Stress comes at you from all directions—the normal stress you confront in your daily lives (shuttling kids around during busy days, work demands, health worries, etc.). Bodies fatigue and become less efficient at handling the daily parade of pressures. Sickness and burnout go hand in hand, due to the body’s inability to handle stress. Brains, drained of vigor, lose their edge; mental keenness dulls and performance nosedives.
This is where CBD comes in. It’s an anxiety-buster.
Anxiety, which is a reaction to stress, leads to a wide variety of health conditions, including a weakened immune system, an overworked nervous system, weaker respiratory functions, cardiovascular problems, and stomach and digestive tract issues.
It’s all (well, at least mostly) about serotonin. Recent studies show CBD elevates serotonin levels in the brain.
Boost Serotonin Naturally
Some of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which work, in effect, to provide the body more access to serotonin. Serotonin is vital for mood health, and by helping to improve mood, serotonin serves as an important tool for muzzling anxiety (and managing stress). Research from Spain found that CBD may be more effective than even SSRIs at improving the way serotonin interacts with the brain. The science is complicated, but in effect, research shows that CBD might help block processes that diminish serotonin in the brain, thereby leading to improved brain access to serotonin. And mentioned above, increased serotonin is tied to decreased anxiety and hence more resourcefulness in coping with stress.
Further clinical research buttresses the idea that CBD fights anxiety. One study in Brazil showed that study participants who took CBD reported reduced anxiety levels, and follow-up brain scans confirmed the participants’ subjective testimonials. Another Brazilian study monitored people who suffered from Social Anxiety Disorder during a public speaking test. Researchers found participants in the study who consumed CBD experienced “significantly reduced anxiety,” while the placebo group suffered from higher anxiety.
CBD’s role in serotonin management is key to understanding how the cannabinoid muffles anxiety and flattens stress. But CBD’s stress-battling arsenal extends beyond serotonin.
Regenerate Your Brain Cells
Another study, this one from Spain, found that CBD may help the hippocampus to regenerate neurons—an important finding, because the hippocampus is central to brain activity. Research reveals that people suffering from anxiety and depression exhibit a relatively small hippocampus, and successful treatment of depression can lead to fresh neurons in the hippocampus, as well as a larger hippocampus. The connection between the hippocampus, anxiety, and CBD looks promising. By supporting the hippocampus, CBD can help fight anxiety—including anxious feelings stemming from stress.
CBD also directly impacts our response to and ability to manage stress through its influence on the endocrine system, which consists of glands throughout the body that regulate everything from metabolism and energy to sex drive. Science indicates that phytocannabinoids like CBD may protect against excess stress by reducing recurring activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is associated with the majority of chronic stress.
Additionally, studies show that CBD significantly reduces cortisol levels, which repeatedly spike when the HPA axis is overly active and are responsible for the harmful effects of chronic stress, including the negative impacts that cortisol has on deep, restful sleep.
Reprinted from Plants, Performance, and the Endocannabinoid System: 21st Century Sports Medicine, with permission from Don McLaughlin.
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