Cortisol and the CBD Connection That moment when something stressful happens and your stomach feels like a fiery pit of molten hot lava. With a side-order of too many coffees to get you through a Cortisol, the “stress hormone”, helps regulate a number of processes in the body. When cortisol levels are out of balance it can cause a number of issues. Learn more. Stress is simply a part of life, but learning how to manage your cortisol levels is key to maintaining a healthy stress response. Learn how CBD and cortisol work!
Cortisol and the CBD Connection
That moment when something stressful happens and your stomach feels like a fiery pit of molten hot lava. With a side-order of too many coffees to get you through a hard day. If that sounds familiar and you experience frequent stomach upset, balancing your digestive tract is a necessity.
When you talk about diet and nutrition, many people think it is just about the number of calories, fats, vitamins, and minerals you consume. That’s part of it for sure. But what is most important is understanding how to balance your gastrointestinal tract and gut health because more than 70% of your immune system functioning starts in your digestive system.
By now, you probably know that all the different systems within your body are interconnected. When one thing isn’t working the right way, other symptoms or conditions may start to develop. It is like a nice car that has a damaged component in the engine.
You may not see it. You may not feel it (right away), but eventually, you will have a performance issue. Because when everything isn’t working correctly, something is apt to breakdown and stop working the way that it used to. The human body is the most sophisticated technology on the planet, and like a mechanical engine, everything is interconnected.
CBD Therapy Options
Behind many chronic diseases is a hidden threat, inflammation. That, too, is triggered by a high-stress environment or experience. Many patients feel improvement after using CBD oil or tinctures or consuming non-intoxicating CBD edibles. And for some health conditions, CBD may be a safer alternative therapy.
Meet the “Fight or Flight” Natural Energy Reserve: The Stress Hormone Called Cortisol
Are you feeling stressed out? Sometimes we don’t even know that we are experiencing stress until noticing the physiological signs. That could be indigestion. It could include passive symptoms like dry mouth or more noticeable side-effects like heart palpitations and perspiration.
All of the symptoms you notice when you are stressed, have to do with many different sensory systems in your body, from the central nervous system that sends and receives signals to two cannabinoid systems. Silently (and sometimes not-so-silently) responsible for the emotions and symptoms of stress.
Back in prehistoric times, when we had to run for our lives from predators and hunt for our meals every day, the stress hormone became useful. Do you know when your favorite Sci-Fi movie shows a ship that jumps into hyperdrive? Imagine your whole body went to “red alert,” which starts a chain sequence of events.
Some are short-term and go away in a few hours. Others can last days or weeks. And in the most severe cases of chronic stress, it can last years. And when sustained daily stress is part of your life, it can take a toll on your health.
Those predators ran fast (and we had to outrun them). And our prey ran just as quickly (and we had to catch them). Cortisol developed as an essential hormone in the human body to provide that extra energy boost when we need to run to catch, or avoid becoming, dinner.
That sounds rather good, right? Like having a super-powered energy reserve that your body could use in a life or death situation. No Red Bull’s required! But just like race car drivers can hit the nitro for a burst of speed to win the race, the stress hormone cortisol wasn’t designed to last forever. Just for short intervals as needed. And then, we made an evolutionary and cultural leap to modern-day, where many aspects of life can trigger cortisol frequently. Daily in some cases. And that’s where the problem begins.
The Health Dangers of Chronic Stress and Sustained Long-Term Cortisol
Jetpack analogies aside, long-term, and sustained stress is terrible for our health. There are many reasons why modern life is more stressful. People are working longer hours. Light pollution in urban areas can keep our minds active, making it harder to sleep. We eat more unhealthy food and snack on stimulants that also cause stress in the body by elevating both blood sugars (carbohydrates) and hypertension (blood pressure).
We are flipping that switch into “fight or flight” mode every day as we experience intense stress. But the problem is that we don’t turn off the switch. Our busy schedules do not allow for the downtime and relaxation that it takes to reduce cortisol levels. Going back to a race car engine’s analogy, your body is still running at max capacity, and on an empty tank.
There is more bad news when it comes to the stress hormone. Sustained or chronic levels of high cortisol can be the precursor to several types of chronic diseases and symptoms. It nearly burns out other systems your body relies on for good health and impairs the immune system.
A Tale of Two Systems Triggered by Increased Stress (or the Absence of It)
How does cortisol create the energy rush we feel when experiencing high stress? Inside the human body, two systems have opposite functions. But both of them relate to stress or relaxation.
