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.
Today, dozens of companies produce CBD in an array of forms. CBD can be inhaled through vape pens, applied in topical salves, ingested in edibles, or swallowed in oil-based tinctures. Oil has become the dominant CBD delivery method for kids with epilepsy, since it is easy to administer and ingest, and there is no shortage of it available for sale online. There are dozens of companies boasting names like Healthy Hemp Oil, Dose of Nature, and Natural Organic Solutions, each of them selling CBD products at prices ranging from trivial to dizzyingly steep. You don’t have to look hard to find them. If you have a PayPal account and $100 to spare, you could have a vial of hemp oil delivered to your doorstep.
There's plenty of anecdotal evidence that CBD helps treat a variety of ailments. People are turning to oils, gummies, and other CBD food and drink products to relax at the end of a long day. Retired NFL players are using CBD to manage physical pain, debilitating headaches, and sleeplessness. Spa clients are even using CBD skin products to fight signs of aging.
Over the past two years, 17 states have passed laws legalizing CBD so that patients can obtain the drug without fear of prosecution from local authorities. For intractable childhood epilepsies—the sorts of seizure disorders that for centuries have ruined lives and shattered families, the ones even specialists like Hernandez dread—CBD could be a miracle cure.
From their small town in southwestern Maine, Meagan and her husband, Ken, took Addy to Boston to consult with neurologists. These epileptic seizures, they concluded, were the result of a congenital brain malformation called schizencephaly. One of the hemispheres of Addy’s brain had not developed fully in utero, leaving an abnormal cleft. She also had a related condition called optic nerve hypoplasia, which caused her eyes to wander—and which, further tests revealed, made her all but blind. By summer Addy was having 20 to 30 seizures a day. Then 100 a day. Then 300. “Everything was misfiring all at once,” says Meagan. “We were afraid we were going to lose her.”
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.
The first product I tried was Plus CBD Oil Drops ($42; pluscbdoil.com). One serving—about half a dropper—contains 5mg. "Taking drops has the benefit of sublingual absorption, which means you're going to feel it a little faster than a pill, maybe in 15 or 30 minutes," says Shunney. I did feel sleepy about 45 minutes after taking it (the last time I checked my phone) but I'm pretty sure I was still awake a while longer. I did sleep soundly, with some groggy effects when I woke up. The next two nights, I doubled my dosage (to 10mg) but I didn't fall asleep any faster.
It is for this reason that all the finished hemp goods that you see for sale in America, from food products to clothing to building materials, are part of an imported hemp industry that has surpassed $688 million annually. The size of this import industry is one of the major catalysts for hemp legalization in the U.S. As a renewable source of a range of products, hemp provides an exciting new step in American agriculture.
CBD products that don't contain THC fall outside the scope of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) Controlled Substances Act, which means CBD products are legal to sell and consume as long as they don't have THC. That's likely one of the reasons why CBD products, including CBD oil, are becoming more socially acceptable and increasingly popular. In 2016, Forbes reported that CBD products are expected to be a $2.2 billion industry by 2020.
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