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CBD Oil for Stress: Could it Make a Difference?

The modern era brings with it many remarkable innovations and comforts. However, it also comes with an increasing number of difficulties. For one thing, it is arguably becoming harder than ever to become a homeowner and attain independent health. Before the global recession, over 69% of Americans owned a home. In 2018, that figure was just 64.8%, above the 63.7% rate of 2015.

Meanwhile, the United States Savings Rate is approaching an all-time low. By 2015, it was just 1.9%. For reference, it was over 15% in the late 1970s! Then there is a specter of household debt. By February 2019, consumer debt exceeded $4 trillion for the first time ever. It took less than ten years for that figure to double! Despite claims that employment rates are higher than ever, the quality of these jobs is in question. Large corporations hire armies of staff but don’t necessarily pay them very well.

What has this got to do with CBD oil for stress? Everything! The number of people feeling the strain of life in the ‘fast’ lane is taking its toll. Countries in the ‘West’, in particular, are finding it tough to cope. It is a realand prevalent issue, so can CBD help with stress?

What Is Stress?

Before you use CBD for stress, it is essential to learn more about it. One could feasibly argue that stress is a marketing slogan. It is perhaps more apt to state that ‘stress’ means unhappiness. Most people who feel stressed out are indeed exceedingly unhappy at that moment. Yet it is more fashionable to say you are ‘stressed’ instead of ‘unhappy’ or ‘miserable.’

In technical terms, stress is a situation that results in a specific biological response. Hormones and chemicals course through the body when you sense a challenge or a threat. When you are stressed, you trigger your fight or flight response to face the stressor or flee. Once the reaction happens, your body should begin to relax once more.

It is unfair to say that all stress is akin to unhappiness. We need a little in our lives. Our ancestors required it to survive tens of thousands of years ago. Today, it could help you meet a deadline or avoid an accident. What stresses one person doesn’t necessarily hinder another. For instance, public speaking causes dread and stress amongst many. Others love the process and feel no pressure.

The brain’s hypothalamus reacts when you sense danger. It sends hormones and nerve signals to the adrenal glands, which release a large number of hormones. Epinephrine, or adrenaline, is one of the main hormones released. It is the fight or flight hormone, and does the following:

  • Increases breathing rate and heartbeat
  • Allows muscles to use glucose more efficiently
  • Elevates the rate of sweating
  • Decreases the production of insulin
  • Causes blood to go to the muscles as it contracts blood vessels

Side effects include:

  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of stroke or heart attack
  • Damaged blood vessels

King Cortisol

Cortisol is the primary stress hormone. It is involved in the following:

  • Altering the immune system response
  • Enabling the brain to use glucose more effectively
  • Hindering the growth process and reproductive system
  • Increasing the level of glucose in the system
  • Affecting the parts of the brain involved in controlling mood, fear, and motivation

All of the above helps you to handle a stressful situation better. However, if you allow it to stay high for a long time, it could lead to the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Low energy
  • Fat gain
  • Osteoporosis
  • Memory problems
  • A weak immune system

Types of Stress

People don’t use CBD oil because they feel pressured once in a while. Data from The American Institute of Stress showed the extent of the problem:

  • 77% of people believe that stress negatively impacts their physical health
  • 73% say it has repercussions when it comes to mental health
  • 48% of people have problems sleeping because of stress
  • 33% report feeling ‘extreme’ stress

The Global Organization of Stress found that 80% of people are stressed at work. 75% experienced moderate to high-stress levels in the last month. While there are many forms of stress, here are four of the most commonly encountered:

  • Acute Stress: This is your body’s instant reaction to a new, challenging situation. For instance, if you have a near miss on the road. You might also feel acute stress when enjoying a ride on a roller-coaster. In some cases, it is good for you as it gives the mind and body valuable practice when responding to future stressors.
  • Severe Acute Stress: Also known as acute stress disorder, this anxiety disorder occurs within a month of a traumatic event. It is incredibly harmful and has symptoms akin to someone with PTSD.
  • Episodic Acute Stress: This happens when you have numerous instances of acute stress. It is an issue associated with anxious individuals who are always concerned about what ‘might’ happen. This type of stress could cause long-term physical and mental health problems.
  • Chronic Stress: This term describes someone who has experienced high stress levels for a long time. It could cause depression, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, and high blood pressure.

The Harmful Impact of Stress on Society

Those who dismiss CBD for stress should perhaps look at how the issue affects us all. The effects of the condition cause people to miss work, go to the hospital, or even die. American employers spend an estimated $300 billion annually on healthcare and lost workdays related to stress. An estimated 80% of accidents in the workplace come from stress-related problems. The loss of sleep is a huge issue.

Commonly experienced symptoms of stress include:

  • Headaches
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability and anger
  • Depression
  • Changes in appetite
  • Upset stomach or indigestion
  • Muscle tension
  • Loss of motivation
  • Anxiety

The top causes of stress include work, money, housing costs, and job stability. The ‘rat race’ and the rising cost of living means all of these are issues in the modern world.

