The general public and experts alike have raised a lot of questions about cannabidiol (CBD) being used to quell physical pain and support mental health—and that’s OK. Not only is CBD the new kid on the block in the world of supplements, but it’s connection with the controversial cannabis plant makes it subject to a fair amount of scrutiny.
Article at a Glance:
- CBD is a versatile component in blends that support mood, heart & brain function, and pain management.
- CBD & Ashwagandha
- Ashwagandha is a well-known botanical adaptogen for stress
- Ashwagandha regulates hormones, keeping cortisol in check
- Together ashwagandha & CBD offer a two-pronged approach to mental health support
- CBD & Omega-3
- Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to support heart and brain health
- Omega-3 also keeps your CBD receptors healthy, while also regulating the number of cannabinoids in your system
- CBD & Boswellia, Curcumin
- Boswellia and curcumin are natural anti-inflammatories
- Boswellia demonstrates greater effect when combined with CBD
- Curcumin helps to increase the bioavailability of CBD
As research on CBD oil continues to expand and more information regarding its effects on the human body are studied and made available to the mainstream, we will undoubtedly see the compound’s inclusion in an increasing number of dedicated supplements.
But in these early days of CBD use, stacking the budding ingredient with other clinically studied nutrients in supplements might be the ideal way to reap its varied benefits. The very nature of CBD makes it a versatile component in blends that support mood, certain organ functions, and our body’s anti-inflammatory efforts.
CBD & Ashwagandha For Mood
In a previous article on the benefits of CBD for mood and mental health, we touched on the many ways our minds can be negatively influenced by external stressors—and how CBD potentially works to set us on the path to mental homeostasis. Where CBD is relatively new, there are some herbs with a more storied history of clinical application for the mind.
Few ingredients can match ashwagandha in historical use, as the Indian plant boasts a lineage that traces back to 6,000 B.C. Since then the plant, also known as Withania somnifera, has been a revered herb of the ancient world-rooted Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine, utilized mainly for its adaptogenic—or anti-stress—properties.
Ashwagandha’s calming effect on anxiety and stress has everything to do with your cortisol levels, which naturally rise when you’re facing a particularly stressful situation, triggering your fight-or-flight response. While this helps your body stay prepared and alert, constantly elevated levels of cortisol puts you in danger of a myriad of health issues—including unhealthy weight gain, elevated blood pressure, and higher cholesterol levels, all of which are contributing factors of heart disease.
Ashwagandha helps fight against this unhealthy progression. The herb works through the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (your adrenal system), which is tasked with regulating hormonal balance. Ashwagandha, like other adaptogens, has been shown to reduce stress-induced impairments and disorders related to the function of stress, including cortisol levels. One placebo-controlled study saw the herb administered to individuals with a history of chronic stress. Study subjects who received ashwagandha showed significantly reduced stress-assessment scores in conjunction with substantially lower cortisol levels.
CBD, on the other hand, interacts with our endocannabinoid system, which like the HPA-axis also regulates the secretion of hormones related to our personal stress response. This gives your body another avenue of defense against the pressures of life.
Ashwagandha’s calming effect on anxiety and stress has everything to do with your cortisol levels, which naturally rise when you’re facing a particularly stressful situation, triggering your fight-or-flight response.
It’s worth noting that as of now, there have not been any specific clinical studies examining how exactly CBD and ashwagandha work in conjunction with one another, so any evidence that does exist is purely anecdotal. But when you pair what is known about ashwagandha with what we are discovering about CBD, combining them into a two-pronged approach to mood homeostasis could boost their stress-busting strength—giving our bodies a fighting chance in the never-ending struggle against the often anxiety-riddled modern world.
And we definitely need all the help we can get in the fight against chronic stress, a very real affliction that can wreak havoc on our physical and psychological well-being. Stress leads to insomnia, muscle pain, a weakened immune system, and other ailments—making managing and reducing stress through nutritional means an important tool in anybody’s shed.
