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For most of us, stress and pain are unavoidable parts of everyday life. With the world suddenly facing unprecedented closures thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, it comes as no surprise that stress has been an unfortunate byproduct for many, as a result of being plunged into unforeseen circumstances. As of August 16th 2020, approximately 9.6 million jobs were furloughed in the United Kingdom as part of the government's job retention scheme. With so many people jobless to keep themselves busy, it is no wonder that 62% of the UK population proclaimed themselves anxious or worried in mid-March. Even those who were not on furlough, whose office desk merely shifted to their kitchen table, felt the sting of the pandemic. Indeed, 80% of Britons claimed that remote working triggered a deterioration in their mental wellbeing.
These upsetting figures beg the question: surely there must be a solution? Well, we think that solution could come in the form of a cannabinoid: namely, CBD. Cannabidiol is rapidly gaining recognition throughout the scientific sphere for its wellness-enhancing benefits; particularly for its role in alleviating stress and soothing aches and pains. We will be delving into exactly how CBD may assist with stress and pain relief, but not before revisiting just what this cannabinoid is, for those who have yet to become acquainted with this potentially revolutionary phytochemical.
What is CBD, and where does it come from?
To cut to the chase, CBD is the common abbreviation for Cannabidiol; it comes from the cannabis plant and is just one amongst over 100 other naturally-occurring cannabinoids in the plant. Some other cannabinoids in the plant include THC, CBG, CBC and CBN - all of which have roused the interest of scientists globally. The most probed of all the cannabinoids, however, are THC and our friend, CBD.
Despite frequently being lumped together, CBD differs quite vastly from its intoxicating cousin. Both derivatives of the Cannabis plant, CBD and THC are both psychoactive cannabinoids but have very different effects on our minds and bodies. Indeed, THC has a reputation for being used recreationally to cause a ‘high’ sensation. CBD, however, is its medicinal counterpart, used therapeutically as a wellness supplement. The most important takeaway: whilst THC gets you high and has mind-altering effects, CBD does not.
CBD: legal or not?
Legal! In the UK and most EU countries, buying and taking CBD is perfectly legal - so long as the THC content of each product is no more than 0.2%. CBD is also legal at a federal level in the US, though it may be subject to varying regulations depending on the state. The reason for its complicated legal history is because of its aforementioned cannabinoid cousin, THC. Since the discovery that CBD could be isolated from its mind-altering counterpart back in 1940, however, Cannabidiol has been increasingly recognised for its therapeutic potential by scientists globally.
Still not convinced? Perhaps it will reassure you that the World Health Organisation (WHO), labelled CBD safe for human consumption. Furthermore, there have only been few reports of minor adverse effects, including headaches, nausea, lightheadedness and diarrhoea. If you would like to know more about your country’s legislation surrounding CBD, we recommend you visit your country’s official government website.
How does CBD work in the body?
CBD works by interacting with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a biological system we all have, that is in charge of multiple physiological functions; examples being sleep, memory, pain and emotion. The way the ECS regulates such functions is via receptors: endocannabinoid receptors. These receptors, of which there are two types- CB1 and CB2- are concentrated in the Central Nervous System and the Immune System. Still with us?
As well as the receptors that make up our ECS, there are also endocannabinoids. The ‘endo’ prefix merely means produced by our bodies, meaning endocannabinoids are simply cannabinoids we produce ourselves. Enzymes also form part of the ECS, which break down the endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids then interact with ECS receptors, and together are involved in regulating various bodily processes.
It is thought that phytocannabinoids - cannabinoids that aren't produced by our bodies but are instead found in plants such as Cannabis Sativa - interact with the ECS and subsequently have an impact on our health and wellness.
In short, at its core, the ECS aims to maintain processes of homeostasis - the scientific jargon for internal equilibrium. The body always strives to ensure that there is balance in all aspects of its functioning. Put simply, when we have insufficient bodily balance, this is when illness starts to arise. Whilst research on how CBD interacts with our bodies is far from complete; studies have thus far suggested that CBD modifies the way our cannabinoid receptors bind and possibly enhances our endocannabinoid supply. Research is still underway to determine exactly what is involved in the transaction between CBD and the ECS.
