Have you been struggling with your mental health? It's okay if you are. You are definitely not alone. 

The stats are sobering. And we know they don't tell the whole story.

  • Roughly 25% of US adults have diagnosable mental health problems
  • People tend to struggle with more than one mental health problem at a time 
  • Women are nearly twice as likely to suffer from major depression than men (read that again)

Scientific studies point to CBD’s ability to calm, uplift, and heal. Let’s take a closer look at how CBD could support your mental health and wellness...

  • Mental health stats 101
  • Does CBD calm the brain?
  • CBD’s effects on the brain
  • CBD for sleep, anxiety, and more
  • CBD’s effects on memory
  • Does CBD help with mindfulness?
  • How to combine CBD and yoga
  • Does CBD affect meditation?

Mental health stats 101

As we mentioned above, the stats don’t lie. Mental health problems are becoming more and more prevalent (or we're at least talking about it, anyway.) COVI alone spikes anxiety rates by 25% — and that doesn’t include the increases caused by other social factors. Women are sToday roughly one in four women have a prescription for her mental health. [1][2][3]

Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health challenges people face today. Major depressive disorder affects over 17 million US adults (roughly 7% of the population), while anxiety disorders affect over 40 million (roughly 18% of the population). It is common to experience anxiety, depression, or both conditions at the same time. [4

The most common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Appetite loss
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Racing thoughts
  • Heightened vigilance
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Panic attacks/panic disorders
  • Insomnia and other sleeping issues

And common symptoms associated with clinical depression include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of energy
  • Reductions in appetite
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of excessive guilt
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Reduced interest in favorite activities 
  • Suicidal thoughts, actions, or tendencies 
  • Consistent, extended periods of depressed mood 

How’d we get here? That’s a topic for another article. For now we’ll just focus on how CBD could help you get out of it. Many experts now believe that cannabinoids like CBD could take the sting out of anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. 

Does CBD calm the brain?

Does CBD calm thoughts or act as a natural antidepressant?

The short answers are yes and yes. The longer answer is that CBD typically works holistically to promote mental wellness in general. Here’s how. 

Just think: are you happier when you’re at a creativity and productivity peak...or when it's hard to think clearly and get things done?

 For most of us, happiness reaches its own peak when we are productive. It's hard to feel depressed when you're chasing your dream. Conversely, it's hard not to be depressed when you’re procrastinating or otherwise putting off that next big thing in life. 

If you find yourself in this second state, you might want to capitalize on the plant-powered natural boost you can get. And that's exactly where CBD comes in. Research shows that CBD may sensitize your body’s serotonin and dopamine receptors to the right types of neurotransmitters, resulting in a subtle but profound mood boost. Many people who try CBD For the first time walk away pleasantly surprised. 

Maybe CBD helps them put their phone away long enough to get into a flow state where they do their best work... maybe CBD helps them think of new ideas that serve as that vital next step. Regardless, the end result is more calmness, more relaxation, and more upliftment. 

CBD’s effects on the brain

How does CBD affect the brain? While more real-life clinical research is still needed in this area, initial results from animal studies and in vitro experiments are very telling. 

One study found that CBD may shut off parts of the brain that would otherwise become dependent on negative stimuli such as sugar or even cocaine. [5] Another study found that just a single dose of CBD was enough to create lasting changes in the hippocampus and the other areas of the brain. [6] And yet another study found that CBD may increase cerebral blood flow, which is very important when it comes to creative processes. [7]

The result of all this? The potential for greatly enhanced creative output and productivity. And once you get that, we bet you'll feel less depressed and more hopeful just by default.

Many people who use CBD find that anxious and depressive thoughts simply fade away, almost like those feelings were clouds that lifted. For some people, this lifting effect can be so pronounced that they mistakenly believe CBD has gotten them ‘high.’ In reality it just helped restore their mind to a brighter baseline, one that they’d previously forgotten about. 

In the past, areas of our brain that controlled calmness or lack of calmness — fear — were very important. Activity in these areas kept us alive by making us nervous when we heard a rustle in the bushes or a crunch in the leaves. 

In modern times, however, our primordial fear-based instincts are usually useless. For those of you who struggle with fear holding you back, we have good news: you might just be able to turn that ingrained response off. Experts consider CBD one of the best natural ways to really keep calm and carry on.

Is there anything as fearsome as public speaking? Maybe so, but it’s right up there. 

Public speaking is something most people find terrifying because it involves bearing and even exposing one inmost nature to a large crowd of others. In this social setting one's desire for acceptance and belonging clashes with the uncertainty of not knowing what others think of you. The clash is so pronounced that most people can't get past the fear of public speaking without extensive psychological training. 

So perhaps it's only fitting that cannabinoid experts from the University of São Paulo in Brazil put CBD's calming properties to the test in this very setting. 

Study authors put participants through simulated public speaking to see if CBD was strong enough to offset the anxiety and fear that normally comes with this activity. The results were promising: most of the participants who were given CBD experienced a marked reduction in perceived anxiety, even before their ‘speech.’

“Pretreatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in their speech performance, and significantly decreased alert in their anticipatory speech,” the study’s authors concluded. [8

While this study used a small sample size en route to making its findings, its implications are nonetheless pretty big. If CBD could help with something as intense as public speaking it must be changing brain function on a fundamental level. 