The parasympathetic system provides messaging and symptoms that tell the body it is “okay to relax.” During periods where the parasympathetic system is functioning well, sleep quality is improved. Breathing is regulated, and that helps cells, tissues, and organs to remain oxygenated.
The sympathetic system, however, is a global “red alert” to your body. The experience of high degrees of stress is translated as a threat by your brain and central nervous system. Remember how our body reacts to a “fight or flight” situation? Large amounts of the cortisol hormone are released, which becomes both a fuel source for the body and a way to trigger other responses including:
- Increased heart rate (provides more oxygen than required to muscles and tissues)
- Elevated hypertension (can improve alertness and improve mental acuity)
- Dilation of the pupils (happens during excitement or stress)
- Increased body temperature and perspiration
The parasympathetic system provides messaging and symptoms that tell the body it is “okay to relax.” During periods where the parasympathetic system is functioning well, sleep quality is improved. Breathing is regulated, and that helps cells, tissues, and organs to remain oxygenated.
Your brain is continuously running a “risk versus reward” analysis during every strenuous or stressful situation. If we manage to navigate our way out of the problem, the brain will release dopamine. That is the “feel good” hormone. When we feel it’s time to rest or relax, the brain releases the hormone to help us stay in that relaxed state.
Can’t Remember Your Dreams? Cortisol Can Increase Anxiety and Disrupt Sleep
If you have chronic stress, chances are you already know. Maybe you have talked to your doctor about your high blood pressure? Or, looking for a solution to frequent bouts of insomnia? One symptom that many people discount is the absence of dreams. That can be one of the first early warning signs of chronic stress.
When an individual has low or balanced levels of cortisol, they generally have few problems falling asleep. However, high levels of cortisol can disrupt the kind of deep restorative sleep that your body needs. You only dream (and experience rapid eye movement) or REM when you are relaxed. So, if you never remember your dreams, chances are you are not achieving that sleep. And unmanaged high levels of cortisol are a likely culprit.
Can CBD help with insomnia?
High-quality CBD strains contain a terpene that is valuable to wellness. Myrcene has a sedative impact. Researchers aren’t sure whether it is the CBD or the combination with myrcene that contributes to a relaxed state and better sleep. Another popular source of myrcene is hops, and you probably know how you feel after a beer or three.
Both CBD and THC are known to contribute to drowsiness and sleep. But it may be the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of terpenes and cannabinoids that helps relieve the body of stress, promoting restorative sleep.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Digestive Upset Caused by Chronic Stress
What is the link between chronic stress and irritable bowel syndrome or IBS? The stress hormone cortisol is created after HPA axis activity in the hypothalamus. This creates colon movement, which starts to shake things up in the bowels. That is a side-effect of HPA axis activation.
There is a practical reason why cortisol helps trigger bowels’ evacuation; we could run faster if we eliminated some of our waste. This is a common reaction for mammals. For humans? It’s more than a little uncomfortable. It can sometimes lead to painful constipation. If you think about it, it is the opposite trait a human needs to get away from a dangerous situation. Unless you consider that the body doesn’t feel it is “safe to stop” for any reason at all, including a bowel movement.
With IBS, chronic stress, and high levels of produced cortisol lead to overactivity of the bowels, quickly inflamed. The inflammation typically causes diarrhea. It can also cause painful gas, bloating, and nausea. Some studies have suggested that patients with IBS vary in terms of both stress and activity level. For instance, one study suggested that patients with IBS were over-achievers and more active. Slowly only when they feel unwell or close to burnout.
Can CBD help with irritable bowel syndrome?
Some patients have found relief from irritable bowel syndrome by using a full-spectrum CBD oil. Research is inconclusive, but clinical studies have speculated that CBD may naturally elevate endocannabinoids in the body. Patients with IBS have abnormal gut bacteria, and a condition called dysbiosis is an imbalance of good and bad microbes in the digestive tract.
Does Cortisol Make Symptoms of Clinical Anxiety Worse?
What comes first? High anxiety or insomnia? The two health symptoms seem to go together in terms of diagnosis. No one is sure which one comes first. But what is understood are the health risks that both insomnia and anxiety pose to patient wellness.
There have been many clinical research studies published about the potential of CBD oil and anxiety management. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 40 million adults live with a diagnosis of anxiety (aged 18+).
It is estimated that anxiety disorders impact 18.1% of the population. According to the ADAA, less than 40% of patients with diagnosed (or undiagnosed) anxiety get treatment for their condition(s). Some new studies suggest that anxiety may even have a genetic or inherited aspect.