What Is CBD Distillate?
At Amphora, we use Pure CBD Distillate, as well as flavoured and flavourless terpenes. As well as Cannabidiol, CBD distillate contains other beneficial compounds from the cannabis plant. The extract undergoes additional filtering to eliminate any traces of THC, leaving behind other cannabinoids, terpenes, vitamins and fatty acids. Our vape oils are made using premium quality CBD Distillate to achieve the best possible effects of all the cannabinoids blended together. Another great reason to choose CBD distillate over other CBD extracts is that it is thought to create what is known as the ‘entourage effect’, which is the harmonious effect of all the compounds working synergistically.
Address your stress with CBD
Stress long predates the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the Coronavirus has undoubtedly done a number on mental health and stress, the situation was already concerning long before any of us ever conceived of a worldwide pandemic. Indeed, a 2018 survey established that 74% of UK adults had felt so stressed at some point over the last year that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Stress is an integral part of life - it actually serves as somewhat useful in small doses, as it can boost productivity. However, excess stress can be damaging to our bodies in many ways. There are a slew of ways to combat stress: we think CBD is an excellent alternative to classic painkillers and opioids, as there are scarcely any adverse effects associated with CBD. Contrary to some opioids, CBD is also non-addictive, which is great news for patients at risk of becoming hooked on its pain-dulling effects. Incorporating this cannabinoid into your daily wellness routine can help to alleviate stress by working with your ECS to control it.
How does CBD combat stress?
It is believed that when we take CBD, it interacts with the neurochemicals in the ECS, helping to equalise our mood. CBD can help manage the primary stress hormone, Cortisol. This hormone has several functions, such as increasing sugars in the bloodstream, enhancing the brain's use of glucose and increasing the availability of substances that repair tissues.
Cortisol also alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes, all to prepare you for a fight-or-flight situation. It communicates with the parts of the brain that control mood, motivation and fear. CBD is believed to decrease Cortisol levels upon its interaction with the ECS. Often, a repercussion of excess stress is poor sleep. CBD has you covered in this regard, too: this multi-action cannabinoid is thought to have the ability to enhance sleeping patterns, thanks again to its interaction with Cortisol. Research on both humans and animals has charted a reduction in symptoms of stress after being administered CBD.
Choosing the right CBD dose for stress
Knowing how to get the right dose of CBD can be something of a minefield. We would always advise starting with a low dose and increasing your dosage gradually by 5 mg every day until you find a dose that works for you. As well as factors pertaining to the individual, such as metabolism, weight, age and others, dosage will depend on just how stressed you feel. Some people take one dose per day, others two or three. Those feeling mild, low-key pangs of everyday stress related to work should stick to the lower end of this spectrum. On the other hand, if you're experiencing more severe feelings of stress slightly, you might consider opting for a dose that errs on the stronger side of this spectrum.
It should be highlighted that CBD, for all its therapeutic potential, is not a panacea. If your incorporation of CBD is still proving insufficient in tackling your case of stress, it is likely that you may need to seek medication prescribed by a doctor.
Quick and painless: CBD for pain
According to The Global Burden of Disease Study 2016, the world’s population is in pain. This study reaffirmed that the high prominence of pain and pain-related conditions is the leading cause of disability and disease burden globally. Moreover, in the UK, it has been concluded that somewhere between 35 and 51% of the population are affected by pain in some way. When the data from the studies were combined and analysed by the researchers, they estimated that 43% of the population experience chronic pain - this is more than 28 million adults. In the UK, more than 10 million people have arthritis or other, similar conditions that affect the joints. Pain, then, is not hard to come by and is a common repercussion of medical conditions.
Numerous studies have recorded that CBD can have a positive effect on pain, in some instances alleviating it in no small degree.
How does CBD alleviate pain?
