CBD oil can benefit the body but how does it affect your hormones? From insulin to cortisol to melatonin, here’s everything you need to know. Cortisol, the “stress hormone”, helps regulate a number of processes in the body. When cortisol levels are out of balance it can cause a number of issues. Learn more.
Does CBD Oil Affect Your Hormones?
A hormone imbalance can negatively affect your health and mental wellbeing. Luckily, CBD oil can help restore hormonal homeostasis.
Written by Cathy Rozyczko — Edited by Jason Brett on September 27, 2021
CBD oil interacts with the brain and central nervous system to produce a number of beneficial outcomes from reducing inflammation to calming anxiety. But how does CBD oil impact the endocrine system, the body’s network of hormone-producing glands, that plays a role in everything from hunger to heartbeat to sexual function?
While research is still ongoing, there are some indications that CBD oil can affect your hormones. Below you’ll find information on how CBD oil and other cannabis-derived products can impact your major hormones, and how you might use CBD oil to treat hormone-related ailments.
Keep in mind, the following information is intended to be informational and should not be considered medical advice—always speak to your doctor before trying any new treatment plan, including one involving CBD oil.
How Does CBD Oil Affect Your Hormones?
Before diving into the science behind CBD oil’s interaction with hormones, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what hormones do and their role in the endocrine system.
The endocrine system consists of a series of glands located throughout the body. These glands include the thyroid, pineal gland, hypothalamus, ovaries, testes, and pancreas, among others. These glands produce hormones, which are released into the bloodstream.
Hormones play a role in a number of your body’s processes, including metabolism and appetite, reproduction, growth and development, sexual function, and mood. And, many of these processes can be impacted by CBD oil.
The cannabis sativa plant, from which CBD oil is derived, contains over 100 phytocannabinoids, compounds that mirror the endocannabinoids produced by your own body’s endocannabinoid system . Two of the most popular and well-researched phytocannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) . THC produces the intoxicating ‘high’ most people associate with marijuana use; contrastingly, CBD is not intoxicating and will not get you high.
CBD oil reacts with the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, which are located throughout the brain and body. These receptors are responsible for a wide variety of physiological processes, such as the perception of pain, mood, and inflammation.
By activating these receptors, CBD oil stimulates the endocrine glands , in turn affecting hormone levels in the body.
CBD Oil’s Effect on Insulin
Insulin is produced by the pancreas and is an incredibly important hormone which, if unbalanced, can negatively impact your health. Common conditions that are caused by insulin imbalance are heart disease, obesity and most notably, diabetes. CBD oil may be able to influence insulin production.
When digesting carbohydrates (sugars and starches), the body breaks them down into glucose molecules. Insulin assists in metabolic processes by helping the body turn glucose into energy and storing excess glucose in fat cells for later use. In addition, insulin helps cells absorb nutrients from food. When insulin is not adequately produced, glucose can build up in the bloodstream and cause damage to nerves, blood vessels, and certain organs.
The way in which CBD oil aids insulin production is not entirely clear, but there is a correlation between chronic inflammation of the pancreas, or pancreatitis , and lack of insulin production, which typically leads to diabetes . In a 2013 study , cannabidiol produced significant anti-inflammatory effects on mice with acute pancreatitis; because CBD oil can reduce inflammation in the pancreas, it stands to reason that it could potentially improve insulin production.
CBD Oil’s Effect on Cortisol
Produced by the adrenal gland, cortisol is a primary hormone responsible for managing your response to stress. The more stress you experience, the more cortisol your body is likely to produce. CBD oil may be able to help mitigate this response.
Cortisol has played a crucial role in human survival as it is responsible for mediating your natural “fight or flight” response. While the actual dangers in your daily life are now few, stress is still high, which means the body regularly produces cortisol. Increased levels of cortisol force your body to prioritize the fight or flight response, instead of allocating resources to your immune system and metabolism, resulting in symptoms that can range from mood swings and increased anxiety to weight gain.
