If you've been feeling anxious or overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic, you're not alone. Anxiety, stress and depression are conditions that affect many of us and have been on the rise during the COVID-19 crisis. If you find yourself feeling more stressed than usual, be kind to your mind! When we spend too much time in "fight or flight" mode (and not enough in "rest and repair" mode), these mental health issues can also have an impact on our physical health.
In this post, we'll discuss our favorite natural methods for bringing the nervous system down a notch. We'll of course discuss the best ways to use CBD to de-stress, but as farmers we would be remiss to not mention how beneficial nature and other medicinal plants can be for our minds and bodies.
Mood issues such as anxiety and depression are some of the most common conditions for which people use CBD - and for good reason! CBD can be very effective in reducing chronic anxiety, alleviating temporary stress and protecting your body from the physiological effects of both.
Animal studies show how CBD interacts with serotonin 5-HT1A receptors in the brain, which are tried and tested targets for anti-anxiety medication. Additionally, CBD enhances the effects of anandamide, the neurotransmitter responsible for "runner's high" (if you're interested in the science behind this, we've written more about it here and here).
So what's the best way to use CBD to calm an anxious mind? For relief of immediate symptoms (for example, if you are having a panic or anxiety attack), smoking high-CBD hemp is your best bet. The effects are felt within minutes and can last up to three hours. CBD oil, when taken sublingually, also takes effect quickly (about 30 minutes) and the effects last longer than smoking (up to eight hours). It can take about an hour to feel the effects of CBD capsules, so they aren't your best option for immediate relief; however, taking a regular dose of CBD (in any form) can help keep stress and anxiety at bay. With oil and capsules, we recommend starting with the suggested dose on the bottle and gradually increasing your dose as needed.
The Great Outdoors
With many businesses closed and activities cancelled, the one thing that's always available is the great outdoors. Now that summer is here, take advantage of your favorite outdoor activities and reap the numerous health benefits.
You've probably heard that getting outside is good for your health, but did you know that lack of nature is actually detrimental to your health? That's right, not spending time outside can exacerbate or even trigger depression and anxiety.
Is gardening your thing? If so, that's great news because the soil microbe Mycobacterium vaccae has been found to mirror the effect of anti-depressants. I always feel amazing after spending a day on the farm with my hands in the dirt! And if you don't want get dirty, you can still experience the benefits of this helpful microbe by taking a walk in nature. Its effects are felt when it is inhaled, so just kicking up a little dirt on your walk should make you feel calmer and happier.
Cannabis is far from the only plant that can support your nervous system; there are numerous plants that can have a therapeutic effect. St. John's Wort has long been used to alleviate mild depression as its chemistry mimics SSRI's like Prozac (although safe, it can interact with some medications so please check with your doctor before using). St. John's Wort is best taken as a capsule or tincture.
The act of sipping a cup of herbal tea has its own set of benefits: studies show that holding a cup of warm tea in your hands encourages warmth and kindness to others! Not only that, but many of the calming herbs used to make tea are quite fragrant, so you also get a bit of aromatherapy when you breathe in their vapors. There are many great options for relaxing herbal teas, but two of our favorites are lemon balm and chamomile. Both herbs taste delicious, calm the nervous system and also help to improve digestion. Plus, if you're now considering taking up gardening, these two herbs are easy to grow!
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to anxiety, stress or depression and we recommend you try a combination of techniques to see what works best for you. Let us know your favorite natural ways to de-stress in the comments below.
- Biles, Mary. "Cannabis, CBD & Anxiety." 6 May 2020. www.projectcbd.org/cannabis-cbd-anxiety.
- Groves, Maria Noel (2016). Body Into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing
- Leinow, Leonard & Juliana Birnbaum (2017). CBD: A Patient's Guide to Medicinal Cannabis. Berkley: North Atlantic Books.
- Williams, Florence (2018). The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and more Creative. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.