You can be perfectly happy with your career and still feel like something is just a touch off. Maybe it’s the lack of ergonomic chairs, or all of the public speaking you weren’t expecting you’d have to do. There are plenty of common, everyday things that make the workplace just a little less enjoyable—and that make you a little less productive. That’s where CBD comes in. CBD can ease a number of your work issues to improve your work life.
“CBD can help with any career that causes unnecessary stress,” Dr. Will Cole, a functional medicine expert and author of the book Ketotarian, says. “While everyone has stressful things that happen, any career that produces constant stress can benefit from CBD oil. That is going to be different for each person too since everyone handles stress differently.”
Here are five ways that CBD can help in the workplace.
The most effective use for CBD in the workplace is treating social anxiety. Anxiety is a serious occupational issue for both employees and employers. The negative impact that anxiety has on workers is obvious, and its monetary effect on businesses is more than just a drop in the bucket. A paper co-written by professor Ronald Kessler from Harvard Medical School found that the annual loss of productivity due to anxiety cost U.S. businesses $4.1 billion. CBD can help reduce anxiety and benefit both parties.
“I think there’s good evidence to suggest that CBD could be an effective treatment of anxiety and addiction,” Dr. Esther Blessing, a psychiatrist and researcher at New York University, told NPR. “But we need clinical trials to find out.”
The evidence that we do have points to promising returns on using CBD to manage anxiety. A collection of CBD studies reviewed by researchers at the University of São Paulo in Brazil and published by Academic Press found that CBD “was shown to decrease anxiety in patients with social phobia.”
“CBD oil reduces stress by lowering activity in the amygdala and increasing prefrontal corex activation, which are the two areas of your brain involved with anxiety,” Dr. Cole says. “It also activates your brain’s CB1 receptors to rebalance glutamate and GABA levels, which play a role in increased anxiety and stress.”
One study, also written by researchers at the University of São Paulo, analyzed patients diagnosed with generalized social anxiety disorder (which they abbreviate to SAD). The double-blind study used neuroimaging on subjects that were given either CBD or a placebo.
“Relative to placebo, CBD was associated with significantly decreased subjective anxiety,” the study states, adding that “these results suggest that CBD reduces anxiety in SAD and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas.”
There are also cases where anxiety is only the root issue that causes other symptoms. Brooke Alpert, a nutritionist working on a line of CBD supplements to be released in the fall of 2018, told Us Weekly that she’s suggested CBD to her clients to help with outside problems that stem from anxiety. Treating the anxiety, not the issues that come after, helps people make smarter choices in other areas of their life.
CBD is a known anti-inflammatory, which is why athletes use it after workouts and competitions. But you don’t have to be an athlete to have work-associated pain. Even desk jobs can come with back pain and neck strain from poor posture. You can alleviate that pain with CBD.
A 2012 study from the National Institutes of Health found that CBD suppresses pain and can be used as a “novel class of therapeutic agents for the treatment of chronic pain.” Meaning you can avoid the worst of that recurring 2 p.m. backache.
For work-related strains, there are different methods of using CBD. Oils and edible gummies will often result in addressing other problems as well, such as anxiety, while a topical CBD cream is the most direct way to deal with aches and strains. In an early animal study in 2016, researchers at the University of Kentucky found that topically applied CBD significantly reduced joint swelling and limb posture without limiting higher brain function.
A pilot study from researchers at the University College London in the UK found that CBD can help reduce nicotine cravings.
The double blind study gave half of its subjects, all smokers, an inhaler with CBD and the other half got an inhaler without CBD. Each subject regularly smoked more than 10 cigarettes per day. They were instructed to continue their regular routines for a week, but to first use the inhaler whenever they felt the urge to smoke. Each subject recorded their tobacco cravings and anxiety each day of the week. When the researchers followed up 21 days later, they found that the CBD group smoked 40 percent less cigarettes than the placebo group.
The published study found that “the preliminary data presented here suggest that CBD may be effective in reducing cigarette use in tobacco smokers, however larger scale studies, with longer follow-up are warranted to gauge the implications of these findings. These findings add to a growing literature that highlights the importance of the endocannabinoid system in nicotine addiction.”
Research is still in its early stages, but so far things look promising.
Researchers from the University of Montreal in Canada conducted a review of studies done on CBD and dependence and found that early studies show that CBD can help reduce dependence on “opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction, and some preliminary data suggest that it may be beneficial in cannabis and tobacco addiction in humans.”
CBD may replace other anti-anxiety medications.
“Anti-anxiety medications often come with a long list of side effects not limited to nausea, trouble sleeping, weight gain, and lowered sex drive,” Dr. Cole says. While CBD is associated with a limited number of side effects.
As noted above, anxiety can trigger a slew of other negative consequences. In a 2011 study, researchers from the University of São Paulo listed generalized social anxiety disorder as “one of the most common anxiety conditions with impairment in social life.” Speaking to others and speaking in front of a group isn’t limited to people’s social lives, though, it’s also related to work.
The 2011 study looked at how CBD impacts people who have a fear of public speaking. The subjects received either CBD or a placebo one and a half hours before being asked to speak in front of a group. The subjects were examined six times throughout the test by the appearance of anxiety, how they thought they did, and their physiological measures like blood pressure, heart rate, and skin conductance.
“Pretreatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in their speech performance, and significantly decreased alert in their anticipatory speech.” The placebo group, on the other hand, had “impairment and discomfort in their speech performance, and significantly decreased alert in their anticipatory speech,” as well as higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort when compared to the group who took the CBD.
Presentations are a key part of the workplace environment, whether that’s in a public forum or simply relaying results back to a team of supervisors. CBD eases the tension of speaking, and best of all, it has little to no effect on cognitive effort, according to a study done by researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.
Mood might not be the first thing that you think of when brainstorming ways to improve your work environment. It’s not physical, and it doesn’t necessarily directly impact your performance. That doesn’t mean it’s not important when it comes to working with a team and getting things done.
“CBD boosts your own natural cannabinoids, which improves your mood and overall wellbeing,” Michele Ross, a neuroscientist and cannabis activist, told Esquire. “Because this system regulates everything—down to your dopamine levels—if it isn’t working, nothing is working. If you don’t know why you feel run-down all the time, despite feeling healthy and exercising, you might have an endocannabinoid deficiency.”
CBD is not for everyone. If you’re currently taking a medicine for anxiety or mood, you should not quit taking that medicine before talking to a doctor. It’s also good to point out the obvious—that a construction worker, for example, may see less benefits and more risks than someone who runs an HR department when using a cannabis derivative.
That said, there are many people in the workplace who are looking for a natural way to improve their performance.
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