Stressed & anxious, honey: What're these feelings & how hemp oil can help?
7 min read
Picture this: A notification from your ex pops up on your phone. You’re sitting in an examination room about to open the exam paper. Or another huge project has been stacked on top of your never-ending worklist. Your heart rate increases. Your chest feels tight. Your palms get clammy. Your stomach starts to knot. You feel trapped. And you haven’t even opened your ex’s message, read through the exam questions, or looked into that huge work project yet. That, honey, is the typical feeling of stress and anxiety at play. Thanks a lot, cortisol! But don’t worry, you’re not alone. A YouGov and mental health foundation survey found that 74% of people have felt so stressed and/or anxious in the past year that they’ve been so overwhelmed and unable to do daily tasks. The growing popularity of CBD products as anti-anxiety supplements is backed with plenty of convincing research, though there’s still a long way to go. Several clinical trials with humans are currently underway, but there is already good evidence of CBD’s usefulness for:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Managing everyday stress
The “C” Word: What is cortisol?
Maybe you’ve heard of it, but don’t actually know what it is. Cortisol is your body’s built-in alarm system.
Cortisol is made in the two adrenal glands that sit on top of each kidney. They’re the ones that look like little fortune cookies. It gets released in certain circumstances and travels around the body: like when you wake up, exercise, and experience stress. Also, during scary movies, work presentations, crying babies. It propels you into action, aka fight-or-flight. Heard of that? Cortisol stress is responsible.
Cortisol is a lone warrior. It’s responsible for so much and doesn’t even ask for credit. There’s no easy way to put it. So, excuse me while I put on my lab coat, extra-thick safety goggles, and get super science-y for a minute. *ahem*
Although mainly known as the stress hormone, cortisol has lots of other important functions. It:
- Controls your blood sugar levels
- Regulates your metabolism
- Reduces inflammation
- Helps with memory
- Regulates blood pressure
- Regulates fertility
- Controls salt and water balance
- Regulates digestion
Cortisol also helps you react to and survive physical threats. When it’s released, it causes your blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar to spike. These effects are absolutely lifesaving… if you’re being chased by a tiger.
So… What’s the problem with cortisol & how is it linked to stress and anxiety?
Ah, cortisol. It sounds pretty great, right? It just sounds like it helps you survive all of those rare, scary, life-threatening situations. Well… not quite.
The problem is that things like increased heart rate & blood pressure are happening not only from physical threats, but emotional threats too – when they’re not needed. Like an angry email from your boss. Did your heart just skip a beat and your stomach drop to the floor?
Phones and other forms of constant tech stimulation are a big cause of cortisol spikes. For example, cortisol levels rise when your phone is close by, when you hear it, or when you think you hear a notification, says Professor David Greenfield. When you think about your phone, looking at it is one way to make the stress go away. Instant gratification, right? This can cause a cycle of stressing, checking, stressing, checking, eventually leading to chronically high cortisol levels.
And since the average person spends about four hours a day looking at their phone: news feeds, likes, & the need to keep up with the Kardashians, that’s a lot of stressing & checking.
When your body is on high alert, like when you accidentally liked your ex’s new girlfriend’s photo, other parts of your body go on strike. Like your reproductive, immune, digestive, and growth functions.
Once the danger passes, and you’ve unliked her photo, your body should return to normal. But when your body is under constant stress, these functions get consistently out of whack, affecting memory, mental health, skin, weight, and, sadly yes, cortisol affects sleep too.
A YouGov and mental health foundation survey found that 74% of people have felt so stressed in the past year that they’ve been so overwhelmed and unable to do daily tasks. The connection between cortisol, stress, and anxiety cannot be ignored. It’s a really big deal.
Whilst small bursts of stress hormones, like cortisol, tell your body to prepare for a “fight or flight” situation, our bodies weren’t designed to handle never-ending states of panic and stress. Chronically high levels of stress hormones — particularly cortisol — wreak havoc everywhere, with consequences that include:
- Heart disease
- Digestive problems
- Weakened immune system
- Weight gain
- Muscular tension
- Endocannabinoid imbalance
But don’t stress, honey! My Help Health Hemp oil could be nature’s answer we’ve all been searching for.
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Check yourself before you stress yourself: How can hemp oil help?
Cannabidiol has more than 65 targets throughout the body, which makes it difficult to pinpoint the sources of its many different therapeutic properties. Studies currently suggest that CBD counters anxiety by stimulating neurotransmitter systems and neural regeneration. Here’s the evidence:
- Serotonin: Most people associate serotonin with happiness. However, the role of this neurotransmitter is very complex, and its effects depend on where it is and what it binds to. Contrary to popular belief, more serotonin is not necessarily better — dysfunction can stem from low or high levels of serotonin, as well as from malfunctions with their receptors. Serotonin has at least 14 different receptors, but CBD specifically binds to 5-HT1A which is thought to have the strongest role in anxiety disorders.
- Endocannabinoids: Your body naturally produces cannabinoids, which are used throughout your body and brain in the endocannabinoid system. This system can become dysregulated under chronic stress. However, CBD could help restore balance to the endocannabinoid system by preventing overstimulation of your CB1 receptors and by boosting your body’s production of endocannabinoids. Experiments show that CBD relieves OCD and other anxious behaviours by acting on the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in processing and forgetting our fears — vital for extinction learning.
- Neural regeneration: Although chronic stress can damage neurons and even shrink brains, certain areas of the brain are still capable of regeneration. Throughout our lives we continue to form new neurons, make new connections, and grow our brains — and CBD apparently boosts this process. This means that CBD could help to counterbalance the brain damage caused by chronic stress. Numerous studies have proved that CBD encourages neural regeneration, particularly in the hippocampus. In fact, its ability to reduce anxiety comes from CBD’s power to stimulate the growth of new neurons.
Whilst many people have reported feeling amazing, stress & anxiety relieving results from just introducing hemp oil into their daily routine, and taking it each morning and night, it never hurts to invest in a bit more self-love and self-care the way Mother Nature intended. Go for a run – or, if like me, your face screws up into an expression of absolute terror at the thought of running – go for a walk around someplace you find beautiful and calming. Take a moment out of your crazy, busy, non-stop day and be present by simply appreciating your nearest and dearest loved ones, who you are, what you have, or where you are. It can be something as simple as the lovely, sunny weather, or that kind and helpful gesture your friend made the other day. Maybe you could call one of your helpful homies and hang out. Or, you could call us. That way, we can get through this together.
The My Help Health Team