disorders and panic attacks[4], CBD significantly reduces stress levels. Prolonged poor sleep can be caused by psychological problems, physical ailments, or pain. The stress of having to function effectively during one’s waking hours (school, university, job) whilst not getting enough sleep at night can be overwhelming. CBD can be an effective remedy for sleep disorders[5] and thus ultimately for stress too. People who have slept well usually find that they are less stressed.

Sleeping pills and antidepressants are often prescribed for stress. However, these synthetic kinds of medication usually involve side effects[6]. CBD oil, however, can have effects similar to those of the aforementioned medications, without having the problematic side effects.

Conclusion

  • In cases of stress, CBD can be helpful in a number of ways.
  • It can act preventatively as well as alleviating the causal factors of psychologically derived and physiologically triggered stress.
  • This is because CBD has a calming and mood-enhancing effect during periods of stress. In contrast to pharmaceutical antidepressants, the use of CBD for stress is not associated with any significant side effects. CBD is especially effective for alleviating the anxiety and sleep disorders which can cause stress.

[1] https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199108293250903 – 14.10.2019

[2] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00434/full – 14.10.2019

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8257923 – 14.10.2019

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5412699/ – 14.10.2019

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/ – 14.10.2019

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4970636/ – 14.10.2019

Further studies

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20439721

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18433869

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21068301

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24353209

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15525997

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21663537

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24882055

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25355210

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19616342

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24141570

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23426383

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23298518

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24335217

The consumption of products containing cannabinoids can under certain circumstances result in interactions with various medications. If you already take medication, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids should first be discussed with your doctor.

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About the author

Stefan K.

Stefan K.

Stefan is not only a valuable part of the CannaTrust magazine but also convinces with his sound knowledge about the effects of cannabinoids. As an author in Austria he gathered valuable experiences when writing for 'Stadtblatt Salzburg'. He got in contact with cannabis through several positive media reports. Nowadays he writes about everything around the most popular cannabinoid these days: CBD.