Can CBD Help Reduce Stress?
Let’s not kid ourselves; stress is unpleasant. It’s something that most of us don’t want to deal with. Without stress, life would be simpler and more enjoyable, right?
Unfortunately, it is a part of our lives. There’s nothing we can do to avoid stress, and the only way to beat it is to move forward. In fact, you can say that stress is vital to our survival.
Why? Because it teaches us how to cope. Without stress, we won’t be able to understand and respond to threats and dangers appropriately.
Stress is normal and a part of our day-to-day lives. Once we’ve overcome the stressful situation, our lives go back to normal. We become better and wiser from what we have learned during that stressful event.
But there are people though who can’t handle stress well. Instead of conquering their stressors, they feel overwhelmed. They also develop symptoms that affect them physically and mentally. Chronic and long-term stress is harmful to one’s health and can worsen medical conditions.
I feel like I’m drowning from all my problems; am I suffering from stress overload?
The scary thing about chronic stress is that it starts to feel like it’s a part of your life. It becomes so normal that you’re no longer aware of its effects on your health.
If you have the following symptoms, you might be suffering from stress overload:
- Emotional problems: You feel unhappy and depressed. You’re quick to anger and feel anxious, irritated, and agitated. Stress overload can also make you feel isolated.
- Cognitive problems: You’re always worried and stressed out that it begins to affect your memory and concentration. You may not notice it but you may also be exhibiting poor judgment.
- Physical problems: You feel nauseous and dizzy due to lack of sleep and appetite. Lack of sleep and appetite also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to flu and simple colds. Other symptoms include decreased libido, chest pain and tightness, increased heart rate, and gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and constipation.
All these can make you withdraw from people you love, so you start neglecting your duties and responsibilities. Chronic stress can also push some people to develop bad habits like smoking, drinking, and taking drugs.
Why can’t I deal with stress like normal people do; is there something wrong with me?
Stressful events trigger the flight-or-fight response.
As soon as you feel stressed out, your brain cells release chemicals that excite other brain cells. Now, these chemicals will pass from one brain cell to the next until it reaches the brain region responsible for responding to stress. Once it reaches that area, your brain will tell you how to respond to stress. It will also trigger physical reactions like heart palpitations, increased breathing, sweating, nausea, etc.
To stop these reactions, your brain cells will release chemicals that stop the transmission of stress signals. These chemicals will tell the brain cells to start absorbing the excitatory chemicals. When they’re absorbed, your body relaxes and you’re able to think more clearly.
There are situations though that prolong the stress response. Some of these include financial problems, marital problems, problems at home and in school, chronic medical illnesses (stroke, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, etc.), among others. These factors continue to overload the fight-or-flight response, resulting in chronic stress.
Chronic stressful situations can leave the brain cells hyperactive and hyperexcitable. The constant bombardment of excitatory chemicals can cause inflammation and small damages in the brain areas responsible for processing stress response.
Are there medications that can control stress?
Chronic stress and its symptoms can be controlled by medications like anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants. While these drugs can relieve the symptoms though, prolonged use can result in unwanted side effects. Some of these include drug dependence, stomach upset, slurred speech, decreased libido, tremors, headaches, fatigue, among others.
I’ve heard CBD can relieve anxiety; can I use it for mine?
CBD has powerful anti-anxiety effects, and it produces these effects by activating the endocannabinoid system. You should know that the endocannabinoid system is responsible for promoting chemical balance within the body. With both the excitatory and inhibitory chemicals at normal levels, you can function better.
CBD, like our endogenous cannabinoids, also has the ability to activate the endocannabinoid system to produce its anti-anxiety effects. In addition to activating the endocannabinoid system, CBD also has the ability to increase the levels of our endogenous cannabinoids by preventing their reabsorption back into the brain cells. Our endogenous cannabinoids are produced on demand and as needed, but they are quickly reabsorbed back into the cells so their effects are short-lived. With CBD preventing their reabsorption, they can activate more ECS.
The effects of CBD on anxiety don’t just stop with the endocannabinoid system though. But it can also influence other systems responsible for the flight-or-fight response.
For example, activation of the adenosine receptors prevents the release of an excitatory chemical called dopamine. Activation of the serotonin receptors produces anti-anxiety effects. Now, CBD has the ability to influence both of these receptors, stimulating them so they can help you calm down and relax.
Chronic stress can cause small inflammations in the brain which, in turn, damage more brain cells and affect the way the brain normally responds to stress. CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and can reduce chronic inflammation in the brain. By reducing inflammation, brain cell damage is controlled.
Finally, CBD is a potent antioxidant. It can protect the brain cells from the damages caused by high levels of excitatory chemicals in the brain.
Is CBD safe, and are there studies to prove its therapeutic effects on too much stress?
Yes, CBD is safe to use for your anxiety. It may have side effects, but these are usually well-tolerated by patients and typically fade away in time as your body adjusts to CBD. Unlike anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants, there is no risk of developing dependence or abuse.
There have been some noteworthy studies on CBD and stress. As you know, one of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder is extreme stress and an abnormal response to stressful situations. This study involved 79 patients with uncontrolled PTSD symptoms on conventional drugs. They were given a combination of CBD and THC treatment. At the end of the two-year study, the participants reported marked improvement in their PTSD symptoms. Some of them were even able to discontinue or, at least, decrease the dosage of their conventional medications.
This study was done on a 10-year-old girl with severe PTSD symptoms due to sexual abuse. Her symptoms included extreme stress and anxiety, flashbacks, as well as panic attacks. She was placed on conventional drugs, but these were not able to control her symptoms though. The little girl was then placed on CBD for insomnia, stress, and anxiety control and has had significant improvement on CBD.
Stress is normal. But if it overwhelms you to the point that you can no longer function properly, know that CBD may be able to help you. Get help now, and don’t let any stressful situation overcome you physically, emotionally, and mentally.