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Unlocking Your Focus: How CBD Could Improve Concentration  

Written By Ellese Symons Apr 21st 2023
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Just five short years ago, only about 6% of US adults were using hemp-derived CBD. While impressive at the time, that percentage is expected to increase to 35% by 2024 (Julia, 2023). Despite numerous skeptics assuming consumer interest would fade, hemp-derived cannabinoids continue to attract a considerable amount of attention. While our industry initially had numerous obstacles to overcome, including the "stigma" associated with cannabis use, it seems the timing couldn't have been better. Industrial hemp cultivation returned to American soil at a time consumers were eager for information about holistic treatments and natural supplements (NIH, 2016). 

Back then, most people investigating the health and wellness potential of CBD for the first time were also getting a crash course on a relatively unknown regulatory system responsible for the cannabinoid's overall effect, the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Today, most CBD users not only know that ECS signaling regulates nearly every essential function in the body, they also understand that CBD supports ECS function in a way that helps restore balance (homeostasis) (Sallaberry & Astern, 2018). In this beginner's guide, you'll discover why adults of all ages consider CBD a powerful tool for unlocking focus and improving concentration.   

Understanding the Neurobiology of Concentration & Focus 

Your brain is continuously processing information, including potentially distracting thoughts, feelings, and emotions. When you begin focusing on a task, you're engaging your prefrontal cortex, the area of your brain associated with working memory and executive function. Researchers believe your ability to maintain concentration and focus is dependent on the function of your salient network (SN), regions of your brain that filter information in one of two ways, "bottom-up" or "top-down." (Demetre, 2017). Top-down filtering relies on prior knowledge and expectation to filter irrelevant information. Bottom-up filtering allows your brain to zero in on immediately relevant or "novel" input. Both switch between goal-directed or stimulus-driven influences.   

Not only does your salient network help you focus on tasks directly in front of you, it also helps you keep sight of long-term goals like sticking to a sleep schedule, improving physical fitness, or losing weight (Hillman, 2020). While there's still a lot to be learned about this system, neuroimaging suggests sleep deprivation decreases brain activation in the salience network (Ma et al., 2014). Stress hormones temporarily increase SN activity but impair focus and concentration over time by inhibiting the connections between your salience network and functions impacting behavior and emotional regulation (Zhang et al., 2022). Multiple studies link ECS signaling to numerous aspects of brain function, including salient network activity (Batalla et al., 2020). 

How Could CBD Help Me Clear the Fog?  

Physical, mental, or emotional strain can temporarily cloud your memory, impair your judgment, and negatively impact your productivity. While you might be tempted to temporarily clear the fog or boost your energy with a sugar-laden snack or double espresso, the crash you'll feel an hour or two later can cause more issues with mental clarity than you might expect. Instead of creating a situation that elevates your frustration or increases the risk of zoning out mid-conversation, CBD could help you reclaim your edge.    

CBD (cannabidiol) is the most abundant of more than 113 cannabinoids in the oil extracted from hemp's stalks, stems, and flowers. This non-intoxicating cannabinoid works by interacting with multiple molecular targets, including the receptors of your dopamine, serotonin, GABA, and endocannabinoid systems. As the largest regulatory system in your body, ECS signaling helps regulate everything from your moods, emotions, and stress responses to hormonal regulation and muscle movement (Mouslech & Valla, 2009). Although individual results can vary, CBD could help restore balance to numerous processes affecting clarity and focus in several ways. 

Improving Sleep  

There are many potential causes of too little sleep and poor sleep quality, from age-related hormonal shifts to medication side effects. When even seemingly minor changes in routine disrupt your circadian rhythms, it can be difficult to get back on track. When that happens, your brain is far more susceptible to a type of "network instability" that can compromise information recall, decision-making, impulse control, and other aspects of executive function. With executive function compromised, focus, concentration, and overall efficiency are also adversely affected (Suni, 2023). In a sleep study conducted by CBDistillery™ in 2021, participants reported sleeping 30-40 minutes longer on average when using the 600mg CBN + CBD Sleep Tincture, and 61% of participants said they felt refreshed in the morning after using the same product. 

