CBD For Anxiety and Stress
In this blog, we'll bring clarity to the following common questions
- Does CBD help with Anxiety?
- What benefits can CBD offer for stress?
- CBD Oil, topicals, gummies - what’s the best choice for supporting mind & body balance?
Anxiety vs. Stress: What’s the Difference?
If you’re human, chances are you have experienced at least a little stress in your lifetime. Whether it’s getting stuck in dead-stop traffic on your way to a meeting, spilling coffee on your clothes, or, let’s be honest, just living through the year 2020, the stress felt in response is a natural part of our lives.
In some cases, feelings of stress can be a useful motivating factor to make positive changes or get out of threatening situations. After all, our stress response comes from the “fight or flight” reaction nature gave us to get out of life-threatening situations. But when the modern-day stress keeps piling on over time, it can spiral into chronic anxiety.
Conventional medical solutions, unfortunately, do not remedy anxiety for many people and can cause unwanted side effects. More and more people are searching for a natural solution to help with anxiety and stress.
There is a growing body of research on CBD’s effectiveness to help manage the symptoms of anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and social anxiety disorder. While initial clinical trials are very promising for validating what many people already experience, there is still much to discover; but so far, all signs point to CBD as an extremely beneficial antidote for anxiety.
In order to understand how CBD can support those dealing with stress and anxiety, we first want to understand the science behind how our mind and body are affected by these challenging mental states.
Let’s dive in!
United States of Anxiety
Let’s face it, we’re stressed. And in America, there's a corresponding mental health crisis happening right now. According to a poll by the American Psychological Association, nearly 8 in 10 American adults (78%) report the coronavirus pandemic as a significant source of stress in their lives, and 3 in 5 adults (60%) said that the number of issues facing America is overwhelming. A whopping one-third of all Americans now show signs of clinical anxiety or depression.
Reading those numbers alone is enough to cause some stress! The truth is, Americans are some of the most stressed-out people on the planet—experiencing far more stress nowadays than decades prior. This stress isn’t going anywhere, so it’s vital that we figure out how to support ourselves.
Symptoms of Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety and stress manifests in a variety of physical and mental symptoms, including:
- digestive issues
- trouble sleeping
- heart disease
- weakened immune system
- weight gain
- low self-esteem
- panic attacks
...just to name a few.
Chronic anxiety or stress rewire our brains, affecting the chemicals that modulate both our mood and cognition. This can have an adverse effect on the functional activity of serotonin, a leading cause of major depressive disorder, which more than 16 million Americans suffer from.
Causes of stress run rampant in the professional world; being unhappy with your position (working long hours, feeling unfulfilled), losing your job (more common than not since COVID), or having problems with your boss or management are all common causes of stress. Traumatic life events such as the death of a loved one, a natural disaster, or experiencing violence create stress as well.
Stressors don’t even have to be big or “serious” to have a profound negative impact on our bodies. Our electronics, with their brightly lit screens and frequent notifications, stimulate stress in our brains. Social media stresses us out by offering information overload, argumentative virtual conversations, and constant lifestyle comparison. Busy schedules, traffic, bills--all of these things can easily add up to anxiety.
Luckily, as it turns out, CBD can be a highly effective means of combating this stress, and more and more Americans are turning to this natural remedy for relief.
Weed & Anxiety: Helpful or Not?
We’ve all heard stories about the varying effects weed can have on people. Pop culture likes to put users of cannabis into two camps: the chilled-out or the paranoid. These varying effects are in part due to the fact that everybody is different, and variables like mindset (your emotional state & expectations) and setting (whether the space you’re in feels safe and comfortable) can certainly play into how it feels to consume cannabis. However, there is more to the story than Hollywood is telling us.
There are over 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis; THC and CBD are generally the most highly concentrated. THC is responsible for the “high” associated with cannabis, and while this can be cause for a good time, it can also lead to unwanted effects. This is because THC can overstimulate our cannabinoid receptors, potentially leading to paranoia and anxiety. Now, this is where CBD comes in!
CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it will not produce a high. When the levels of CBD and THC are balanced, it can actually mellow out the overstimulation caused by too much THC. This is why many cannabis strains that are promoted as “non-anxiety inducing” have high levels of CBD.
We use full spectrum hemp extract in all of our products, which is high in CBD and contains less than 0.3% THC. Because of the low THC concentration, it has no psychoactive effect. Full spectrum hemp extract has been shown to have significantly higher therapeutic value than its less natural counterpart, CBD isolate.
CBD: Anxiety & Stress Superhero
In a previous blog post, we broke down the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which is one of our bodies’ most vital regulatory systems and responsible for helping maintain a state of homeostasis.
