CBD and Stress Hormones: Exploring the Potential Benefits and Mechanisms
Ever found yourself wondering how stress affects us? I’ve been thinking about it, too—especially how chronic stress can shake things up in our lives. So, I decided to dive deep into our stress response system, specifically the stress hormones like cortisol.
Chronic stress is a multi-faceted topic, so we will focus on the hormones and how CBD and other cannabinoids interact with it.
These stress hormones are critical, but the difference between acute stress and chronic stress on hormone profiles can change your entire health outcome.
So sometimes, you could use a little help to manage the effects chronically. Enter CBD and hemp products, a potential support in our stress management journey.
Let’s explore how CBD might influence these hormones, possibly helping us reduce stress, avert health problems, and even ease that pesky muscle tension. With a fresh understanding of how our cortisol levels play their part, who knows, we might just discover a whole new approach to staying cool and calm under pressure!
- Chronic stress leads to changes in many hormones, some of the critical ones being cortisol, catecholamines, thyroid hormones, insulin, adrenaline, and corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH).
- Stress management attempts to address the underlying cause of the stress response system, and hopefully bring your critical hormone profile back into balance.
- Unmitigated long term chronic stress can have serious health consequences that negatively affect your immune system, cardiovascular system, and metabolic health.
- Adding tools to your stress management kit, such as CBD or its parent compound CBDA, may help with your overall wellbeing that is being affected by abnormal stress hormone levels.
- Understanding stress hormones
- CBD: An overview
- Scientific research on CBD and stress hormones
- CBD: Safety, side effects, and navigating the road ahead
- CBDA: Another cannabinoid that can help
Understanding Stress Hormones
Why do we stress?
Its an evolved mechanism, our body activates the stress response system when it perceives we are in physical danger. Hormones are released, glucose is sent into the blood stream, heart rate and blood pressure go up, your body is ready for action.
But 99% of the time we are not in physical danger anymore.
So our minds are playing tricks on us, activating the danger response to:
- I’m late for the meeting, what will the boss think, I dont want to be fired.
- That person cut me off in traffic!
- The coughing person next to me might have covid-19 (maybe), I cant get sick now!
- Bill payments are going up, what if I run short at the end of the month.
- Deadlines, people gossiping behind your back, the list goes on.
The reality is, we worry about things, sometimes they are important, and sometimes not.
But should it cause you to be chronically stressed? How does that help you? What are the stress hormones doing to me?
Cortisol, Adrenaline and the stress affects
Think of cortisol and adrenaline as your personal superheroes. They’re always there when you need them, especially in stressful situations. Their superpowers?
They give your body an energy boost and smartly redirect resources where they’re needed most—like increasing heart rate and oxygen to your muscles, while conservatively dialing down on things like digestion and immunity. They’re like your body’s special autopilot, knowing exactly when to hit the gas or when to ease up.
Maybe you want that when your at the gym, but at work? Trying to relax before bed, but cant stop worrying?
Timing is everything, and what is good in one place may be bad when chronically activated.
Oh No! Stress in Overdrive and long-term impacts
So what happens when your chronic stress response activates these stress hormones too much and too often?
- Excessive cortisol levels are known to depress your immune system, causing them to become less active. This is a well documented phenomena where elevated levels of cortisol leads to suppression of immune system and inability to respond to normal regulatory mechanisms.
- The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the system responsible for fight or flight mechanism, becomes overly active, and secretes cortisol and catecholamines. This leads to excessive glucose and diabetes and obesity. Over time, the increased glucose load, and suppressed insulin response causes havoc on our bodies metabolic health.
- Chronic stress is commonly found with high blood pressure. In fact, the earliest association was by a cardiologist who noticed many of his patients would nervously pick at his chairs in the waiting room causing them to have to replace them every year!
- A well known side effect of chronic stress is poor sleep, probably due to the higher circulating levels of stress hormones that keep the body in an active state, not allowing for rest. Chronically bad sleep is a well known contributor to almost every known disease, cardiovascular, cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative complications.