The anxiety that is not managed therapeutically can contribute to both physical and mental health problems. Addiction rates are higher among patients who have General Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
Can CBD help with symptoms of anxiety?
In one clinical study published in 2015, “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders,” participants with clinical anxiety and depression reported improvement and symptom relief after three weeks of dosing CBD. Another study, “Use of cannabidiol in anxiety and anxiety-related disorders,” [Journal of American Pharmacists Association] reported similar findings and results.
Fast Uptake or Slow Release CBD? What is Better for Stress Relief
The short answer is “both.” If you feel anxiety or stress symptoms, a few drops of CBD oil under the tongue can help you start to back-down cortisol levels naturally. However, for some patients, a supplement capsule of CBD taking one or more times per day may be more effective. Providing sustained relief all day.
The Verdict on CBD for Mental Wellness and Effective Stress Management
Cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis and hemp can have wellness benefits without marijuana and THC’s psychoactive properties. Because IBS, anxiety, depression, and insomnia have a strong symptomatic correlation for patients.
CBD may be an effective way of reducing cortisol triggers by lowering the body’s inflammatory response to stress. And that can reduce the onset of gastrointestinal problems and the risk of developing chronic diseases that are caused by chronic inflammation.
And if your preference is to use a ratio CBD: THC cannabis product to manage symptoms instead? Learn more about the “entourage effect.” Some scientists believe that when combined, CBD and THC offer the most substantial wellness benefits.
No Information on MarijuanaDoctors.Com should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. You can view our Full Disclaimer here.
4 Functions of Cortisol in Your Body and What CBD’s Got to Do With It
Cortisol is often referred to as the “stress hormone” because it plays a key role in our bodies’ response to stress. That said, this steroid hormone also serves several other functions in the body. In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the major functions of cortisol, as well as what can throw it off balance. Lastly, we detail how CBD might be able to help regulate your cortisol levels.
Which Body Functions Is Cortisol Involved in?
In This Article
Cortisol is heavily involved in what is known as our “fight-or-flight” response, when we’re presented with a stressful situation or perceived threat. Adrenaline and cortisol spike, putting you into high alert, primed to respond to the danger — whether you’re being followed by a tiger or you have to give a big presentation. Cortisol alters some of our bodies’ “nonessential” functions — that is, things that can be pushed aside while you’re in a situation that needs to be dealt with there and then — so that you’re able to fight (face the situation head on) or take flight (escape the situation).
The natural ebb and flow of cortisol levels in the body helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle (or, body clock). A paper published in Natural Medicine Journal describes cortisol production throughout the day as a waveform pattern. “Cortisol levels start to rise approximately 2-3 hours after sleep onset and continue to rise into the early morning and early waking hours. The peak in cortisol is about 9 a.m.; as the day continues, levels decline gradually.” Knowing this, it’s easy to see how an imbalance in your cortisol levels could lead to sleeplessness at night and grogginess during the day.
Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone. If you’re exposed to too much stress, your body may not produce enough cortisol to keep your body in balance, which in turn can lead to inflammation. “Although stressful events may be an inevitable part [of] life, a prolonged or exaggerated response to pain or non–pain-related stressors may intensify sympathetic and neuroendocrine activity, exhaust cortisol, and perpetuate widespread pain and inflammation,” according to an article published in Physical Therapy. This is another reason why keeping cortisol levels steady is so important.
Cortisol is involved in regulating the glucose levels in your body, and works to increase blood sugar . According to one paper , “The presence of glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, increases the availability of blood glucose to the brain.” Essentially, when you enter flight-or-flight mode, you need enough energy to deal with the stressful situation, and cortisol provides your body with the glucose it needs to “fight” or run. It follows that if you find yourself in stressful situations too often, your blood sugar levels might become too high, which is part of why managing stress should be a priority for your well-being.
What Can Throw Cortisol Out of Whack?
You can have either too little or too much cortisol in the body for it to function optimally — the goal should be to keep your cortisol levels balanced, so that you can go about your daily tasks. A number of factors can throw cortisol out of balance, but the main one to look for is stress, as you might have already gathered. Experiencing some amount of stress is normal and healthy, but if you’re under constant stress, your body might release too much cortisol, which can lead to issues down the line. High levels of estrogen in the body, as in pregnancy, can also heighten cortisol.
CBD and Cortisol: What Studies Show About How They Interact
Many people regularly take CBD in hopes to help them manage their stress levels, and current research tends toward supporting this approach. One study of 11 volunteers found that taking 300 or 600 milligrams of CBD decreased cortisol levels. Other research has found similar potential, showing how CBD may work within our bodies’ natural systems to help us regulate our stress response and balance cortisol levels. So if you often find yourself in stressful situations, you could try taking a CBD daily to evaluate how it impacts you over time.
