When it comes to stress and trouble sleeping, the majority of Americans reach for their sleeping pills or anti-anxiety meds—the approved, prescribed method that has been popularized over the last several decades. However, with a litany of possible, even worse side effects and a decline in overall effectiveness, these over-the-counter medications are starting to fall behind in the pharmaceutical market.
Enter cannabis: the new sleeping aid that is quickly gaining ground and is backed by a growing collection of scientific studies. Cannabis as a medical, natural alternative is still not widely accepted, but the results that have been seen from its use thus far in sufferers of insomnia and anxiety are difficult to refute.
A literature review of the most recent studies on cannabis from April 19, 2017, points to the effectiveness of cannabidiol (CBD), in particular, in treating those individuals who suffer from insomnia. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), on the other hand, “could impair sleep quality long-term.” This is an ongoing trend in many studies on cannabis, where CBD comes out ahead with regard to medicinal use, while THC remains a less trusted component of cannabis that is relegated primarily to the “psychedelic” sensation that the compound is best known for.
In another study, 73 adults with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) were treated with either a cannabis solution or placebo “1 hour before bedtime for up to 6 weeks.” The study found that those individuals who had been on CBD saw a greater improvement in their sleep apnea, which went hand-in-hand with improved sleep and an overall positive feeling about the experience. This was a Phase II trial on a small population, and larger scale clinical trials will have to be conducted to provide more concrete results, but these findings are still promising for the realm of medicinal cannabis as a sleep aid.
There is a note of caution when it comes to using cannabis as a medicinal tool, however: namely, individuals inexperienced with the differences between strains of cannabis and how to safely use the herbal compound often find themselves the victims of rampant hallucinations and increased heart rates. For some, cannabis can incite greater feelings of anxiety and paranoia. Many medical professionals continue to disavow the use of medical cannabis primarily because the average layperson may not necessarily know what they are getting themselves into.
Within the human body exists the endocannabinoid system, or the Endogenous Cannabinoid System, which is naturally occurring and creates its own form of “cannabinoid” chemical compounds. The most common metaphor for how this system works is the “key and lock” system, where the human body holds numerous “lock” sites that attract certain cells and require those cells in order to “unlock” and do their job. Endocannabinoids work as such a “key” that binds to cannabinoid receptors and can “unlock” them.
The endocannabinoid system is often used in talks about cannabis because it is believed that a deficiency of cannabinoid cells in the body can cause an assortment of conditions, including fibromyalgia, migraines, and irritable bowel syndrome. There is not enough clinical research to prove this line of reasoning, but that does not stop cannabis supporters from pointing to this supposed deficiency as a reason why external cannabinoids are beneficial.
Sleep disorders are one of the most common conditions suffered by adults and children alike, with more than 30% of adults worldwide in 2012 suffering from insomnia. Since there has been no real “cure” for this condition, the number of people suffering from insufficient sleep has continued to rise in the intervening years and will continue to do so as time passes. The only approved treatment for sleep disorders right now revolves around sleeping pills and opioids that have their own potentially deadly effects.
Public knowledge about medical cannabis as a sleep aid will continue to grow as more medical professionals learn more about the herbal compound via clinical research trials. Already there are several cannabis reference guides on the market to help those individuals who are interested in trying the drug become better educated on how to use it safely and effectively. When searching for such a guide, make sure to look for accredited books published by medical professionals.