Politicians are talking about it, celebrities are using it, and stores with CBD in the window have popped up everywhere. But what is CBD Oil actually? And can it REALLY help one relax? Can it ease stress which so many of us feel here in the U.S.?
Cannabis and CBD
CBD is a cannabinoid—a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Now, before you jump to the conclusion that CBD is a “pot-head” thing, read on.
Though people use the terms cannabis and marijuana interchangeably, the truth is, they are not the same thing.
Cannabis is a type of plant. Hemp and marijuana are each a variety of cannabis. Marijuana and hemp both contain chemical compounds called cannabinoids—in fact, they contain about 100 different cannabinoids.
The difference between hemp and marijuana is that marijuana contains much higher levels of the cannabinoid THC, the psychoactive component that creates the high. Hemp, on the other hand, contains a minuscule amount of THC, less than .3%. So little that it could never get you high.
Take away: Marijuana is a type of cannabis plant, but all cannabis is not marijuana. An analogy would be that although all golden retrievers are dogs, not all dogs are golden retrievers.
Now you know that hemp and marijuana both contain chemical compounds called cannabinoids. But did you know that people contain cannabinoids too? Yes, humans and cannabis are cannabinoid cousins.
Cannabis produces phytocannabinoids (“Phyto” from the word “plant” and “cannabinoid” from the word “cannabis”). Humans, on the other hand, produce endocannabinoids (“endo” from the word “body”).
Not only does the human body produce its own cannabinoids, but it also has an entire system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS consists of the following three elements:
This system, though only just discovered in 1992, regulates some really major functions for the body. The ECS assists in regulating pain, the immune system, memory, mood, and sleep. The ECS is largely responsible for creating homeostasis, or balance, between the systems of the body.
Take away: Both the body and the cannabis plant produce cannabinoids. The cannabinoids of the body are part of the endocannabinoid system which regulates homeostasis (balance) in the body.
Since the discovery of endocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system, researchers have also discovered that individuals can suffer from clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD). Research done by Dr. Russo supports the theory that a deficiency in endocannabinoids leads to many physical ailments such as migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. Research is unclear as to the exact cause of the deficiency, whether it is a deficiency present from birth or acquired.
But whatever the cause of the deficiency, Dr. Russo suggests that we may be able to give our body’s endocannabinoid system a boost with full-spectrum CBD oil.
CBD in the body does not actually bind with the endocannabinoid receptors in the body. What it does do is delay the breakdown of the endocannabinoids our body produces. This allows the endocannabinoids in our system to work longer.
Take away: Cannabinoids, especially CBD, derived from cannabis may help relieve the symptoms of a deficiency of cannabinoids in the body.
CBD Oil and Inflammation
Research indicates that CBD oil acts as an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is really important to understand and identify. While inflammation is a good thing in some cases, chronic unchecked inflammation leads to many unwanted conditions. You could say that inflammation is really the granddaddy of many of the ills we suffer from today. Asthma, arthritis, sinusitis are all diseases and conditions that include chronic inflammation.
Take away: By reducing inflammation, CBD can provide natural support to the body’s own defenses.
Anxiety in the U.S.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. They affect 40 million adults each year. Not only that, but they are also the most common mental health disorder of childhood and adolescence. Nearly one in three teens meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder by the age of 18. Nearly two-thirds of those suffering from anxiety disorders are women.
There are five major types of anxiety disorders:
In addition to a large number of individuals suffering from anxiety disorders, one survey showed that American’s anxiety levels in general increased between 2017 and 2018. 40% of respondents said that they felt more anxious than they had a year before.
Prolonged and persistent anxiety creates chemical changes in the body that can lead to impaired digestive function, insomnia, and heart disease.
Take away: Anxiety disorders and anxiety, in general, are a growing health issue in the United States for both children and adults.
Anxiety and Inflammation
It has become relatively common knowledge that inflammation is the underlying cause of many physical illnesses. What is less known is the association between inflammation and cognitive health issues. However, research is finding that inflammation and cognitive health issues like anxiety, depression, brain fog, ADD, ADHD, and autism are linked.
One study examined a group of people between the ages of 18 and 65 with an anxiety disorder. This study found that men in particular with current anxiety disorders had elevated levels of inflammation. The same research found that both men and women with late-onset of anxiety disorders had elevated inflammation levels.
