While Blue Monday has been and gone, there are some people who feel winters effects more than others. The lack of sunlight can have some seriously adverse effects on normal brain function, causing irregular melatonin levels which affect sleeping patterns, appetite and mood. The onset of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) typically occurs between the ages of 18 and 30 and its effects are most prevalent during autumn and winter when the days are shortest.
Common treatment for this is counselling, antidepressants, vitamin D and light therapy. With many people looking for more holistic and natural alternatives to common problems, CBD can be a good alternative. Used in conjunction with a vitamin D supplement, it can help alleviate many of the common symptoms that SAD often presents.
What is CBD and how does it work in the body?
CBD is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, unlike THC it doesn’t give you a high. However, it does bring the sense of calm and relaxation that conventional cannabis does. The human body has endocannabinoid receptors and actually creates cannabinoids itself, with the different receptors having different effects in the body.
There are two different receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are present in brain and throughout the body. These receptors broadly affect the body from your mood, thinking, appetite and normal brain function. The CB2 receptors are located in the immune system and affect how your body experiences inflammation and pain.
Rather than attaching to the CB1 or CB2 receptors, when CBD is administered it actually stimulates your body into using its own CBD stores.
CBD and the effects on the symptoms of SAD
- Anxiety/low mood: When you combine a loss of appetite, poor sleep and an erratic mood, many who suffer from SAD can also experience anxiety. CBD helps by stimulating the CB1 receptors which affect your mood and mentality, helping to regulate it and re-establish normal function.
- Insomnia: Anxiety affects the rest of the body including affecting sleep schedules. Combine this with irregular melatonin and serotonin levels and your sleep can suffer. CBD helps alleviate this by reducing the time spent in the REM sleep phase. In this phase you dream more, as such your brain is more active in this time. The phase after REM is the deep sleep phase where your body repairs itself, meaning you’ll feel more well rested.
- Irregular appetite – binging or loss of appetite: When your melatonin levels are inconsistent due to a lack of sunlight to stimulate normal brain function, your appetite can often suffer. This can result in either eating too much, or too little. Anxiety sufferers also often experience affected appetite, so by addressing the effects of anxiety will have a natural knock-on effect to regulating your appetite.
Combining CBD with a vitamin D supplement is a more natural way to help regulate the bodies hormones and cycles in the absence of sunlight. Taking vitamin D in the morning with breakfast will give you the dose you would otherwise synthesise from sunlight during summer and having CBD during the day will help regulate mood and sleep function.
How to administer CBD
There are several ways you can use CBD, two of the simplest and most common ways are through inhalation or orally through the use of oil drops or edibles. The way you use it is really up to you – true CBD should be derived from the hemp plant and contain less than 0.3% THC to carry the benefits for SAD, anxiety and insomnia.
Dab pens/vaping CBD
Typically you’ll get more out of inhalation methods than taking it orally. Bioavailability is higher with you inhale it, meaning you’ll absorb around 70% of the CBD you use. When you eat CBD gummies or take drops under the tongue you’ll absorb around 10-40%. This is why vaping CBD or using wax dab pens is so popular. It also enters the body very quickly meaning you’ll feel the effects faster. Using an e-cigarette with CBD e-liquid in it is a quick and effective method and allows you to choose your dosage strength and volume throughout the day. Always go for CO2 extracted CBD like the e-liquids you can get from Harmony CBD.
Edibles and oral drops
You might prefer something that doesn’t require you to inhale, in which case edibles and oral drops can be a good option. Edibles often come a gummy format meaning you can get a super precise dose and just eat the right amount for your needs. The drops are typically placed under the tongue to be absorbed quickly that way in a more concentrated dose.
While CBD isn’t a guaranteed fix for everyone with SAD, it can be a useful supplement to help lessen some of the symptoms many people experience with this seasonal disorder. Always buy from a reputable store selling CBD and it’s best to consult your GP if you’re on any other medication.