November 03, 2022

Does CBD Reduce Cortisol?

In recent years the tone of the conversation around cannabis has shifted from a stigmatized illegal gateway drug to a plant with massive potential to heal. The plant has turned out to be something of a panacea for many illnesses and health conditions that affect millions globally.

Granted, cannabis research is still in the early stages, but the information from labs and clinical trials is promising. It appears this unique herb is capable of many medical wonders and the excitement is palpable. However, it’s important to remember that just as cannabis was not the monster it was made out to be, it is also not a cure-all miracle drug.

In this article, we look at cannabidiol (CBD), one of the two major cannabinoids of cannabis. Discovered in 1940, CBD has been a revelation not only to cannabis lovers but also to Big Pharma. It’s the first cannabis-derived substance to be federally legal and approved to manufacture bona fide medications.

So, what can CBD do? Well, a lot, but for now, let’s focus on its ability to reduce cortisol levels in the body. 

Key takeaways 

  • Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis.
  • It is thought to have wide-ranging health benefits, including stress reduction.
  • One way it lowers stress is by lowering cortisol levels in the body.
  • Generally, it does not bind effectively to CB1 and CB2 receptors, so it is believed to exert its effects via non-cannabinoid receptors.

Does CBD lower cortisol?

CBD is one-half of the two most famous cannabis compounds; the other is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive.

Since its discovery, a lot of research has been conducted about it vis-à-vis its potential health benefits. And the results have been mostly positive.

So, let’s get straight to it.

When facing an unfamiliar situation or engaging in high-intensity workouts, it’s normal for your body to produce large amounts of cortisol. This hormone mediates various bodily functions that prep you for any eventualities. That’s why it is also called the “stress hormone” – it helps the body handle stress in whatever form.

Note: stress is a broad word that can refer to:

  1. Acute stress: when you are exposed to sudden danger, e.g., a car accident or being attacked by thugs, a wild animal, etc.
  2. Chronic stress: this happens when you are continually exposed to a frustrating situation, e.g., a toxic relationship, poor working conditions, losing a job, etc.
  3. Traumatic stress: when you go through a life-changing event that induces feelings of helplessness and fear. These can be acts of nature (e.g., an earthquake or hurricane), war, etc.

So, what exactly does cortisol do in such situations? We’ll summarize its main functions:

  • Regulate blood pressure
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Suppress inflammation
  • Control metabolism
  • Control the sleep-wake cycle

By doing these, cortisol is able to help the body manage stress more effectively. However, too high or too low cortisol levels can be dangerous. When you are exposed to stress for extended periods (chronic or traumatic stress), your cortisol levels may build up, leading to sweeping health conditions like:

  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Weak bones (osteoporosis) and fractures
  • Muscle weakness
  • Weight gain
  • High blood sugar can lead to type-2 diabetes
  • Excessive hair growth or hirsutism.
  • Cushing’s syndrome

Clearly, it’s important to maintain a healthy, steady cortisol level (homeostasis) for optimal body functioning. The million-dollar question you are undoubtedly asking is, “how can I manage my cortisol levels?”

Well, there are everyday measures you can take to ensure your cortisol levels don’t spike to dangerous levels. These include:

  • Getting quality sleep
  • Exercising regularly
  • Enjoying life (love and laugh a lot)
  • Maintain healthy relationships
  • De-stress, i.e., deep breathing exercises and avoiding overthinking

Alternatively, you can try natural supplements like CBD. 

People often take cannabis to manage stress and anxiety, and while most might not know it, CBD plays a key role in this. Research shows that CBD may help lower cortisol levels significantly.

For example, a study undertaken on healthy volunteers showed that 300 to 600 milligrams (mg) of CBD reduced cortisol levels. Another study yielded similar results, indicating that CBD works with the body’s natural systems to help regulate stress responses and balance cortisol levels.

Remember how we said getting enough sleep may also help reduce cortisol levels? Well, it turns out CBD may help you sleep better. In an investigation, the researchers found that 160 mg of CBD made the participants sleep longer. The researchers also established that different doses of CBD affected sleep differently, with lower doses (40 and 80 mg) proving more effective at promoting sleepiness.

This finding has been corroborated by another recent analysis which showed that 25 mg of CBD was the most effective dose for reducing anxiety. This information is relevant, particularly if you want to de-stress, considering that stress and higher cortisol levels are directly related.

So, if you regularly find yourself in stressful situations, you might consider taking CBD. The cannabinoid’s ability to reduce cortisol levels is owed to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

Even though how it interacts with the ECS is yet to be well understood (considering it doesn’t bind effectively to CB1 and CB2 receptors), researchers contend there are other non-cannabinoid receptors through which CBD exerts its effects. These include ion channels, transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, G-protein Coupled protein receptors (GPCRs) like GPR55, 5HT1A, and 5HT2A, and glycine receptors.

