Mindfulness is thought to relieve stress, lower blood pressure levels and help with better sleep – can CBD help us practice it more effectively?
In the wake of the pandemic, more people are experiencing mental distress, burnout is on the rise and several CBD brands have reported a rise in customers looking for an antidote to their Covid-induced anxiety, as they resort to new ways of coping.
The fast-paced nature of the modern world can take a toll on our mental health, so how do we practice being more mindful – and can CBD help us achieve this?
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the essential human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive to or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
While mindfulness is something we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available to us when we practice daily.
Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing via your senses or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful.
And there’s growing research showing that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re remodelling the physical structure of your brain.
Introducing mindfulness practices in our daily lives by appreciating simple things will give us ample opportunities for better decision making and focus.
Practising these exercises will train you to become more aware of your thoughts, feelings and body sensations.
There are numerous benefits of being mindful.
Mindfulness can help relieve stress levels, help with better sleep and lower blood pressure levels.
CBD can help you focus better
The non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant can help with a more positive and relaxed mood which will allow you to focus more on mindfulness practices.
The body has its own endocannabinoid system (ECS). Research shows that CBD impacts our body’s chemicals that are cannabis-like. When paired with CBD, it can stabilise our emotional state.
Serotonin is a mood regulator found in the body, and low levels of it can lead to negative thoughts, low mood and anxiety. The use of CBD can help boost serotonin levels due to the response from the endocannabinoid system.
Don’t forget to breathe
Focusing on the breath is particularly helpful because it serves as an anchor – something you can turn your attention to at any time if you start to feel stressed or carried away by negative emotions.
Mindful breathing is fundamental. The idea is to focus your attention on your breathing—to its natural rhythm and flow. Start by taking strong, deep, slow breaths by inhaling and exhaling and making sure that the belly moves inwards and outwards , while acknowledging your thoughts.
Taking time away from technology
Set a time to check on social media, whether in the morning or evening, this will help you focus on other things besides the urge to check online constantly. Live in the moment, especially before bed, a digital detox will help you relax and sleep better rather than your phone, try picking up a book and reading.
Clear your calendar
Self-care is important without a doubt. Investing time in yourself will give you fruitful outcomes mentally and physically. Saying ‘no’ can be hard, often filled with guilt, but prioritising what is more crucial can help with the unnecessary workload. Make the time to enjoy yoga or Pilates classes or simple things that you’re fond of, instead of pushing it out of the way.
Eating well is important for humans. Food contains fortifying nutrients and minerals that help towards a healthier life. However, taking the time to chew food properly instead of wolfing it down can be hard on the digestive system and not use your senses to its full potential. Chewing slowly will enable you to appreciate food and experience the culinary aroma. Some experts seem to agree that mindful eating may be an effective way to prevent bingeing.
Don’t bury yourself with work. Taking the time to step in and out of work will enable you to focus better and help you with your concentration span. Opting to go for a brisk walk will clear your head and mentally refresh you. It can also combat tiredness and lethargy.
By having conscious interaction, you become deeply aware of your actions and habits; this gives you more time to focus and reflect on new dimensions of thinking.
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Could the endocannabinoid system and CBD help with treating SAD?
A new study examines the role that the endocannabinoid system may play in regulating our moods such as stress, happiness and anxiety
A paper in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry has examined the potential of the endocannabinoid system to play a part in treating SADs.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a common psychiatric disorder. People with SAD have an excessive fear or anxiety of social situations where they worry their behaviour may cause embarrassment, humiliation or rejection by others. This could be related to performance situations such as public speaking but may also be starting a conversation or socialising at an event. This may cause people to avoid attending events, work or relationships.
The NHS currently lists cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or anti-depressant medication as options for treatment with SAD.
The researchers reviewed existing scans of the brain to see if hormone imbalances could be the reason for the development of SAD. They examined dopamine which is responsible for how we feel pleasure, serotonin which stabilises our moods and the stress hormone cortisol.
They wrote: “The monoamine hypothesis and pharmacological approaches suggest that the neurobiologies of depression and anxiety share imbalances in the monoaminergic neurotransmission system.41 In this regard, neuro-molecular positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) studies in SAD have largely focused on imaging serotonergic and dopaminergic neurotransmission, based on the reported efficacy of antidepressants.”