CBD oil was shown to be anti-catabolic in a 1993 study , meaning it was proven to help regulate the amount of cortisol released by the endocrine system, thus reducing stress- and cortisol-related side effects in the body.
CBD Oil’s Effect on Hormones and Sleep Quality
Did you know hormones play a role in your sleep cycle? If the endocrine system becomes unbalanced, your slumbering could suffer. Luckily, CBD oil may be able to help you get some rest.
Cannabis, and extracts from the cannabis plant like CBD oil, have been known to improve sleep and relaxation. Cannabis and cannabis-derived substances activate the body’s cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors in a way that decreases the time it takes to fall asleep while also improving sleep stability and increasing overall melatonin production.
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland that signals to the body when it’s time to sleep. Healthy melatonin production regulates your natural sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm), which in turn regulates bodily functions. Low or unbalanced levels of melatonin can lead to conditions like depression, obesity, and diabetes. So, if your melatonin levels are off balance and keeping you from being able to fall asleep and stay asleep, CBD oil may be able to improve your sleep quality, which will ultimately better your physical and mental health.
Finally, as mentioned above, CBD oil can improve sleep by lowering cortisol levels in the blood. Cortisol revs the body up in response to stressful stimuli, eliciting a physical and mental response opposite that of sleep. Unfortunately, modern life is full of stressors, and finding fast relief can be difficult. At the end of a stress-filled day, CBD oil can help the body and mind relax by reducing the amount of cortisol produced, allowing you to fall asleep more easily.
CBD Oil for Women
Women may experience frequent shifts in hormone levels throughout their adult lives. Temporary hormone imbalances are to be expected during puberty, menstruation cycles, and menopause, meaning if you’re a woman, you’re no stranger to the symptoms associated with changing levels of hormones. The hormonal imbalance can manifest as stress, weight gain, sleep loss, and physical discomfort, just to name a few.
Because CBD oil can help reduce cortisol levels in the body, it may also be able to reduce the stress or anxiety you feel when your hormone levels are shifting. Too, CBD oil’s ability to help with insulin and melatonin production could help offset the potential weight gain and loss of sleep that occur during hormonal fluctuations.
Finally, if you experience physical discomfort like cramping, CBD oil may be able to help. CBD oil is effective at treating inflammation and pain , meaning it could reduce the pain you may feel during menstruation or as part of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). While pain of this sort isn’t directly caused by hormones, it’s still associated with female life events that are brought on by shifts in hormone levels.
How to Use CBD Oil for Hormone-Related Issues
If you suffer from a condition or maintain a lifestyle that throws your hormones out of balance, CBD oil may be able to help you achieve homeostasis.
But, before you get started with CBD oil, check with your doctor to make sure it’s the right choice for you, as CBD oil has been known to interact with certain medications . You might also consider speaking with a cannabis doctor to supplement the conversation you have with your primary physician.
Once you and your doctor have decided that CBD oil could be a viable option for you, there are many different ways you can start taking it, including capsules, drops, edibles , and vapes. Whatever delivery format you choose, give yourself a little bit of time to experiment. You may find that what works best for you is a combination of products.
When it comes to CBD oil dosage , start slow and follow the serving suggestions listed on your CBD oil product.
If the serving suggestion is unclear or ineffective, we at CBD Oil Review have analyzed hundreds of products and come up with a standard serving suggestion for you to try:
The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25mg of CBD, taken twice daily.
If you aren’t seeing results, increase your dosage by 25 mg every 3-4 weeks until you see the effects you’ve been wanting.
If you found this article helpful, you may also be interested in:
- Linda Strause, PhD (2017) The Role of the Endocannabinoid System in Restoring Balance to the Endocrine System – Medium https://medium.com/randy-s-club/the-role-of-the-endocannabinoid-system-in-restoring-balance-to-the-endocrine-system-6535c4a9f9e1
- Pancreatitis – Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pancreatitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20360227
- Kun Li et al. Anti-inflammatory role of cannabidiol and O-1602 in cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis in mice – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22850623/?