So, if you want to keep your cortisol levels in check, there is reason to believe that low to moderate doses of CBD may help. Though much more research needs to be conducted to fully understand this. Of course, you should always consult a medical professional before attempting to treat any symptoms on your own.

Does CBD oil lower cortisol?

Yes, CBD oil may help lower plasma cortisol levels.

CBD oil is basically CBD extract diluted in a carrier element, in this case, oil. Certain oils, e.g., MCT oil, enhance the bioavailability of CBD, so mixing CBD in oil is a great idea.

Moreover, oils and tinctures are among the most popular forms of cannabis around. They are easy to use and kick in relatively faster than edibles. 

So, if you are taking CBD oil to manage stress, you should expect the effects to kick in fairly faster.

However, keep in mind that cannabinoids, like other natural supplements, take effect over time. In other words, don’t take CBD oil and expect to see substantial results within a day or two. That’s why it is advisable to take cannabinoids as part of a routine – it’s about consistency and persistence. A doctor may be able to help you set up an effective routine, so it’s always important to consult with an expert for advice.

Also, be advised that people respond differently to cannabinoids. Some people find their “sweet spot” faster than others and are able to feel the effects soon after. Don’t worry if cannabinoids decide to take their time with you; eventually, you are likely to feel the effects.

Benefits of CDB for Stress

So, we’ve established that CBD may help with stress by reducing cortisol levels. But there is so much more you can gain from using CBD if you have stress. To get an idea, think of the aspects of your health typically affected by stress, e.g., sleep, immune system, mental health, etc. 

Normally, these trigger a cascade of events affecting your overall health. You may experience the following:

  • Aches and pain
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Headaches 
  • Fatigue 
  • Stomach and digestive problems 
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Panic attacks 
  • Depression and anxiety

Most people resort to unhealthy survival tactics to overcome such health issues. For example, some people may start overindulging in drugs or alcohol, gambling, smoking, risky behaviors, or overeating.

Fortunately, CBD has several properties that may be helpful. For instance, it is well-established in science that CBD has analgesic qualities. Alongside THC, it has been found to have strong pain-managing effects and may have a therapeutic benefit for people with stress-induced chest pain.

In most cases, pain and inflammation go hand in hand. The good news is that CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects are well documented. Clinical studies confirm that CBD can suppress the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and inhibit the proliferation of T-cells, among other mechanisms to reduce inflammation. As a result, it may be useful in managing stomach and digestive problems occasioned by stress.

Further, CBD has demonstrated the ability to reduce anxiety. Indeed, evidence from human studies strongly suggests that CBD may be a potential treatment for various anxiety disorders. One such study showed that 300 to 600 mg of CBD reduced experimentally induced anxiety in healthy subjects, leading to proposals that CBD could help manage conditions like PTSD and SAD.

If you have fatigue induced by stress, it may be worthwhile to consider CBD. A new study by scientists at the University of New Mexico found that using cannabis may lead to a lesser feeling of fatigue in most people. While the study does not indicate if CBD or THC is responsible for increased energy levels, a separate investigation showed that CBD could do so by increasing dopamine levels in the brain.

Dopamine is a “feel-good” hormone associated with learning, wakefulness, mood, and motivation. Therefore, increasing dopamine levels may boost focus and make you more wakeful.

We also know that CBD, like most cannabinoids, is biphasic. This essentially means that its effects are dose-dependent. Consequently, a study established that CBD could, in fact, be stimulating in lower doses. So, if you want to beat fatigue, CBD may be an excellent option.

Where to buy relaxing CBD

If you are struggling with sleep or simply looking to make things right within, we suggest trying CBD. At Dragon Hemp, we manufacture high-quality and effective CBD products designed to perform various functions.

For example, our REST sleep support tincture is formulated to help you sleep better at night. Loaded with 1800 mg of full-spectrum premium hemp CBD and a host of powerful herbs like passionflower, Schisandra fruit, linden flower, and lavender, this tincture helps relax the body and calm the mind, setting the mood for a restful night’s sleep.

If you are dealing with stress, we may be able to help manage this. Try our BALANCE wellness tincture with 1200 mg of hemp-derived full-spectrum CBD. It is designed to give you the peace of mind you so direly need while helping restore balance to the body.

Stress can make sleeping a chore, but this need not be the case. Our Sleep Gummies pack potent premium-grade CBD and CBN to help calm the body and mind. Both cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory properties to support recovery from pain and inflammation and promote natural, restful sleep.

If you want to learn more about how CBD works in the body and its potential benefits, check out this video:

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