The authors wrote: “Emerging evidence suggests that the endogenous cannabinoid system, also referred to as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), could play a potential role in the pathophysiology of SAD. This review discusses the known pathophysiological mechanisms of SAD, the potential role of the ECS in this disorder, current drugs targeting the ECS, and the potential of these novel compounds to enhance the therapeutic armamentarium for SAD.”
The researchers concluded that the ECS could be a potential biological pathway in the treatment of SAD and is a promising avenue for developing more therapeutic approaches. They highlighted that there is a lack of human ECS studies or clinical trials which allow for ‘significant gaps in our knowledge.’
Could CBD help?
The ECS involves three core components: endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes. These receptors can be found throughout the body. Endocannabinoids bind to them to send a signal that the ECS needs to do something.
The main receptors are CB1 found in the central nervous system and CB2 in the peripheral nervous system. Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor and produce effects depending on where the receptor is located and which one it binds to.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) binds to CB1 or CB2 receptors while it is thought that potentially CBD can influence the receptors. Researchers aren’t sure how it interacts exactly.
A study explored the potential effects of CBD on people with SAD. Participants were given 400 mg of CBD or a placebo. Those given the CBD reported less anxiety than those given the placebo.
Another study on anxiety and sleep also revealed the potential of CBD to help stabilise our moods. The study involved 72 patients with 47 primarily experiencing anxiety and 25 suffering from poor quality sleep. Each person was given 25 milligrams of CBD each day and the majority of participants at 79.2 percent recorded they had lower anxiety while 66.7 percent reported better sleep after just the first month.
However, there is more research needed on both the endocannabinoid system and how CBD interacts with it to help treat SAD.
One in five autism caregivers give their child CBD products
A new report by reveals that the majority of parents started using oils during the pandemic for older children.
A study by Autism Parenting Magazine revealed that almost 20 percent of people caring for an autistic child give them CBD products.
The autism parenting survey was sent to 160,000 subscribers around the world revealing the extent of CBD use by parents caring for an autistic child. 18.6 percent of respondents confirmed they use CBD for a child on the spectrum to relieve a variety of their symptoms. This was further broken down to 22.16 percent of US parents compared to 14.29 percent of UK families.
It is estimated that there are 700,000 people in the UK with a diagnosis of autism. This is equal to one in 100 children in the UK.
The new survey also revealed that 31.3 percent of those using CBD products started during the Covid-19 pandemic. A further 16.6 percent revealed they have increased the amount since the pandemic began. The reason for this was thought to be down to increased anxiety and panic.
The data showed 76.3 percent CBD only use while the remaining 10 percent used other forms such as hemp, CD/THC and Epidiolex or CBD with terpenes.
The majority of those who responded were parents at 72.4 percent but there were also grandparents, careers, teachers, therapists, doctors or individuals on the spectrum.
Autism symptom relief
The survey revealed that the primary use for CBD was anxiety relief at 42.9 percent or challenging behaviour at 36.9 percent. The rest stated pain relief, inflammation, sleep or relaxation. A small number of parents, 4.3 percent, said seizures. Other reasons were given as speech or supporting potty training.
The survey also asked how much support the parents felt their child needed with 42.9 percent stating ‘requires substantial support.’ A small number at 17.9 percent said very substantial support. CBD use tended to be daily in the form of oils.
Oils were a favourite amongst parents with 60.8 percent opting to use this method. Other popular methods included 21.5 percent using gummies, 7.5 percent consuming capsules or tablets. A few used lotions or balms while 1.9 percent used vapes.
A large number of participants used CBD for their teenagers with 21.39 percent confirming their child was aged 13 to 18.
Only a small number of parents were combining the CBD with therapies at 7.4 percent. The therapy was listed as Applied Behaviour Analysis Therapy (ABA Therapy). ABA therapy considers a person’s understanding of how behaviour works in real situations. The aim of therapy is to increase helpful and decrease unhelpful behaviours that could be harmful or affect learning. ABA is being used increasingly in the UK.
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