Did you know that 8 out of 10 Americans not only crib about being stressed but are somehow suffering due to this “condition”? Be it an unsatisfactory work-life, the political scene, cost of staying informed, crime, medical costs, strained marriages, the death of a loved one, or persistent physical illness, stress can severely disrupt lives.
That being said, all of us feel stressed out at some point in our lives. Stress may be categorized into two broad types – acute and chronic – depending on the extent and duration for which they remain in our lives and how they impact us – physically and mentally.
Acute stress can cause momentary headaches, heartburn, and high blood pressure, which usually subside easily, depending on our capacity to deal with situations. In some cases, however, stress can become a chronic problem that gets triggered every time one encounters a stressful situation, owing to the body’s (and mind’s) inability to handle such events. These lead to more severe forms of headaches that last for days, diarrhea, irritability, depression, skin rashes, low sex drive, high BP, high blood sugar, diabetes, palpitations, chest pain, cardiovascular diseases, and even heart attacks.
Your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications, like Xanax, Valium, Zoloft, or Prozac to effectively combat your symptoms. However, the thing about selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), benzodiazepines, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and other such stress medications is that there are way too many side effects to deal with – some of which could turn severe if ignored in the initial stages.
The fact that you’re reading this could only mean that you’re fed up with these side effects or are simply looking for a natural way out.
Yes. The use of Cannabidiol, or more popularly CBD, has been touted as an excellent therapy method by many. But how effective is it – really?
Managing Stress – The Natural Way!
It’s hard not to get overwhelmed every once in a while, with all the things happening around you. While strong medications can make you feel worse, there are other ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
With a bit of care and discipline, you could effectively manage the stress and even reduce it to a certain extent.
- Routine exercise: Working out and exercising regularly will not only keep you physically fit but also mentally calm and focussed. Exercise helps loosen your tense muscles and nerves, allowing you to carry out your daily activities with much ease – and even help you sleep better. The best cure for a stressful day is a good night’s sleep!
- Deep Breathing & Meditations: You will be amazed how a good, long deep breathing exercise can lift the pressure off your shoulders and leave you feeling more relaxed and focussed. That’s why therapists often suggest deep breathing when you feel your head will explode!
- A Good, Balanced Diet: Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet can help stabilize your inner energy and keep you going for long hours, whereas skipping meals can add to your stress, leaving you in a bad mood.
- Take a break – at least, once in a while: Indulge in activities that can take your mind off your daily routine and relax your muscles. Listen to music, read a book, meditate, try your hand at baking, do yoga, Tai-chi, or what say you! The bottom line is to take a time-out now and then!
- Talk to a therapist: When all else fails, it’s best to address your issues head-on! Consult a therapist and get under your own skin.
While these usually work, there are times when that feeling of being overwhelmed or drowning does not seem to subside. This is when people usually turn to meds.
But, there is yet another natural way to reduce stress, one that can easily be taken as a supplement but does NOT have any of the usual side effects. And that is CBD!
- CBD has revolutionized the medical world with its therapeutic benefits and is currently one of the most sought-after natural remedies for many ailments, including pain, inflammation, stress, anxiety, depression, seizures, and other neuropsychiatric ailments.
Since research into CBD’s effects on our body is still in its nascent stage, we need more evidence of how CBD could help people under stress.
What is CBD, and how does it help fight stress?
CBD or cannabidiol is the second most prevalent cannabinoid present in cannabis plants. It is present in different proportions in both marijuana and hemp.
While CBD extracted from marijuana is more potent and effective than that of hemp extracts, CBD is found in higher proportions than THC in hemp, making the latter extract non-psychotropic – and legal.
Marijuana extracts, on the other hand, is illegal as it contains higher levels of THC (or Δ-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol), making it psychoactive – in other words – it gets you “high”!
CBD interacts with a unique network of receptors, enzymes, and fatty acids, known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system that is found in all vertebrates plays an essential role in modulating the nervous system and regulating its functions. The ECS boosts cellular communication and maintains homeostasis, or the internal chemical and physiological balance, at all times.
When you’re stressed out, your ECS goes out of whack, setting off cortisol levels shooting off the roof, making you nauseous and sweaty, with your head throbbing and heart thumping!
Those stressful times can be easily dealt with if you have a little CBD with you.
Using CBD has been seen to considerably improve hypothalamic functions by boosting its ability to sense cortisol (stress hormone) and help prevent stress by triggering the shut-off mechanism between the hypothalamus and the hippocampus before cortisol levels can get a chance to rise above normal levels.
CBD can also protect the body from oxidative stress and neutralize free radical molecules, thus protecting the body from possible damages caused by them. CBD also promotes restfulness and metabolism by taking control of the release of other stress hormones, like norepinephrine, and neurotransmitters, like dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate.
Stress Vs Anxiety
For ages, the terms stress and anxiety have been used interchangeably. However, they are quite different. They do, however, share quite a few physical and emotional traits.
While stress is your body’s response to a threatening situation, anxiety is a mental state in reaction to that stress.
CBD oil has been proven to address both these events quite efficiently. However, many disorders may still require additional medications.
CBD’s Efficacy As A Stress-Buster: A Scientific Outlook
- A 2010 study indicated that CBD helps reduce anxiety in patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD). This study pointed to the changes in blood flow patterns in the limbic and paralimbic regions of the brain that is usually associated with stress and anxiety.
- Another 2011 study, published in the Neuropsychopharmacology, showed that CBD effectively reduces social anxiety induced by the idea of public speaking.
- A 2014 review of animal models, published in the CNS & Neurological Disorders Drug Targets, found that CBD oil displayed antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects.
- According to a report, published in the 2015 issue of Neurotherapeutics, CBD is referred to as a potential treatment for anxiety and stress disorders, including SAD, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and some other mental disorders.
- Yet another 2016 research, published in The Permanente Journal, reported CBD’s effectiveness on patients with PTSD and insomnia. It established that CBD can effectively alleviate anxiety and promote a healthy sleep pattern in a young girl with PTSD.
So, CBD Helps With Inflammation. But, is it SAFE?
A report by the World Health Organization states that CBD doesn’t exhibit any indication of abuse or dependence potential in humans and that there is no evidence of public health issues associated with CBD use in its purest form.
However, the US Food and Drug Association (FDA) states that it has limited data about CBD’s safety, and thus, does not consider CBD to be safe.
Nevertheless, studies indicate that CBD, unlike most medications, does not have any severe side effects.
So, if you were to decide on whether or not to use it for managing your stress, it would best to do proper market research of the different brands and products available and gauge them for their safety and reliability.
You must also consult a doctor – even before you start hunting for a pack of CBD gummies or a bottle of CBD oil.
You must also gauge your optimum dosage by starting with a small dose and titrating your way up.
Is CBD The Best Stress-Buster?
Stress is a condition that is hard to diagnose and even harder to treat. Sometimes, it is an issue that runs in the family. It could even be caused by some inappropriate or unsavory events in one’s life. It could also be the result of things continually happening in your life.
Each of these situations has a different way of dealing with it, requiring a different method of treatment. It’s best to first address the issue that is causing you stress than letting it fester in your mind and ruin your body along with it.
While CBD has been proven to be effective on many, there’s still not enough evidence to give any kind of guarantee.
Besides, there is also the danger of falling prey to unscrupulous vendors trying to make a fast buck by conning you into buying something that may be useless – or downright lethal.
While it’s always best to consult your medical practitioner before switching medications or combining them, we would urge our readers to consider all facts before trying something new.