CBD & Yoga
Fight Stress and Elevate Experience
We live in a world filled with stress – long working hours, tough deadlines, chronic illnesses, financial problems, strained relationships – the list is endless!
However far medical science may have advanced, conventional forms of treatment still fail to provide us with absolute relief from pain, stress or anxiety. We are constantly in search of natural ways to combat our symptoms.
Yoga, for instance, has enabled a lot of people from across the world tackle a variety of ailments, and eventually, live a better life. So, it is only natural that more and more people would embrace this ancient practice, which started in India as long back as 3000 BC, as part of their daily life.
Interestingly, the birthplace of yoga also has a long history of cannabis use, and its benefits are well recorded in this part of the world. Many yogis and rishis of ancient India would meditate under the influence of cannabis (locally known as ganja or hashish).
It is believed that when combined, cannabis and yoga are quite harmonious. In fact, they not only complement each other, but they also seem to enhance each other’s properties, providing users with much relief from stress, pain and managing symptoms of different kinds of diseases.
How can CBD and Yoga,
Work in Harmony?
If you want something extra to put your mind at ease before you meditate or you need to relieve your strained muscles after a tough regimen of yoga practice, cannabidiol [*1], the key component of cannabis, can help you with both.
But, that’s not all! Cannabidiol has several other benefits that go well with yoga. Here are a few ways how ‘green yoga’ can help you and the scientific evidence to back them up:
1) Reduces stress & calms your mind
Cannabidiol, a cannabinoid that acts on our nervous system to make up for any deficiency in our endocannabinoid system [*2], interacts with its receptors to alleviate mental and physical stress, hence calming your mind before you set off with your exercises and meditation.
Several studies, published in reputed medical journals, have supported this idea.
- A 2018 study , published in the Frontiers in Neuroscience, discovered that cannabinoids are capable of reducing traumatic memories by hindering their retrieval or reconsolidation, or even by stimulating the process of completely forgetting traumatic memories from the mind of post-traumatic stress disorder patients.
- Besides, CBD, in its isolated form, has enormous therapeutic potential not only for trauma-related disorders, but also for various other psychiatric and neurological disorders . This is explained in a study published in Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences in 2012.
- While CBD can affect a person’s thought process while dealing with negative memories, CBD is also effective in regulating heart rate and anxiety caused by stress . A study published in Behavioural Brain Research in 2006 established this point.
- In a study published by Das RK, et al, in Psychopharmacology (Berl) in 2013 , it was noted that CBD helped manage negative thoughts and memories and helped them to cease completely in healthy humans. [Also See 5 & 6]
These human and animal studies have amply suggested that CBD can benefit patients with PTSD and other stress-related disorders, overcome their trauma and regulate their thoughts positively. This means CBD can effectively act as a therapeutic agent in calming the nerves of people with difficulties in focusing and meditating.
2) Heightens your focus
CBD is also effective in boosting your attention level, even if you have issues with it.
- It has been seen that people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder have benefitted from use of CBD oil. A 2017 study , published in European Neuropsychopharmacology, suggested that self-medicating on cannabinoids can at times improve attention.
- According to a 2013 study , published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, reinforces the claim that CBD helps with focus.
- According to a 2018 study , published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, CBD “exhibited improvements in attentional control and beneficial changes in psychological symptoms”, without causing the euphoria generally associated with cannabis use. The authors of the study concluded that: “Prolonged CBD treatment appears to have promising therapeutic effects for improving psychological symptoms and cognition in regular cannabis users”.
- Cannabidiol has also been proven as a Wake-Promoting Agent in a study  published in the Current Neuropharmacology in 2014. While THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol, the key intoxicating agent present in cannabis plants) promotes sleep, CBD has just the opposite effect on the human nervous system. It promotes wakefulness.
- In a study , which was published in Brain Sciences in 2018, CBD was found to improve attention, prevent memory loss and boost cognitive flexibility among animals.
3) Relieves soreness, inflammation and muscular aches
A lot people have experienced relief from musculoskeletal pain and possible inflammation, caused by rigorous routine of yoga, by using CBD oil or cream. Benefits of cannabidiol were earlier considered to be no more than some mystical mumbo jumbo. However, some recent studies have proven that CBD’s pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties are REAL, and this plant extract is, in fact, a potential painkiller. Some of these studies are listed below:
- According to a 2008 Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management article , studies reviewed by scientist Ethan B Russo found cannabinoids to be quite effective in “management of difficult-to-treat pain”, like chronic musculoskeletal pain. A lot of people pursue a routine of yoga and proper diet to alleviate such pain. If clubbed with CBD use, which has been proven to help in such cases, it is expected that patients will notice substantial improvement in their condition within a much shorter period than most other cases.
