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Nearly everyone encounters some sort of stress daily, and sometimes it gets to be a bit much. It’s easy to get overloaded, which can result in some uneasy feelings, lack of sleep, poor eating habits, or worse, a panic attack. But there may be a solution—CBD’s heavily professed calming effects.
But how does CBD make you feel calm? And is the calming effect strong enough to combat more serious ailments, like anxiety?
Possibly so, and it all starts in the Endocannabinoid System.
We’ll explain:What is CBD and How Does it Work?
CBD is a cannabis-derived cannabinoid, the most abundant one found in federally legal hemp material. It may interact directly with the body to offer a slew of therapeutic benefits, which is why it’s been popularized as a daily supplement for self-care and general wellness, and especially for aiding stress and maintaining a sense of calm.
Let’s talk about how it actually works:
CBD interacts with the body through the Endocannabinoid System, a complex cell-signaling system made of neurotransmitters (called endocannabinoids), neuroreceptors, and enzymes that functions within the brain and immune system.
We still have a lot to learn about the endocannabinoid system, but research suggests that it may help regulate mood, temperature, appetite and digestion, immune functions, reproduction and fertility, cardiovascular system functions, and more. In fact, it’s primary role is thought to be maintaining homeostasis, or an overall balance in the body and mind.
Sometimes certain stimuli can interrupt homeostasis, and especially our sense of calm, such as an injury or stressful event. In these cases, the body releases natural endocannabinoids to help return the body to a healthy state.
Sometimes, however, there is an endocannabinoid imbalance that prevents the body from maintaining its natural, relaxed state. This is where CBD may come in.
CBD is similar in structure to these endocannabinoids and can bind with both major receptor sites, though it’s most commonly known to act indirectly on endocannabinoid receptors to help balance the endocannabinoid system. Some evidence even suggests that it may help regrow damaged endocannabinoid receptors over time, but more evidence is needed to understand how it may work.
So, how does all of this endocannabinoid balancing affect stress? And how does CBD make you feel calm?
Yes! Anecdotal reports frequently suggest that users experience a sense of calm and relaxation after using CBD, especially when they use CBD regularly.
Research hasn’t exactly targeted CBD’s ability to “make you feel calm,” rather it usually focuses on specific ailments and health conditions. Still, we can get a sense of how CBD achieves this calming effect that’s so heavily purported in anecdotal reports by looking at the evidence available:
Endocannabinoids are broken down by special enzymes within the endocannabinoid system. Studies suggest that CBD may reduce these enzyme levels, reducing the rate at which endocannabinoids are deleted from the body. This increases natural endocannabinoid levels, including levels of anandamide, commonly known as “the bliss molecule.”
It’s actually thought that increasing endocannabinoid levels will actually stimulate the growth of new endocannabinoid receptors, leading to a more active and naturally balanced endocannabinoid system over time.
One study suggests that CBD may bind with 5-HT1A receptors, a receptor that’s usually known for binding with serotonin. The receptor is known to influence things like anxiety, sleep, addiction, and perception. That’s why low serotonin levels may throw these things out of whack.
CBD that isn’t used by the body may be stored in the body’s fat, which means taking CBD today could benefit your mood tomorrow. Sometimes the endocannabinoid system needs extra cannabinoids to promote balance, especially when it’s interrupted by something like stress or pain.
It’s even more effective when CBD is used daily, since the endocannabinoid system thrives on balance and regularity.
We’d like to say that there’s some straightforward explanation to CBD’s calming effects that have been repeatedly reported by regular users, but it’s not that simple.
To sum it up as much as possible—CBD helps balance the endocannabinoid disruptions that make you feel upset or restless. It also helps to fortify your body so that it can better handle stressful stimuli in the future.
So CBD can help you feel calm when you’re upset. It can help smooth rough waters when you get stressed out. But what about more serious ailments? Can it help with anxiety?
Some evidence suggests that CBD could have anxiolytic properties, meaning it could help to quell anxiety, although research is limited. One 2019 study titled “Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series” delves into the issue, specifically targeting CBD’s benefits for anxiety that causes sleep loss (or perhaps sleep loss that worsens anxiety).
The study followed 72 adult patients with primary concerns of either anxiety or poor sleep. 57 patients (79.2%) experienced decreased anxiety within the first month that remained at the decreased level for the duration of the study. 48 patients (66.7%) reported improved sleep during the first month, although the results fluctuated over time.
The study suggests that while CBD may have some potential as a sleep-enhancing supplement, its primary potential may lie in anxiety relief. Specifically, the study concludes that “Cannabidiol may hold benefit for anxiety-related disorders. Controlled clinical studies are needed.”
Another study investigated how CBD may impose these effects, and concluded “that CBD reduces anxiety in SAD (social anxiety disorder) and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas.”
Various studies have investigated this mechanism of CBD with similar benefits, and CBD is widely reported as an “anxiolytic” substance, but more research is needed before CBD can be confirmed as a treatment for anxiety.
Still, there’s no question that CBD helps many people remain calm and collected, even in stressful situations. It may also help you relax and unwind at the end of a stressful day, but which CBD products work the best?
Technically, all high-quality CBD works the same inside the body, but different products are absorbed differently and can provide a different onset time, duration, and intensity of effects. Some products also have other ingredients added to help offer more targeted benefits to users.
If you’re looking for soothing, calming CBD products to add to your de-stressing routine, here’s what we recommend:
No matter what type of CBD product you choose, you definitely should be careful to choose a brand that uses clean, high-quality hemp material and cGMP manufacturing practices. You may want to look for third-party lab tests that prove label accuracy and showcase the brand’s transparency since not all CBD is made the same.
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