CBD is a natural constituent of cannabis. It’s a safe and legal compound that’s used by athletes and ‘neurohackers’ around the world. Unlike THC, it has no psychoactive effects and it doesn’t make you high, but instead, enhances your focus, mood, and mental clarity.
Things have been heating up in recent years in regards to CBD. From improved cognition, faster muscle recovery to better sleep. Evidence has begun to show us a glimpse of what this fascinating compound can do.
In this article, we’ll dive into the scientific data to find out the answer to the question: “can CBD improve focus?” We’ll also explain how CBD works in general and also touch upon the laws surrounding it.
What is CBD?
For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, CBD is a cannabidiol, one of many cannabinoids in the hemp and cannabis plants. Your body has a natural endocannabinoid network (ECS) that produces its own cannabinoids.
The ECS is responsible for regulating a number of functions in your body, from your sleep, appetite, stress response to your metabolism. Supplementing with CBD is suggested to enhance this system leading to numerous benefits – both mental and physical. (4)
Types of Endocannabinoid Receptors
To understand how CBD affects our focus, we should first look into how this natural compound works in our body.
The aforementioned endocannabinoid system (ECS) has its own receptors in your body which CBD and other cannabinoids interact with. The two main receptors are CB1 and CB2.
While CB2 receptors are mostly found in your immune system, CB1 receptors are the ones that are concentrated in your nervous system. CB1 receptors are suggested to have an impact on our brain chemistry, mood, and stress levels. This includes focus levels too, which CBD seems to positively affect (more on that in a minute).
Right off the bat, you’ll notice that CBD sounds nothing like THC… and that’s because it isn’t.
CBD vs. THC
While CBD and THC come from the same plant, they’re not alike. They’re different compounds with completely different effects.
THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the compound in cannabis that most people are familiar with. THC is what makes you high and causes those well-known psychoactive effects. Most people find it hard to concentrate or focus when they’re high.
But with CBD, you don’t get these psychoactive effects. If anything, your cognitive abilities get sharper.
Can CBD Improve Focus?
The short answer is yes, it can.
To understand it fully, we should look at how CBD works in your brain.
What’s most interesting about CBD is that it’s a promiscuous compound; it doesn’t just bind to your endocannabinoid receptors in the brain. It also interacts with your serotonergic, dopamine, and many other systems.
Because it affects serotonin, CBD can raise your mood, reduce anxiety, and inhibit other factors that are known to disrupt focus.
Additionally, CBD can increase your concentration levels by affecting the following:
ADD & ADHD
In today’s world, many people have ADHD and ADD. These two mental disorders are characterized by the inability to focus and stay still. If you have ADHD, you know how hard it is to focus on one task at the time. Your mind, focus, and thoughts are running all over the place.
Students often rely on prescription medication to relieve their ADD and pass exams. But this doesn’t come without its costs. Stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall are well-known to cause side effects in the long run.
CBD, on the other hand, may naturally promote a calm and focused mind, and ease the symptoms of ADHD. According to Healthline, it might offer some benefits, although it’s important to note that the evidence is still not conclusive.
One benefit that CBD has been shown to promote is an improvement in sleep quality and duration. (5, 6)
How does this relate to focus, you ask? Well, when you have insomnia or any other condition that prevents you from getting a good night of sleep, your focus is the first one to ‘take a hit.’
You give your brain many tasks during the day, so it’s only natural to recharge it at night. A lack of sleep can severely affect your concentration levels. Not to mention that it can trigger your stress hormones, which further contribute to your inability to focus.
Luckily, one of CBD’s most significant benefits is that it helps you enter deep sleep – resetting your internal clock back to normal.
Your body secretes a cocktail of chemicals when you’re under stress. These include adrenaline, noradrenaline, and most notably – cortisol. While these are nothing to worry about in the short-term (they help you to get going), our modern and hectic lives flood our bodies with cortisol 24/7.
This chronic stress wreaks havoc on your health, causing inflammation and other problems that are linked to many modern diseases. Additionally, chronic cortisol secretion will also impair your focus and other cognitive abilities.
CBD has a growing amount of evidence showing that it helps to soothe mind and body. It inhibits the release of stress chemicals like cortisol, making you more resilient to anxiety, mood swings, and other factors that’d otherwise disrupt your focus. (8, 9)
Hippocampal Blood Flow
Research has shown that cannabinoids such as CBD have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In other words, CBD will protect your neurons from free radicals which disrupt healthy communication between brain cells. (7)
Research has shown that glutamate, our excitatory neurotransmitter, can be toxic to brain cells in high amounts. It can literally over-excite a person’s brain cell to death. However, the same research suggests that CBD protects neurons from these devastating effects of glutamate. It provides your brain with an extra layer of protection with its antioxidants. (3)
Not only that, CBD will increase blood flow to your neuronal tissues. It’s no secret that a healthy brain blood flow is critical for good memory, focus, and overall cognition.
So, can CBD improve focus? Definitely yes!
How to Take CBD?
You can take CBD in many ways. Some people vape it, others ingest it as an edible, and some use it topically.
Any Side Effects to Worry About?
For most people, CBD is safe and has minimal to no side effects.
That said, some people do experience side effects from taking CBD. These include (2):
- Weight & appetite changes
CBD oil can also interact with some medications. For this reason, you should consult with your doctor to ensure you’re OK to take it. (1)
If you do decide to take CBD, make sure to start with a low dose to assess your tolerance. Then go from there.
Anything Else to Consider?
One problem with CBD is that, like other supplements, it’s not strictly regulated. As a result, CBD companies have a lot of freedom to do what’s most profitable for them. The truth is, some supplement companies skimp on the quality of their ingredients and only focus on marketing to push you the product that doesn’t work.
What’s more, companies sometimes put inaccurate dosage numbers on the label. The amount of CBD can vary significantly from product to product.
That’s why when looking for CBD products, make sure you’re getting it from a trusted and reputable vendor with lots of positive ratings and user experiences.
You can even e-mail the company and ask them for proof that confirms what the label says is true. This way, you can be sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck, and not some heavily-marketed, ineffective supplement.
Wrapping up – Can CBD Improve Focus?
As CBD’s popularity continues to grow, more and more research will start to investigate its benefits.
Based on the current evidence, CBD looks promising for improving:
- Stress & Anxiety
If you were wondering can CBD improve focus, this article should’ve cleared a few things up. CBD typically doesn’t cause any serious side effects. Because of this, an increasing number of people have begun to take advantage of this exciting natural compound. To increase not only their focus but other aspects of cognitive and physical performance.