CBD for Energy, Focus and Concentration: Can It Help?

Illustration of CBD Oil with Three Energy Levels of a Woman from Low to High Energy
Written by Livvy Ashton | Last updated: July 2, 2021

The fast-paced times we live in make it difficult for us to focus during the day, with so much pressure and responsibilities at once. Our bodies have their limits, so expecting the optimal performance when you don’t give it the necessary time to restore is just wishful thinking. Many people are looking for a quick fix for their low energy levels and blunt focus — turning to caffeine, energy drinks, and other widely available stimulants.

Effective as they are in a short-term perspective, long-term use of stimulants has dangerous side effects, including addiction, cardiovascular problems, liver damage, and more.

This is where CBD comes in. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a natural compound in hemp plants that have balancing effects on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) — our prime self-regulatory network. CBD has many science-backed health benefits, such as sleep regulation, pain relief, immune support, neuroprotection, and more.

Recent research also shows that CBD can enhance focus and boost energy throughout the day.

Today we explain the mechanisms behind this phenomenon.

Does CBD Oil Help with Energy and Focus?

CBD Oil and Dropper in White Background

Although most people associate cannabis with sleepiness and low energy levels, CBD does exactly the opposite. CBD can be sourced from both hemp and marijuana, but most CBD products available for sale online are made from hemp. Hemp plants contain 0.3% of THC or less, which doesn’t produce intoxicating effects. Simply put, CBD won’t make you feel high and sleepy like the high-THC cannabis does.

Better yet, CBD can balance your neurotransmitters and alleviate certain symptoms that negatively affect your energy.

Energy-Boosting Properties of CBD

Our energy and concentration are influenced by many factors. Chronic health problems, such as sleep deprivation, diet, and stress can all compromise your productivity. At present, there’s not much evidence to support CBD’s ability to improve energy and focus.

According to one 2014 review of studies, CBD might promote wakefulness in some people, although these findings haven’t yet been confirmed clinically (1).

A 2015 randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study found that CBD improves facial emotion recognition, indicating the cannabinoid’s role in cognitive functioning and focus (2).

Although the research into the effects of CBD on energy and focus is in the early stage, many studies suggest that CBD may alleviate certain symptoms that compromise these parameters.

Here’s how CBD can help you boost energy throughout the day — in a not-so-direct way.

Anxiety Relief

Anxiety disorders often cause people to feel tired and have difficulty staying focused. CBD may help you fix the short attention span and boost energy by reducing anxious thoughts. CBD does that by regulating several neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine and serotonin (34). However, CBD doesn’t affect them like caffeine or other natural stimulants; instead, the cannabinoid provides balance in the activity of these neurotransmitters, allowing the body to use them more effectively. CBD also modulates the GABA-A receptor, which is the “handbrake” of the nervous system (5).

Sleep Regulation

Lack of sleep is another contributor to low energy levels and poor focus. Even one night deprived of sleep can negatively affect your cognitive performance the next day. CBD may be able to help regulate sleep cycles (6). Most users report sedation at high doses of CBD taken in the evening, whereas lower doses in the morning are believed to boost alertness. This may have a profound impact on your sleep duration and quality. When you stay productive throughout the day, your brain will receive signals that it’s time to prepare for rest. On the other hand, when you feel sluggish and do literally nothing before the evening, your brain may wake up and give you a train of thought as you try to fall asleep. On top of regulating your daily functioning, CBD can reduce the REM phase disturbances and keep you longer in the deep sleep stage.

Pain Reduction

Chronic pain can cause you to struggle with concentration and experience fatigue. CBD can mitigate pain by reducing inflammation and altering the way pain signals are sent to the brain. Studies have mentioned CBD as a potential painkiller in conditions such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, migraines, post-surgery pain, and neuropathy (7).

Does CBD Help You Focus?

man concentrating with work in his desk

As mentioned, CBD interacts with the “feel good” hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. Every time you feel considerable stress, your body starts to produce cortisol. High cortisol levels may compromise your ability to focus and make you unable to maintain mental clarity. CBD may help manage this problem by interacting with the excretion of excess cortisol (8). As a result, the brain can release more dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters affect memory, focus, energy, and motivation. Long story short, yes, CBD can help you focus on the important tasks you encounter each day.

How to Take CBD for Energy and Focus

You have plenty of CBD products to choose from, all of which can affect your body slightly differently. You need to consider things such as how long they take to get to work, how long they last, and if they provide consistent dosing. Here are some of the most common options out there:

  • CBD Oil – oils are the most common form of CBD. They are made of a whole-plant hemp extract and infused into an inert oil for higher bioavailability. CBD oil usually has a dropper that makes dosing more accurate than other forms. The effects of CBD oil are relatively fast-acting, although some people may dislike its taste.
  • CBD Capsules – capsules offer a convenient and discreet way to consume CBD. The majority of CBD capsules are available in an easy-to-take soft gel form. Each capsule contains a fixed dose of CBD, so there’s no need to play with a dropper or worry about the oil leaking into your bag. Although capsules have a delayed onset, their effects last longer than with oils. However, since the CBD is processed in the digestive system first, it may also lose some of its potency.
  • CBD Edibles – edibles have a lot of fans out there because they offer the most enjoyable way to take CBD — and a great diversity of products. You can choose between CBD gummies, protein bars, chocolates, honey sticks, cookies, and more. Edibles use the same route of administration as capsules, so they may need more time to kick in.
  • CBD VapesCBD vapes are picked due to their high absorption rate and fast-acting effects. When you inhale CBD in a vape pen, the compound absorbs through the lung tissue right into the bloodstream. With no first-pass metabolism in the liver, the CBD can reach the cannabinoid receptors faster and produce its calming effects within minutes after inhalation.
  • CBD Topicals – CBD topicals cover a wide range of products, including creams, lotions, balms, gels, shampoos, and bath bombs. Topical formulations are designed to target localized problems. Once rubbed into the affected area, the CBD interacts with the skin’s endocannabinoid system, easing the discomfort.