Under normal circumstances, the body naturally produces a healthy amount of endocannabinoids, the ECS neurotransmitters, that work to keep us in balance. However, when faced with chronic stress, the ECS can get thrown out of whack, sending production of these important endocannabinoids haywire. CBD can help restore balance by balancing the production of endocannabinoids and preventing the system from becoming overstimulated.
Researchers are still working to fully understand the full extent of CBD’s therapeutic nature, as it has more than 65 different targets in the body. With that in mind, there have been some great human studies that have real life implications.
CBD & Public Speaking
Does the thought of getting up in front of a group to give a speech make you queasy?
CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in participant’s with generalized social anxiety disorder during a speech performance.
CBD & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
You may be familiar with Pavlov’s Dog Study, where he conditioned dogs to associate the sound of a bell with food. His study demonstrates classical conditioning, which involves learning to associate an unconditioned stimulus that already brings about a particular response (a reflex) with a new, conditioned stimulus, so that the new stimulus brings about the same response. In Pavlov’s example, every time the dog hears a bell (conditioned stimulus), it will expect food (unconditioned stimulus) and begin to salivate (response).
For many who struggle with anxiety, a conditioned response, often called a trigger, can persist even when there’s nothing left to fear. Learning to let go of these triggers is an essential tool in overcoming anxiety. This is known as extinction learning.
In the case of Pavlov, the bell triggers a harmless reaction in the dogs. But what happens when the triggers aren’t so harmless?
A study conducted at the University College of London involved conditioning participants to expect an electric shock upon seeing a visual cue. Participants that received a 32mg dose of CBD were less expectant of receiving a shock when tested 48 hours later--even after the CBD had worn off!
This study has big implications for CBD’s therapeutic benefits in helping with PTSD and other anxiety disorders by helping the brain dissociate triggers.
What type of CBD will help with my anxiety?
Understanding that CBD can ease anxiety is one thing, but knowing which product is right for the cause is a whole other conversation. Is it best to eat it, rub it on your skin, or brush your teeth with it? (Yes, CBD toothpaste does exist.) Let’s get to the bottom of it!
Ingesting CBD by oral swishing is one of the best ways to support overall mind and body wellness because it absorbs directly into the bloodstream. This way, the CBD has a systemic effect, and is widely used to provide relief from pain, encourage better sleep, and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Does that mean ingesting any form of CBD will produce these positive effects? Not quite.
While it may be tempting to reach for those tasty gummies or cbd-infused chocolates, it’s important to note that the rate of absorption decreases significantly when you swallow your dose. Our stomach acids can kill up to 40% of the CBD before it is able to have any effect at all. CBD Oil allows for the CBD to be absorbed right through the capillaries in the mouth. We recommend swishing it around the cheeks and under the tongue for 30-60 seconds to get the most benefit.
Topical CBD is commonly used for targeted relief of sore muscles, arthritis, or dermatological conditions like eczema and psoriasis. In general, topical CBD will be very effective on the area where it is applied, and not have a significant systemic effect like an ingestible CBD oil would. However, when combined with the aromatherapeutic benefits of essential oils, a topical product can still work wonders for anxiety.
Our Jimbo & Jules journey started with crafting essential oil blends for an intentional effect. Bee Easy (found in our Roll-On and Salve) was born out of a desire to reduce our anxiety symptoms from Lyme disease. This blend combines the grounding, balancing, and calming nature of eight essential oils: frankincense, lavender, holy basil, ylang ylang, grapefruit, bergamot, wild marjoram, and vetiver. When we decided to combine this blend with our full spectrum CBD, the effect was magic.
When using a topical product like Bee Easy to help with a systemic issue like anxiety, it’s key to actually smell the product. Aromatherapy works through the olfactory system in the nose; when we smell an essential oil, it triggers a downstream reaction in the brain creating different physical reactions based on the particular oil.
If you are using a Roll-On, we recommend applying a little just under the nose. For a salve, try cupping your hands over your nose and taking a few deep breaths after applying.
If you want more information about determining the best CBD choice for you, we hope you’ll check out Part II of our CBD-series blog posts.
Holistic Wellness: It’s A Journey
While CBD can offer incredible support for dealing with anxiety, we want to remind you to be patient with your journey. Remember, anxiety and chronic stress physically rewire the brain, and it will take time to peel back the layers and integrate new, healthy patterns. CBD may be one large piece of your wellness puzzle, and when used alongside other wellness practices like regular exercise, a nourishing diet, and meditation, the results can be even more profound.
If you have any questions, or want to dive even deeper on a topic we covered, please reach out - we love to chat!
Wishing you deep healing & wellness on your journey,