You’ve probably come to know CBD for its stress-relieving, discomfort-dulling and sleep-inducing benefits. But did you know CBD has also been known to help with focus and concentration? That might seem a bit counterintuitive since the words usually associated with CBD’s benefits are ones like calm, relaxation and relief. But the truth is, yes, CBD can give you a helping hand when it comes to better focus and concentration.
To understand how CBD can help with focus and concentration, you’ll need a quick primer on CBD itself and how it works. It will also be helpful to review some of the main issues in life that can negatively affect focus and concentration. Then, you’ll be primed for a walk-through of how CBD will be a benefit. Let’s get started!
Breaking Down How CBD Works
For those who are a bit newer to the world of CBD, we’re going to break down some of the basics and get you up to speed. This way, you’ll be better equipped to understand the ins and outs of how this fantastic compound works in your body. And afterward, it’ll be easier to know how you can use CBD to improve your focus.
To begin, CBD is short for cannabidiol. It’s a special compound, known as a cannabinoid, produced by hemp plants. There are many cannabinoids found in hemp – over a hundred, actually – but CBD is the most plentiful and the one we’re most interested in. So, basically, if we were a parent picking favorites, CBD would definitely be ours.
Another prevalent cannabinoid you might have heard of is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or just THC. It’s the psychoactive cannabinoid that gives people a euphoric feeling and makes many folks sleepy or drowsy. Again, THC is mainly found in marijuana plants, not hemp plants.
A minuscule amount of THC is indeed present in hemp plants which, as we mentioned, are better at producing CBD. However, by law, when it comes to industrial hemp and CBD products, they can contain no more than 0.3% THC. We’re mentioning all this because we need to clarify that CBD and THC are not the same things even though they can be found in the same plant.
Research conducted on the effects of CBD and THC on the prefrontal cortex suggests that CBD might counteract many of the psychoactive effects of THC. Additional research found the same is likely true for the hippocampus. So those regions of the brain were studied to see what beneficial effects CBD would have on them because they’re both super important!
The prefrontal cortex has a ton of jobs, including focusing your attention as well as predicting outcomes, mediating impulse control and regulating emotional reactions. The hippocampus is connected to learning and memory. See? Important brain parts! But why can a cannabinoid like CBD have any kind of impact on the brain at all?
It’s because of your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is connected to your central nervous system and your peripheral nervous system. So the essential takeaways there are the brain and nerves! Cannabinoids mimic natural molecules your body produces, called endocannabinoids, and so they’re able to attach to special receptors that make up part of your ECS.
Quick medical science tidbit: The prefix endo means in or inner. And since cannabinoids were discovered before researchers knew anything about the ECS or its parts, when they started to map it out in the 1990s, they opted for the name endocannabinoid for those unique molecules that work similarly to cannabinoids because it was just easy and self-explanatory.
If the idea of cannabinoids interacting with microscopic receptors in a body-wide system is all a bit too scientific, don’t worry. Instead, just think of it like CBD having a conversation with your body, but it’s using those special receptors to make it happen. In this way, CBD can work within your ECS, which plays a significant role in maintaining your physical and mental health by regulating functions such as mood, memory, stress, sleep, appetite and more. Without this system, your body would not be in a state of homeostasis, maintaining a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment. And, as you might’ve guessed, no homeostasis, no focus or concentration!
Now Let’s Talk About “Focus”
Okay, so now that you’re a CBD and cannabinoid expert, let’s figure out this whole “focus” thing. Our friends over at Merriam-Webster define focus as directed attention, as well as concentrated attention or effort. Basically, this means you’re pointing your brain at something like a task or problem and asking it to think only about that one thing.
And your brain actually likes this kind of work. In fact, some research suggests that the more you concentrate, the better shielded you are from distractions. So, the more focused you are, the less likely you are to fall off track. But if your brain likes to focus and concentrate so much, to the point where it’s designed to double down when given a fair chance to do so … why doesn’t it work that way all the time? Well, that’s because there is a whole pile of things that can influence how our brains work.
What Causes Poor Focus & Concentration?
When it comes to reasons you might be having trouble focusing, there are, unfortunately, quite a few. Some you can control, some not so much. Let’s take a look at them now.
Chronic Conditions & Pain
Under the category of “beyond your immediate control” are chronic conditions. These are the kind of health issues that have long-lasting effects and are often not quick fixes. They also may or may not worsen over time. We’re talking about recurring headaches, including migraines, arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain and nerve damage. Many of these can, indeed, be managed with the help of a healthcare professional. But, left unchecked, such issues are going to severely impact your ability to concentrate because who can focus when they’re distracted by pain?
