Writer: Heather Ryerson
In our modern society, the steady level of stress as we move through our days is something we are accustomed to. This experience we have of an underlying sense of urgency or low-grade anxiety is something that becomes a part of our lives as the years progress from a carefree childhood to the mounting responsibilities of adulthood. Financial concerns, career and business, health issues, marriage, children, and more combined to keep us racing along through our lives with little time for relaxation.
For many people, yoga offers a way to return to our center and calm ourselves, allowing us to walk the middle path where we can feel a sense of well-being, peace, and even joy. All forms of yoga are intended to induce calm and restoration—both physically and mentally.
For some, the increased acceptance of cannabis in our culture has offered another tool for combating stress. While medical marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, CBD, a non-psychoactive compound derived from hemp, is gaining traction. The Farm Bill of 2018 legalized industrial hemp at the Federal level, making it an agricultural commodity instead of a schedule 1 drug. As a result, we can now reap the benefits of marijuana without the high.
What is CBD?
There are over 100 different natural chemicals present in Cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most common. In the marijuana species of cannabis, there is a large concentration of THC and a small quantity of CBD. In the hemp subspecies, CBD is more prevalent, and THC is only present in trace amounts. For a hemp plant to be considered hemp and not marijuana, it must contain less than 0.3% THC.
From a legal standpoint, these ratios are important. Although both THC and CBD share some very similar qualities as far as their benefits are concerned, CBD will not get its users stoned, but THC will. The fact that CBD has no mind-altering capabilities is what has made it such an attractive option for people who want to enhance their health without any feelings of inebriation. Instead, most users say that it gives them a gentle sense of overall relaxation.
CBD on The Yoga Mat
If we had you at a gentle sense of overall relaxation, you would not be alone. The consumer demand for CBD is somewhat of a phenomenon, with its use rising sharply over the past two years. By some estimates, the industry will be generating around 1.8 billion dollars by 2020.
Among the consumers taking CBD products, individuals who routinely invest in alternative methods of health and well-being are some of the most avid proponents and users of the compound. Many of these are from wellness sectors like Yoga, where the practice lends itself well to the integration of CBD products.
While research is still in the works regarding the efficacy of CBD, Yogis everywhere are combining the two to enhance the benefits of each. They claim that it helps them to deal with anxiety and stress, improves mood, and increases their overall feelings of wellness. It also seems to help control the internal chatter and reign in wandering thoughts; a plus if you are also attempting more meditative-style yoga.
Other people say that their post yoga recovery time is shortened and they seem to bounce back easier from muscle tension, joint pain, or strain. To understand how this is possible, we first need to take a look at a recently discovered system in the body called The endocannabinoid system.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has always been present in humans (an all mammals, actually) but we just didn’t know it. It consists of a network of receptors and signaling mechanisms so vast that it even outnumbers our neurotransmitters. Said to be placed in over 50 areas of the body, these receptors control mood, appetite, temperature, pain, inflammation, sleep, and a host of other functions. In fact, without our endocannabinoid system, we could not sustain life.
The ECS works to regulate homeostasis in the body by interaction with cannabinoids. When our bodies are functioning correctly, we naturally produce these cannabinoids on our own. Some researchers theorize a malfunction with the body’s ability to do this can cause what they have termed as an “endocannabinoid deficiency,” a condition that can bring about chronic issues.
When cannabinoids from outside of our own system are introduced to the body, it appears they help repair and regulate our ECS. Cannabinoids in cannabis are nearly identical to the ones we create ourselves. They are called phytocannabinoids, or plant cannabinoids. CBD is one of these.
CBD interacts with the ECS receptors to encourage them to increase the production of our natural cannabinoids and to block chemicals that interfere with the body’s ability to create them.
Many individuals find that taking CBD helps to prolong their feelings of bliss and calm after they have completed a session. This is similar to what is commonly known as runners high. While this phenomenon was once thought to be a result of endorphins, it turns out that it may actually be caused by Anandamide, a neurotransmitter that means “bliss” in Sanskrit. By suppressing the enzyme that breaks down this neurotransmitter, the euphoria from a good workout or yoga session lasts longer. To put it simply, the good feelings you experience when practicing yoga may be more pronounced and prolonged by including CBD into your regimen.
What Is The Best Way to Start?
There are many different CBD products available for purchase. Finding the right one for you may be a bit of a trial and error process. The most common CBD product (and also the most well-known) is CBD oil. It comes in the form of a tincture and is intended to be taken sublingually for the best results. You place it under the tongue for 30 seconds to a minute and then swallow. Tinctures usually begin to work within 15 minutes to an hour.
CBD Capsules are another way to go. Usually found in the form of a soft gel, CBD capsules are a portable and convenient alternative to tinctures. These can also be quite effective, but because they must pass through the digestive system, the time of onset before experiencing your desired results could be longer.
Topical CBD products include salves, creams, lotions, bath bombs and other products that come into contact with the skin. These can be a relaxing and healing part of self-care, and many people use them to treat aches and pains associated with the stretching poses in yoga. They are best used as an addition to tinctures and capsules, as these products only work on the outer layer of the skin and don’t cross through to the bloodstream.
There is a lot of hype surrounding this marvelous and beneficial plant medicine, and with good reason. New studies are being published all the time that look at CBD as a viable alternative remedy for different conditions that don’t respond well to other treatments.
The FDA has approved one such product called Epidiolex. It is being used for treating severe seizure disorders in children. It is likely that we will see many more CBD products on the market. This is why it is so important to do your research. While CBD has been shown to have an excellent safety profile, some companies may put profits over people even in the wellness industry. It is essential to know the source of the hemp and manufacturing methods employed to create your CBD.