CBD is believed by many to be an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is a great source of pain and discomfort that can affect different parts of our bodies; it is a natural response of the body which is activated to remove foreign stimuli, but if it happens in excess it can reduce an individual’s quality of life and cause them pain. Chronic inflammation is also associated with heart disease, diabetes, cancer and arthritis, and can also manifest itself in the gut. Indeed, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) groups several autoimmune digestive issues such as Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis, which are the products of excess inflammation in different parts of the bowel.
CBD has anti-inflammatory properties which can soothe pain associated with such inflammatory disorders. It is also an antioxidant. As hinted by the word ‘antioxidant’, CBD can help offset oxidative stress- the process by which too many free radicals cause chain reactions in the body which can start wreaking havoc on cells and tissue. A mix of animal and human studies have indicated that CBD has the capacity to neutralise free radicals and perhaps in turn help prevent various health conditions caused by long term oxidative damage.
Choosing the right CBD dose for pain
Again, we recommend incrementally increasing dosage to establish the appropriate CBD concentration for you, which will mean beginning with low concentrations. Depending on individual factors we listed above, dosage may differ per person, meaning a dosage that works for one person’s pain may not necessarily work for your pain.
The quickest fix
Naturally, if you are experiencing either pain or stress, you will want to remedy the situation in the most efficient manner.
If your pain is affecting part of your skin, we recommend using a CBD-infused balm or lotion, which will be absorbed transdermally and confer its benefits to the area to which the CBD has been applied. However, the CBD will only affect this one area and will not enter the bloodstream when spread topically on the body. For this reason, topical application of CBD has the lowest bioavailability. We have compiled a list of our favourite ways to take CBD, skipping straight to the speediest methods with the highest bioavailability.
At Amphora, we believe in vaping as the best mode of CBD consumption. Why? Vaping is an extremely quick, simple and mess-free way of getting CBD into your bloodstream so you can begin reaping its effects as quickly as possible. When inhaled, CBD enters your bloodstream via diffusion through the lining of the lungs. The effects of CBD can be felt as quickly as 15 minutes after inhaling. CBD in vapour form also has the highest level of bioavailability, which means the amount of CBD that is actually absorbed into your bloodstream, as opposed to being written off by other bodily processes. In our expert, though perhaps biased, opinion, vaping CBD trumps all the different ways CBD can be taken, on account of its convenient, speedy and uncomplicated nature. Indeed, all you would need to do to begin cashing in on the rejuvenating effects that CBD provides is simply place your mouth on the mouthpiece of your vaping device and inhale deeply. After some seconds of holding the vaporized CBD in place, you would then exhale the vapour, releasing it into the surrounding air.
Our CBD vape oils contain only the natural components of the cannabis plant, including terpenes. Our products are all organic and are crafted using the highest quality CBD Distillate; they do not contain any additives like PG and VG; they are free from known toxic ingredients like vitamin E acetate and are completely organic and safe for human consumption. Additionally, we conduct third-party lab testing to attest to the quality of our products. Be cautious of unreputable companies lining their vape oils with additives or other harmful substances like those mentioned above.
CBD tinctures are another great way of taking CBD oil which also claim high bioavailability. For those unfamiliar with CBD oil in this format, tinctures are those small bottles with a dropper built into the lid for controlling the dosage. The bottles are typically upwards of 10ml and boast a bioavailability of around 13-19%. The oil is usually administered onto or under the tongue and is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the tongue’s abundance of blood vessels. Ingesting CBD in this way has a quick turnaround, just like with vaping CBD. Indeed, the effects of sublingual consumption should begin to kick in after around 20-30 minutes. Tinctures usually come with a CBD concentration of between 500-1000mg per bottle. The secret with tinctures is to hold the CBD oil in place under the tongue for at least 30 seconds before swallowing or washing it away with water. In addition, similarly to vape oils, these products usually come in an array of different flavours, for those feeling experimental or wanting the complementary fruity flavours and their added benefits.
