If you have never heard of cortisol before, it is a hormone your body produces when stressed out. Having high cortisol levels for a long time is not good for you, and this is true whether we are talking about mental or physical health.
Then, we have CBD, a cannabinoid known for having many potential benefits. So, could one of these benefits be that CBD lowers cortisol levels? So, does CBD oil lower cortisol? The answer might shock you!
- Cortisol and CBD appear to be closely related.
- CBD appears to reduce cortisol production.
- CBD is thought to help control stress and anxious thoughts.
- CBD plays a role in the production of hormones.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a very special type of glucocorticoid hormone, otherwise known as a steroid hormone. This is produced by your adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are the endocrine glands located on top of your kidneys. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that affects different aspects of your body and is mainly related to your body's stress response.
Diving deeper into it, hormones are special types of chemicals in your body that affect and coordinate its functions. They do so by carrying messages through your bloodstream to your muscles, skin, organs, and other tissues.
These hormones are there for the signals that tell your body exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.
Glucocorticoid hormones are a very special type of steroid hormone, and they are mostly related to the suppression of inflammation in the tissues of your body. They also help to control your metabolic rate, specifically if we are talking about your liver, muscles, fat, and bones. Glucocorticoid hormones also affect your sleep cycle.
The main takeaway is that cortisol is an extremely important hormone in your body, affecting virtually every tissue and organ. It has many important roles, including helping control your body's use of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, managing your body's stress response, it helps to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation, and it also controls how you sleep.
So, does CBD lower cortisol levels? Keep reading and find out.
What is the Function of Cortisol During the Stress Response?
Okay, so one of the things that cortisol is known for is being a so-called stress hormone. There are a few different important factors to take into account here. First and foremost, there are three different main kinds of stress.
You have acute stress, which happens when you are in sudden danger and occurs over a short time.
You then have chronic or long-term stress that happens from experiencing long-term situations that cause anxiety or frustration.
You then have traumatic stress that happens when you experience some sort of extreme or life-threatening event that induces a feeling of helplessness and fear, which generally lasts well into the future.
Now, we are talking about different kinds of stress because, as mentioned above, cortisol is known as the stress hormone. However, a common misconception is that your body releases cortisol, which then causes you to feel stressed out. However, this is not actually the case. In fact, it is the exact opposite that is the case.
When you feel stressed out, which could be due to acute, chronic, or traumatic stress, your body releases cortisol. To be specific, your adrenal glands respond to stress by releasing cortisol. As mentioned above, regulating your body's stress response is one of the main functions of cortisol, so what exactly does cortisol do?
Well, when you feel really stressed out, your body releases large amounts of cortisol, which generally happens after it releases its fight or flight hormones, with adrenaline being the main one. The main point of cortisol in relation to your stress response system is to keep you on high alert.
Cortisol is designed to keep you on high alert, so once the adrenaline wears off, you'll still be on alert and able to react quickly to situations.
Moreover, the release of cortisol also causes the release of glucose from the liver, which helps provide you with massive amounts of energy while you are stressed out.
In other words, when you're stressed out, cortisol is produced, which helps provide you with massive amounts of energy and keeps you on high alert. Of course, right at the moment, when you are experiencing acute stress, this can be a good thing because you need to be alert and have lots of energy to deal with split-second decisions.
However, over the long run, feeling very stressed out and having your body release tons of cortisol, therefore keeping you on alert and all jacked up, is not a good thing.
You don't want your body constantly producing tons of cortisol, or else you're always going to feel on edge like you are racing at a million miles per hour.
What Spikes Cortisol?
Stress and anxiety are what cause cortisol levels to spike in our body. As mentioned above, there are many different kinds of stress and anxiety, and all of them will trigger the adrenal glands in our bodies to produce cortisol.
Once again, cortisol is a so-called stress hormone, which is produced when our bodies experience high amounts of stress.
What is funny is that when your cortisol levels rise, all of your body's energy goes into handling the stress instead of regulating other functions in your body, such as the immune and digestive systems.
Therefore, having high amounts of cortisol in your blood at all times is not good because your body loses focus on what it should be doing and instead just focuses on the stress.
Having too much cortisol in your blood is not a good thing, and it has more to it than just being on high alert at all times. When you have elevated cortisol levels in your blood, it can cause mental fogginess and really impact your ability to concentrate.
Other causes of elevated cortisol levels include issues with your adrenal glands, tumors on your pituitary gland, tumors on your adrenal glands, and even certain medications.