Akin to how most people would relate repeated fast-food binges to heart disease or weight gain, consistent overwork of these hormones can also lead to some serious health problems.
The effects might sneak up on you, similar to how repeated nights of trouble sleeping can suddenly lead to a host of symptoms that no amount of coffee can fix.
What’s worse, just when you think you’ve weathered a stressful event, your body reacts with symptoms that signal all is not well. Upset stomach, headaches, loss of appetite? Yep, that’s your body sending out hormonal signals that it’s not a happy camper.
So, as we navigate through the stormy seas of acute stress and chronic stress, understanding these hormonal changes that our brain triggers become crucial in efficient stress management.
CBD: An Overview
Think of CBD (cannabidiol) as a member of the cannabis family tree, there are over 100 different cannabinoids made by this plant. While many people may think of the cannabis plant as marijuana, it also has the hemp plant in the family.
The hemp flower produces acidic cannabinoids, like CBDA (cannabidiolic acid), that then get converted to CBD when exposed to heat during processing.
CBD is widely used for a number of purposes, but has some draw backs like poor absorption. This is overcome by using higher amounts (100mgs), getting nano-infused products, or using CBDA which has over 500% better absorption.
CBD and Its Potential Therapeutic Properties
Many consumers use CBD for help with:
- Anxiety and Stress
- Joint discomfort
- Mental relief
Depending on the person, the dose, the quality, and the underlying condition, it may or may not work well for any given individual. It really must be tested before you can know if it will work for you.
CBD’s Interaction with the Endocannabinoid System
Cannabinoids from the hemp plant, such as CBD and CBDA, are well known for their ability to help with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is widely distributed throughout your body, and is particularly concentrated in the immune system and the brain.
So what does the ECS do? It helps regulate a number of different functions:
- Mood and feelings
- Immune reactions
- Blood pressure
While not the only system in your body that helps fine tune these different bodily effects, it is an important one.
CBD and the ECS receptors
The ECS has two key hangouts, receptors known as CB1 and CB2. You can think of these receptors as the go-to targets. The CB1 receptor, mostly found in the brain, and the CB2, which also resides in the brain and organs dealing with our immune responses.
The cool thing about CBD is how it interacts with these receptors. While it does not participate with the CB1 receptor like THC, is appears to help regulate the CB2 receptor as an allosteric ligand. What this means is that it helps control how the CB2 receptor is normally activated, potentially leading to a more even activation status.
But hear this! While the initial findings are promising, we still need more research. So, before you think of CBD as the ultimate solution to stress, remember, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Scientific Research on CBD and Stress Hormones
So, you’re probably wondering, “Okay, we’ve had a good talk about CBD and how it interacts with our body’s systems, but what does science have to say about it?”
The Investigation: CBD and Stress Hormones
There are a number of studies showing that CBD can help reduce stress and anxiety symptoms. However, it is rare that they also test for changes in stress hormones, probably due to the variability of when stress hormones are released during the day and the costs associated with testing.
In theory, if your stress levels are decreased, your hormone levels should change to reflect a calmer demeaner.
The Findings so Far
- In an expectancy test where individuals were told they were receiving CBD but received placebo, and then underwent a stress test in the lab, their cortisol levels significantly decreased. This was compared to when they were told they were not receiving CBD, but still underwent the same stress test and salivary cortisol testing.
- In a trial on the effects of CBD to reduce stress in patients with cocaine dependency, 800mg per day was administered for 12 weeks after detox. Researchers found no change in stress or cortisol levels compared to placebo.
- In a study on healthy individuals, cortisol levels were tested with placebo or CBD at 300mg or 600mg in the morning. An initial cortisol test was performed, followed by treatment, and then cortisol tested again 2 hours later. Researchers found that in the placebo group, cortisol levels went down after 2 hours as expected for normal daily variation. However, in the CBD treated group, cortisol levels did not decrease as much as placebo, suggesting that CBD can affect cortisol secretion.
CBD and cortisol summary:
- CBD is widely shown to improve mood during effects of stressful situations.
