Is CBD the answer to improving mental focus?
Reading Time: 6 minutes
CBD is well known for its ability to help us sleep better and to treat conditions like anxiety to help relax our minds and bodies. But can CBD also be used to spark mental focus and alertness? Is CBD the answer to improving mental focus?
CBD interacts with the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS) to help the body attain a physical and mental balance we all know as homeostasis. This unique interaction with the body is the reason it’s a leading natural solution for those who suffer from anxiety, depression, poor sleep, headaches, and migraines. By relaxing the body and helping to ease the mind, CBD is an alternative to over the counter and prescription medications, which sometimes cause side effects in people.
The question becomes then if CBD is proven to help relax and calm the mind and body, can you use CBD for focus? The response is yes.
Is CBD the answer to improving mental focus?
Scientifically speaking, one study found that depending on how CBD was administered, it could promote wakefulness. It also found that CBD worked on some subjects to promote more metal alertness than others. The same study did confirm CBD’s ability to promote mental and physical wellness in the body, but in full transparency, the researchers found that CBD has the potential to provide mental focus and wakefulness, but more research would be needed for the specific effects of CBD for focus.
However, a 2020 study showed a bit more promise. Looking at the therapeutic role of Cannabidiol in mental health, the study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research found supportive evidence that CBD could help attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a disorder that makes it difficult for a person to pay attention and control impulsive behaviours. The study also looked at the impacts of CBD and Nabiximols, a specific Cannabis extract, on other mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, social anxiety disorder, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), insomnia, anxiety, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and Tourette syndrome. While the study had encouraging findings it also called for more specific research to uncover how CBD could specifically treat each of the conditions above.
The study found that “CBD compounds were helpful in alleviating psychotic symptoms and improving cognitive impairment in patients across a variety of conditions.”
How CBD can help you focus
When looking at how CBD works with the body’s ECS to achieve homeostasis and specifically how it helps the body deal with common disorders that prevent us from focusing such as lack of sleep and anxiety, we better understand its effect on focus.
Lack of sleep and its effects on mental focus
Getting good quality sleep along with getting more sleep helps us to awake refreshed, rested and alert, ready to take on the new day. Poor sleep is known to cause several adverse effects on the body, from memory loss to moodiness, brain fog, low sex drive, weakened immunity and weight gain. Good quality sleep and a good amount of sleep impact your overall health. It is the time where there are fewer demands on your heart and brain, your blood pressure naturally drops and allows the body to release hormones that slow breathing, relax, and repair muscles which is an important process for the body to help reduce inflammation in the body’s systems and essentially, heal itself during rest.
Everyone has experienced a bad night’s sleep, not only are you irritable, you may find your appetite out of whack, your mental and physical energy sluggish and no amount of coffee can perk you up. One study even found that poor sleep can actually impact your life expectancy, also.
In order to mentally and physically focus for the day, a good night’s sleep is needed.
CBD oil for sleep has proven to be effective thanks to its ability to naturally interact with the ECS as mentioned above. As the central nervous system helps regulate our body’s hormones (such as cortisol, the stress hormone, or melatonin, the sleep hormone), CBD and other cannabinoids work with the ECS to regulate hormone-related issues. This is one of the reasons why CBD is so effective for those who suffer from sleep disorders and anxiety.
Anxiety and its effects on focus
A survey by CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) found that 40% of people agreed they have experienced feelings of anxiety or depression but never sought medical help for it. A study by Statistics Canada also found that women are more likely to suffer from anxiety than men.
Anxiety has mental and physical impacts on the body, and symptoms can vary depending on the person. Anxiety can trigger a flood of chemicals and hormones, like adrenaline, into your system. It can also increase your pulse and hinder your breathing rate and create trouble concentrating and focusing.
To help treat anxiety and depression, treatments are focused on targeting the serotonin system, that mood-boosting chemical. Common depression and anxiety prescription medications such as Prozac and Zoloft are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which basically block the brain from reabsorbing serotonin, increasing the availability of the chemical. This helps to reduce anxious feelings and has an antidepressant effect. One study found that CBD helps to stimulate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, producing more serotonin without the need for SSRIs.
CBD has also proven effective for anxiety in how it interacts with the hippocampus in the brain as a neurogenesis stimulator.
Brain scans of those with anxiety usually show a smaller hippocampus area. This means, neurons are formed slowly, which leads to feelings of anxiousness and depressing thoughts. According to one study, CBD has been shown to stimulate neuron regeneration in the hippocampus in the same way SSRIs do, offering a more natural solution to treat anxiety than traditional medications.
By targeting and treating the internal systems that trigger anxiousness and getting serotonin levels up, CBD can help alleviate the hindrances of anxiety and help you not only boost your mood but calm and focus on your mind.
This mood-boosting ability is also why CBD is so popular among yogis! CBD and yoga together can help calm our busy minds and ease tension physically to achieve mind-body calmness (yes, that word, homeostasis again). CBD is a natural fit for those who practice more of a restorative or gentle yoga practice but can also work to help focus the mind and clear your thoughts for a quicker flow, or vinyasa style.
CBD works to sharpen focus by allowing increased serotonin to flow to your brain. This increase in serotonin can lead to less anxiety, allowing the mind and body to focus on the task at hand, whether on the mat or at your desk.
How to use CBD for focus
CBD oil for sleep or anxiety is great because frankly, it’s easy to use. CBD oil can be administered sublingually, dropping it and holding it under the tongue to dissolve through the glands in our gums. Using this method, CBD oil can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Taking CBD oil sublingually cuts the onset time to 15-20 minutes, so taking it right before bed or will allow it to work its way into your system by the time it’s time to count zzz’s, allowing you to wake up ready to focus on your day.
The same sublingual administration can also be used to treat anxiety. You can also use other CBD products like CBD Capsules or CBD gummies, however, these methods may take slightly longer for the CBD to pass through the digestive system and metabolize (about 45-60 minutes). Capsules and gummies may be more convenient depending on your routine and lifestyle, as they’re easier to carry around and just pop in your mouth as needed. To get the best results take a capsule or gummy as soon as you feel your mind wandering or feeling fatigued.
Finding the right dosage that works for you will also make CBD for focus much more effective. Since CBD oil does not have any intoxicating effects, it is not possible to overdose on the product and is safe for almost everyone.
It’s best to start off by applying ½ ml to 1 mL of CBD oil sublingually (under the tongue)) and letting it dissolve for a minute, then swallow any remaining oil. Continue this for a few weeks, monitoring how you feel—keep in mind that it can take several days for you to feel the effects of CBD, so don’t feel discouraged if you do not notice a difference right away. After two to three weeks, gradually adjust your dosage if necessary.
With CBD capsules and gummies, each piece contains a specific amount of CBD, be sure to read the labels carefully so you know how much you’re taking.
While the specific impact of CBD for focus isn’t fully fleshed out yet, we know there are ways it can help calm and focus the mind naturally and effectively. If you haven’t tried CBD for focus yet, maybe it’s time to start.
Written by: Rosalyn Solomon