Does CBD oil help with stress and inflammation?

Stress is very bad for your body and mind. Stress is linked to a huge range of health issues and complications – everything from mental illness and anxiety, high blood pressure and heart disease, to reduced sleep. Unfortunately today it’s nearly impossible to avoid and ubiquitous. Our modern lives are jam packed with stressors that make it tough to stay calm. Stress is known as a silent killer due to it negatively affecting almost all of the body’s critical functions.

Many are turning to CBD oil as an effective, all natural solution. It has the ability to calm the mind and improve sleep by acting on the endocannabinoid system. It may be able to assist you with your stress and support better day to day living. Let’s take a look at how it works and why you should consider taking advantage of full spectrum CBD oil for stress today. It’s already becoming renowned for its therapeutic benefits for many mental issues including anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and depression.

What causes stress?

Stress is an evolutionary response that your brain automatically produces to deal with threats and dangers in your environment. The brain is a complex machine with many parts. One of these parts, located in the ancient reptilian section of the brain is known as the hypothalamus. This component of the brain is responsible for helping the brain and body defend itself and survive in hostile situations. When a major threat is encountered like a lion on the savannah or an enemy approaches, the brain triggers what is known as the stress response or ‘fight and flight’. When this occurs, the brain has sensed imminent danger and triggers this response to deal with it – either by escaping quickly, or by fighting to survive. It’s typically accompanied by an adrenal response with adrenaline being released into the bloodstream.

Unfortunately for us, our bodies and brains haven’t caught up with the fact we no longer run into lions anymore (unless you’re living in the savannah). In modern society there are very minimal risks to our physical safety. We rarely ever encounter a life or death scenario where we need to escape or fight a true threat. However, the brain can often struggle to distinguish between a real external danger and a stressor that can be the result of negative interactions with other humans, conflicts in relationships, financial stress, emotional stress and more. Each of these issues can trigger the fight or flight response and resultantly cause a chemical known as cortisol to be released in significant quantities. More on cortisol below. In cases where this becomes a chronic problem, it can affect mental capacity and lead to worse issues like anxiety or panic attacks.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is the stress hormone. It’s released by the adrenal glands near the kidneys and has the purpose in the body of causing the fight or flight response. Cortisol is useful to assist in motivating the body, tackling new and tough challenges. It helps to activate the mind to get ready to perform in a new, unknown or tough situation. 

Regulation of this hormone is via the pituitary gland which controls whether it is released. We can actually change when the pituitary gland activates and tells the adrenal gland to release cortisol. The key thing to know about cortisol is it’s completely natural and normal in small quantities, however high levels of cortisol release over a prolonged period will start to cause problems in both the body and mind. 

Eventually this can result in muscle loss, weight gain, high blood pressure and lowered immunity. It’s effectively the result of your body becoming completely overstressed and overwhelmed. This matters as cortisol is the underlying cause of stress, which can cause anxiety and many other nervous issues. Being able to reduce and control this hormone is critical to overall health – but how do we manage it?

Initial research is pointing towards CBD oil for stress as a key cure. This product contains cannabidiol which is a naturally occurring compound from hemp. It’s able to calm the nerves and mind by acting on the CB1 receptors located in the brain. This action enables better control of the flight or fight response.

Does CBD oil help with stress?

CBD is great for stress – this comes down to several key reasons. The biggest of these is hemp extract’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system or ECS which is present in all mammals. This system has a broad reaching effect on many organs of the body as well as mind, enabling improved homeostasis, balance in the body, mood improvement and stress reduction. It was originally discovered by scientific researchers in the 1980s. It operates through a network of enzyme receptors that are located in almost all of the body’s organs across the nervous system, gut, liver, spleen, brain and even skin. These are known as CB1 and CB2 receptors – triggered by the intake of cannabidiol as well as other cannabinoid compounds. When these nutrients enter the bloodstream and eventually land on and bind with these receptors, the receptors are able to activate and trigger the release of strong anti-inflammatory endogenous compounds and enzymes which have a great boon of health benefits and outcomes for the cells throughout the body.

As a result of this mechanism, the body is able to benefit from improved mood, cognition and calmness through reductions in cortisol, enhanced emotional state, better control of appetite and hunger, and potentially even better retention of memories. Cannabinoids in hemp oil bind with the CB2 receptors in our immune system and lymph nodes also, which could help explain its potential to assist with reduced stress. What’s interesting however is that the body actually causes all of these responses itself. In a similar process to exercise – where stressing the body and damaging it actually causes the release of potent anti-inflammatory compounds. 

These stimulate repair, growth and protection for the cells throughout the body as an adaptive response. A similar response is seen with CBD which causes the excretion of endogenous compounds from the CB1 and CB2 receptors that are then transported via the bloodstream to the cells and tissues of the various organs throughout the body. This may enhance the powers of homeostasis and balance of the body’s hormones and internal state, assisting in calming both the body and mind. It does this by repressing the autonomic arousal process that occurs in the brain which is the initial source of stress. This process triggers increased heart rate and respiration plus cortisol release. CBD can help to prevent it from activating unnecessarily to reduce our nervousness. It’s a property being displayed in both animal and human studies recently.

