CBD as a Stress-Relief Supplement: What the Science Says

The statements mentioned in this content have not been evaluated by the FDA, and are not intended to prevent, diagnosis, or treat any disease. Always work with your personal healthcare provider.

By Chris D. Meletis, N.D.

Mental stress is something that’s all too familiar in our fast-paced modern world. Paying the bills. Taking care of an elderly relative. Meeting work deadlines. Dealing with past traumas that come back to haunt us. Encountering pandemic-related issues. You name it, there are any number of stressful situations that can make you feel as if you’re living in a constant pressure cooker. If you’re looking for relief from everyday tension, scientific studies show that one of the best supplements for stress is cannabidiol (CBD).

Like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is a phytocannabinoid found in Cannabis sativa. Unlike THC, hemp-derived CBD isn’t psychoactive. That means it won’t make you high. In fact, CBD can minimize the anxiety that is sometimes caused by the THC in marijuana. It can also reduce THC’s psychoactive effects. 

There’s more and more research showing CBD is an ideal stress relief supplement. Read on to find out what scientists are discovering about CBD and stress.

CBD Benefits for Stress Relief

To find out whether CBD can have a soothing effect in times of stress, researchers studied it in people undergoing a stressful experience. Specifically, they looked at how it affected people participating in a simulated public speaking test. Several studies like this have been performed in people with disorders that made them more susceptible to the effects of stress. And the results in every one look promising. 

In one study, participants were told they had 10 minutes to prepare for a five-minute speech.1 They were told to imagine they had an interview for their ideal job and that during the speech, they had to convince the panelists listening to them as to why they were perfect for that job. After 10 minutes of preparing, they delivered their speech and then were informed they had to take part in a mental arithmetic task. Seven days of treatment with CBD reduced the negative physical and emotional responses to stress before and during the speech.

Other randomized, double-blind trials found similar results.2,3 In one study, 24 study subjects took 300 mg CBD or a placebo then participated in a simulated public speaking test.2 CBD reduced anxiety during the speech. 

In another study of 24 subjects, one group received 600 mg of CBD while another received a placebo 1 ½ hours before a simulated public speaking test.3 Compared with the placebo group, speech-related anxiety was significantly reduced in the CBD-treated subjects. Cognitive impairment related to anxious feelings about the speech was also reduced in the subjects taking CBD. In addition, participants given the CBD had less discomfort during the speech. The placebo group made more negative self-statements, but this negative self-talk was nearly abolished in the CBD group.  

More Evidence for CBD as One of the Best Supplements for Stress

CBD has a calming effect on the central nervous system.4 Researchers observed this ability in a study of 72 adults who were feeling either anxious or who suffered from poor sleep.4 Anxious feelings declined in 79.2% of the patients and remained low during the study. Within the first month, sleep improved in 66.7% of the patients taking CBD, although the effects varied over time.

Overcoming Stressful Events of the Past

Researchers have studied CBD’s ability to soothe occasional stress in people who have experienced a past trauma. In a case study of a 10-year-old girl, CBD oil led to a calmer mood and helped the girl sleep better and longer.5 Other human research indicates CBD can stop people from inappropriately holding on to bad memories.6  

CBD as a Cortisol Blocker and Other Ways CBD Soothes Stress

There are a number of ways in which CBD acts as a stress relief supplement. First, at doses of 300 to 600 mg/day it may act as a cortisol blocker supplement.4,7 CBD also acts through the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in regulating emotional behavior.8 In addition, the endocannabinoid system is critical for synaptic brain processes involved in emotional responses, especially to traumatic experiences.8,9 Plus, CBD activates other receptors involved in relaxation.5  

The Best CBD Oil Maximizes Absorption 

In order for CBD to be effective, the body must absorb it well. A type of CBD oil made with the VESIsorb® technology improves CBD absorption.10 This type of CBD oil, as a hemp extract, is made with a special self-emulsifying drug delivery system (SEDDS).10 This delivery system insures CBD can go to work quickly and easily to calm the nerves and soothe stress.    

References:

1. Appiah-Kusi E, Petros N, Wilson R, et al. Effects of short-term cannabidiol treatment on response to social stress in subjects at clinical high risk of developing psychosis. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2020;237(4):1121-1130.

2. de Faria SM, de Morais Fabrício D, Tumas V, et al. Effects of acute cannabidiol administration on anxiety and tremors induced by a Simulated Public Speaking Test in patients with Parkinson’s disease. J Psychopharmacol. 2020;34(2):189-196.

3. Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-1226.

4. Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041.

5. Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016;20(4):16-005.

6. Das RK, Kamboj SK, Ramadas M, et al. Cannabidiol enhances consolidation of explicit fear extinction in humans. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2013;226(4):781-792.

7. Hurd YL, Spriggs S, Alishayev J, et al. Cannabidiol for the Reduction of Cue-Induced Craving and Anxiety in Drug-Abstinent Individuals With Heroin Use Disorder: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2019;176(11):911-922.

8. Bitencourt RM, Takahashi RN. Cannabidiol as a Therapeutic Alternative for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: From Bench Research to Confirmation in Human Trials. Front Neurosci. 2018;12:502.

9. Castillo PE, Younts TJ, Chávez AE, Hashimotodani Y. Endocannabinoid signaling and synaptic function. Neuron. 2012;76(1):70-81.

10. Knaub K, Sartorius T, Dharsono T, Wacker R, Wilhelm M, Schön C. A Novel Self-Emulsifying Drug Delivery System (SEDDS) Based on VESIsorb(®) Formulation Technology Improving the Oral Bioavailability of Cannabidiol in Healthy Subjects. Molecules. 2019;24(16).