How to Choose the Right CBD Product for Energy

Energized Woman Going to Work with Drink

Which product you ultimately choose boils down to personal preference. You need to understand how a particular product will fit into your lifestyle. Is it suited for your working hours? Is it discreet? Do you even need a low-profile consumption form? Here are a few handy tips to determine which CBD product will be the right one for you:

  • Choose products with supportive ingredients – pay attention to all ingredients in your product. Some CBD extracts are enriched with caffeine or fruit extracts to compliment the energy-boosting benefits of cannabidiol.
  • Read third-party lab reports – reputable brands test their products in third-party laboratories for potency and purity. A certificate of analysis from such tests is proof of the product’s quality. The CBD market is unregulated because hemp-derived products are classified as health supplements. Thus, many fly-by-night vendors take advantage of that situation, churning out mislabeled, often downright dangerous products. Always look for the lab-reports on the brand’s website.
  • Consider the form – if you have no problems ingesting a botanical liquid, then CBD oil will be your best bet. For higher bioavailability and faster effects, you can pick CBD vapes. Capsules will be better if you live a busy life and take CBD on-the-go. Finally, a CBD cream is a handy product for managing daily aches and taking care of the skin.
  • Find the right potency – the amount of CBD per serving varies between different products. Their bioavailability is also different depending on the type, so once you’ve figured out the right form of CBD, you need to consider the potency. The concentration of CBD per bottle is expressed in milligrams. Manufacturers also have their own dosage guidelines based on a single recommended serving.

Safety and Side Effects of CBD

CBD Oil in Bottles Nesting with the Hemp Plants

Studies have found that CBD is safe for human consumption. There are a few mild side effects, though, such as:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

Since CBD is fat-soluble, consuming it along with fatty food can significantly increase CBD blood concentration, increasing your chances of experiencing these side effects. On top of that, CBD interacts with a lot of prescription and nonprescription medications. If your doctor has warned you against taking your meds with grapefruit juice, then you shouldn’t mix it with CBD either. CBD and grapefruit both change the way your liver processes active ingredients in drugs.

It’s always best to consult your doctor to be on the safe side when using CBD for energy and focus if you take any medications.

Other Ways to Build Energy and Boost Focus

healthy woman running in the morning

People build stamina and increase focus in many other ways than taking CBD. Some natural methods to boost energy include:

  • Getting the right amount of quality sleep
  • Eating food that has a dense nutritional content
  • Staying active
  • Avoiding alcohol use and smoking
  • Managing stress
  • Drinking enough water
  • Taking health supplements

If you’re chronically tired and can’t focus on important tasks, it might be a good idea to seek medical advice.

Summarizing the use of CBD for Energy

CBD isn’t a stimulant like coffee or energy drinks. Instead, CBD interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system to regulate the activity of different neurotransmitters and hormones that control your cognitive functions and energy levels. Moreover, CBD can reduce pain, improve sleep, and ease anxiety — all of which are known contributors to fatigue and problems with concentration.

Consistent supplementation with CBD may balance vital mental processes to keep you naturally in tune with your body and remain productive throughout the day without sacrificing your well-being.

Do you take CBD for energy and focus? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Literature:

  1. Murillo-Rodríguez, Eric et al. “Potential effects of cannabidiol as a wake-promoting agent.” Current neuropharmacology vol. 12,3 (2014): 269-72. doi:10.2174/1570159X11666131204235805
  2. Hindocha, Chandni et al. “Acute effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and their combination on facial emotion recognition: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in cannabis users.” European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology vol. 25,3 (2015): 325-34. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2014.11.014
  3. Seeman, P. “Cannabidiol is a partial agonist at dopamine D2High receptors, predicting its antipsychotic clinical dose.” Translational psychiatry vol. 6,10 e920. 18 Oct. 2016, doi:10.1038/tp.2016.195
  4. De Gregorio, Danilo et al. “Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain.” Pain vol. 160,1 (2019): 136-150. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001386
  5. Pretzsch, Charlotte Marie et al. “Effects of cannabidiol on brain excitation and inhibition systems; a randomized placebo-controlled single-dose trial during magnetic resonance spectroscopy in adults with and without autism spectrum disorder.” Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology vol. 44,8 (2019): 1398-1405. doi:10.1038/s41386-019-0333-8
  6. Babson, Kimberly A et al. “Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of Literature.” Current psychiatry reports vol. 19,4 (2017): 23. doi:10.1007/s11920-017-0775-9
  7. Russo, Ethan B. “Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain.” Therapeutics and clinical risk management vol. 4,1 (2008): 245-59. doi:10.2147/tcrm.s1928
  8. Appiah-Kusi, E et al. “Effects of short-term cannabidiol treatment on response to social stress in subjects at clinical high risk of developing psychosis.” Psychopharmacology vol. 237,4 (2020): 1121-1130. doi:10.1007/s00213-019-05442-6

Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.

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