HOW CAN CBD OIL HELP YOU? 4 BENEFITS AND USES FOR CBD OIL
CBD Oil is the newest craze, a new wonder substance that is now widely available.
1 - CBD As a Sleep Aid
Alongside food, water and warmth, sleep is essential for human survival. It’s no surprise then that being deprived of sleep can cause serious mental and physical health problems, the most common of which being: anxiety, stress, PTSD and chronic (recurring) pain.
In some cases, sleep deprivation can result in serious health conditions like insomnia and REM sleep behaviour disorders. REM stands for ‘Rapid Eye Movement’ and refers to when you are deep in sleep and your brain is performing essential maintenance and protein production. This happens in the same part of the brain that is used when we learn.
CBD stands for ‘cannabidiol’ - when CBD interacts with the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors, it’s been observed as having numerous benefits for the user. In studies involving both animals and humans, CBD has been shown to improve sleep quality significantly. This is because the brain’s CBD receptors play a part in regulating excessive brain activity, in turn helping to reduce anxiety, inflammation and pain - all of which are big contributors to sleep problems such as the two main offenders - insomnia and sleep deprivation.
In 2015 there was an American case study involving CBD oil. In this case, it was used to treat a 10-year-old child’s PTSD and subsequent sleep problems and anxiety. Formal assessments of her sleep and anxiety levels were performed prior to treatment, and then again every month for 5 months while taking CBD oil every evening before bed and CBD sprays under your tongue twice daily. 5 months later, the patient’s sleep issues and anxiety had reduced significantly, and she was dealing with school and social life much better than before as a result. There were no observed side effects from the daily CBD oil dosage.
Sleep deprivation can also be caused by RBD (REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder), which involves abnormal nervous system behaviour (i.e. excessive movement, fidgeting) during deep REM sleep, leading to night terrors and hallucinations. A 2014 study used CBD to treat RBD symptoms in four Parkinson’s disease sufferers and observed that it was successful in reducing the symptoms - and all without a single side effect observed.
Additionally, there have been various studies on animals which have shown promising results for the positive impact of CBD on sleep. A 2013 study gave rats varying doses of CBD (from 10-40 milligrams) and monitored their sleep patterns prior to taking CBD and after. It was observed that CBD lengthened the amount of time the rats slept for, as well as making them more sleepy during the day when the CBD was administered in daylight hours.
Further reports confirm this evidence. One particular 2017 analysis from Kimberley A. Babson, a clinical scientist, observed that medium to high doses of CBD oil generally meant longer periods of sleep, an observation supported by another study which showed CBD improved the quality of sleep. It is important to note, says Babson, that further observations as well as long-term studies must be performed to gather more information and data about the implications of CBD on sleep issues.
2 -CBD For Stress Relief
Stress, anxiety and paranoia are all inextricably linked. The sense of an unnameable, impending doom, feeling on edge and agitated, not to mention physical effects such as a churning stomach and jitters from nerves, are common reactions to stress, but that doesn’t make the feeling any less unpleasant.
The Effects of Stress on the Body
Stress plays a vital role in our survival: in ‘fight or flight’ situations, it gives us the initiative to take action and deal with the cause of the stress in order to avoid danger. However, our hunter gatherer ancestors lived in a much harsher world where they had to deal with potential danger on a daily basis; today we no longer live in these extreme circumstances, and these instincts no longer serve us in the same way.
Without that daily dose of life-or-death scenarios, modern humans have a surplus of stress hormones, which for many of us manifest in health issues, including depression, chronic pain (especially headaches) sleep deprivation, insomnia, fatigue, heart attacks, immune system weakness and digestive problems. Stress can affect every corner of your body and subsequently impact your whole life; it also disrupts the delicate balance of the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors.
Recurring stress can lead to serious diseases such as social anxiety, panic, obsessive compulsive and generalised anxiety disorders. In extreme circumstances, stress can lead to PTSD. Evidence shows that when the brain is exposed to chronic stress, this can lead to long term and sometimes lasting damage due to shifts in chemical balance and indeed the brain’s physical structure.
Can CBD help with stress?
There have been many studies of the effects of CBD on stress and subsequent anxiety, primarily conducted on rats. Numerous experiments have shown that CBD helps relieve anxiety disorder behaviours and symptoms, without side effects.