CBD for sleep, anxiety, and more

Depression doesn't exist in a vacuum. It has far-reaching effects on most aspects of a person's life — including their sleep habits. 

“Links between sleep and depression are strong,” confirms a 2008 study. “About three-quarters of depressed patients have insomnia symptoms, and hypersomnia is present in about 40% of young depressed adults and 10% of older patients, with a preponderance in females. The symptoms cause huge distress, have a major impact on quality of life…” [9]

One’s sleep pattern also suffers as an aftereffect of depression. It's common for someone with the illness to wake up later and later in the day...and then stay up until later and later into the night or the next morning. 

This ‘nocturnal’ sleep pattern has its own set of downsides. Just look at the stats on shift workers for proof of that. Shift workers are at higher risk for insulin resistance, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, and even certain types of cancer. [10]

But CBD may help with this depression-related problem, too. In 2019 first-of-its-kind CBD study. This clinical study looked at actual people with actual anxiety to see whether or not CBD was capable of helping them sleep better. Study participants were given CBD over the course of several months to see if the compound could make a dent in their interrelated struggles. 

For most participants, it did. “Anxiety scores decreased within the first month in 57 patients (79.2%) and remained decreased during the study duration,” explained study authors. “Sleep scores improved within the first month in 48 patients (66.7%)” [11]

Experiencing CBD’s sleep-centric effects is as easy as taking a slightly higher dose of CBD than normal. If you normally take 20 milligrams of CBD per day, you might try taking 30 milligrams in the evening a few hours before you want to go to bed! 

It might just be the thing to help get your circadian rhythm (i.e sleep patterns) back to normal. And when one’s circadian rhythm is back on track, their mood tends to improve, too. 

“Behavioral interventions [...] can also effectively reduce insomnia occurring in the context of depression,” one study explains, “and have direct beneficial effects on daytime symptoms of depression.” [12

CBD’s effects on memory

One of the best things about CBD is its lack of side effects. CBD doesn’t cause brain fog or forgetfulness like other cannabinoids (we’re looking at you, THC). It actually improves mental clarity! 

Even the normally reserved World Health Organization states CBD is “generally well tolerated” with a “good safety profile.” Even those who are already on a doctor-prescribed antidepressant or anxiolytic can take CBD. That's because it doesn't interact with stronger drugs and can be taken in conjunction with them.

The following list includes most of CBD’s potential side effects. As you can see, they’re pretty mild!

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Allergic reactions (rare)
  • Interactions with high blood pressure drugs

Also keep in mind that these side effects are usually only experienced from high-dose CBD —  much more CBD than most people need for anxiety and depression. 

CBD’s safety becomes even more impressive when you compare it to SSRIs and other conventional antidepressants.  Some SSRI drugs can actually make the very symptoms of anxiety and depression worse! Check out their most common side effects below:

  • Dry mouth 
  • Headaches
  • Appetite changes
  • Digestive problems
  • Agitation/jitteriness
  • Insomnia/drowsiness

While pharmaceutical medications certainly have their place — and while many doctors prescribe these medications justifiably — CBD has a much more favorable risk-benefit ratio. A 2012 study showed that it may work nearly as well as valium to regulate mood. [13

How to combine CBD and yoga

CBD gets even better when you combine it with yoga. What are the benefits of yoga for mental health? Let’s take a look. 

Yoga is a practice that originated in tandem with Indian spiritualism and is practically as old as recorded history itself. What you may not know is that the same holy books that first mention yoga are among the first to also mention hemp, the plant through which nature provides us with CBD. 

Could there be a less-than-obvious reason for that? Are there benefits to combining CBD and yoga?

The science says yes — if one knows where to look. Remember the endocannabinoid system we mentioned earlier? Its most important component is called anandamide, named after the Sanskrit word ananda, or bliss. That’s because the researchers who first discovered this important molecule didn’t take long to observe the uplifting effect it had on the rest of the body. [14

The word yoga originates from Sanskrit, too. It means union, a deep union of completely knowing and being at peace with yourself. Indeed, Sanskrit is the language of all of yoga, the language from which yoga’s philosophical concepts most clearly flow.  

Going one step further, could the endocannabinoid system be what makes yoga’s benefits possible in the first place?

Maybe so. One study describes how bodywork, acupuncture, and eating healthy may all strengthen the endocannabinoid system. (So may CBD, of course.) Yet even stretching can boost endocannabinoid levels in the areas affected. [15]

For obvious reasons, that means good things for yoga! It might even mean that many things we associate with this practice — mental clarity, bliss, inner peace — are a direct result of endocannabinoid release.  

If you’re anything like us, you might be starting to see the co-evolution of yoga and hemp in an increasingly intentional light. It’s not surprising that the ancients grouped the two together as they did.  Just like yoga, the inner workings of CBD are holistic. That’s true from a biochemical standpoint, as well as from a spiritual one. 

Does CBD help with mindfulness & meditation?

CBD and mindfulness also go hand in hand. The vast majority of CBD users say the compound helps them:

  • Stay in the moment
  • Eliminate distractions
  • Say no to fears and phobias
  • Get active (hiking, biking, swimming, etc)
  • Get still (meditation, prayer, journaling, and more!)

If you take CBD and start to feel that some sort of cloud has been lifted, don’t be surprised. At the end of the day one of CBD’s most amazing benefits is its ability to help you get back in touch with the real you. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.