How to manage stress 

A number of techniques can be applied both mentally and physically to help reduce and prevent excessive cortisol release from stress.

Let’s run through a few of the best ways to control stress daily.

  1. Yoga and meditation – these powerful and ancient techniques to relax the mind and body have been used for centuries around the world in many cultures but originate in India and Nepal. These practices can enhance mindfulness and help to reduce the mind from reacting and triggering the stress response.
  2. Physical exercise – exercise has a number of beneficial properties that aid in overall health, well being and stress reduction. The movement and stressing of the body releases strong enzymes and compounds that help to reduce stress and inflammation.
  3. Quality sleep – sleep is critical for homeostasis and managing the glands and hormones of the body to ensure efficient and effective regulation of all the body’s key hormones including cortisol. Poor sleep patterns can lead to increased daily stress and reduced ability to manage it.
  4. Lifestyle changes – many lifestyles’ stressors can cause cortisol release or more averse issues relating to stress and resulting health challenges. Some of these include stressful work, drinking, smoking and lack of exercise which are all health risks and stress sources in the long term.

Supplements – certain supplements can support the body’s maintenance of homeostasis and a healthy balance of hormones including cortisol – from multivitamins, ashwagandha supplements, L-glutamine and full spectrum CBD oil – we will explain why this supplement is able to help here and why its our best stress-buster.

About the endocannabinoid system

While only discovered as little as a few decades ago, the importance of the endocannabinoid system for stress reduction can’t be understated. It is growing significantly in its profile and fame throughout the health and wellness world, in addition to attracting large amounts of new scientific research. Much research has already been done on animals like mice in relation to the effects of differing cannabinoids like CBD or CBG on the ECS, however more is needed on human subjects to fully understand and appreciate its array of health benefits. 

One new research area is its benefits on the circulatory system – the lungs, heart and blood flow. Some studies have shown full spectrum CBD oil having positive impacts on blood pressure and cholesterol as well as metabolic syndromes relating to circulation. It may even become a new and natural plant-based remedy to help support circulation, cognition and help reduce blood pressure that can be tried before stronger pharmaceutical medicines. Some studies have compared placebo to usage of medium doses of CBD oil which indicated a positive reduction in blood pressure in combination with healthy diet and exercise. When it comes to stress, CBD oil also comes into its own – which also again relates to its positive effects on blood pressure and may explain this benefit. Hemp oil is able to help calm the mind and brain, relaxing users and reducing the effect and instances of the adrenal gland triggering the stress response and releasing adrenaline and cortisol which raises blood pressure. Researchers are showing its effects on reducing stress and anxiety, being anti-anxiolytic and simultaneously protecting the body through containing high levels of plant antioxidants like cannaflavins, flavonoids and chlorophyll. By containing these strong antioxidant properties, hemp oil is able to help protect and prevent oxidative stress and cell damage in the body and heart and improve blood pressure when tested in mice.

Does CBD oil help with stress-related anxiety?

Being anti-anxiolytic and having the capacity to aid in calming the mind, hemp oil is able to reduce the pituitary gland’s actions in triggering flight or fight. This is the major physical cause of stress and chronic anxiety – where our bodies are tricked into constant stress and believing we are in danger. A very useful property of CBD oil for stress is that it’s all-natural – it can be taken for long periods and with frequent use with minimal or no side effects (depending on the individual). It’s due to being extracted from hemp, making this product wholly sourced from plants and entirely vegan.

This is in stark contrast to pharmaceutical compounds like ibuprofen which cause liver strain and damage at high doses or frequencies. Some of the known but minor side effects of CBD include nausea, dry mouth, unsettled stomach or drowsiness at very high doses. By counteracting stress and helping balance the mind, hemp oil leads to lower concentrations of cortisol – this is the mechanism which makes it so useful for getting a good night’s rest too. 

Aside from having almost no side effects, CBD oil also benefits from containing no psychoactive THC. As such its very low risk to take and won’t trigger issues relating to mental illness that normal cannabis can cause. It’s due to the fact that the oil is produced from industrial hemp which contains less than 0.2% THC. There is low risk for those with mental issues and the product can’t cause an addiction, intoxication or poisoning. What’s more – it may help users manage appetite and hunger to help control weight. Many individuals are triggered to eat or find themselves in a hungry state as a result of stress. Stress can lead to the body and mind tricking itself into thinking it is hungry without being so. Studies by universities in the US showed that rats when given hemp oil had activated CB2 receptors and showed slowed eating patterns which benefited their insulin resistance and weight control. Resultantly they had improvements in blood lipids and LDL cholesterol over several weeks of the study. This is all while being very well tolerated in the body as a natural substance and containing no artificial or synthetic chemicals.

How was CBD oil used historically?