If you always have a lot of cortisol in your bloodstream, it can also increase your heart rate, narrow your blood vessels, and ultimately cause high blood pressure. Moreover, having high cortisol levels continuously can also lead you to gain weight very rapidly. This is especially the case on your face, chest, and abdomen.
Elevated cortisol levels can also contribute to elevated blood sugar levels, cardiovascular disease, and poor mental health, and it may even disrupt your sleep.
In fact, having high cortisol levels, being on high alert, and having high energy levels, are all directly related to getting a lack of sleep. If these factors cause cortisol to spike, can CBD lower cortisol?
Are Cortisol and CBD Related?
Yes, CBD and cortisol do seem to be related. Now, CBD is a cannabinoid, and it interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is designed to help regulate homeostasis in your body, among other things.
However, CBD doesn't just affect the endocannabinoid system in your body, but also interacts with the endocrine system.
Once again, your adrenal glands are a part of the endocrine system, so CBD directly impacts your adrenal glands' function. When CBD is applied or ingested, it can interact with the cannabinoid receptors that are located in various parts of your body, such as in the adrenal glands, which, as we have established by now, secrete cortisol.
Therefore, it serves to reason that CBD may have the ability to influence the amount or level of secretion that these glands produce. Although more research is required on this front, as the exact relationship between cortisol and CBD is not 100% known, there is a strong indication that CBD may affect the creation or secretion of cortisol in your body.
On that note, it is also thought that CBD is able to help manage stress and decrease anxious thoughts. When you aren't as stressed out or anxious, your body won't want to produce any cortisol, or at least not as much of it, which shows that the two are indeed related.
Let's move on and talk about exactly what the studies tell us about how cortisol and CBD are related.
What The Studies Tell Us About CBD and Cortisol Levels
Once again, there is a bit more research required on this front. Still, the studies that have been performed so far do strongly indicate that there is a strong relation between CBD and cortisol, mainly that CBD may have the ability to decrease cortisol secretion in the human body.
Let's take a closer look at exactly how this is the case.
First and foremost, CBD is thought to directly affect the cannabinoid receptors located in various glands in your body, such as the adrenal glands which produce cortisol. There is one study that was recently performed that showed that CBD had the ability to interfere with cortisol secretion.
In other words, CBD directly affects the adrenal glands in a way that limits or lowers the amount of cortisol that is produced.
Although the science or biology behind this is quite complicated, the simple reality is that just like an analgesic painkiller is known to block pain signals, CBD is thought to block the signals leading to your adrenal glands, preventing cortisol from being secreted.
Another way in which CBD affects the creation of cortisol is because it is thought that CBD has the ability to reduce stress and anxious thoughts. Although more research is required on this front, there is an indication that CBD has the ability to increase both serotonin and dopamine production in the human brain. Simply put, serotonin and dopamine are both feel-good chemicals.
These feel-good brain chemicals help you feel happy and elevated, regulate your mood, and decrease stress and anxiety. Therefore, if CBD helps to decrease stress and anxiety, it serves to reason that it also decreases the amount of cortisol produced.
Once again, cortisol is often produced when you are stressed out, so if CBD helps control your stress and anxiety, it therefore also indirectly helps control cortisol levels.
How Does CBD Affect Hormone Levels?
It would appear that CBD does affect hormone levels. However, this is not the same as how THC affects hormone levels. This can be quite varying in terms of how CBD affects hormone levels, particularly in relation to serotonin, dopamine, and cortisol.
For instance, it is thought that CBD helps to decrease the amount of cortisol that the body produces while increasing the amount of dopamine and serotonin that the body produces.
Now, if CBD helps to lower cortisol levels, it can, therefore, indirectly help to increase insulin sensitivity, aid with fat loss, improve bone strength, improve your immune system, and help you sleep better too.
For example, if you have high levels of cortisol in your body, it will suppress the function of your immune system. However, if you take CBD and it lowers cortisol levels, then your body will also be able to fight inflammation better.
The bottom line here is that CBD, due to how it interacts with the endocannabinoid system in your body and there how it interacts with your adrenal and other hormone-producing glands, leads to reducing the production of certain hormones, like cortisol, while increasing the production of others, such as dopamine and serotonin.
Final Thoughts: Does CBD Lower Cortisol?
It would appear that yes, CBD does lower cortisol levels, and this would seem to be true in more ways than one. Besides the short-term benefits of being alert and having energy, having elevated cortisol levels just isn’t good for you, and it certainly won’t help with sleep, stress, anxiety, and much more.
Therefore, if you are always stressed out, you might want to try some CBD to help get things under control.