If you have been alive for any length of time, chances are you have experienced the effects of stress frequently. It’s the body’s natural defense against the perceived dangers of the world. There are as many prescribed ways of dealing with stress as there are things to stress us out, from deep breathing to kickboxing. But nowadays, more and more people are turning to CBD as a natural way of dealing with stress. With research about CBD still evolving, there are a lot of questions still in the air. Here, we will explore the question of how to manage stress using CBD.
How Stress Impacts the Body
Before exploring the potential ways that CBD could help with stress, it’s important to understand just what stress is and how it impacts the body. It’s important to note that we are talking about stress and not anxiety. Stress is the tension we experience when faced with stressors like an impending work deadline or an incoming tsunami. It’s our body’s “fight-or-flight” response to stressors. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a potential response to stress.
Stress is a natural part of life and isn’t bad in and of itself. After all, most people would agree that having a little extra adrenaline boost is nice when faced with finishing a last-minute project or running from a rampaging bear. The issue is when stress becomes chronic in cases where there are constant potential stressors and the body doesn’t get to leave the fight-or-flight mode.
When the body enters fight-or-flight, our heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tense for action, and attention is taken away from the digestive, reproductive, and immune systems in order to deal with the perceived threat. Because of this, chronic stress can lead to high blood sugar, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack, chest pains, tension headaches, and muscle aches, as well as stomach aches, an irregular menstrual cycle, a difficulty in conceiving children, and being more prone to illness. Chronic stress can also lead to anxiety, depression, irritability, and insomnia.
Where Does CBD Come in?
Many of the perceived benefits of CBD come from the way CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system. We have a helpful article with a full description of the endocannabinoid system, but the short version is that it is a system in the body made up of enzymes, receptors, and naturally-occurring molecules called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are named so because of how similar they are to the cannabinoids which exist in cannabis plants. In other words, CBD works with this system which is part of our body.
Research on the endocannabinoid system is still ongoing, but it is believed to influence several functions in the body including the cardiovascular system, reproductive system, our mood, sleep schedule, and stress. This means that CBD could potentially help alleviate not only stress itself but also many of the negative physical side effects which occur as a result of prolonged stress.
Another item of note about the endocannabinoid system is its strong tie to homeostasis and the body’s nervous system. Homeostasis is when the body is in a state of stability and consistency, and it is believed that the endocannabinoid system has a strong influence on this stability. This reveals a potential connection between the endocannabinoid system and another system: the nervous system.
Why does that matter? For starters, the nervous system is divided into two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system is what triggers our fight-or-flight response, whereas the parasympathetic system triggers an opposite response often called “rest-and-digest.” This state relaxes the body after it goes through the fight-or-flight response. The parasympathetic system is the part of the nervous system most involved in homeostasis, like the endocannabinoid system. Because of this tie, it likely that cannabinoids, such as those found in CBD, would be able to help trigger a rest-and-digest response and calm the body out of a stressful state.
Incorporating CBD Into Your Lifestyle
It is relatively simple to incorporate CBD into your daily life to support your body’s overall wellness, including stress. Some people use CBD oil proactively throughout the day, while others use it more on an as-needed basis. If you are going for the former, then taking a capsule or sneaking smaller doses of CBD oil in your food could potentially be a good option. If you are shooting for the latter, then you may want a faster-acting option such as taking a dose of oil directly by mouth. Our full spectrum CBD tinctures are rich in cannabinoids and utilize the entourage effect, making them a great choice, especially for first-time users. CBD could also possibly help with muscle aches that come with the tension of stress. Consider applying a CBD topical directly to sore or aching areas to find quick relief for aching muscles.
Everybody is different, which means that everyone’s body will respond differently to both stress and CBD. If you are new to using CBD, start slowly and pay attention to how different doses of CBD affect you to decide on the best method of managing your own stress levels using CBD products.
CBD has not been fully researched by the Food and Drug Administration and has not yet been proven to cure any ailment as a fact. Using CBD to help manage stress should always be done in conjunction with your doctor’s recommendations, especially if you are currently using other medications such as blood thinners or anti-depressants, as CBD could potentially impact how these medications are metabolized.
The nice thing about choosing to manage stress using CBD is that CBD can be incorporated into a myriad of other stress relief strategies, as it should be. A healthy diet, exercise, organization, and positive mental health practices such as identifying your stressors, practicing mindfulness, and engaging in constructive self-talk are also great ways to handle stress and can be used in conjunction with a daily CBD regimen.
Stress is a natural part of life. But if stress is not handled well, it can significantly impact you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Although research about CBD’s ability to treat the ravages of chronic stress is still developing, there is evidence that incorporating it into your stress-busting routine could potentially help lighten the load off your fight with stress.