This is a topic I am asked about all the time, and have been for years: how does cannabis help sleep and health? I’ve heard that the number-two reason why people smoke or use cannabis is for sleep. Considering the recent passing of the recreational use of cannabis in California and other several states I think it is high time (pun intended!) to look at CBD, one of the most active ingredients in medical cannabis.
74. Deiana S, Watanabe A, Yamasaki Y. Plasma and brain pharmacokinetic profile of cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidivarine (CBDV), Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabigerol (CBG) in rats and mice following oral and intraperitoneal administration and CBD action on obsessive-compulsive behaviour. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2012;219:859–873. doi: 10.1007/s00213-011-2415-0. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
Administration of CBD reduced the anxiogenic effects of THC, suggesting that it is capable of decreasing anxiety in animal models. It was also documented that standalone CBD treatment reduced expression of c-Fos in the central nucleus of the amygdala. Reduction in c-Fos is understood to yield anxiolytic effects – possibly another mechanism by which cannabidiol attenuates symptoms of anxiety.
Although nearly all of the published studies found CBD effective for the attenuation of anxiety, there are some notable limitations associated with the research. Perhaps the most notable limitation is the fact that most CBD studies investigate the effect of acute, single-dose administration. The problem with this is that it remains unclear as to whether chronic or long-term CBD ingestion maintains therapeutic efficacy.
Reflecting the next morning, I was most surprised by the fact that I never felt "high" in any way—there was never a moment of It's kicking in; I can feel it now like with pain medications or even anti-anxiety drugs. Considering it takes time, consistency, and the right dosage to experience the full effect, I continued taking the oil once a day for the next six days. Here's what went down.
I stopped by Moon Juice after work, feeling a little nervous and excited all at once. “You might notice that your body feels a bit heavy after you try it—sometimes when I take it I feel like I just want to sit down and chill,” said the women behind the Moon Juice counter who helped me. Prepped for potential side effects, I emptied one dropper’s worth of CBD oil into my chamomile tea as soon as I got home … And didn’t feel anything. A few hours later I got into bed and immediately fell asleep.
The human body also produces cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids, in a bodily system known as the endocannabinoid system (or ECS). The ECS promotes homeostasis by regulating a wide range of functions, including motor skills, mood, appetite, and sleep. As we age, our ECS produces fewer endocannabinoids; they may also decrease due to physical injury or disease. Replenishing depleted endocannabinoids with phytocannabinoids like CBD can help restore balance to the body.
The nervous system’s endocannabinoid system is not well understood. But it’s thought to play a role in regulating pain, sleep, mood, memory, appetite, and other cognitive and physical processes. Because CBD is able to mimic the actions of some natural brain chemicals, its potential therapeutic benefits are wide-ranging but—at this point—nebulous. “We know that cannabidiol modulates the endocannabinoid system, but we don’t know how it works,” Szaflarski says. That said, there are theories.
Whether any of these CBD products will do anyone any good (or bad) is moot. “Cannabidiol is the hottest new medicine in mental health because the proper clinical trials do suggest it has clinical effects,” says Philip McGuire, professor of psychiatry and cognitive neuroscience at King’s College London. “It is the No 1 new treatment we’re interested in. But although there’s tons of stuff in the news about it, there’s still not that much evidence.” Large, long-term studies are needed; a 2017 review paper into the safety profile of CBD concluded that “important toxicological parameters are yet to be studied; for example, if CBD has an effect on hormones”.
Over decades, researchers have found that THC may help treat pain, nausea, loss of appetite and other problems, while CBD was thought to be biologically inactive in humans. But in the past 10 years, scientists have concluded that CBD may be quite useful. Dozens of studies have found evidence that the compound can treat epilepsy as well as a range of other illnesses, including anxiety, schizophrenia, heart disease and cancer.
It was actually a bad bout of jet lag after a trip to California that inspired me to finally test out the CBD oil (I'll admit that my weed-based reservations kept me from trying it for the first few months). Knowing that the oil had also helped people with sleep issues, I squeezed one full dropper of the Everyday Plus oil onto my tongue, per the instructions, and waited.
It's a little more uniform when the product is absorbed by smoking or vaping the oil, Ward said. But, "there are obvious concerns about smoking something." A 2007 review published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that smoking marijuana resulted in similar declines in respiratory system health as smoking tobacco. A similar review published in 2014 in The American Journal of Cardiology found that marijuana smoke inhalation can increase the chances of heart attack or stroke. Neither review analyzed the effects of vaping cannabis oil alone, so it's unclear if it has the same health risks as smoking other marijuana products.
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