Hemp oil for stress relief is the topic we’ll be covering today so you can better understand how cannabinoids act on the body to help reduce feelings of fear, anxiety and improve our ability to cope with stress.
It is probably fair to say that everyone has had a stressful day that made it hard to stay focused on the tasks at hand. Whether that be deadlines that had to be made by end of week, drama with a work colleague or challenges at home. We all do our best to stay on top of it all and be productive.
Not only do we currently face external stressors such as pay cuts, job losses, deadlines, market changes, the list goes on, but now internal stressors are on the rise including feelings of fear, anxiety and difficulty handling the emotional rollercoasters of life. This is why hemp oil for stress relief is a crucial tool in our toolbox.
At best, we roll with the rollercoaster, at worst, we feel like we’re constantly falling off. The more we fall off, the harder it feels to get back on. So when challenges reach us, they seem much more difficult to overcome. Even the smallest of challenges can seem as big as mountains.
As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, when stress levels rise in any of us, the hormone cortisol is released into the body. Cortisol is destructive to health. If there was one hormone that was responsible for the breakdown of bodily organs, tissues and cells, cortisol would be it.
In smaller quantities, it assists in maintaining homeostasis, but in larger doses such as when we’re stressed, anxious or fearful, it increases our heart rate, blood pressure, dilutes our thinking and distracts us from what’s in front of us.
If you’ve ever had someone tell you something that triggered you to feel stressed, then someone walked in the room and asked you what flavor tea you wanted and you struggled to focus and come to a decision, then you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Some symptoms of high cortisol levels include:
And too much cortisol can also cause other conditions and symptoms, including:
There are several ways to lower cortisol levels in the body naturally such as lowering stress, eating a nutrient rich plant-based diet, getting adequate sleep, meditating, learning to unwind, laugh and play with friends, regular exercise, avoid caffeine at night, investing in quality friendships, getting a pet and taking supplements, like hemp oil.
In this article, we’re covering hemp oil for stress relief and how cannabinoids assist the body with bringing more calm and balance, but consider the aforementioned strategies for managing your state and bringing your cortisol levels down.
Before we cover how cannabinoids work to relieve stress, we must first highlight the importance of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in bringing homeostasis (balance) to all other bodily systems.
The ECS may very well be the most important system of physiology in the body. The ECS was discovered in mid-1990 by researcher Dr. Ralph Mechoulam. It was found that the ECS is an integral part of our physiologies responsible for maintaining order and balance across all other systems of the body from the circulatory, digestive and reproductive, to the nervous system.
It was discovered that cannabinoids made by the body and by plants, both act upon this system to activate it and bring it online so it can go to work and do its job. But unless you currently drink human breast milk, that was probably the last place you got human endocannabinoids through your food supply. The only other place you’re likely to get high enough quantities, is through phytocannabinoids, from plants, specifically cannabis.
Hemp contains a wide range of cannabinoids, phytonutrients, omega fatty acids and terpenes to assist the human body in optimizing health. Cannabinoids on their own, specifically CBD and THC have been widely studied, and now the other 111 cannabinoids in the hemp plant are beginning to be studied also, all having their own unique properties.
Now not all hemp products contain cannabinoids. Hemp protein powder doesn’t contain any cannabinoids because of the part of the plant that is used and the manufacturing and processing practices used to bring it to the marketplace.
Not all hemp oils are the same either. It's best to research the difference between regular hempseed oil for cooking, full spectrum hemp oil and CBD oil, as they all have their own unique properties.
In the rest of this article we’ll be exploring the exciting new research on hemp oil for stress relief and anxiety.
In a large scale meta-analysis, researchers had this to say about the ECS:
“The endocannabinoid system has emerged as a central integrator linking the perception of external and internal stimuli to distinct neurophysiological and behavioural outcomes (such as fear reaction, anxiety and stress-coping), thus allowing an organism to adapt to its changing environment.”
They went on to say,
“a large body of data has emerged in recent years pointing to a crucial role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the regulation of the behavioural domains of acquired fear, anxiety and stress-coping. The ECS modulates synaptic transmission processes, thereby regulating behavioural outputs.”
They concluded with:
“The effects of phytocannabinoids on fear, anxiety and stress-coping have been appreciated for a long time, and the discovery of the active components of the plant cannabis sativa has fuelled the search for underlying mechanisms. Future studies will need to integrate new discoveries into the larger picture of the ECS-dependent regulation of anxiety, fear and stress responses.”
