Can CBD Help With Jet Lag?

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While travelling can take you to new and exciting places, it's not always fun getting from point A to point B. Travelling long distances often means dragging heavy luggage, sacrificing sleep and squishing into uncomfortable seats. It can still get worse when the passenger in front of you inevitably puts their seat back, or the kids behind you start crying.

Could CBD oil provide some relief from the trials and tribulations of travelling? It may not be able to carry your bags for you, or magically turn that cramped plane into a cosy vehicle, however, CBD could help with one problem familiar to every globetrotter: jet lag.

What is jet lag?

Jet lag is a series of symptoms that arise when you travel across time zones. It's the result of a disruption in your circadian rhythm, or your internal clock. Many of our biological processes follow a 24-hour cycle. When that cycle is properly regulated, our internal rhythm matches that of the outside world. When you cross time zones quickly, without time to adjust, your body gets confused. You've just arrived in New York, but your body still thinks it's in Amsterdam. This creates a clash between your senses and internal circadian rhythm.

Symptoms of jet lag

Since jet lag is caused by a disruption in your body's natural rhythm, it can cause a whole host of issues. Possible symptoms include:

• Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia and daytime fatigue
• Cognitive impairment, including memory and concentration problems
• Anxiety, irritability and generally unstable mood
• Gastrointestinal distress; indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea
• Muscle soreness, cramping, and headaches

Recovering from jet lag

Recovery times for jet lag vary. After crossing just one or two time zones some people may not experience jet lag at all. That said, it depends on the individual. A general rule is: one day of recovery for each time zone crossed. So if you're travelling from Moscow to Berlin, you might need a day to get back on your feet. It may take closer to a week if you're going from London to Los Angeles.

While jet lag is hard to avoid completely, there are a few things you can do to minimise its impact. These include staying hydrated and slowly shifting your sleep cycle in the days before your trip. If you're travelling westward, exposing yourself to bright light in the evening can help you adjust to a later time zone. Conversely, if you're moving eastward, exposure to early morning light can help you get on the right track. You can also use a sleep mask and earplugs to help you rest on long flights.

You may also want to use supplements to help with some of your symptoms. CBD oil could be a useful inclusion to a jet lag relieving regimen.

Why use CBD oil to help with jet lag

In recent years, there's been a growing body of research on the benefits of CBD. While many studies are preliminary, they show potential for a myriad of applications. This is largely thanks to CBD’s interactions with the body's endocannabinoid system. Since CBD's effects are varied, it could be a great option for treating diverse symptoms of jet lag.

Circadian rhythm and sleep

Studies have found CBD may be useful in the treatment of REM sleep disorders. This suggests it could help regulate circadian rhythm. CBD has also been shown to induce alertness and combat daytime tiredness. If you're really struggling, you might want to consider pairing CBD with melatonin. Combining the two supplements could provide additional sleep support.

Mood and anxiety

CBD could help soothe anxiety and stabilise mood. It has been shown to exert a calming effect on the central nervous system. Its anxiolytic effects are likely the result of interactions with different neurotransmitter receptors. Notably, it inhibits reuptake of the endocannabinoid anandamide, sometimes known as the "bliss molecule". CBD also acts on 5-HT1A receptors, a subtype of serotonin receptor that is often targeted for treatment of depression and anxiety.

Cognitive functioning

Jet lag disrupts the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. A spike in cortisol can cause anxiety, since it helps to regulate your fight-or-flight response. Too much cortisol can also impair cognitive functioning, including memory and concentration. This can be particularly frustrating for people who travel for work. There's nothing worse than feeling "foggy" on the day of a big presentation or an important meeting. A 2019 study found that CBD may help regulate cortisol levels, calming your body's stress response.

Animal studies have also indicated CBD could reduce oxidative stress, which has been linked to jet lag. Oxidative stress is caused by the excess of free radicals, atoms with unpaired electrons that search the body for electrons to pair with, which causes damage to cells, proteins and DNA. CBD's antioxidant properties may help counteract this imbalance, allowing you to think more clearly and take care of business.


Jet lag can cause gastrointestinal distress, resulting in indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea. Research has shown CBD could help modulate gastrointestinal motility. It appears to influence the enteric nervous system, reducing excitatory transmission in the GI tract. This could help calm an overactive digestive system. It also has possible antiemetic properties.

Pain and inflammation

Sitting for hours on a plane without moving can result in stiffness and sore muscles. One way to counteract this is to periodically get up to stretch or walk around. That said, space is always limited. The longer your journey, the harder it is to avoid at least some muscle fatigue. CBD may help here too. A number of studies suggest it has anti-inflammatory properties. CBD may also work as a muscle relaxant and pain reliever, soothing soreness and headaches associated with jet lag.

Adding CBD to your first aid kit

If you cross time zones while travelling it's hard to avoid jet lag. If you're doing everything you can to combat it, but still feel sluggish and sore, consider trying CBD oil. Research points to its potential for reducing a myriad of symptoms associated with jet lag. It's also legal in most of Europe and North America. That said, it's always a good idea to check local laws when travelling internationally. If local authorities give the thumbs up, CBD could be a useful addition to your first aid kit. Minimising jet lag will help you feel energised, and you can spend more time enjoying all the places you go to.

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