The research on medical cannabis is showing some exciting possibilities for cannabis as a potential medical treatment. Of course, more research is needed in almost every area of investigation. Research has only gotten underway in the last 20 years or so, as cannabis was illegal for even medical purposes in Canada prior to 2001. In many other countries, cannabis remained illegal and research stalled.
As more studies have been conducted recently, however, one area of investigation has been the potential treatment of sleep disorders. Thus far, the scientific literature seems to indicate medical cannabis could have a role to play in the treatment of various sleep disorders, including insomnia.
Those living with insomnia are likely interested in discovering if medical cannabis could help them achieve a good night’s sleep. Here’s what you need to know.
There have been some studies indicating medical cannabis could indeed help insomnia sufferers get a good night’s sleep. A self-referral program in Canada for sleep aid reported 32 percent of patients improved their sleep by 50 percent or more after beginning treatment.
Nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, has shown some promise in the area of insomnia treatment. One study reported it was effective for the reduction of insomnia in those suffering from PTSD. It also appeared to reduce the incidence of nightmares for these patients, which in turn assisted with their insomnia.
A recent review from Palo Alto University and the National Center for PTSD suggested cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia. The same study suggested tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) could decrease sleep latency.
THC vs. CBD
It’s not entirely surprising researchers have found some differences in the way CBD and THC could assist insomnia sufferers. THC, for example, has strong sedative properties. Its interaction with the brain also has a profound effect on the body’s sleep/wake cycle. THC has been demonstrated to help healthy insomniacs fall asleep faster.
CBD, on the other hand, appears to counteract the sedative properties of THC. It seems to increase wakefulness. CBD is also non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t produce the same effects as THC. It appears to have more effects on countering fatigue the following day.
If you’re not sure if CBD or THC strains would be right for you, talk to a doctor. They can help you determine the right treatment plan for you and your insomnia.
An Alternative to Sleeping Pills
When it comes to treating insomnia, most people think of sleeping pills. While these medications can be effective, they’re unsuited for long-term use. They’re highly addictive and they can also be quite dangerous.
Thus far, the research seems to indicate medical cannabis is a safer alternative to sleeping pills. Most studies suggest it’s rare to develop a physical dependence on medical marijuana the same way you can develop a physical dependence on sleeping pills.
More Research Is Needed
The evidence supporting the use of medical cannabis as a treatment for insomnia remains largely based on anecdotal research and self-reports. More systematized and randomized clinical trials are needed to verify just how effective various cannabinoids are in treating insomnia.
One of the largest factors in the effectiveness of medical cannabis as a treatment for insomnia appears to be the root cause of insomnia. If the cause is pain, a different course of treatment appears to be indicated. In these cases, CBD may actually be a better choice, although more research is most certainly needed.
Another area for investigation is the long-term effects. While medical cannabis appears to be safe for the long term, some studies have suggested prolonged use of THC could actually interrupt sleep.
What Does It Mean for You?
If you suffer from insomnia, talk to a medical professional about the potential of medical cannabis as part of your treatment plan. It could be a better and safer alternative to sleeping pills for you.