Who among us is not interested in a better way to de-stress? Let’s face it, our modern lives can be incredibly stressful, whether it’s down to tight deadlines at work, juggling family life or trying to find time for social commitments, the fact is, many of us have a lot on our plate. There’s no surprise, then, that three-quarters of people in the UK reported feeling so stressed that they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope, according to a 2018 survey by the Mental Health Foundation.
With such elevated levels of stress, many of us have had to find ways to help us cope. Unfortunately, many of these coping mechanisms can be further damaging to our health and, while they may offer short-term relief, can actually make the situation worse in the long run. For example, 29% of people surveyed reported that they started drinking or increased their drinking due to stress, while 16% reported that they started smoking or increased their smoking!
Surely there’s a better way to manage stress without putting our health at risk? Well, in the UK, people have increasingly embraced an alternative from an unlikely source – cannabis.
Around the world, countless people have reported adopting CBD for anxiety and stress relief. But could it really help? Is there any evidence? Let’s find out!
POTENTIAL CBD BENEFITS AND HOW IT WORKS
You’ve probably heard a lot of hype around CBD over the last few years. There’s no doubt that this once relatively unknown compound has really made the big time, but what actually is it and how does it affect our bodies?
CBD (full name cannabidiol) is one of a large number of compounds known as cannabinoids. These compounds are found exclusively in the cannabis plant which, for some, is enough to discount it altogether. However, CBD has managed to appeal to people from all walks of life, thanks to its non-intoxicating nature – that's right, it won’t get you high! But it may well have a number of impressive health and wellness benefits.
CBD, along with various other cannabinoids, has been found to interact with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS has been found to be expressed throughout the central nervous system and the immune system, giving it a pretty far reach within our bodies. This receptor system has also been found to play a significant role in a number of vital cognitive and physiological functions, including mood regulation.
CBD FOR ANXIETY AND STRESS
An ever-growing number of studies have aimed to establish the true potential of CBD, from improving sleep and skin conditions to relieving stress and anxiety. Furthermore, consumers have embraced CBD in their millions for its perceived health and wellness benefits – but what does the real evidence say?
When we feel anxious or scared, our bodies release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These can cause physical symptoms such as a fast heartbeat and sweating and, while they can sometimes help us to feel more motivated, they can also leave us feeling overwhelmed. What’s more, with anxiety on the rise, more people are looking for effective relief from these feelings.
Various studies have assessed the anti-anxiety potential of CBD, with some yielding impressive results. For example, one study published in 2022 found that CBD treatment was associated with significant improvements in anxiety, in addition to secondary outcomes such as mood, sleep, quality of life and cognition. Another study concluded that “existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely.”
There is now a wide range of CBD products available in the UK and around the world. The most popular among these is still CBD oil which has become a firm favourite among people using CBD for anxiety, stress, and overall wellness. Anecdotal evidence from countless consumers, coupled with a growing body of clinical evidence certainly presents an endearing case for CBD as an alternative to our typical, more toxic, responses to stress.