When some people feel stressed, they go for a run. Others prefer pouring a glass of wine and binging on their favorite Netflix series. There’s also a growing number of people who turn to CBD to calm their jangled nerves. If you’re in that last group, you might be interested to learn what CBD stress sprays can — and can’t — do for you.
As the name suggests, these are small, cylindrical spray bottles filled with CBD oil. Unlike CBD pain relief sprays, many of which are applied topically, stress sprays are almost exclusively used for oral administration (i.e. sprayed into your mouth). If you’ve ever used a breath-freshening spray like Binaca, you’re already familiar with how they work.
Like many types of CBD products, stress sprays can vary widely in terms of flavors, cannabinoid concentrations, and cost. On the lower end of the price spectrum, you’ll find products like Pure Hemp’s Anti-Stress and Relaxation Oral Spray, which retails at $25 for an 8 ml product with 60 mg of CBD isolate. On the higher end, you’ll see products like Verified CBD’s Anti-Anxiety and Stress Spray, which costs $44 for the same size (but contains only 52.5 mg of CBD, again in isolate form). As is often the case, the best bargains may be found somewhere in the middle — for example, the $35 CBD-Rich Stress-Relief Spray from Storey Family Farms might have a slightly lower CBD content than the others (52 mg), but it’s made with full spectrum CBD oil, which is widely regarded as being more effective than isolates.
You’ll even find some CBD stress sprays marketed toward pets, like Pure Hemp’s creatively-named CBD Anti-Stress Pet Spray (if you’re curious, it costs the same as the human spray, but it only contains 1.5 mg of CBD).
While nearly all CBD stress sprays are designed to be taken orally, they’re not all intended to be used in the same way. Broadly speaking, they can be grouped into two categories: those you spray on your tongue (like the one from Pure Hemp), and the ones you spray under it (like the one from Storey Family Farms).
Broadly speaking, the latter — which are also known as sublingual sprays — are believed to be more effective. They work the same way as sublingual strips: beneath the tongue there’s a highly porous membrane called the oral mucosa, through which the CBD can enter the bloodstream directly. The CBD from sprays that are applied on the tongue (or are, as some products’ instructions suggest, just “sprayed into the mouth”) has to pass through the digestive tract, which can significantly reduce the total amount of CBD your body absorbs.
It’s worth noting here that the advantages of sublingual sprays are based more on theory than practice at this point. As cannabis educator Dr. Timothy Birdsall told Well+Good, “There has been very little scientific research on the sublingual absorption of CBD,” and the huge variance between products means that it’s impossible to make a definitive statement that Spray X is better than Spray Y just because the former is a sublingual spray and the latter is not.
Another key factor to consider is the carrier oil used in the product. These help dissolve the CBD molecules, making them small enough to pass through the body’s various cellular barriers. According to a 2018 study published in the journal Molecules, medium-chain triglycerides (such as coconut oil) are the most effective options, since they are “less susceptible to oxidative degradation than olive or hemp seed oils.”
In general, you can find all this information on the product label (or at least you should be able to find it — if not, you’ll likely want to look elsewhere). It’s also worth checking to see if a product contains a certificate of analysis (COA) from an independent third-party laboratory, since this is the most reliable way of knowing if a product actually contains what it claims. Because CBD still isn’t federally regulated, a COA isn’t a guarantee that your product is legit, but it’s the best option available at the moment.