How does cannabis help with sleep and insomnia? Well, the second most commonly cited reason for marijuana and CBD use is to help with sleep. Considering the recent passing of the recreational use of cannabis in several states, among them California, it’s about time to look at understanding CBD, one of the most active ingredients in medical cannabis.
The cannabis plant family produces hundreds of different compounds, many of which have been studied for decades for their therapeutic benefits. Among the compounds peaking the most scientific interest is Cannabidiol. Cannabinoids; now used in treatment for a broad—and expanding—range of conditions and symptoms; from chronic pain, sleep, anxiety, inflammation, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
Cannabidiol—or CBD—is a cannabinoid that is available in supplement form among many other forms and has a number of possible uses, including help with anxiety, stress, pain, and sleep issues. Unlike the recreational and medically used cannabis plant, marijuana, the pure CBD cannabis plant, hemp, is legal in all 50 states. So for those in a state where medical marijuana is currently not legal, you can still purchase and use CBD.
What Is CBD & How Does It Work?
Human Body Produces Cannabinoids like CBD?
The human body does produce cannabinoids naturally. Endogenous Cannabinoids are neurotransmitters produced inside our bodies that attach to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, immune system, and elsewhere. Examples include anandamide virodhamine (OAE), n-arachidonoyl dopamine (NADA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).
Endocannabinoids perform differently to the more well-known neurotransmitters like dopamine , serotonin and norepinephrine.
Dopamine, for instance, is synthesized in advance, stored in the vesicle, and when triggered by stimuli, is delivered from the presynaptic cell, where it traverses the synapse, lands on the postsynaptic cell, and causes activation.
Endocannabinoids, in contrast, are key components of cellular membranes that the human body manufactures on demand. Since endocannabinoids are hydrophobic(cannot combine or dissolve into water), they cannot travel very far in the body and so their effects are localized.
Endocannabinoids also progress in the reverse direction to other neurotransmitters. They initially leave the postsynaptic cell and end at the presynaptic cell where there are great concentrations of axons. Axons are responsible for the discharge of traditional neurotransmitters.
This enables the postsynaptic cell to control the flow of neurotransmitters coming from the presynaptic cell.
CBD’s Indirect Effects on the Endocannabinoid System
While THC has a powerful binding affinity for both CB1 and CB2 receptors, cannabidiol (CBD) has no particular binding affinity. Alternatively, many of the therapeutic benefits of CBD are created through indirect actions.
These actions include stimulating TRPV1 Receptors. These receptors are involved in regulating inflammation, body temperature, and pain.
CBD also works to repress Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH). The inhibition produces higher levels of endocannabinoids like anandamide. Anandamide, or the ‘bliss’ molecule, plays a role in the neural generation of motivation and pleasure so it’s appropriate that its name is derived from “Ananda,” a Sanskrit word meaning bliss. It also performs other important functions like regulating eating behaviors and helping with embryo implantation during the early stages of pregnancy.
Using CBD For Sleep
CBD has the capability to reduce anxiety, which can consequently help in reducing sleep difficulties and improving sleep quality. CBD may increase overall sleep time, and improve insomnia, according to research. CBD has been shown to diminish insomnia in people who suffer from chronic pain.
In smaller doses, CBD galvanizes alertness and reduces daytime sleepiness; important for daytime performance and for the health and consistency of the sleep-wake cycle.
CBD may also help reduce REM behavior disorder in people with Parkinson’s disease. REM behavior disorder is a health condition that makes people act out physically during dreaming and REM sleep. Typically, while in REM, the body is mostly paralyzed, a state known as REM atonia. The temporary state of paralysis keeps sleepers from reacting physically to their dreams. With REM behavior disorder, paralysis doesn’t occur, leaving people free to move—which can lead to disruptive sleep and to injuring themselves or their sleeping partners. Full spectrum CBD may also work to reduce pain and improve sleep quality in people with Parkinson’s disease and Post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD).
CBD With Other Medications:
• Sedative medications are commonly modified or broken down by the liver. Consult with your personal MD before using CBD if you are taking medication of any kind.
Is CBD Right For you?
Always consult your physician before you begin taking a supplement or make any changes to your existing medication and supplement routine. This is not medical advice, however, you can use this information as a conversation-starter with your physician at your next appointment.
A spectrum of doses from 10mg to 600mg and higher amounts have been studied in scientific research, for sleep problems, anxiety, depression, stress, and other conditions.
The previous dose measurements are based on amounts that have been investigated in scientific studies. In general, it is recommended that users begin with the smallest recommended dose, and gradually increase until it has an effect.
Potential CBD Side-Effects:
A 2017 review published within the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid investigation reports the safety and side effects of CBD. The review discusses the use of CBD within numerous clinical studies, most of them regarding epilepsy and psychotic ailments. The most frequent side effects of CBD appears to be tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in both weight and appetite.
Overall, the side effects seem quite minimal. The authors of the review state that CBD has a favorable side effect profile compared to other drugs used in the treatment of the medical conditions mentioned above.
Another study, this time published in the journal Current Drug Safety, demonstrates that CBD has no adverse effects upon physiological parameters including heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, psychological and psychomotor functions, gastrointestinal transit, and food intake.
Most of the side effects concerning CBD have been witnessed in vitro (outside a living organism, such as Petri dishes) and in animal studies. These side effects include modifying cell viability, diminishing fertilization capacity, and repressing liver drug metabolism.
Further investigation using human participants is required to see if these side effects happen in humans. Research conducted on animals doesn’t necessarily relate directly with that of humans. Although many animals harbor endocannabinoid systems, the route of treatment in studies is usually different.
Most human studies used oral administration or inhalation, whereas animal studies usually involve oral administration or injection. These factors can lead to varying blood concentrations of CBD, and therefore inconsistent outcomes.
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