- A W Zuardi et al. Effect of cannabidiol on plasma prolactin, growth hormone and cortisol in human volunteers – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8257923/
- Nicole P Bowles et al. (2017) Recent legalization of cannabis use: effects on sleep, health, and workplace safety – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5656354/
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4 Functions of Cortisol in Your Body and What CBD’s Got to Do With It
Cortisol is often referred to as the “stress hormone” because it plays a key role in our bodies’ response to stress. That said, this steroid hormone also serves several other functions in the body. In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the major functions of cortisol, as well as what can throw it off balance. Lastly, we detail how CBD might be able to help regulate your cortisol levels.
Which Body Functions Is Cortisol Involved in?
In This Article
Cortisol is heavily involved in what is known as our “fight-or-flight” response, when we’re presented with a stressful situation or perceived threat. Adrenaline and cortisol spike, putting you into high alert, primed to respond to the danger — whether you’re being followed by a tiger or you have to give a big presentation. Cortisol alters some of our bodies’ “nonessential” functions — that is, things that can be pushed aside while you’re in a situation that needs to be dealt with there and then — so that you’re able to fight (face the situation head on) or take flight (escape the situation).
The natural ebb and flow of cortisol levels in the body helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle (or, body clock). A paper published in Natural Medicine Journal describes cortisol production throughout the day as a waveform pattern. “Cortisol levels start to rise approximately 2-3 hours after sleep onset and continue to rise into the early morning and early waking hours. The peak in cortisol is about 9 a.m.; as the day continues, levels decline gradually.” Knowing this, it’s easy to see how an imbalance in your cortisol levels could lead to sleeplessness at night and grogginess during the day.
Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone. If you’re exposed to too much stress, your body may not produce enough cortisol to keep your body in balance, which in turn can lead to inflammation. “Although stressful events may be an inevitable part [of] life, a prolonged or exaggerated response to pain or non–pain-related stressors may intensify sympathetic and neuroendocrine activity, exhaust cortisol, and perpetuate widespread pain and inflammation,” according to an article published in Physical Therapy. This is another reason why keeping cortisol levels steady is so important.
Cortisol is involved in regulating the glucose levels in your body, and works to increase blood sugar . According to one paper , “The presence of glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, increases the availability of blood glucose to the brain.” Essentially, when you enter flight-or-flight mode, you need enough energy to deal with the stressful situation, and cortisol provides your body with the glucose it needs to “fight” or run. It follows that if you find yourself in stressful situations too often, your blood sugar levels might become too high, which is part of why managing stress should be a priority for your well-being.
What Can Throw Cortisol Out of Whack?
You can have either too little or too much cortisol in the body for it to function optimally — the goal should be to keep your cortisol levels balanced, so that you can go about your daily tasks. A number of factors can throw cortisol out of balance, but the main one to look for is stress, as you might have already gathered. Experiencing some amount of stress is normal and healthy, but if you’re under constant stress, your body might release too much cortisol, which can lead to issues down the line. High levels of estrogen in the body, as in pregnancy, can also heighten cortisol.
CBD and Cortisol: What Studies Show About How They Interact
Many people regularly take CBD in hopes to help them manage their stress levels, and current research tends toward supporting this approach. One study of 11 volunteers found that taking 300 or 600 milligrams of CBD decreased cortisol levels. Other research has found similar potential, showing how CBD may work within our bodies’ natural systems to help us regulate our stress response and balance cortisol levels. So if you often find yourself in stressful situations, you could try taking a CBD daily to evaluate how it impacts you over time.
Ultimately, cortisol has rightfully earned its reputation as the “stress hormone” and is involved in regulating a number of body functions. But when cortisol levels become imbalanced, this can interfere with how well we sleep, heighten blood sugar and lead to inflammation, among other things. Therefore, managing stress is especially important for keeping cortisol levels within a healthy range — and CBD may be able to help with that.
Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based writer and editor with seven years of experience creating content for various outlets. Her work has appeared in the likes of InStyle, Stylist and Cosmopolitan, and she won first place in Writing Magazine’s Grand Prize for a short story in 2020.