By Cathy J. Leer, PT, MBA
Lately I’ve been alerted to and asked about the effects of CBD on sleep in relation to disease processes such as Parkinson’s, MS, CA, and Arthritis. Although these are vastly difference diseases with vastly different symptoms, both in the disease itself, as well as for each individual patient, there is a very common link between them all: sleep disorders. In fact, poor sleep is universally accepted as being linked with chronic illness…but what came first? Poor sleep as contributing to chronic illness or vice versa? And does it matter? Regardless of the answer, it IS imperative that you get quality sleep to restore and maintain good health.
Sleep and sleep difficulty are one of the most common health problems today and affect millions worldwide. A subject that by itself could take up pages, it is not the subject of my post today. Rather, I will be commenting on the effects of CBD on sleep, and what is being talked about in the medical and cannabis community.
A few basics to start. THC-tetrahydrocannabinol has psychotropic qualities. It’s what gets you high. CBD-cannabidiol, has no psychotropic qualities. THC is a controlled substance (at concentrations >3%). CBD is not a controlled substance. THC generally sedates whereas CBD in moderate doses stimulates. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple though, because each can have a biphasic effect, which means that they can be both stimulating or sedative dependent upon the dosage.
Another basic fact is that the Endocannabinoid System-ECS naturally occurs in the human body. It is the “primary homeostatic regulator of human physiology” or in layman’s terms, what keeps the body balanced and functioning properly. As such, it plays a major role in our sleep-wake cycles or circadian rhythms (internal biological processes related to sleep), as well as the processes that influence our nerves that create reactions and responses throughout the day. Cannabinoid receptors found in the central nervous system (CB1) and those in the immune cells, peripheral nervous system and metabolic tissues (CB2), can help decrease anxiety, pain, inflammation and overall sleep quality and equilibrium when they are influence properly by different cannabinoids. The trick is to find the right combination of cannabinoids to do just that.
Although there are differing views, and admittedly not enough scientific and human studies, there are some promising and credible findings. In fact, one such study was done on MS and neuropathic pain patients using a drug called Sativex (approved in Canada for central neuropathic pain with MS) which contains ~ 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD. When combined at doses of ~2.5 mg of each substance, the quality of sleep was improved with less interruptions and increased sleep time. All without negative side effects common to other sleep aides like drowsiness, irritability, or cognitive issues. Because there was improvement in pain, spasms, nighttime urination and related complaints, the combined effect resulted in a better night’s sleep.
Of course, this is not a drug approved in the US, and we are trying to avoid the use of prescription medications. By considering the basic fundamental of Sativex having both TCH and CBD in the formula, it would lead us to believe that a full spectrum oil (FSO) containing CBD, Phyto cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes along with up to .3% THC, would be the logical option in terms of type of CBD products for this population of people (i.e. those seeking to find a solution to sleep disorders and difficulties related to diseases with chronic pain or neuropathic components).
So, the bottom line in terms of my current research, is that a full spectrum CBD oil may be more effective in promoting improved sleep, especially for those suffering from chronic pain or disease processes.