So how does CBD help tackle stress? Well, there are 2 primary reasons:
1. It impacts the way that stress signals are received, thereby altering our response and halting anxiety in its tracks.
2. It accelerates ‘extinction learning’ - the rationalisation that helps us get rid of the anxiety when we realise that there is no actual threat.
One experiment involved giving CBD to mice before exposing them to a snake. While the mice weren’t in any real danger, it was natural and expected for them to react with panic; however, it was observed that the mice dealt with the fear calmly and made rational moves to avoid the snake as a result of the CBD.
Other studies focused on anxiety around public speaking and the impact CBD can have on this: it was observed that CBD helped reduce anxiety in both the average person and in those who already had social and public speaking phobias.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the aforementioned ‘extinction learning’. This is an essential brain function that helps us deal with stress and fear in a rational way. One study showed that CBD enhanced extinction learning, suggesting that it could be used to treat anxiety disorders.
So how does CBD affect the brain? There are two main ways:
1. Stimulates production of neurotransmitters
2. Neuro-generative - helps the brain generate new nerves
Serotonin is an essential chemical responsible for mood regulation and stress reduction. However, when there’s an imbalance of serotonin, problems can arise which can lead to long term mental health issues. The role of serotonin is a complicated one, and the effects it has on mood and health vary from one person to another. CBD has an important part to play in the way the brain processes serotonin: by binding to an endocannabinoid receptor within the serotonin structure, CBD helps moderate stress and anxiety.
The brain’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) needs to remain balanced, but ongoing stress can disrupt this balance. The system is essential for the brain to have a healthy stress response, thereby keeping extreme emotions in check. When it’s working correctly, our ECS makes processing fears (hypothetical or otherwise) in a healthy, calm way; when it’s working incorrectly, it’s all too easy to slip into a vicious cycle of fear and anxiety.
In addition to this, a study on mice concluded that CBD could be used to reduce OCD symptoms, helping to make stressful scenarios easier to deal with. The data obtained from this study show that CBD is even more effective than diazepam, a muscle-relaxant medication typically prescribed to treat anxiety disorders.
Recurring stress can cause physical damage to the brain - CBD’s incredible ability to repair and regenerate new neurons and pathways can help address this issue, turning back the clock on any damage done by chronic anxiety. As we grow older, the brain is continually changing and evolving, naturally producing brand new neurons, connections and pathways on its own - CBD can aid this process by promoting and enhancing the body’s natural regenerative processes.
CBD, both that which is derived from plants and the type that’s synthesised in a lab, was shown in a study from 2015 to be universally effective at promoting neurological regeneration and tackling anxiety in mice.
So what makes us stressed in the first place? There are several factors, including our genetic makeup, the type of lifestyle we lead, and the environment in which we currently live and have been brought up, which are responsible for determining our brain’s neurochemistry.
Serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) are all essential parts of our neurotransmitter system for determining our mood and how we deal with stress. The balance of these neurotransmitters differs from one person to another, and there are several factors at play that impact it, such as an individual’s activity levels, diet and working life.
Everyone deals with stress differently because of past experiences and genetic makeup; what may be overwhelmingly stressful and hard to deal with for one person may be easy for another shake off.
As you will hear and read constantly in conjunction with well being products, long term health is all about maintaining a balanced diet and general lifestyle, and the same mantra applies to CBC: it is most effective when used alongside other healthy behaviours.
To enjoy the full distressing effects of CBD, you should take regular exercise, spend time outdoors (ideally amongst nature), get plenty of sleep, meditate regularly, eat fresh, natural food, and avoid extensive screen time and social media usage. CBD, therefore, is not the sole solution to the problem of stress and anxiety; it is part of a many-angled approach.
3 - How Can CBD Help Exercise?
There are lots of studies that show CBD is an excellent anti-inflammatory substance, as well as being great for relieving pain, balancing cortisol and regulating healthy blood sugar levels. It is therefore an invaluable tool for athletes who need all these elements in place for optimum performance, as CBD improves recovery time, aids the building of muscle, and enhances the body’s natural healing and injury defences.
CBD has therefore rapidly become one of the most popular sports supplements in the US, and it is allowed in competitive sports environments, being used by athletes of all backgrounds from boxers to gymnasts, yoga enthusiasts to weight lifters.
The Anti-Inflammatory Powers of CBD
The main reason why CBD is great for exercise is its anti-inflammatory properties. When intense exercise is performed, small tears are made within the muscles which triggers the body’s natural repair process, enabling them to grow back tougher and stronger than before. This is all well and good, until excessive exercise or inadequate rest time puts the muscles in a vulnerable state and they struggle to repair themselves. This is when performance drops and injuries occur… and where CBD comes in.
