What the heck is CBD? Is it cannabis? Does it make you "high?" Why is it all the rage? My mind buzzed with these questions as I read story after story touting the benefits of cannabidoil (fewer aches and pains and less anxiety, for starters) and heard friends rave about it. With my stress levels ticking up, I decided to investigate it further.
Here's what I learned: CBD isn't cannabis, exactly. It's a non-psychoactive compound extracted from cannabis or hemp. Unlike THC, CBD will not get you "stoned." And while it's still being studied, CBD seems promising as a treatment for a number of medical conditions.
I'll admit, I was sceptical, but I decided to give it a try — and during an especially busy month. I was in the process of taping two podcasts (16 episodes total over two weeks), coordinating a 3-day conference with about 1,000 people, putting in my usual hours at work, and travelling often. My stress levels were high. So I spoke with the team at Dirty Lemon, a functional beverage brand that had recently launched a CBD-infused tonic called Cannabis Blend ($65 for six). With 20mg per bottle, it seemed like a good first foray into CBD — so with a full week's supply in-hand, I set out to see just how much of a difference it would make. Here's what I noticed during those seven days.
I Got a Handle on My Stress Eating
With the conference coming up and a busy taping schedule, I was snacking up a storm. So on the first afternoon of this little experiment, I cracked open my first bottle of the elixir. I really enjoyed the taste, like a refreshing glass of lemon water with a tart hint of pineapple.
I felt a little more at ease that afternoon, but still pretty stressed. However, by the third day, my ravenous urge to snack (even when I wasn't hungry) seemed to fade away. My hunger wasn't gone, but I didn't feel the same need to munch on something constantly.
I Was Able to Better Focus My Energy
I felt more balanced on that first day, but also a little tired. So the next day, I tried drinking the bottle over the course of a couple hours to see if that made a difference. This time I simply felt more at ease, like I had just taken a calming yoga class. My body was no longer in a hyperactive mode, but I didn't feel as tired, either.
By the third and fourth day, I started to feel more focussed and better able to organise my thoughts, no matter what was thrown my way. (In addition to being a snacker, I tend to get snappy in stressful situations.) It can be challenging to tape multiple podcasts back-to-back, so I was pleased to find that I was able to clearly articulate my thoughts without feeling frazzled or distracted.
I Felt More Rested
On Day 3, I doubled-down on CBD: I started the day with an almond milk latte with CBD oil drops mixed in to see how it would compare to the Dirty Lemon tonic. For the most part, I felt the same, but this allowed me to save the bottle of elixir for later in the day. I drank it at dinner and actually had a very restful night's sleep.
By the last day, I was worried — it was the night before I had to fly to the conference, and I normally can't sleep before a flight. I'm always panicked that I'm going to wake up late and miss it. I was extremely surprised to find that I not only slept through the night, but also woke up on time and in good spirits, in spite of a very early wake-up call.
I drank half a bottle before boarding the plane that day and tackled the weekend with ease. The changes, though subtle, ulimately sold me. Moving forward, I plan to keep CBD oil on hand and my fridge stocked. Anything that can help me navigate these stressful times seems worth a shot.