Of the three methods mentioned, CBD capsules have the lowest bioavailability at 6-20%. However, that’s not to say that they are not worthy of mention. CBD capsules have numerous perks that make them worthy of consideration when choosing a CBD format. Firstly, they are easy to use and can provide more consistent dosing than oils, as each dose is premeasured. Capsules are taken as you would any other wellness supplement; hence they are a perfect suitor to those familiar with taking vitamin supplements or otherwise. Once swallowed with a glass of water, CBD capsules travel down the digestive tract. This does, however, mean that they are subject to breakdown on this journey, which reduces the potency of the CBD - hence their low bioavailability. That said, the effects of CBD capsules can be sustained for longer than other methods of CBD consumption, which is great news for those suffering from stress or pain, looking to numb their symptoms for longer durations.
We hope this read has given you more of a clue about the use of CBD for stress and pain. Before we let you go about your day, we have narrowed down some tips for you to bear in mind ahead of beginning your CBD journey for tackling stress and pain:
- Elimination of stress and pain by using CBD is not guaranteed. Whilst studies attest to the helpfulness of CBD for both physical and mental ailments; single-handedly, it may not be enough. Indeed, CBD should not be substituted for medication that your doctor has prescribed, nor should it replace food. It is intended for use as a supplement, in other words, alongside a healthy and balanced diet and exercise. Research surrounding CBD is also still incomplete in many respects, with far more human studies necessary to verify its benefits.
- We also recommend that if you are on existing medication, that you check with your doctor before beginning your CBD regime. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that the CBD does not interact with or potentially disrupt medications you are already on.
- If you are experiencing pain and/or stress as a result of pregnancy, we recommend that you avoidCBD-based products as CBD may harm the progress of a foetus. You should instead seek the advice of your doctor for the best steps going forward.
- Whatever CBD product you pursue for your stress or pain, be sure to purchase a product from a reputable CBD outlet. Another tip in this regard is always to check the Certificate of Analysis (COA). At Amphora, we espouse total transparency and have our COAs visible on our website. However, the same cannot be said of other companies, so request the COA if it is not already available to view, to know precisely what has gone into your CBD product.
- Be experimental! We understand that if you are using CBD to combat a medical condition that involves stress or pain - which 62% of CBD users do- you are using it to perform a function over anything else. That said, taking CBD for pain or stress shouldn’t mean that it's a mundane activity. Unlike mainstream medications, the CBD market allows you to get creative, with a range of flavours and fragrances to sample. From fruity to minty or even chocolatey flavours, CBD oil comes in a plethora of different flavours that can disguise the otherwise earthy taste of CBD. At Amphora, we add only all-natural terpenes plant-based terpenes to our CBD distillate, which not only adds to the taste, but to the health-enhancing benefits of our vape oils, too! What’s more, terpenes run no risk of causing adverse reactions like artificial additives, such as Vitamin E acetate, PG, VG or MCT, might. In short, taking CBD doesn't have to feel like taking medication, and if you have the opportunity to purchase a CBD oil flavoured with a taste you like, why not seize it?
Written by | Infused Amphora Team
The Infused Amphora Team is dedicated to creating resources to educate and engage consumers on the growing evidence of CBD benefits and the extensive health and wellness properties of CBD oil.
Contributors | Angus Taylor + Dr Gaylord Wardell
IPI is a pharmaceutical ingredient company that cultivates cannabis strains curated to extract specific cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids for the formulation of effects-based health and wellness products. Angus is an experienced public speaker, engaging stakeholders, governments and media. Angus was the co-founder of NewLeaf Cannabis, Canada’s most successful retail brand to date, and has been established as a well-known and recognized expert in the field.
Dr Wardell is a practising physician with over 40 years of clinical and educational experience in pain management, medical practices and education. Dr Wardell is past President of the Pain Society of Alberta, and current President of the Alberta Medical Association, section of Pain. He is a popular public speaker, an active blogger on medical and pain-related issues, and proponent for scientific validation for patients experiencing pain.
Infused Amphora “Learn” is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.