Anandamide – the gate keeper of stress
Although a lot of people use CBD to tackle stress as and when it arises, most evidence suggests that the accumulation of cannabinoids in your body will be what really makes the biggest difference. Chronic stress is speculated as being one main contributors to an ‘endocannabinoid deficiency’, something which occurs when your own, internally produced cannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG have fallen into short supply. The result of this is a wholly unbalanced body, which can lead to issues such as fatigue, illness, skin conditions and, in a word, disease. On top of this, a lack of anandamide can equate to an excessive release of stress hormone cortisol, resulting in an easily triggered or constantly active fight or flight response – even at times when this reaction isn’t required or appropriate.
According to a 2016 Neuropsychopharmacology research paper titled ‘Neurobiological Interactions Between Stress and the Endocannabinoid System’, a decline in anandamide appears to activate the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis – a process which ultimately results in increased levels of cortisol in the blood. In a balanced body, this is a vital part of survival instinct, but when your endocannabinoid levels are off kilter this can occur not only in times of acute stress, but at the drop of a hat. Long-term, this elevated stress can end up in any number of physical and mental ailments, including adrenal burnout, which then leads to a further demise of endocannabinoids. And round and round it goes.
When you take CBD, a range of things happen all at once. When it comes to stress, one of the most important actions is the inhibition of enzyme FAAH, which breaks down anandamide. As a result, higher levels of anandamide are allowed to flow freely around your body, making its way to the brain where it can influence the HPA axis – our central stress response system. If CBD oil is taken on a regular basis, studies currently indicate that its accumulative nature means an overall higher levels of anandamide which can then block the unnecessary release of cortisol. A stress gate-keeper we could all do with.