Ultimately, cortisol has rightfully earned its reputation as the “stress hormone” and is involved in regulating a number of body functions. But when cortisol levels become imbalanced, this can interfere with how well we sleep, heighten blood sugar and lead to inflammation, among other things. Therefore, managing stress is especially important for keeping cortisol levels within a healthy range — and CBD may be able to help with that.
Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based writer and editor with seven years of experience creating content for various outlets. Her work has appeared in the likes of InStyle, Stylist and Cosmopolitan, and she won first place in Writing Magazine’s Grand Prize for a short story in 2020.
CBD and Cortisol: All Your Questions Answered
It’s the day of the big game , and you start to feel the immensity of what’s to come—your heart starts beating like a drum, your chest begins to tighten, and you feel as if your brain is performing an acrobat routine inside your head—you’re dizzy, achy, and maybe even a bit foggy.
The stress response you feel throughout your body is stimulated by cortisol, a stress hormone that operates as part of your endocrine system, which controls your body’s energy levels, metabolism, and growth, and responds to injuries, mood, and stress.
There are many ways to manage elevated cortisol levels, whether it’s going for a jog around your neighborhood or adding a CBD softgels to your daily routine. If you struggle to manage feelings of unease, you’re not alone—this guide is here to help you explore the connection between CBD and cortisol to help keep you calm and relaxed, even when life gets a little crazy.
- Cortisol, a stress hormone, can spike in times of high stress, and chronically high levels of cortisol can lead to chronic and deadly health conditions.
- Managing stress levels is important to maintain good health. Adding more exercise, healthy food, and relaxing activities to your routine can help keep cortisol levels in check.
- Adding a CBD supplement to your daily routine may help to support stress management and relax your mind and body.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is your body’s stress hormone—it alerts your brain to any pressure or danger you may be experiencing to help your body react appropriately to the perceived threat.
The hormone is produced in your adrenal glands and is connected to your body’s stress response. However, cortisol is also an important player in several other critical bodily functions, such as:
- Metabolic regulation
- Blood sugar level control
- Blood pressure regulation
- Inflammation management
- Memory formulation
- Sleep regulation
Once your adrenal glands produce cortisol, the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus join in to help secrete the cortisol, which then binds to cortisol receptors throughout the body.
When everything is functioning properly, the amount of cortisol secreted is balanced with the body’s needs. However, certain conditions can cause things to go haywire and your cortisol levels can get too high.
What Can Cause a Spike in Cortisol Levels?
Several factors can lead to higher than normal cortisol levels. These may include:
- Stressful situations
- Tumors on the adrenal glands
- Pituitary gland tumors
- Certain medications
In stressful situations, your cortisol level may spike but should return to normal once the situation is resolved. However, if cortisol levels fail to level out, your overall health may suffer.
Why is Too Much Cortisol Harmful to Your Body?
When your cortisol level remains high, your body remains in a constant state of high alert.
Think about how you feel when you panic because you can’t find your keys or when you’re on the precipice of a hill while riding a rollercoaster—your heart rate elevates, you start to sweat, and your mind races.
If your cortisol levels stay at this elevated level, your body remains in that high alert state. Chronically high stress levels can lead to a wide range of poor health outcomes. Some of the most commonly experienced include:
- Mental fogginess – When you’re nervous about something, you have a hard time focusing on other tasks. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can have a serious impact on your ability to concentrate and fight through brain fog.
- High blood pressure – The release of cortisol into your bloodstream causes a temporary increase in your heart rate and a narrowing of your blood vessels. Your blood pressure goes up and then settles down after the cortisol has done its job. When you’re chronically in a state of high stress, your blood pressure also remains high.
- Unhealthy weight gain – Continuously high cortisol levels can cause you to gain weight rapidly, even without a change to your diet or exercise routine. The most common areas of weight gain due to cortisol are around your abdomen, face, and chest.
- Elevated blood sugar levels – When your cortisol levels are too high for too long, your blood sugar levels can also suffer. In its normal capacity, cortisol produces glucose that gives your body energy to react. However, continually high cortisol levels can lead to an overproduction of glucose and high blood sugar.
- Cardiovascular disease – The factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure, obesity, and elevated blood sugar) are often caused by high cortisol levels.
- Disrupted sleep – When your brain is constantly on high alert, you have a tough time falling asleep at night. You may also struggle to stay asleep or fall into the deep sleep necessary for good overall health. Furthermore, sleep and athletic performance coincide, so when you have entered a state of sleep deprivation, your ability to crush your fitness goals may become more challenging.
