Anxiety, stress, and burnout are common among nurses, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated those issues.

William Cox who, in addition to being co-founder of CBD Stat, is also a chemical engineer and vice president of business development at IMPACT Technology Development, the firm that developed the proprietary hemp extraction process for CBD Stat products, said CBD may stimulate the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which a mood study recognized as a “prominent promoter of emotional homeostasis, mediating the neurophysiological and behavioral consequences of stress.”

The stimulation of the ECS can promote improved sleep quality and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, which can be helpful to nurses, he said.

The study acknowledged, however, that more research would be useful to help understand how genetic variability and psychosocial factors could affect an individual’s response to cannabinoid-based drugs.

Another study suggests that CBD may reduce stress and anxiety among nurses and other healthcare workers.

In 2021, Brazilian researchers conducted a randomized trial to study the effectiveness of CBD in alleviating stress among physicians, nurses, and therapists who were treating COVID-19 patients at a Brazilian hospital over a four-week period. A total of 120 healthcare workers were randomized into two groups, with about half receiving a 300-milligram dose of CBD twice a day plus standard care and the rest receiving only standard care.

The study found the daily administration of CBD, combined with standard care, “reduced the symptoms and diagnoses of anxiety, depression, and emotional exhaustion among frontline healthcare professionals working with patients with COVID-19.”

“Cannabidiol may act as an effective agent for the reduction of burnout symptoms among a population with important mental health needs worldwide,” the authors wrote. The study did note, however, that a small number of participants treated with CBD experienced severe side effects and cited the need for further study of the benefits and potential adverse effects.

Improving Sleep and Alleviating Insomnia

Another potential benefit of CBD for nurses is improved sleep and reduced insomnia.

Greenwood said she started taking CBD oil before going to bed after long nursing shifts to help with the quality of her sleep, and it has helped her tremendously.

 research indicates that CBD can help with a number of sleep disorders including insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder, and excessive daytime sleepiness disorder. “Determining the exact mechanism of how CBD helps with sleep is still being studied,” he said. “Experiences and results are varied and appear to be dose dependent for each individual.”

Other Considerations of CBD Use for Nurses

Because CBD is a cannabinoid, some nurses fear it may show up during pre-employment or other drug testing by their employers. But William Cox noted that since CBD oil is now legal for use at the federal level, it should not be an issue for nurses in most cases.

“Since CBD is not psychoactive, it should not interfere with normal work activity or cognitive abilities, particularly with transdermal topical CBD used for inflammation reduction,”

Typically, healthcare workers who do get tested prefer the THC-free option,” said Morgan Cox, noting that all of CBD Stat’s products are 100% THC-free.

To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved only one CBD product —  a prescription drug product that treats seizures — and is watching for illegal marketing practices in which products containing cannabis or its compounds violate federal law or put consumers at risk.

While hemp-derived cannabidiol containing no more than 0.3% of THC is now legal at the federal level, some states and local municipalities may have their own laws and regulations regarding the use of cannabis products. William Cox encourages nurses to review these  regulations and to seek prior approval from their employers before using CBD products, if they have concerns.

“If they’re concerned, we advise people to go to their supervisor and ask them if it’s okay to use the product,” he said. “I would think they would welcome the use of all natural products that would help their employees work better and feel better.”

While CBD is generally safe, William Cox said, it can cause drowsiness in some people and diarrhea when taken in large quantities. He said it’s important for nurses to follow dosing guidelines, be cognizant of potential side effects, and consult with a physician before use to avoid negative interactions with other medications.

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