- Use of CBD has not been found to decrease cortisol levels, but comprehensive studies have not been well performed to make any conclusion about this relationship.
CBD: Safety, Side Effects, and Navigating the Road Ahead
Good news is, CBD is generally well-tolerated, making it a pretty safe ride for most people.
Just like any ride, with CBD use, there could be a few bumps on the road. Particularly when you go above the recommended speed (or CBD dosage), you may encounter a few side effects.
You could feel drowsy, changes in how much you eat or weigh, dry mouth, and there’s a possibility of CBD interacting with other medications you’re on, kind of like when you mix too many drinks at a party.
Its important to know that elevated liver enzymes, which may indicate liver problems, have been observed in epileptic patients taking high doses of CBD (think 700mg to 2000mg per day).
Health Professionals: Your GPS on the CBD Journey
As you start this thrilling exploration into the world of CBD, remember how helpful it is to have your ‘health GPS’ with you: your trustworthy healthcare professional.
So, before you set off on your CBD adventure, make sure you consult your trusted health professional.
But hey, remember: CBD isn’t a one-stop solution to reduce levels of stress or anxiety in your life. Social support, a well-balanced lifestyle, and managing health issues you may have are just as important. As scientists continue to delve into further research, let’s see what promising hints CBD may hold for us in the future!
CBDA: Another Cannabinoid that Can Help
A major hurdle in the cannabis space outside of delta-9 THC, is the absorption problem. Neutral cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, CBG, and CBC are not absorbed well by the body, leading to low bioavailability.
But the hemp plant already found a solution for this, acidic cannabinoids.
These are the parent cannabinoids, such as CBDA, CBGA, CBCA etc that are naturally produced by the hemp flower. During conventional purification processes they are converted into the common hemp oils you see on the market.
With the discovery of acidic cannabinoids health benefits, many companies are now turning to produce this much more potent form.
CBDA vs. CBD: Unique Features
Now CBDA and CBD might sound almost identical, but trust me, they’re like two different remixes of your favorite tune.
This enhanced absorption is seen in all other acidic cannabinoids as well.
So what are the properties of CBDA as well?
- Anti inflammatory properties: CBDA is known to inhibit the COX-2 enzyme (cyclooxygenase 2), a potent inflammatory protein that is commonly upregulated by the immune system during times of stress.
- Anti anxiety: CBDA can also work with the endocannabinoid receptors like CB2, and help regulate mood. It also is an activator of the serotonin system through the 5HT1A receptor.
- Anti nausea properties: Multiple pre clinical trials show that CBDA can reduce symptoms of nausea through the serotonin system.
- Anti pain properties: The pain signaling protein channels, TRPV1, found in the peripheral neurons signal to the brain when they encounter pain activators. CBDA has been found to inhibit their signaling, and may help decrease pain sensation as seen in pre clinical research.
CBDA in Stress Management
Much like that surprise hit you weren’t expecting, but now can’t get out of your head, CBDA is showing potential as a complement or even an alternative to CBD in stress management.
However, just as we all wait anxiously for the full album to drop after hearing a new band’s debut single, it’s going to take some time to fully uncover all the potential benefits CBDA holds. But hey, that shouldn’t dampen your spirits.
Exciting times, folks! CBDA’s spot in the cannabinoid charts is up, and it’s shining a new light on ways to tackle stress. So, let’s keep our ears to the ground and our minds open for the next big thing in cannabinoid research. Who knows, CBDA might just become your body’s new favorite jam!
So, there you have it, friends. We’ve jammed our way through this deep dive into the world of CBD and CBDA, discovering how it might interact with our stress hormones to create a soothing melody in our minds and bodies. CBD and CBDA, the new sensation in the health and wellness scene, is showing potential as a stress manager and a promising addition to our personal playlists.
With its own set of unique properties, CBDA might just steal the spotlight and become a fan favorite.
While there is limited research on the direct effects of CBDA and CBD on stress hormones, there are positive findings about how it may manage stress.
Now, remember, throughout this journey, our trusty healthcare professional should be consulted if you have a history of liver complications or are on multiple medications.