- Poor mental health – When you’re always apprehensive, it’s difficult to have a positive outlook on life. Poor sleep and general bad health also interfere with your mental health and can lead to feelings of disquiet and uncertainty.
What is the Connection Between CBD and Cortisol?
Now, when your body is on high alert, it’s optimal to try to calm yourself down by practicing deep breathing, participating in light exercise, or adding calming supplements to your routine.
That’s where CBD comes into play.
CBD is a cannabinoid that’s known to interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates homeostasis throughout your body. However, it may have an impact on your endocrine system as well.
When ingested or applied, CBD interacts with naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors throughout your body. These receptors are often found on glands, like the adrenal glands, which secrete cortisol. As such, CBD may be able to influence the secretion level of these glands.
While the full relationship of the CBD cortisol connection is not yet known, there is some indication that CBD can affect cortisol secretion. One small study of 11 volunteers analyzed the cortisol levels of subjects before and two hours after taking either 300 mg of CBD or a placebo. Those who were given CBD showed a decrease in cortisol levels more so than those given the placebo.
In addition, CBD may be able to support stress management and support healthy blood pressure and heart health, which may mitigate the effects of elevated cortisol levels.
What Steps Can You Take to Keep Cortisol in Check?
While chronically elevated cortisol levels can lead to health problems like weight gain, high blood pressure, and sleep troubles, there are ways to keep stress levels under control. To that end, you can curate a healthy, stress-free lifestyle by:
- Setting aside time for exercise – It’s a widely known fact that exercise can contribute to an elevated mood. Even after just 20 to 30 minutes of movement, people report feeling calmer and more relaxed. Finding time in your daily schedule for exercise can help manage cortisol levels while also keeping your body at a healthy weight.
- Getting healthy, refreshing sleep – High cortisol levels can keep you awake at night and sleep deficiency can cause cortisol levels to spike. Therefore, getting enough rest is critical to managing cortisol. Once you have determined the best CBD dosage for sleep given your unique biology, placing CBD oil under your tongue before bed may help support healthy restful sleep so you can wake up feeling more refreshed.
- Eating nutritious foods – When people feel stressed, many often resort to altering their eating habits, whether it’s devouring a bag of chips or avoiding food altogether. However, neither produces positive results. Maintaining healthy eating habits, even during times of high stress, may help lower cortisol levels. To that end, eat fresh produce, complex carbohydrates, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids when you start feeling uncomfortable.
- Making time for activities you enjoy – Taking your mind off of your concerns for a little while may also help moderate cortisol levels. Grab a good book, flip through Netflix, or watch your favorite movie. If you enjoy crafting, use your hands to make something new for your home. You can also complete a crossword puzzle or assemble a model airplane to help manage your stress levels.
- Meditating – According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness meditation might be useful for managing stress. In a review of over 200 studies, researchers found a link between stress reductions and a regular mindfulness meditation practice. You can practice mindful meditation at home or participate in a guided class to help you get the hang of it.
- Keeping a journal – Writing down your concerns can help make them feel more manageable. Keeping a journal is an excellent way to work through some of the uncertainties in your life. It can also help you gain perspective and even work through some of the apprehension you feel about your life.
- Devising a calming routine – There are many effective ways to settle your mind. One of our favorites is to sink into a warm bath infused with a CBD bath bomb . Taking this little bit of time for yourself may help you feel more calm and relaxed so you can address whatever life throws your way.
Finally, you don’t have to start adding all of these practices to your life at once. This might be a little overwhelming. Instead, focus on introducing a few small changes at a time. Once you see an improvement in how you feel, it’ll be easier to add more healthy lifestyle practices.
Keep Your Mind Calm and Relaxed with Resilience CBD
While everyone gets a little nervous and uneasy from time to time, chronically elevated cortisol levels may lead to a life-threatening condition and it’s important to keep your stress in check.
The good news is there are many stress-relieving practices you can adopt to keep your mind and body relaxed, such as exercising, meditating, and adding CBD to your routine with Resilience CBD.
Our CBD products come with a unique Label Accuracy Guarantee™ so you can shop with confidence knowing that you’re getting exactly what the label promises. Take charge of your recovery with Resilience CBD.
A CBD product can have a great effect on your body, physically and mentally. With the wide variety of CBD products, including CBD gummies , CBD oils, CBD creams, and more, you can find the right product and dosage for you to help keep your cortisol from spiking to a high level.