Calming Mild or Temporary Anxiety  

Whether your rapid heart rate, damp palms, or tense muscles are triggered by an immediate risk to your physical well-being, or a mind trapped in an endless loop of worst case scenarios, you're feeling the effects of the autonomic response of your sympathetic nervous system. Your system will stay in a state of heightened alert from the surge of cortisol and adrenaline until receiving signals that you're no longer in danger (Chu et al., 2022). In a CBDistillery study conducted in 2022, participants reported a significant difference in reduction of mild or temporary anxiety when they started using a 500mg CBG + 500mg CBD tincture.     

Alleviating Discomfort After Physical Activity  

The discomfort you feel after a moderate increase in physical activity is a sign that your body needs time to heal. The microscopic damage caused by muscle exertion alerts your immune system to send specialized white blood cells to initiate repairs and remove cellular debris (Fitzgerald, 2013). In the days it can take your body to recover, the discomfort can negatively impact your ability to focus. While there hasn't been an abundance of research delving into the possible benefits specifically for athletes, an investigation connecting the dots between physical function and CBD makes a rather compelling case (Rojas-Valverde, 2021). In an athlete exercise recovery study conducted by CBDistillery™ in 2022, 80% of participants agreed to strongly agreed that they were able to improve their overall endurance and overall performance while using the Full Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture, while 73% of participants agreed to strongly agreed they felt less overall pain after their exercise/workout while using the Full Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture. 

Which CBD Products Are Best for Beginners?  

Based on decades of research detailing how CBD interacts with numerous receptors throughout the body and brain, just about any high-quality CBD product could have a positive impact on concentration and focus. As you're investigating some of the many reports or browsing product reviews, you may also find it at least somewhat reassuring to know that most of 1,900 CBD users who participated in a 2019 CBDistillery® customer survey report positive results for relaxation, discomfort after physical activity, and better sleep. An impressive 89% tell us that CBD helps calm their minds, 88% report that CBD helps with mild or temporary anxiety, and 82% prefer the effects of CBD over meditation. While there's no single product that appeals to every CBD user interested in using hemp-derived products for their focus-enhancing potential, the following descriptions could lead you to the product best suited to your daily routine.  

CBDistillery® CBD Oil Tinctures  

CBD Oil tinctures are made with a blend of hemp extract and a carrier oil. We use MCT oil to help maximize cannabinoid absorption and enhance bioavailability. CBDistillery® CBD Oil Tinctures are available in concentrations ranging between 500-5000mg per bottle. You can use your tincture to add CBD to hot or cold drinks and snacks. You can also add the oil to your favorite recipes to make your own CBD-infused edibles. For fast-acting results, hold a serving beneath your tongue for 45-60seconds before swallowing. 

CBDistillery® CBD Softgels  

Softgels are popular with first-time CBD users because they're exceptionally easy to add to any daily routine. With softgels, you never have to worry about shaking bottles, mixing, or measuring a serving. Every easy-to-swallow softgel gives you a consistent, precise amount of CBD, and they're easy to slip into a vitamin caddy or pill case. Our Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum Softgels are popular with CBD users who value convenience and are available in 30 and 60-count bottles. 

CBDistillery® CBD Gummies  

Like our softgels, CBDistillery® CBD Gummies give you a pre-measured, consistent serving of hemp-derived CBD. They're just as convenient as our softgels but far more delicious. You'll get 30mg of full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD per serving and 30 gummies per jar. Although our softgels and gummies give you the same amount of CBD per serving, gummies have a distinct advantage. They're easy to cut into smaller portions, so you can adjust your serving sizes as needed. 

CBDistillery® CBD Topicals  

If your tendency to push your body to the limits is the most likely cause of lost sleep, distraction, or diminished productivity, consider trying a fast-acting CBDistillery® CBD Topical. Since you won't have to wait for the cannabinoids to clear your digestive system, you could feel soothing relief in as little as 15 minutes (or less). You can use our CBD-infused salve, relief sticks, or lotions on their own or to complement the effects of your favorite tincture, gummies, or softgels.    

