CBD has been taking off with astounding speed in the last couple of years. But it’s not because any of the little start-ups that produce it have large advertising budgets.
Instead, the benefits of CBD products have become known to the public, mainly through word of mouth. As the compound has worked its way from medical marijuana dispensaries into the mainstream thanks to loosening legal restrictions, it’s left a trail of testimonials to its power against many of life’s stumbling blocks. The big one: stress.
Let’s take a look at what CBD users are saying about CBD for stress, how they use CBD at work and play, and how CBD can help with stress in your own life.
CBD For Stressful Lives
Among the earliest advocates of CBD for stress were athletes. Not only is their profession hard on their bodies, but it can also be emotionally taxing as well. We can all say, “You win some, you lose some,” but losing in front of an audience of thousands or even millions is another story.
Retired hockey player Riley Cote was an early convert to CBD, citing its mental effects as key to its appeal.
“I quickly realized it wasn't just helping with my brain health, but it also added another dimension to my sleep, and its subtle calming nature helped with anxiety,” he told Men’s Health last year.
Performers of all kinds can get stressed out for similar reasons, and many have turned to CBD for help. In 2017, Brazilian supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio told Well + Good magazine that her key preparation for an important fashion show is a good night’s sleep.
“It’s hard because the mind gets anxious, so I try CBD oil and I think it helps,” she said.
And then there are those possibly lucky few whose job is basically to put their entire lives on public display. Kim Kardashian West, perhaps the most famous name in that exclusive club, wrote last year about how CBD helped her.
“I started taking CBD, and it really changed things for me,” she wrote. “It calms me down automatically.”
But of course, you don’t have to be famous to be under stress. Many of cbdMD’s ordinary customers have reported similar results using CBD oil for stress.
“I had been under so much high-level stress for months that I was developing health issues simply because I was so stressed,” wrote one user of our CBD oil tinctures going by the name cooleofooleo. “Someone recommended CBD oil to me as a means to help lessen my stress, and so I started to use this product after extensive research on what brand to use. Over the course of a month and a half, I used the entire bottle and the results were astounding.”
But all of these testimonials raise a question: just how does CBD work for stress?
The Basics of Stress
Some of the satisfied users quoted above spoke of “anxiety,” a word that many people use interchangeably with “stress.”
However, when we’re talking about the science of stress, it’s worth distinguishing them in the same way medical researchers do. Anxiety disorders constitute a specific set of mental conditions, such as phobias, panic attacks, and extreme shyness, that create such paralyzing fear that they can severely limit the sufferer’s life.
Anxiety disorders are complex and usually require professional treatment. Stress, on the other hand, happens to everyone.
Medical scientists speak of the “stress response” as an instinctive reaction to a real or perceived danger in the environment, especially one that appears suddenly. The response prepares you to either fight the threat or escape from it. Physical aspects include:
- Increased heart rate, to get blood to the muscles and vital organs
- Increased blood pressure because of the higher blood flow
- Dilation of the lungs and heavy breathing
- Loss of appetite
The stress response jump-starts your mental alertness as well, making you attuned to all signs of threat and any possible way to overcome or flee from it. Even after the danger passes, you will likely still feel this hyper-awareness of your surroundings.
These changes are triggered by hormones of which the best-known are adrenaline and cortisol. Both are involved in several bodily functions – more than we need to get into here. But if your stress response gets triggered a lot, this can have profound long-term effects on your health.
What Stress Does To Your Health
The stress response is necessary for survival, so it’s not like it’s all bad. Even if you’re not dodging an immediate threat like a speeding car or a mad dog, the signs of long-term stress could be telling you to rethink your life choices.
But sometimes our stress response isn’t helpful. It evolved in an earlier age when life was simpler and can treat non-lethal threats like public speaking as if they’re stalking predators. Having stress hormones flowing through your body consistently can have several harmful effects:
- Increased risk of heart disease from the high blood pressure that the stress response induces.
- Immune-system suppression – this can be helpful though in the short term to release energy and suppress pain and swelling, but obviously, you need your immune system to fend off infections.
- Pain from muscle tension. Recurring headaches, neck aches, and stomach aches are common symptoms of stress.
- Under- or overeating is an acute stress response that suppresses appetite. Still, long-term, low-grade stress can lead to overeating, both because of the therapeutic effect of food and because of sleep disturbances.
- Accelerated aging, due to cellular effects.
- Psychological and emotional strain. We all know that stress makes most people irritable and unhappy, which can be damaging to relationships. This effect also increases the attraction of specific addictive substances, like alcohol and opiates, that bring on their unique set of health problems.
How Can CBD Help With Stress?
Cannabis has a long history as a treatment for stress, from ancient Indian ayurvedic medicine to illicit joint-smoking in the modern age. But only in the last few decades have scientists been picking out exactly which parts of the plant do what.