Many cultures around the globe from the Middle East to Asia and Europe knew of hemp’s potent anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiolytic potential. The Mongols and Scythians in the Eurasian steppe thousands of years ago used hemp by extracting it into oils and other final products to be used for therapeutic purposes. They would place hemp oil into special devices and vaporize the extracts using steam to create a mist or air diffused particulates which would then be absorbed by the skin and body to promote rejuvenation and calmness. 

The cultures and tribes of Persia knew hemp had many practical applications including for creating rope and fiber, but also would use the oil from hemp to promote wellbeing. Frequently they’d use it to assist with getting to sleep and calming the mind before going to bed, helping cortisol reduction before bedtime and assisting in moving to a deep sleep state. Records have shown hemp was first discovered around the bronze age and since this time has been cultivated and extracted by many generations of tribes globally (mostly in the middle east where the plant originated and grows naturally in the mountains).

What are Phyto-cannabinoids?

Hemp contains a huge number of plant-based bioactive ingredients that support the body in a variety of ways. There are around 114 types of cannabinoids in hemp and more than 400 Phyto-nutrients and other compounds that all have differing effects (although some are inert). ‘Phyto’ here simply means ‘from plants’ meaning the nutrients come from plant sources (hemp in this case). Not all of these are made equal in terms of their benefits in reducing stress, inflammation and anxiety. Which are the most useful in assisting with reducing stress from wreaking havoc on our bodies?

  1. CBC (cannabichromene): this cannabinoid phytonutrient is highly anti-inflammatory and helps with the stress response by calming the nerves and mind. Increasingly CBC is being used for anti anxiety purposes. It is a minor cannabinoid and works with other cannabinoids like CBD to enhance their efficacy.
  2. CBG (cannabigerol): understood by researchers to be one of the better compounds in hemp for arthritis, it also contains some beneficial properties to aid with stress. CBG was recently found to assist with preventing COVID in mice studies and has properties that enhance immunity.
  3. CBN (cannabinol): seen in mice studies to be analgesic and assist with aches and pains, CBN works in reducing bodily stress and enhancing recovery. CBN helps to calm the body and rejuvenate, improving cortisol levels in the body and mind. It is particularly known to provide a pain relief alternative to pharmaceuticals like benzodiazepine for many with chronic nerve or joint pains.
  4. Omega Fatty Acids: two key omegas are plentiful in full spectrum CBD oil – these are Omega 3 and Omega 6. Both have excellent benefits and properties with regards to the cardiovascular system. They work to reduce blood pressure, improve lipid profile in the blood and support brain function. Omegas are linked to longer lifespans, improved endurance and better recovery.
  5. Minerals: hemp has a complete electrolyte profile that includes high amounts of phosphorus, zinc, magnesium and calcium. Several of these minerals are key to providing support for muscle cell activation, electrolytes and nervous regulation and can assist with stress reduction. Magnesium in particular is able to assist with stress while helping with mood and energy production, which is key to helping the body perform and recover.
  6. Chlorophyll and beta-carotene antioxidants: these two antioxidative nutrients are great additions to any diet and contained in large amounts within dark green plant foods and high fiber plant foods. They assist with overall wellbeing by assisting cell recovery, preventing oxidative stress from free radical damage. Antioxidants help us rejuvenate the tissue and body via metabolic pathways.
  7. Terpenes: many plants contain scent producing pheromone compounds known as terpenes. You would be familiar with many terpenes such as those produced by lavender or tea trees, responsible for their strong scent. Hemp also contains terpenes like myrcene and linalool. Terpenes are responsible for activating the ‘entourage effect’ which improves the uptake and effects of other cannabinoids by encouraging their usage by the body and cannabinoid receptors. How this works is still not clear from the currently available research.

Taking in these critical nutrients will help provide you with a foundation to defend proactively against the stress response and minimize its effects. You can get all of them from hemp, which is best taken in its concentrated oil form. We recommend using a ‘full spectrum’ oil over isolate options. This is due to full spectrum products containing a variety of different phytonutrients and cannabinoids that have significant health benefits as outlined above. Isolates typically only contain cannabidiol or CBD which is still therapeutic but loses the benefits gained from hemp’s other helpful nutrients.

Conclusion

Our review here has covered CBD oil’s promise and potential to reduce stress, anxiety and inflammation in both the mind and body. First, we took a look at how stress actually occurs, examined the evolutionary basis for it and why this response is problematic yet still widespread. We explored why stress leads to poor outcomes for our health and wellbeing. Stress causes anxiety and higher risk of heart disease, mental illness and sleep issues. 

We looked at some of the key natural and lifestyle based methods of managing stress like yoga and meditation, but also key tools you can use such as hemp oil to reduce and mitigate its effects. Finally, we took a deep dive into the endocannabinoid system and its workings on the body and mind via the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Finally we explored the important Phyto-cannabinoids, nutrients and minerals in hemp that are able to assist in enhancing our health.