CBD and Mental Focus

Monday, February 15, 2021 • 7 minute read

Struggling to get your work done? You’re not alone, with the constant distractions of modern life, we all procrastinate from time to time. CBD may offer a solution.

Although CBD will not provide the quick burst of energy a coffee gives you in the morning, there is an increasing collection of evidence supporting its role in improving mental attentiveness and clarity, allowing you to achieve mental flow to get your work done.

How can CBD help support mental focus?

CBD may boost mental focus and clarity because CBD acts on the endocannabinoid system which in turn interacts with serotonin receptors [1].

A promising study found that CBD may help treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), improving alertness and calmness of the mind [2].

Another study concluded that CBD may allow your mind to focus on the tasks that matter to you, rather than your attention be pulled away by other distractions you may face from day-to-day [3].

These findings are at odds with the common misconceptions of CBD, people wrongly associate CBD with recreational cannabis use. People wrongly believe that CBD causes stereotypical ‘’stoner’’ behaviours of tiredness, loss of motivation and the fogging of thought processes. But evidently, CBD may actually help you become more mentally focused. In fact, these stereotypes are actually caused by another natural compound within cannabis plant, THC. THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is psychoactive and is actually the compound that makes you feel ‘high’.

In direct opposition to these thought fogging processes, studies have shown the negative effects in mental clarity normally caused by THC can actually be reversed via CBD supplements [4][5]. There is even research showing CBD may actually improve other mental issues , such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. [6]

How can CBD help with Emotional Control?

Emotional intelligence (otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at school and work, and achieve your career and personal goals. It can also help you to connect with your feelings, turn intention into action, and make informed decisions about what matters most to you.

Taking supplements of CBD have been found to be a useful tool in helping in improving emotional intelligence. A clinical trial found that CBD increased emotional recognition memory for faces [7], improving the ability to understand situations much better. Imaging studies have also shown that CBD treatment increases activity in parts of the brain that associated with emotional processing [8], helping with self-control in making decisions.

Wait a minute, Doesn’t CBD make you feel sleepy?

Researchers believe that CBD has a sedative effect at higher doses, whereas at lower doses CBD may have a wake-promoting effect [3]. CBD may have a dual effect because it acts on our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS regulates the circadian rhythm, which in turn manages your 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. So, taking CBD at different times and doses may have contrasting effects by acting on different times of the sleep-wake cycle.

CBD has been seen to help with people suffering from insomnia [9]. Some researchers believe that CBD has been seen to relieve anxiety and pain, both of these issues can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Several studies conducted support the fact that CBD oil can relax a person who has insomnia. As you get better sleep, you can wake up feeling refreshed and energized instead of feeling tired. This would in turn help to give you greater mental clarity during the day.

Final thoughts

There are several studies supporting CBD's possible use in improving mental clarity, emotional control and getting restful sleep, all hugely important factors in making sure you can tackle the day to the best of your ability.

It’s important to note that CBD’s effects vary from person to person. For some, it might be great for anxiety, while others find it’s best to manage pain. Additionally, dosage and frequency of administration, as well as other medications or substances taken, can greatly impact the effects of CBD.

References

[1] D. De Gregorio et al., “Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain,” Pain, vol. 160, no. 1, pp. 136–150, Jan. 2019, doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001386.

[2]        R. E. Cooper, E. Williams, S. Seegobin, C. Tye, J. Kuntsi, and P. Asherson, “Cannabinoids in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A randomised-controlled trial,” European Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 27, no. 8, pp. 795–808, Aug. 2017, doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2017.05.005.

[3]        E. Murillo-Rodríguez et al., Potential Effects of Cannabidiol as a Wake-Promoting Agent,” Current Neuropharmacology, vol. 12, pp. 269–272, 2014, doi: 10.2190/DE.42.1.a.

[4]        D. S. Jacobs, S. J. Kohut, S. Jiang, S. P. Nikas, A. Makriyannis, and J. Bergman, “Acute and chronic effects of cannabidiol on Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC)-induced disruption in stop signal task performance,” Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, vol. 24, no. 5, pp. 320–330, Oct. 2016, doi: 10.1037/pha0000081.

[5]        M. J. Wright, S. A. Vandewater, and M. A. Taffe, “Cannabidiol attenuates deficits of visuospatial associative memory induced by Δ 9 tetrahydrocannabinol,” British Journal of Pharmacology, vol. 170, no. 7, pp. 1365–1373, Dec. 2013, doi: 10.1111/bph.12199.

[6]        N. A. Crane, R. M. Schuster, P. Fusar-Poli, and R. Gonzalez, “Effects of cannabis on neurocognitive functioning: Recent advances, neurodevelopmental influences, and sex differences,” Neuropsychology Review, vol. 23, no. 2. Neuropsychol Rev, pp. 117–137, Jun. 2013, doi: 10.1007/s11065-012-9222-1.

[7]        C. Hindocha et al., “Acute effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and their combination on facial emotion recognition: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in cannabis users,” European Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 325–334, Mar. 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2014.11.014.

[8]        M. A. Kowal, A. Hazekamp, L. S. Colzato, H. van Steenbergen, and B. Hommel, “Modulation of cognitive and emotional processing by cannabidiol: The role of the anterior cingulate cortex,” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, no. APR 2013, Apr. 2013, doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00147.

[9]      Shannon, S., 2021. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. [online] The Permanente Journal. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/ [Accessed 20 February 2021].