If you’re feeling stressed out, you’re not alone! Rising stress levels have led the American Psychological Association to call stress a national health crisis. One potential remedy is medical cannabis, though some people find that THC can actually worsen stress instead of making it better. But not all cannabis is created equal. If THC is an imperfect solution, millions of Americans are turning to CBD for stress as an alternative.
Sometimes known as the “second cannabinoid” in the cannabis and hemp plants, CBD is an all-natural compound popular for its calming effects. And in addition to a mountain of anecdotal evidence, a growing number of clinical studies suggest that using CBD for stress relief may be a gentle, sustainable, and effective way to help manage feelings of overwhelm. In today’s post, we’ll share everything we know about using CBD for stress.
CBD For Stress: How Does It Work?
When we ingest THC or CBD through products like CBD oil, they produce their effects by interacting with something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS works to keep the body in balance by regulating such crucial functions including sleep, appetite, discomfort, and stress. And as such, many physicians believe it’s one of the body’s most vital regulatory networks.
THC, the cannabinoid best known for imparting the cannabis plant’s intoxicating psychoactivity, works by binding directly to cell receptors in the ECS. But CBD—which imparts at most a very gentle cerebral “buzz”—works differently. It interacts with the ECS through complex and indirect mechanisms that researchers are working to understand more precisely.
That said, a number of studies point to the cannabinoid’s effectiveness. Numerous studies conducted on both animals and humans indicate that CBD has strong potential to help us manage and treat stress. One test designed to simulate the challenges of public speaking found that moderate doses of CBD proved effective in reducing subjects’ stress. And as a recent large-scale study demonstrates, there’s a large body of anecdotal evidence that suggests that many of us get lasting relief from stress through daily use of CBD products such as our original- and double-strength softgels, capsules, and drops.
One 2011 study on CBD for stress relief found that pre-treatment with CBD oil resulted in less stress and cognitive impairment in test subjects. Another study from 2019 found that pre-treatment with moderate doses of CBD helped test subjects decrease stress when compared to a placebo.
Moreover, a 2020 review of eight individual studies found that CBD was able to help reduce a number of stress-related disorders, in each case with few reported adverse effects.
What about the neuroprotective effects of CBD? Stress reduction may play a role here as well. According to one 2017 study, some of CBD's potential to help reduce stress may come from its ability to regulate emotional memory processing. By regulating fear memory processing, for instance, CBD may be able to reduce the stress responses produced by learned fear. In effect, this may potentially allow people to remain calm in situations that would ordinarily inspire an anxious, stressed, or even fearful response.
We’ve just shared a number of clinical studies, but what about the anecdotal, or self-reported evidence? In this case, the results are even more conclusive: From individuals relieving work-related stress to a recent survey that found that 37% of respondents used CBD for stress, a large body of documentation suggests that using CBD for stress relief is a strategy that’s paying real-world dividends for millions of Americans.