Binaural beats, or combining two different tones in headphones, is being called a “digital drug,” reportedly creating a relaxing effect. So does cannabidiol, or CBD. What happens when you combine the two?

What Are Binaural Beats?

A binaural beat is an auditory illusion perceived when two different tones with less than a 40 Hz difference between them are presented to a listener, one in each ear, through headphones. When set to proper frequencies, these tones may increase focus, induce relaxation and creativity, and in some cases, promote lucid dreaming. Sessions can be done in 30 minute increments or overnight to enhance sleep.

In 1973, biophysicist Dr. Gerald Oster published “Auditory Beats in the Brain,” in which he studied the effects of binaural beats. His study was inspired by Heinrich W. Dove, a Prussian physicist who first discovered binaural beats in 1839. Dove found that the ability to hear binaural beats was a form of human evolutionary adaptation.

How Do Binaural Beats Affect the Brain?

Soundwaves travel to the brain via nerve impulses in each ear, and the route they travel is determined by the frequency. Two tones of different wavelengths interact somewhere along the brain, which causes the brainwaves to sync at a specific frequency. For example, if a 200 Hz sound frequency is sent to the left ear and a 205 Hz to the right ear, the brain processes those two frequencies and perceive a new frequency at 5 Hz.

Your brain responds differently to specific sound frequencies, and binaural beats can help you achieve a specific brainwave state such as one of concentration, relaxation or meditation. In our example, 5 Hz is the Theta brainwave state, which induces deep relaxation, REM sleep and meditation.

In a meta-analysis of peer-reviewed studies, it was found that technologies such as binaural beats were useful as treatments in the following:

  • Stress relief
  • Emotional control and comprehension
  • Physical or mental pain
  • Sleep, anxiety and depression
  • Creativity and intelligence
  • Cognitive healing and rehabilitation
  • Behavioral problems


Binaural Beats and CBD

CBD and binaural beats have a similar effect on stress, pain, anxiety and creativity, all without the psychoactive effects of drugs. CBD binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain in areas that affect behavior, mood and thought. It would seem that this additional boost of relaxation from CBD would serve to increase the intensity of the effect from the binaural beats meditation.

Unfortunately, there is no published research studying the combination of CBD and binaural beats. But anecdotal experiences indicate an enhanced experience when combining the two. Cannabis and CBD specifically are great additions to any yoga, meditation or self-care session. Bust out the headphones and CBD oil, and give it a try for yourself.