Stress is a natural part of life. Your dwindling bank account, a “we need to talk” text from a romantic partner or impending physical danger can all cause stress. But what’s stress on a scientific level? And is cannabidiol (CBD) a natural and effective way to help alleviate it?
What Is Stress?
Stress is the body’s critical adaptive response to a perceived threat. It’s marked by an increase in adrenaline and cortisol, leading to an elevated heart rate and short bursts of energy.
In the proper settings, stress can be an incredibly motivating tool. The “fight or flight” response is one we’re all familiar with. Stress is intended to urge a person or animal into action to get us out of dangerous situations.
Once we evade or neutralize the perceived threat, stress should melt away and elevated hormone levels should return to normal.
But if you don’t properly manage stress, it can become a chronic issue. If someone is under constant stress, their health and relationships tend to suffer as a result.
Chronic stress can even change both the brain’s structure and chemistry. It can lead to a variety of symptoms, including, but not limited to:
- Low energy
- Volatile mood shifts
- Digestion issues
- Decreased sexual drive
- Tense muscles
- Inability to focus
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Does CBD Alleviate Stress?
There’s a virtually endless list of stressors:
- Chronic pain
- Interpersonal relationships
- A dangerous situation
Some of these scenarios are short-lived. Others, like financial or social stress, are often ongoing issues.
Prescription medication is often given to people with chronic stress or anxiety. But according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “CBD has shown therapeutic efficacy in a range of animal models of anxiety and stress, reducing both behavioral and physiological measures of stress and anxiety.”
In one animal study, researchers gave CBD to 32 rodents. Of those treated, 31 experienced anti-anxiety effects.
And in one of the limited human studies on CBD and anxiety, a group of people with social anxiety took CBD before a simulated public speaking performance. The researchers of this study conclude that CBD shows, “promising indication of a rapid onset of therapeutic effect” in patients with social anxiety.
How to Take CBD for Stress
There are a few different ways to ingest CBD. You can take it via a:
So which method is best to ease stress? It’s important to consider the cause of stress when deciding which CBD consumption method is the right one for you.
Pain can be a major stressor. If you’re experiencing pain in a specific area, and it’s causing chronic stress, a CBD topical can provide targeted relief. Jessica Tonani, co-founder of Basic Jane, explains that chronic pain can make it very hard for people to turn their brain off at night.
According to Jessica, Basic Jane’s Relax products have received “a lot of great feedback from customers that like to use these products for pain relief before bed. They note it not only relieves their discomfort, but also helps their brain relax into a restful night sleep.”
She credits Basic Jane’s special essential oil blend—including lavender and ylang- ylang—which promotes relaxation and works synergistically with CBD.
For daily maintenance to battle chronic stress, adding a CBD edible to your morning routine can help. Edibles take longer to work since they have to pass through the digestive system, so they can keep you medicated for a longer period of time.
If you want fast-acting relief for acute stress, a CBD vaporizer pen or tincture may be a better bet. With vaporizers and tinctures, the CBD gets into your system much quicker. A vape pen will take effect almost immediately, while a CBD tincture kicks in after about 15–20 minutes.
CBD shows real promise for reducing stress, but it may take trial and error to find the best method and dose for you. Regardless of the consumption method you decide to try, always start with a small amount (5–10 mg) first. Slowly work your way up from there over the course of a week or two.
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