In the modern western world, cannabis is best known for its intoxicating effects – it gets you stoned. That’s because of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of over 100 compounds in the plant called cannabinoids.
All cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps regulate mood, memory, appetite, sleep, the immune system, and many other functions still being discovered. THC, apart from its intoxicating qualities, is useful for controlling inflammation, increasing appetite, and inducing relaxation.
On the downside, THC may increase anxiety and paranoia in some people, and can even aggravate psychotic symptoms in those who are prone to them. The intoxication, while appealing, also impairs motor functioning and response time so it can make for dangerous driving.
CBD does not have the negative qualities of THC, but it does interact with the ECS in ways that appear to reduce the stress response in both human and animal experiments. For instance, studies of people in public-speaking tests found that CBD lowered anxiety both during and after the event.
CBD Products That Can Help With Stress
Because research is still in the early stages, we can’t tell you exactly how much CBD to take for this or that situation. But we can offer a range of products that enable you to use CBD for stress in different ways so that you can choose what suits your lifestyle.
CBD Oil Tinctures and Capsules
CBD oil tinctures are the oldest, simplest, and most popular way to take CBD for stress. Our tinctures consist simply of our broad spectrum CBD formula in MCT oil, with flavoring in some types. CBD oil capsules are essentially the same thing in an unflavored pill form.
Research indicates that consistency is important for CBD use since it can build up in the body over time. So a daily serving or two of a CBD oil tincture or capsule can provide a sort of baseline of calm for your life, to which you can add other products if you’re going through a uniquely stressful period.
CBD oil tinctures are also popular because you can incorporate them into food and drink. If you like to unwind with an evening cup of tea, for instance, a nice shot of mint tincture can make it extra relaxing.
CBD Sleep Aid
Sleep, as Alessandro Ambrosio observed earlier, is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for a stressful event. Sleep is also important for your overall health and can help fend off conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
But when you’ve got elevated stress hormones coursing through your body, it can be challenging to get to sleep and stay asleep. Fortunately, there’s another hormone that has the opposite effect: melatonin.
When you have a healthy sleep cycle, your body starts producing melatonin an hour or two before bedtime. At the same time, your cortisol levels drop, and you feel more relaxed. After you’ve been asleep for a few hours, the process reverses until you wake up in the morning.
CBD PM includes both CBD and melatonin to help signal to your body that it’s time for some shuteye. It won Product of the Year in 2020 in the CBD Sleep Aid category, and users attest to its power to calm a busy mind.
“I run hard most of the day and still I have trouble sleeping, my mind has too many Star Wars facts to think about!” said big wave surfer Nathan Florence. “CBD alone helps deepen the sleep and the melatonin will help you get there faster.”
CBD Bath Bombs
Most people find hot baths relaxing, and science has recently found out why. It counters the stress response by expanding blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure and helping muscles to unclench. A hot bath in the evening may also stimulate melatonin production, according to research.
Adding a CBD bath bomb to the tub can enhance those qualities. Our bath bombs include 100 mg of CBD along with essential oils such as lavender and eucalyptus that can have calming and anti-inflammatory effects.
They’re not just for ladies, either. cbdMD customer Mark describes himself as a “65 year old male with MANY previous injuries and arthritis in several places. I value deep soaking in the tub so I got a couple Restore bombs to try. Let me tell you, this thing gave me such [a] feeling of relief and relaxation it was unreal!”
As noted, pain from muscle tension is a frequent symptom of stress, and one way to target it directly is to apply a CBD topical product at the sore point. It can be even better as part of a more extensive self-care practice, such as a CBD massage.
“I drink my tea in the morning, have an essential oil diffuser in my trailer, and use a foam roller to give myself a massage whenever I have a chance,” actress Leighton Meester told Shape magazine last year. “I use CBD balm to try to reduce the stress and tension in my shoulders and hands.”
CBD topicals can be an effective way to use CBD for stress for a more indirect reason: research shows that exercise can help reduce stress, and CBD topicals can aid exercise recovery. That’s especially true when they include pain-killing ingredients such as menthol, the active ingredient in our CBD Freeze product.
CBD For Stress: Putting It All Together
All this allows you to assemble your own CBD routine according to what best fits your needs. If you’re thinking of trying more than one, a CBD bundle can be a money-saving option. For instance, since CBD Freeze won Product of the Year along with CBD PM, we put them together in our Product of the Year CBD Bundle.
Before you use CBD for stress or any other purpose, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she can help you design your best anti-stress regimen and ensure that CBD won’t interact badly with any other medicines you might be taking. If all goes well, the next testimonial advocating CBD for stress might just come from you.
Disclaimer: The cbdMD page contains general information about health, diet, lifestyle, and nutrition. Any information provided should not be considered or treated as medical advice and always consult a medical professional before making any lifestyle changes. Products and information mentioned on the cbdMD blog are not intended to be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Any links to third-party websites are provided as a convenience only and cbdMD is not responsible for their content.