Lack of Sleep & Excess Stress
In the realm of the absolutely obvious, we have “not getting enough sleep” and “being under too much stress.” And these two things honestly go hand-in-hand. That’s because poor sleep can also cause your body to produce the stress-response hormone cortisol. This can lead to slower reaction times and lowered comprehension ability. You also might suffer from sleep deprivation caused by sleepless nights of insomnia brought on by too much stress. Or maybe it’s a slowly widening sleep deficit because you sacrifice an hour or three of Z’s, night after night, working late or social media scrolling. Regardless of the type or cause, a lack of sleep is going to wreak havoc on your ability to focus and concentrate.
When you don’t sleep, you will suffer cognition impairment, and that’s just science. And when the stress is too much, there will be adverse effects on your body that start at a cellular level and which will eventually impact cognition and motivation. Again, that means focus and concentration.
Suppose you regularly take medication for one of the above chronic conditions or other physical or mental health needs. In that case, there’s a chance that the side effects are hampering your focus and concentration. Common side effects for medications include drowsiness, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, rashes and heart issues, including palpitations and irregular heartbeats. None of these are very conducive to better focus or attention. But always speak to your doctor before stopping any medication to ensure it’s the right choice for you.
Hunger/Dehydration & Proper Nutrition
Your body is a living machine capable of amazing things. It also needs to be fueled and hydrated regularly to maintain itself so you can continue to achieve those fantastic things. When you skip meals to get extra work done or opt for foods that aren’t as nutrient-rich as they could be, you’re doing yourself a disservice. And don’t forget the liquids! Your brain needs water to work right and maintain proper cognitive function. If you’re making sacrifices in these areas, you’re also sacrificing your focus and concentration.
So How Can CBD Help?
There are a few different ways CBD can help boost focus and concentration, though it’s not by instantly making your mind sharper. Nope. It’s more about dealing with some of the issues we just outlined. So let’s take a look at them now.
Pain & Discomfort
Relief from pain and discomfort is one of the top reasons people choose to use CBD products, especially for issues like headaches and migraines. In fact, CBD has been studied and shows promise for its benefits as adjunctive therapy for pain management in some rather intense situations. That’s because, as we’ve previously mentioned, CBD may be capable of sending pain-relief and anti-inflammatory signals to the brain to help regulate and manage pain throughout the body.
And if you’re feeling better, you may be able to drop one or two of the meds that are causing poor focus after consulting with your doctor. In the end, less pain will mean better focus and concentration.
Sleep & Stress
Getting quality sleep is essential to your physiological and mental health. Sleep is when your brain recuperates and revives itself. As you know, if you don’t get enough sleep, you wake up feeling cranky, with little to no motivation. Studies have shown that CBD could be effective as a sleep aid for people who need a little more calm and relaxation to help a busy mind rest easy. By improving the length and quality of your sleep, you can wake up feeling refreshed and alert in the morning. This is going to also significantly improve your ability to focus and concentrate.
Mood & Energy
For people who struggle with mood or feelings of anxiety and who have symptoms that lack motivation, CBD may be immensely beneficial due to its relationship with serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter often called the body’s natural “feel-good” chemical. CBD has improved mood, focus and energy levels by acting indirectly upon serotonin receptors within the nervous system. Low serotonin levels are associated with lethargy and fatigue. Therefore, higher levels mean that you will naturally feel more energized.
CBD has also been known to affect dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that carries signals between brain cells. When dopamine levels are low, our motivation lessens, so concentration and attention levels drop. CBD can help improve focus by possibly triggering the right receptors in the endocannabinoid system to balance dopamine levels. There is also a genuine link between how we feel and what we eat, commonly called the mood and food connection. Researchers have outlined a clear roadmap between our mood, food and better brain health. And there is an element of nutritional psychiatry to all of this, which shows the reciprocal relationship between mood and food as well.
How to Take CBD for Focus
Now that you know why and how CBD can help improve your focus and concentration, another question comes to mind. How exactly are you supposed to take it or use it? Fortunately, there are many options available on this front. A true classic and favorite of many are CBD drops which can be taken sublingually, meaning under the tongue. Simply use the provided dropper to deliver your desired serving, hold for 15 to 30 seconds, and then carry on. It’s an easy way to incorporate taking CBD into your morning or afternoon routine.
CBD drops are also a great way of creating a culinary experience with some CBD recipes, so you definitely have options when you keep them in your cupboard. Another popular method for using CBD products that has gained traction is swallowing CBD capsules. In fact, here at Soul CBD, we have a specially formulated CBD capsule for better alertness that combines the benefits of CBD with other cognitive enhancers for brain food you can bank on.
Like capsules, but way more delicious, CBD gummies offer the same discretion and portability but come in various flavors. And for localized relief when it comes to joint and muscle aches, rapid relief CBD cream will do the trick and let you get back to what needs your focus and attention. Regardless of the method you go with, be sure to buy your CBD products from a trusted source that does third-party testing. And if THC is a concern for you or something you’d like to avoid, we highly recommend choosing products made with CBD isolate instead of full-spectrum. You’ll find that all of our Soul CBD products are not only made with CBD isolate but are also plant-based products that are organically farmed, gluten-free, and grown right here in the USA.