- A Hammell et al study , published in the European Journal of Pain in 2016, found that there is significant decrease in inflammation and pain among arthritic rats when they are subjected to transdermal administration of CBD.
- Another study , published in the Molecules in 2018, also delved into the physiology of CBD’s role in reducing inflammation and pain, among other benefits. The study concluded that CBD is a safe, effective and well-tolerated form of treatment of neuropathic pain. This is evidence that using CBD alongside a yoga routine can alleviate pain, besides helping manage aches and soreness caused temporarily by yoga.
4) Helps regulate sleep patterns
Some of us believe that a daily routine of yoga can help us overcome our insomnia and improve sleep patterns. Guess what? CBD does that too! If used alongside our yoga regimen, CBD is expected to improve our sleep patterns substantially. While it has been mentioned earlier that CBD helps in wakefulness, in the right dose, it enables us to regulate sleep and increases sleep quality, promoting sufficient sleep and alternate wakefulness. Although, the seemingly contradictory explanations may baffle many, CBD has been found to help promote a healthy sleep pattern, which helps people trying yoga for the first time, keeping them fresh and rejuvenated through the whole day as they go about their daily chores. Several studies have supported this view.
- A study , published in Frontiers in Pharmacology in 2018, delved into how far CBD regulates the sleep patterns of healthy and diseased rats. The authors concluded that: “In healthy volunteers with regular sleep cycles, 600 mg of CBD induced sedative effects, whereas in subjects with insomnia, short-duration use of CBD (160 mg/day) was associated with an increase in total sleep time and less frequent awakenings. Daily CBD doses of 40, 80, or 160 mg were shown to reduce dream recall and did not cause ‘hangover’ effects compared to placebo”.
- According to a 2014 study , published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, CBD can improve sleep-related behavioral disorders, particularly associated with REM sleep.
- Another study , published in the Current Psychiatry Reports in 2017, suggested that CBD has therapeutic potential in treatment of insomnia. It was pointed out that while THC may have hypnotic effects leading to sleepiness, it “could impair the sleep quality in the long run”. However, CBD acts on our nervous system to improve the quality of sleep, and when used over a long period of time it promotes healthy sleep patterns.
The use of CBD for a short duration can also help improve sleep pattern and quality. This was discussed in a study  published in Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2013. CBD injections of 4 different dosages were given to 4 separate groups of male Wistar rats – 2.5 mg per kg of weight, 10 mg/kg, 40 mg/kg and a fourth group, in which only 7 were given CBD while the others got placebo. The best result was seen in the group that was given 10 mg/kg of body weight.
5) Relieves anxiety and depression
For those among us who take up yoga as a means to overcome anxiety and depression, caused by either a life incident or the daily grind, CBD has been proven to safely complement its effects, since both have similar effects on our body. While meditation and concentration on one’s own breathing can calm your mind and reduce anxiety and depression, CBD too can do the same, hence, offering a boost to the end result. Some research articles that prove this point are cited below:
- A 2018 study , published in the Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, revealed the “anti-depressant-like effect” of CBD and linked it to brain’s serotonin levels.
- A 2015 study , featured in the Neurotherapeutics, promoted CBD as an agent of “Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders”. The study demonstrated “CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors relevant to multiple disorders, including PTSD, GAD, PD, OCD, and SAD, with a notable lack of anxiogenic (anxiety-causing) effects”.
- According to another study , published in the Current Neuropharmacology in 2017, CBD can also help in fighting panic attacks caused by public speaking or even any life-threatening events. Its mind-calming property helps ease anxiety and enables a person to function normally, in complete control of his or her senses.
- In a study , published in The Permanente Journal in 2019, scientists Scott Shannon, Nicole Lewis, Heather Lee and Shannon Hughes reviewed several studies done in the past one decade and discovered that CBD is efficient in managing anxiety-related disorders, without having any safety issues to worry about. This study, once again, proves our point that CBD can help boost yoga’s effects of relieving anxiety and panic attacks.
6) Gets rid of menstrual pain
Menstrual pain, accompanied by severe pain, is often a chronic issue among many women. While yoga often helps overcome the cramps and those periodic abdominal aches, CBD too has a similar effect on women, owing to its pain-relieving properties. A few studies in this regard are cited below:
- In the review , cited above (The Permanente Journal; 2019), scientists Shannon, et al, have cited practitioners in ancient China recommending cannabis extracts for treating menstrual pain, among others diseases like gout, malaria and constipation.
- A 2017 study , published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, scientists Bouaziz, et al, have found a link between the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and pain management for patients with menstrual pain, suggestin that cannabis use can ease this pain.
- A 2018 study , published in the Medicines (Basel), cited the beginnings of cannabis use in Western medicine. Back in the 19th century, Irish physician William Brooke O’Shaughnessy recommended it for a great variety of therapeutic purposes, including muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, and rheumatism, as well as convulsions of tetanus, rabies, and epilepsy.