CBD & Omega-3 For Heart, Brain Function
Once upon a time, Omega-3 burst onto the scene as the trendy nutritional supplement that every company told you was the one ingredient you absolutely had to have for overall health. Omega-3 was first discovered in the 1930s, and skyrocketed in popularity in the 1990s, before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted it “qualified health claim” status in 2004. In its justification, the FDA acknowledged that the consumption of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—either in fish or in supplements—may in fact reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Since then, Omega-3 took over the nutritional conversation, finding its way into the dietary recommendations of doctors as well as the ingredient listings of countless supplements. It was a phenomenon that became a fad, that became a true force in the support of a healthy cardiovascular system through its anti-inflammatory properties and its proven ability to reduce elevated blood triglyceride levels.
Studies also demonstrate that omega-3s are vital element in the maintenance of brain function throughout life. Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in brain cell membranes, where they support cognitive and facilitate cell-to-cell communication well into our later years.
This quick, upstream trajectory of Omega-3 seems to mimic that of the early stages of CBD acceptance, with the one major difference being Omega-3’s mass appeal owing to its affiliation with fish, rather than cannabis/hemp, an association that rankles opponents of CBD.
Similarities and differences aside, there is mounting evidence pointing to the possibility that Omega-3 fatty acids and CBD can work in tandem when stacked together in a supplement. In order to understand how they interact, we should first get a quick sense of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is a chemical signaling system housing a network of receptors that interact with incoming cannabinoids, facilitating the maintenance of numerous peripheral systems. The system is made up of two receptors: CB1 and CB2, each with its own beneficial function. CB1 receptors are concentrated in the brain and the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors—which CBD mainly interacts with—are distributed throughout your organs, playing a pivotal role in protecting the cardiovascular system when it is under major stress.
Studies demonstrate that omega-3s are vital element in the maintenance of brain function throughout life. Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in brain cell membranes, where they support cognitive and facilitate cell-to-cell communication well into our later years.
But in order for your CB2 receptors to properly receive and distribute the benefits of CBD, your endocannabinoid system must be primed and well oiled. This is where omega-3 fatty acids come in. There is evidence suggesting that diets rich in omega-3 help control systemic inflammation through conversion of EPA and DHA into bioactive metabolites that activate cannabinoid receptors.
This clearly illustrates a possible connection between omega-3 and CBD—specifically, at the exact place where your ECS receives and transmits the benefits of CBD.
Combining The Anti-Inflammatory Effects Of Boswellia & Curcumin With CBD For Pain
Anti-inflammatory foods or drug treatments target the source of your physical pain, taking action to reduce the inflammation causing the discomfort. This knack for getting to the root of the problem is what sets anti-inflammatory medications apart from pain-relieving opioids, which block pain signals to the brain and adversely affect your central nervous system in the process.
A 2018 formulation study showed improved anti-inflammatory effects from topical application of CBD in combination with Boswellic acid
Two of the more curious—and promising—natural anti-inflammatory agents used as supplemental ingredients are boswellia (frankincense) and curcumin (turmeric). Once again, the Indian Ayurveda has known for thousands of years something we’ve only gleaned in relatively recent history—curcumin and boswellia are powerful fundamental factors in the relief of physical pain and general bodily discomfort. In fact, the results of a 12-week study showed that the use of curcumin in combination with boswellia reduced pain-related symptoms in individuals with osteoarthritis.
Boswellia, already a strong anti-inflammatory on its own, demonstrates greater effect when combined with CBD. Specifically, a 2018 formulation study showed improved anti-inflammatory effects from topical application of CBD in combination with Boswellic acid, the key therapeutic active component of Boswellia.
As for curcumin, it is incredibly beneficial for inflammatory conditions where recurring musculoskeletal pain is present. On the other hand, CBD’s work with the endocannabinoid system makes it perfectly adapted to be effective with neuropathic pain. But for chronic pain sufferers, who often face a plethora of pain categories, a combination of CBD and curcumin could be the answer.
CBD & Nutritional Supplements
Since CBD is so new to the nutritional supplement world, it is safe to say that more and more combinations will be formulated and studied over the next several years. Keep an ear to the ground and your eyes on the medical journals to find out what’s coming next and how it can help you live a fuller and healthier life.