A research paper published by the National Institutes of Health found that evidence from human studies “strongly supports the potential for CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders.” This paper, titled Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders, took into consideration the results and findings of 49 studies.
In their clinical research, they found that CBD reduced induced anxiety in healthy patients, as well as those suffering from SAD (Seasonal Anxiety Disorder). In their conclusions the authors state:
“Preclinical evidence conclusively demonstrates CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors relevant to multiple disorders, including PTSD, GAD, PD, OCD, and SAD…” (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Seasonal Anxiety Disorder).
Take away: Preclinical evidence conclusively demonstrates CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors relevant to multiple disorders….and (CBD has) an excellent safety profile.
A Holistic Approach to Relaxing with CBD Oil
Stress is complex and can be traced back to multiple causes. Stress can be caused by a personal relationship, finances, job, or school. Likewise, genetic predisposition or underlying disease may also lead to stress or even an anxiety disorder. Or it may be something dramatic like a traumatic experience or the use or withdrawal from illicit drugs or medications.
Because of all of the factors that contribute to stress and anxiety disorders, a holistic approach is recommended.
Natural Approaches to aid Anxiety and Stress
Meditation: Meditation is a great way to gain composure over a racing mind. This makes stress and anxiety easier to manage. There are all kinds of mediation styles too, including mindfulness and yoga, so one may be just right for you.
Relaxation Exercises: If you find yourself tensing up without even realizing it, try intentionally relaxing. Sit or lay in a comfortable position and slowly tense and relax each muscle group.
Exercise: Exercise is a great way to work off anxious energy and it has the added bonus of being good for you! And research from animal studies even supports that!
Get toxic people out of your life
Almost nothing is more stressful than dealing with toxic people. In toxic relationships, one person often feels hurt by the other. Toxic people can sometimes be hard to spot, so it is important to identify how an individual makes you feel—if it is consistently worse—you may have a toxic person on your hands.
According to Psychology Today, it is important to see that the issue is not with you but with the toxic person. It is ideal to get all the toxic people out of one’s life. Sometimes that is not possible as in the case of work and family. One can lessen the impact of the toxic individual by spending as little time as possible around that person. Recognize and rise above the person’s behavior. Confronting such people with direct feedback and asking them not to say or do certain specific things you find hurtful can also help.
Engaging in Productive Behavior
Writing: Writing offers a safe way to express oneself. It can make anxiety feel easier to confront and deal with. There is even a 2016 study that shows that creative writing may help treat childhood and adolescent anxiety.
Time Management: Having too many commitments at once is stressful. These commitments, whether self-imposed or imposed by others, need to be managed so they do not become overwhelming.
Planning books and online calendars can help. Time management allows us to focus on one task at a time. Resisting the urge to say “yes” to every request can also reduce the stress of commitments.
Nutrition: Harvard Health Publishing reports that anxiety is thought to be correlated with a lowered antioxidants in the body. Therefore, adding foods with more antioxidants may help ease the symptoms of anxiety disorders. Foods designated as high in antioxidants by the USDA include:
CBD Oil: CBD Oil is both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. Inflammation and low oxidation levels are both correlated with anxiety. CBD supports the endocannabinoid system of the body which regulates homeostasis (balance) in our body.
Take away: The best approach to dealing with stress is one that includes a number of strategies—environment, mental, and physical.
CBD for Relaxation
A CBD Oil tincture can help promote relaxation. Using it sublingually is best. Hold it under your tongue for two minutes so that the mucous membranes in the mouth can absorb the oil’s active ingredients, allowing it to enter the bloodstream. This makes the CBD far more available to the body than normal oral consumption where the CBD capsules, edibles or beverages must pass through the digestive tract.
Relative to how much you use, we recommend that you start slowly and increase over a period of time (a few weeks or even months) to see what works best for you. One-milliliter, taken an hour before bed, works well for many people. Many people split that dose into two—one in the morning and the other at night.
It is important to stick with your CBD routine for a few weeks as you may not feel its effects right away.
Stress is considered highly treatable. We encourage you to help yourself, friends or family relax and deal with stress by learning more about the many natural ways to address it.
If you chose to integrate CBD into your relaxation routine, it is always a good idea to talk to your physician, particularly if you are taking any medications, before taking CBD.