CBD’s powerful ability to reduce inflammation helps prevent the damage from being too extreme in athletes. This makes it very popular among sports fanatics as it provides a natural, legal way to repair and recover quicker and make progress without pain. It is also highly effective at minimising exercise cramps. In fact, the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are so strong that it is even used for the safe treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).
CBD as a De-stresser
Another property of CBD is its ability to balance levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. The brain releases cortisol when it is faced with a stressful situation or when we undertake an intense workout. Excesses of cortisol can cause blood pressure to rise, the density of our bones to change and muscle tissue to deplete, meaning that it’s actually detrimental to the normally beneficial effects of working out.
How to Take CBD
There are a few options to choose from when administering CBD: apply externally in cream form, put a couple of CBD oil drops under the tongue, or incorporate into edibles like gummy sweets or infused honey sticks.
There is still no conclusive evidence regarding the most effective way to take CBD, although it is currently permitted in any form by WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) to be used in professional athletic competitions. The only notable side effect is occasional drowsiness, and, on the whole, it’s considered to be very safe.
The effects and potency of CBD varies depending on where it has been sourced from, how the hemp (from which it is derived) has been grown, and the manner of extraction used. It’s generally agreed that the best marijuana and hemp plants are grown in the West of the United States, mainly in Colorado and California. Potent CBD is extracted using CO2; for best results, users should take a dose of at least 10mg to feel the desired effects.
4 - Can CBD Help With Pain Relief?
Chronic pain can make daily life a real struggle, and sadly for many sufferers there are very limited long term treatment plans available. However, recent developments with CBD have marked a significant change in this arena…
CBD oil, which is extracted from the hemp plant, has become an increasingly popular form of pain relief. There have been numerous promising studies showing how effective CBD can be for reducing pain and discomfort due to its anti-inflammatory properties. On top of this, there are no side effects aside from occasional drowsiness, and it can be taken in several different forms depending on personal preference and the nature of the condition that needs treating.
CBD works by connecting with the body’s inbuilt endocannabinoid where it interacts with specific neurological pathways, which in turn partially responsible for stimulating serotonin. Serotonin helps balance mood, reduce pain and decrease stress.
We’re now going to take a closer look at the three main components that make up the endocannabinoid system:
1. Cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and 2 respectively) are located in the kidneys, lungs, liver and nerve tissue, and are essential for communicating messages of changing cell conditions to the brain in order to stimulate the necessary response.
2. Endocannabinoids are tiny molecules produced naturally in the body whose job it is to attach themselves onto cannabinoid receptors.
3. Metabolic enzymes make up the final part of the system and are responsible for disposing of the endocannabinoids after use.
When the endocannabinoid structure is exposed to CBD, an anti-inflammatory, painkilling effect is created, making it a great option for those suffering with chronic pain.
The most popular way to apply CBD is as an oil, as this is currently its most potent and versatile form. Available in tinctures for dropping under the tongue or into a beverage (the former is the quickest way to feel the effects), as well as infused into edibles, and available in capsule form, CBD oil is straightforward to administer and conveniently portable.
Suffering with chronic pain? Here’s how CBD oil can help:
- Anti-inflammatory: pain is caused by inflammation; CBD oil reduces inflammation and thereby helps manage the pain.
- Muscle relaxant: a lot of pain can be caused by muscles which refuse to relax; CBD helps release tension and stop pain in its tracks.
- Sleep aid: the body’s innate ‘fight or flight’ reaction to potential danger can trigger anxiety which can in turn manifest as pain and sleep problems Sleep is essential for relieving and fighting the causes of pain; the more disrupted your sleep, the worse chronic pain is likely to become. Sleep problems like disrupted sleep and insomnia make pain worse, leading to a vicious cycle of pain and sleeplessness. Numerous studies have shown that CBD improves sleep quality.
CBD has been used to treat pain in multiple scientific studies; one study in particular tested CBD on chronic pain. This study concluded that CBD was a highly effective form of pain relief and it had no undesirable side effects. CBD has also been used in the treatment of arthritis in rats, where after just a few days it was observed that inflammation reduced considerably.
To summarise, CBD has been shown time and time again to be a highly effective treatment option for chronic pain sufferers; incorporating it into your day-to-day life could transform it for the better.