Endocannabinoids: When Stress Leaves a Mark

Imagine if your hair could talk! What would it say about the stress you’ve been under - especially if you were on the front lines during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic? It might sound weird, but for healthcare workers in Munich, Germany, a unique study set out to decode just that. The researchers didn’t only listen to their stories, but were reading the biochemical signatures left in their hair. This pioneering and unique research focused on a group of natural substances in our bodies known as endocannabinoids. The goal was to uncover how they might reveal the hidden stresses of fighting a global health crisis.

Endocannabinoids: Nature’s Stress Managers

The human body has a so-called endocannabinoid system - a complex network that plays an important role in our central nervous system. Endocannabinoids are the transmitters in this system and act like your body's in-house stress management team. They work quietly in the background helping to balance emotions, pain and how we respond to stress. Think of them as the body’s natural way of keeping things calm and collected under pressure. During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers faced an amount of stress never seen before. This made researchers curious: how did it affect their natural stress managers - the endocannabinoids?cbd gummies

A Deep Dive into Hair

Our hair can tell our story. By analysing hair samples from 178 healthcare workers, researchers were able to track changes in endocannabinoids and another stress-related hormone - cortisone - over the first wave of the pandemic. The results were fascinating.

The Rise and Fall: As the pandemic was raging, levels of most endocannabinoids in the hair of healthcare workers took a hard hit, decreasing over time. However, one specific endocannabinoid (known as 2-AG) bucked the trend and increased. This was especially true for nurses and those in lab or administrative roles. It seems to be a reflection of the varied stress levels across different healthcare positions.

Stress’s Chemical Footprint: Cortisone, another key player in our body’s response to stress, was found in higher amounts in nurses compared to doctors! This chemical clue in their hair offered yet another glimpse into the different stress landscapes across healthcare professions.

What This Means for Us

This study wasn’t just about scientific curiosity; it’s a window into how we can better support our healthcare workers and other professions and people that deal with high levels of stress. By understanding its biochemical aftermath, we can start to tailor support and interventions for stress more effectively. For example: we know that phytocannabinoids from hemp like CBD and CBG can interact with the endocannabinoid system, helping to relieve anxiety and make us sleep better. 

The Bigger Picture

Research like this underscores how complex stress and resilience are and what they do to our body. It’s also a reminder that our bodies keep a record of our experiences - a record that science is just beginning to understand! For all of us, the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in navigating the stressors of life. As we continue to explore it, we’ll likely find more ways to support our mental and physical well-being. With this understanding, we can help ourselves to find balance and resilience even when times get tough. 

This groundbreaking study is also a testament to the resilience of healthcare workers and a reminder of the importance of supporting their well-being! Not just during a global health crisis - but every day.cbd oil

Portrait of Anna Falk

written by

anna falk - head of product

As the Head of Product at Harmony, Dr Anna Falk leads the development of our products and provides expert tips for your wellness. With over 10 years of experience in the research and development of natural products, her work is based on rigorous scientific studies.

Anna is an award-winning, internationally published researcher with a PhD in Organic Chemistry. She applies her expertise to develop Harmony's certified products that support your overall well-being. From research to development, she ensures that our products are of the highest quality and meet the highest standards.