What Treatments Are Available for Stress?

Big Pharma encourages the use of antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. As a result, you see people popping these pills like candy. An estimated 17% of Americans use a ‘psychiatric’ medication, usually antidepressants. Caucasians are twice as likely to use them as African-Americans. Fewer than 5% of Asian-Americans use these drugs.

Popular antidepressants include Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro. The list of side effects is lengthy, and range from mild to dangerous:

  • Sexual problems
  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Blurred vision
  • Tremors
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Constipation or difficulty urinating
  • Problems with speech, coordination, and balance
  • Seizures

There are also stress therapies available. These are usually more effective than medication but are typically used in conjunction with drugs. Stress therapies include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on changing a person’s thinking processes and behaviors. The goal is to change how they think and react to situations.
  • Exposure Therapy: This form of therapy involves placing a person in a highly stressful situation. The idea is to build up a tolerance to stress. For instance, someone with arachnophobia would start by looking at images of spiders. Eventually, they would experience a spider crawling on their skin. It is very successful, but few people persist to the end.
  • Meditation: This technique helps you focus on the present and eliminate stressful thoughts.
  • Deep Breathing: There is a wide variety of deep breathing exercises you can perform. Best of all, you can do them anywhere at any time.

While therapy is useful, a growing number of people want to see what CBD can do for stress.

How Could CBD Oil Help with Stress?

There is a genetic reason why we respond differently to stress than other people. Even tiny differences in our neurotransmitters or hormones have a massive impact on how we deal with anxiety. Unquestionably, stress is the most significant source of anxiety. Remember, stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline get you prepared for a fight or flight scenario.

When we experience chronic stress, specific brain regions become hyperactive, while others shrink. Levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and endocannabinoids and their receptors change. There is a chance that marijuana heightens feelings of stress, anxiety, and paranoia. This is because too much THC overstimulates the endocannabinoid system’s (ECS) CB1 and CB2 receptors.

In contrast, there is evidence that CBD can counteract the anxiety of people who use too much THC. A study by Karniol I.G., published in the European Journal of Pharmacology in 1974, showed as much. The researchers found that CBD was efficient in blocking THC’s effects when both drugs were given together. Cannabidiol also decreased the anxiety component of THC’s effects.

Research is ongoing, but it seems as if everything is influenced by how cannabinoids impact the ECS. In theory, CBD could help inhibit the production of stress hormones.

Another theory posits that CBD reduces the cardiovascular response to stress. The cannabinoid possibly influences the survival and death of white blood cells, platelet aggregation, and white blood cell migration. They are all linked with stress. 

CBD & Stress – The Studies

Blessing et al. had a review of studies published in Neurotherapeutics in October 2015. The researchers analyzed 32 rodent studies that looked at CBD’s effects on anxiety. Only one failed to see useful results.

A study by Jadoon K. A., published in JCI Insight in June 2017, looked at CBD’s effect on blood pressure. The researchers gave 600mg of CBD to nine healthy male volunteers. The data showed that the acute administration of CBD reduces resting blood pressure. It also decreases blood pressure increase to stress in humans, which is associated with a higher heart rate.

As promising as the study is, there are a few things to consider. First of all, nine healthy male volunteers are an exceedingly small sample. Then there is the high dosage involved. Most people use a maximum of 100mg of CBD daily, barring epilepsy patients. As 1,000mg of CBD can cost $120+, it is not a cost-effective option.

A double-blind study by Masataka N was published in Frontiers in Psychology in November 2019. The study author gave either 300mg of CBD per day, or a placebo, to 37 Japanese teenagers (aged 18 or 19). All of the volunteers were previously diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder (SAD).

They received the treatment for four weeks. The researcher measured SAD symptoms at the start and end of the period. He used the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale and Fear of Negative Evaluation Questionnaire. Masataka found that CBD “significantly decreased anxiety measured by both scales.” He concluded that CBD was a useful option to treat social anxiety.

Usually, teenagers with the condition seldom seek help for fear of being ostracized. They are also reluctant to talk to therapists. What was fascinating about the Masataka study was that nine of the patients (over half) subsequently sought treatment.

Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Stress

Sellers of CBD are not allowed to make any health or therapeutic claims. They can’t say that CBD helps stress despite the evidence stacking up. The FDA has only approved Epidiolex, a purified CBD extract designed for patients with rare forms of epilepsy. No other form of cannabidiol has received the federal seal of approval.

It is an unregulated industry at present, so be wary when buying the compound. Try to avoid cheap looking CBD products found at your local gas station or convenience store. Go online and read reviews relating to highly-rated brands. These companies offer CBD derived from organically grown hemp. They also provide third-party lab reports, so you can see what is in each product.

Whatever name you want to call it, ‘stress’ is a real and present danger. While a little is necessary and helpful, too much can severely damage your physical and mental health. Several studies appear to give credence to the idea that CBD can help stress. If you feel trapped and helpless, perhaps you could give it a try. Don’t expect miracles, but also, don’t believe that it is useless because it isn’t FDA-approved. 

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