7) Helps regulate appetite and weight
For many people, yoga is about losing weight and getting fit. For them, CBD is a good catalyst, as it also promotes weight loss. Unlike, THC that promotes hunger, CBD is also known for regulating appetite. Researchers have found that owing to the fact that CBD, which reacts with CB2 receptor (of the ECS) that is present throughout the body, it can influence a lot of bodily functions. Instead of activating the receptors themselves, it influences the endocannabinoids (cannabinoids within our body) to block or activate the receptors.
- A 2012 study  on rats, published in Psychopharmacology (Berlin), discovered that exposure to CBD reduced their appetite. This was the first significant study on how far cannabidiol can control appetite.
- In an earlier study, published in the Neuropsychopharmacology  in 2010, scientists of the department of Clinical, Health and Educational Psychologyo of the University College London, first figured out that cannabidiol can actually counter the effects of THC that promotes appetite. (The physiological process of how CBD inhibits appetite has been explained earlier.) Since, the two cannabinoids have distinctly opposite effects on the body – both physiologically and behaviorally – it also has other properties that are completely in contrast with each other, including the fact that CBD is a non-intoxicating agent, while THC causes the famous marijuana “high”.
- The authors of a 2018 study , published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, noted that CBD influences the endocannabinoids to block the functioning of CB1 receptors, helping the body to decrease its appetite and gain control over obesity. Besides, this study also confirmed that CBD can break down body fat and eliminate it from the body as waste.
According to a 2016 research paper , published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, CBD can even convert white (bad) fat into brown fat, thus helping the body to burn calories, leading to weight loss. White fat increases the risk of several chronic conditions, like heart disease and diabetes. The study also confirmed that this cannabinoid can stimulate the body to break down fats more efficiently.
8) Regulates mood
While we have already discussed how CBD alleviates feelings of anxiety, panic and depression, we thought it might be appropriate to talk about how CBD improves the overall mood of a person, without making him feel intoxicated.
While the usual euphoria caused by the THC in marijuana may seem pleasurable to most people, it not only affects your focus and increases your weight, it also has too many adverse effects in the long-run. In contrast, for people looking for cure from different ailments, CBD helps improve your mood without giving you a “high” or a hangover, since it does not create dependence.
Combined with a proper yoga routine, CBD can help you feel happy and healthy throughout the day, providing you with the opportunity to put your best foot forward every step of the way.
Cannabidiol has been found to act as a fast-acting anti-depressant  and potentially improve the mood  of its users (both in its pure form as well as in CBD-rich cannabis extracts).
Although there is a dearth of sufficient scientific research and clinical trials, there is an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence to be found on cannabidiol’s benefits on the human body and mind. Thousands of people from across the world have already tried CBD with yoga, and have significantly benefited from it.
Types of CBD products
to be used with Yoga
CBD products are available in different forms, each with their specific benefit and ways of using it.
There are various brands of CBD creams available in the market that you can apply on the painful parts of your body to get relief.
When you apply the cream on your body, it gets absorbed into your skin and mixes with your bloodstream to activate your endocannabinoid system.
This is good for those who dislike the taste of tinctures, but don’t expect to get a whole-body experience with these. This kind of CBD products impacts only the areas that you apply it on.
These can be used both just prior to or after your yoga session. The purpose of taking it before a session is to ease your muscles before you try out those difficult postures, and afterwards to soothe any soreness or pain.
It comes with a dropper. You can take two dropper-full of the liquid and mix it with a cup of tea or smoothie and consume it.
You can feel its effect within 15 minutes of ingesting it, as they don’t have to go through your digestive tract to have impact. It gets absorbed by the mucous glands under the tongue.
You can take it both before and/or after a yoga session. For people who need something extra to clear their mind, relax and focus their attention, it is useful to take before a session. After-session usage is mostly for overcoming any soreness or pain.
Soft Gels & Capsules
These are also ingested and don’t have the earthy taste like tinctures. But, they tend to take a little longer to take effect. Most users say it takes about 35 minutes to show any effect.
Its usage is the same as tinctures.
How can you benefit by using CBD with Yoga
Yoga and CBD are both effective stress-busters and help gain better control over our weight management, pain management, focus and overall health. But their synergy is a far more effective treatment than any conventional pharmaceutical drug.
CBD is not only safe; it also has many benefits that can go hand-in-hand with yoga in alleviating a lot of symptoms of disorders that we generally hope to get rid of through regular yoga sessions.
However, a fair warning: We have no scientific evidence to support the safe use of CBD products by pregnant women and children below the age of 2.
In any case, it’s always best to consult a doctor who has experience in the use of cannabis products and can guide you on its proper usage.
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