When you are facing a stressful situation or doing high-intensity workouts, your body produces an increased amount of cortisol a hormone that performs various functions in the body. Metabolism is controlled by it. It also helps maintain blood glucose values within the limits considered normal. However, when cortisol levels are high, it can induce several disorders. Recent studies have shed light on how CBD could affect the levels of cortisol in the body. Read more about the relationship between CBD and cortisol levels below.
CBD and hormonal balance
Hormones are responsible for regulating various aspects of our physiological functions, with mood regulation being one of the more obvious hormonal responses.
They have diverse functions such as regulating behavior, sexual activity, growth, moods, and our response to dangers, among many others. Hormones are produced in the different glands of the endocrine system located in different areas of our body: the pineal gland, the thyroid, the pituitary gland, the pancreas, the testicles in men, and the ovaries in women, and the hypothalamus.
Each of the glands is responsible for the production of certain hormones such as testosterone, insulin, cortisol, epinephrine or adrenaline, and melatonin to name a few.
Each hormone is a “messenger” that imparts specific instructions such as regulating blood glucose levels (insulin), waking and sleeping hours (melatonin), or response to danger (adrenaline).
How cortisol works
The adrenal glands produce cortisol during the day and help regulate various physiological functions regulating blood glucose levels and metabolism, controlling blood pressure, responding to stressful situations, fighting various infections, and helping with your physical health, such as helping you lose weight.
This photo from ATP Science does a good job at illustrating cortisol functions:
It is also responsible for activating flight or fight responses when we are subjected to a stressful situation that our body may interpret as dangerous, especially when we feel fearful about an event.
When cortisol levels in the blood are outside the normal range for a healthy person, it may be indicative of a health disorder.
However, this hormone, which is produced in the adrenal glands, can suffer an increase in its values while performing high-intensity physical training. This is because your body interprets intense physical activity as a stressful situation. This increase in cortisol levels can inhibit the increase of your muscle mass; that is, it can affect the achievement of the results you expect after your training sessions.
CBD, Cortisol, and disease
High cortisol levels can induce states of depression and anxiety. They may also indicate that something is not right in the body.
High or low cortisol can be a red flag to your doctor, who may recommend further evaluation of your health condition.
Problems such as hypertension, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and mental disorders are reflected in high cortisol values.
As with all other hormones, it is essential that your cortisol levels remain in balance for your mind and body to function well and for you to stay healthy.
How cortisol affects your body
Whether you perform high-intensity physical workouts or become agitated from work or an uncomfortable situation, the body interprets it as a stressful situation and increases the secretion of cortisol. Because it is a catabolic hormone, it slows tissue growth and decreases protein synthesis.
In other words, it produces the opposite effect of testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin.
Anything that involves great effort, such as running at high speed and for a long time or lifting a lot of weight, is processed by the body as a dangerous situation and causes more cortisol to be produced.
This increase in the release of this hormone causes the results you want to achieve from exercise to be affected.
CBD and cortisol levels
Among the many therapeutic properties of cannabidiol (CBD), it has been observed that it acts as a very effective anti-catabolic substance.
Thanks to the way it acts with the endocannabinoid system, cannabidiol is able to control both physical and emotional stress. In this way, cannabidiol inhibits the excessive release of cortisol.
Something you should keep in mind is that although CBD is one of the many cannabinoids present in the marijuana or hemp plant, it also has other components such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that can affect the effectiveness of CBD because it is a psychoactive substance.
For this reason, it is very important that you use CBD oil obtained from hemp that has a very low percentage of THC so that you get all the benefits of cannabidiol.
Does CBD Lower Cortisol?
Excess cortisol production due to insomnia, ongoing stress, or intense training can have the opposite effect to that intended: it will make your physical condition worse instead of better. Among the consequences that you may suffer from a high concentration of cortisol, you may lose muscle mass, your bone density may decrease and your blood pressure may go above or below the values considered acceptable.
One study on the effects of CBD on anxiety and sleep found that cortisol levels in the test subjects dropped significantly after a CBD intake within the range between 300 and 600mg. This study points to CBD as potentially affecting the release of cortisol.
Other investigations point at similar conclusions: an analysis conducted to measure short-term CBD treatment on patients at risk of psychosis again found lower levels of cortisol on its test subjects, as well as overall lower stress levels when compared to the healthy control and placebo groups.
If you decide to consume CBD as a supplement, your cortisol levels will remain within the accepted limits and you will be able to develop muscle mass and recover very quickly to be ready for the next day of hard physical effort.
Does CBD Oil Help Balance Hormones?
Due to the natural action of aging or to external factors, the levels of these “messengers” suffer alterations which bring as a consequence different imbalances in our body. The endocannabinoid system works in coordination with the endocrine system.
For this reason, CBD is very effective in activating the receptors of the endocrine system. For this reason, it is effective in regulating sleep, stress management and sexual activity to name a few functions it could help with.
If you need to keep your cortisol levels under control either because you develop an intense physical activity or because you need to recover the general balance of your body, the moderate use of low doses of CBD oil will help you to achieve that state of well-being and to get the best results from your workouts.