CBD Stress Relief? Here’s What the Research Says

exploring cbd and stress relief

Stress is a natural part of the human capacity to deal with ever-changing and potentially dangerous environments. In the past, stress allowed the body to think, act, and move with great energy and speed. However, today when humans should hardly ever need this kind of advantage in highly-artificial environments, it seems that stress levels are at an all-time high. 

The good news is that stressed-out professionals or students can now potentially look to cannabidiol (CBD) for helping relieve their stress. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that medical, scientific, and natural health communities are fascinated with. 

CBD has a number of special benefits for addressing stress, as well as the many physical and psychological effects that stress can cause. As with any new option, it is essential to do your research about the effectiveness of CBD. To help with this, the following article contains some of the most important information on CBD stress relief according to current research. 

woman stressing out

Understanding the Stress Response

There was a time when the stress response was thrown into action to save life and limb and provided ancient humans with a considerable edge over their dangerous worlds. But, back then, the stress response would be engaged to whatever intensity the situation called for and then quickly and naturally disengaged as soon as the alarm had passed. Stress was never meant to be a constant mode of operation.1,2

Today, things are different. Nevertheless, modern society is capable of maintaining a large proportion of the population in a constant state of stress. Stress levels can be mild to severe and are caused by many aspects of modern life. 

As a result, addressing the high levels of chronic stress in the population condition requires an overhaul of lifestyle choices for many individuals. As researchers are finding out now, these undue levels of stress can be the cause of many physical and mental conditions.3

CBD stress relief is an exciting prospect for addressing chronic stress naturally. Because CBD  is a homeopathic remedy, it has the potential to do more than just reduce stress levels. CBD could also help control some of the damage caused by stress, as well as build up the body’s resilience to stressors. 

cbd oil in a dripper

Studies on CBD Stress Relief

Endocannabinoids Modulate the Stress Response

It was the discovery of exogenous cannabinoids, the type found in the cannabis plant, that led to the discovery of the endogenous cannabinoid system, better known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system plays an important regulatory role within the body and uses locally produced cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) to relay messages and affect bodily processes.

Studies have shown that signaling within the ECS modulates the stress response. Other studies have suggested that impaired signaling in the ECS can lead to greater vulnerability to stress.4,5

CBD has been studied for its unique capacity to modulate the ECS indirectly and without causing psychoactive effects. Because CBD molecule has been shown to have low affinity at CB1 and CB2 receptors, it acts by a different mechanism. CBD decreases the activity of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) which is responsible for breaking down anandamide, a naturally-occurring cannabinoid that activates CB1 and CB2 receptors. This mechanism most likely accounts for its anti-inflammatory effects and ability to module the stress response.6 

CBD Acts as an Anxiolytic in Stressed Mice

The effects of CBD for stress relief were put to the test in a group of laboratory rats that performed feeding tests and maze navigation. Prior to the series of tests, some of the mice were soothed with a CBD treatment. 

This experiment highlighted the anxiety-reducing properties of CBD by demonstrating the capacity of CBD to mediate endocannabinoid signaling, thus reaffirming CBD’s potential to reduce stress and anxiety by modulating ECS activity.7

CBD Can Reduce the Physical Symptoms of Stress 

Individuals suffering from anxiety may find that certain situations are especially stressful. For instance, public speaking is one situation that can cause people to feel especially uncomfortable. For this reason, researchers simulated a public speaking test to determine if CBD can help people cope with the psychological demands of this situation. 

The study demonstrated that pre-treatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort when participants delivered their speech. They reached this conclusion after determining that the placebo group demonstrated higher levels of anxiety and discomfort, as assessed by the Visual Analogue Mood Scale (VAMS) and Negative Self-Statement scale (SSPS-N).8

person with cbd oil

Secondary CBD Stress Relieving Benefits

In addition to modulating the ECS’s capacity to affect the stress response, CBD has been linked to a number of secondary benefits that can address stressful conditions. 

Reduces Pain

Oftentimes, chronic stress can result in tight muscles, stiff joints, and painful headaches. CBD’s pain-relieving potential can help alleviate both a major cause and effect of stress.9

Relieves Inflammation

Inflammation and stress can go hand-in-hand. CBD has been found to boost the inflammation control function of the ECS.10

Improves Sleep Quality

One of the most common complaints from individuals who experience chronic stress is about the sleep they lose. When the body is stressed, the proper chemical functions that allow for proper sleep become compromised. 

There has been extensive anecdotal and scientific research that extols CBD’s capacity as a sleep enhancer. A 2017 review highlights CBD’s potential to improve REM sleep and reduce daytime drowsiness. It also mentions that synthetic cannabinoids like nabilone have been found to be effective for reducing nightmares.11

Final Thoughts

Although more research is always required, initial studies about CBD stress relief appear promising. Still, those looking to reduce stress in their lives are always advised to address the major factors that contribute to the stress they are experiencing. By identifying and reducing your major causes of stress, natural remedies for reducing stress will be more effective.

Photo credits: vmaslova/shutterstock.com, Tinnakornjorruang/shutterstock.com, ChristopherWillans/shutterstock.com, arturnichiporenko/shutterstock.com


Savannah W.

By Savannah Wilson

Savannah is an aromatherapy enthusiast who takes pride in knowing everything about essential oils, from ylang-ylang to chamomile. When taking a break from learning more about essential oils, Savannah likes to spend her time reading books or working out.

Favorite MONQ blend: Sexy

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The above information relates to studies of specific individual essential oil ingredients, some of which are used in the essential oil blends for various MONQ diffusers. Please note, however, that while individual ingredients may have been shown to exhibit certain independent effects when used alone, the specific blends of ingredients contained in MONQ diffusers have not been tested. No specific claims are being made that use of any MONQ diffusers will lead to any of the effects discussed above.  Additionally, please note that MONQ diffusers have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MONQ diffusers are not intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, prevention, or treatment of any disease or medical condition. If you have a health condition or concern, please consult a physician or your alternative health care provider prior to using MONQ diffusers. MONQ blends should not be inhaled into the lungs.

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