How to Find Your Ideal CBD Serving Size  

While you'll find serving size suggestions printed on product labels, those instructions are simply a guide. An amount of CBD that delivers great results for someone else could be quite different than the serving size that helps you feel more focused. That's why we generally recommend starting with a small amount of CBD, just part of a gummy or partial dropper of your tincture, and building from there. If you don't get the results you're hoping for with a partial serving, gradually increase the amount you're using in small increments. Using more CBD than you need is not harmful, but there's also no additional benefit. 

Finding your ideal serving size also reduces your risk of (minor) side effects. Although 93% of our survey respondents report experiencing no adverse effects, fatigue, dry mouth, or digestive upset are possible. If you have a medical condition, consult your healthcare provider before using any cannabis product. While the World Health Organization found "no evidence of public health-related problems" (WHO, 2020), the cannabinoid can interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications. 

Could Hemp-Derived CBD Help Improve Your Ability to Focus?   

Your prefrontal cortex manages working memory and executive function. Your ability to remain focused and engaged relies on several areas in your brain that make up what researchers call the salience network. If sleep difficulties, mild or temporary anxiety, or discomfort after physical activity have you feeling dazed or distracted, consider investing in CBD to help support the regulatory system involved in nearly every aspect of physical, mental, and emotional well-being, your endocannabinoid system. 

At CBDistillery®, you'll find an impressive assortment of CBD oil tinctures, softgels, topicals, and gummies ideal for first-time CBD users. If you're intrigued by the possibility of using CBD to unlock your focus but not quite sure where to start, consider taking our 3-minute CBD Quiz or scheduling a personal consultation. You can shop with confidence. Our hemp-derived products are rigorously tested, quality assured, fairly priced, and backed by a 60-day satisfaction guarantee. 

References  

Batalla A, Bos J, et al. The Impact of Cannabidiol on Human Brain Function: A Systematic Review. 11 Front Pharmacol 618184. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2020.618184 

Bergamaschi M, Queiroz R, et al. (2011) Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients. 36(6) Neuropsychopharmacology 1219-26. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2011.6 

Chu B, Marwaha K, et al. (2022) Physiology, Stress Reaction. StatPearls https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541120/ 

Demetre D. The Salience Network of the Human Brain. Science Beta. 

Fitzgerald, M. (2013) Is Inflammation Holding You Back? Active. Com 

Hillman K. The Neuroscience of Concentration. Health Guidance.org. 

Julia, N. (2023) CBD Statistics: Usage Data & Demographics (2023 Update). CFAH 

Ma N, Dinges D, et al. (2015) How Acute Total Sleep Loss Affects the Attending Brain: A Meta-Analysis of Neuroimaging Studies. 38(2) Sleep 233-40. doi: 10.5665/sleep.4404 PDF 

McCartney D, Benson M, et al. Cannabidiol and Sports Performance: A Narrative Review of Relevant Evidence and Recommendations for Future Research. 6(1) Sports Med Open 27. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40798-020-00251-0 

Moltke J, Hindocha C. (2021) Reasons for Cannabidiol Use: A Cross0Section of CBD User, Focusing on Self-Perceived Stress, Anxiety, and Sleep Problems. 3(1) 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-021-00061-5 

Mouslech Z, Valla V. (2009) Endocannabinoid System: An Overview of Its Potential in Current Medical Practice. 30(2) Neuro Endocrinol Lett 153-79. PDF 

NIH. (2016) Americans Spend $30.2 Billion Out-Of-Pocket on Complementary Health Approaches. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 

Rojas-Valverde. (2021) Potential Role of Cannabidiol on Sports Recovery. 12 Front Physio 722550. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.722550 

Sallaberry C, Astern L. (2018) The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator. 34(6) JYI 48-55. https://www.jyi.org/2018-june/2018/6/1/the-endocannabinoid-system-our-universal-regulator 

Shannon S, Lewis N, et al. (2019) Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. 23, Perm J 18-41. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/18-041 

Suni, E. How Lack of Sleep Impacts Performance and Focus. Sleep Foundation. 

World Health Organization. (2020) Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. PDF https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/controlled-substances/whocbdreportmay2018-2.pdf?sfvrsn=f78db177_2 

Zhang W, Kaldewaij R, et al. (2022) Acute-Stress-Induced Change in Salience Network Coupling Prospectively Predicts Post-Trauma Symptom Development. 12(1) Transl Psychiatry 63. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-022-01798-0