“The study of the ECS is a highly fascinating aspect of neuroscience and the next decades of research will surely bring new and exciting discoveries and concepts.”
What is the main difference between marijuana and hemp, since they’re both strains of the same cannabis species of plant?
This is a common question we receive. Simply put, MJ typically contains 20% THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, whereas hemp contains less than 0.3%, so there’s no way it will get you “high.” With hemp, you get all the benefits of a cannabinoid-rich plant, without the psychoactive effects.
In another study, researchers found that
“the endocannabinoid system appears to play a pivotal role in the regulation of emotional states and may constitute a novel pharmacological target for anti-anxiety therapy.”
Another study covered several aspects of the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoids with the following:
“Exposure to stressful situations is one of the risk factors for the precipitation of several psychiatric disorders, including Major Depressive Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Schizophrenia.”
This is more simple to interpret. What they’re saying is that trauma and/or high stress situations lead to the onset of mental conditions that can be incredibly difficult to overcome once they’ve set in.
“The hippocampal formation is a forebrain structure highly associated with emotional, learning and memory processes; being particularly vulnerable to stress. Exposure to stressful stimuli leads to neuroplastic changes and imbalance between inhibitory/excitatory networks. These changes have been associated with an impaired hippocampal function.”
The hippocampus is a part of the brain strongly associated with emotional regulation, balancing moods and perception. This part of the brain is undergoing its major formation during our earliest years of development from birth through to the first 1000 days, and beyond into childhood.
It is especially vulnerable to stress, meaning, for example, if a baby experiences a regular occurance of its parents screaming at each other and fighting, the stress response in the infant impairs the development of this area of the brain, leading to a heightened stress-anxiety response, or in other words, hypervigilance.
Healthline describes hypervigilance as,
“a state of increased alertness. If you're in a state of hypervigilance, you're extremely sensitive to your surroundings. It can make you feel like you're alert to any hidden dangers, whether from other people or the environment. Often, though, these dangers are not real.”
This creates children, and later adults, who need more to feel safe in their environment, both internal and external, than most other people. When fearful, stressful anxiety-producing experiences are repeated in our formative years, we overdevelop parts of the hippocampus responsible for remaining alert to danger, causing us to live our lives feeling less secure in relationships, in jobs or just in general. We feel anxious more often, fearful and experience more self-doubt. It can be a real challenge for many.
“Endocannabinoids are one of the main systems controlling both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission, as well as neuroplasticity within the hippocampus.”
Being that endocannabinoids assist with controlling the sensitivity to fearful, stressful environments, these compounds are crucial during our formative years, making breast milk an integral part in healthy human development. This is why researchers went on to say,
“Cannabinoids receptors are highly expressed in the hippocampus, and several lines of evidence suggest that facilitation of cannabinoid signaling within this brain region prevents stress-induced behavioral changes.”
They backed this up with the following,
“Chronic stress modulates hippocampal CB1 receptors expression and endocannabinoid levels.”
Chronic stress, whether that be in babies, children or adults, makes changes to the way that part of our brain functions. We become more alert and sensitive to fearful, anxious triggers than other people. This isn’t helpful, as the far reaching complications of this lie in behaviors like paranoia and mlid hallucinations and conditions like schizophrenia.
This study concluded that,
“The data revised here indicate that the hippocampal endocannabinoid signaling contributes to emotional and behavioral flexibility during the exposure to aversive stimuli, functioning as a regulatory buffer system for emotional responses. Endocannabinoids are essential players in plastic events involved in the flexibility of hippocampal functions in basal conditions and during stressful situations.”
Meaning, endocannabinoids assist us to be more emotionally and behaviorally flexible during times of stress. We all know when we’re in fight or flight, our thinking becomes distorted, and intelligence drops. So it’s crucial that we maximize our ability to remain steady and calm during times of pressure.
Endocannabinoids are essential players in helping us to balance our emotions. They are also key in allowing the hippocampus to remain flexible to stressful stimuli.
What this all means is, having a healthy functioning active endocannabinoid system assists us in maintaining calm and steadfastness during times of stress, whether that be environmental stressors or internal.
This is why we wanted to put this article together on hemp oil for stress relief and calm, to provide ample evidence of both the importance of the endocannabinoid system in maintaining a balanced emotional state, and of supplying the ECS with cannabinoids from hemp so it can turn online and go to work on assisting us in our everyday lives. It's kinda like having an older sibling looking out for us.
You can learn more about hemp, cannabinoids and the ECS over on our blog.