Consumer interest in CBD is growing as quickly as questions surrounding its safe use and efficacy. That’s why we created our CBD School Guide and related educational series. Aimed at supporting CBD interest, exploration, and usage, we hope that this series helps to answer commonly asked questions about CBD. -Sleep Chronicle Editor
THE SLEEP CHRONICLE – Many Americans have forgotten what it’s like to get a good night’s sleep, according to the polling firm One Poll, whose research revealed that 51% of us pinpoint 2020 as our “worst sleep year ever.” What’s more worrisome is the finding that 42% of respondents say they can’t even remember the last time they got a good night’s sleep.
Moreover, the gap is widening between what we need and what we get, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which reports that we’re falling short of the recommended 7 or more hours of sleep per night.
Given these trends, it’s not surprising the majority of those polled are already making “New Year, New Sleep” resolutions.
As CBD becomes as common as coffee in a growing number of households across the United States, it’s important to shed new lights on its efficacy of this plant-based compound which dates back to 2737. It is detailed here in our CBD guide.
What is CBD? CBD, short for cannabidiol, is an active compound found primarily in the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. Primarily extracted from hemp, CBD has only traces (up to 0.03%) of THC, the major active ingredient in marijuana. Unlike THC, CBD does not have the same interactions with the receptors in the body, which means it won’t get you high.
The World Health Organization (WHO) researchers found that CBD does not cause physical dependence and is not associated with abuse potential. Its November 2017 report states that CBD is considered non-addictive in humans and animals.
CBD appears to be a safe option that does not produce euphoria, intoxication, or addiction, according to Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in a statement to the U.S. House of Representatives.
A significant percentage of individuals with chronic conditions experience problems sleeping, according to the Arthritis Foundation, which is among numerous advocacy organizations calling for the expedited study and regulation of CBD.
The interest in CBD is so high, that the Foundation issued a CBD Guide to help members navigate education, dosage and safe shopping.
Nearly 80% of its members use or are considering CBD use, according to a 2019 survey conducted by the Foundation. But does it work?
“Some, but not all, survey respondents report noticeable pain relief, sleep improvement and/or anxiety reduction,” according to Arthritis Foundation spokesperson Claire Villines
Patients who have chronic pain often experience fatigue and disturbed sleep, so it’s not surprising that the American Academy of Pain Medicine is among national organizations advocating for CBD regulations and research.
Its largest and fastest growing group of constituents is consumers. Nationwide more than 80% want to see CBD regulated, according to Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumer League, a consumer advocacy organization calling for the regulation of CBD.
There is help available. Evidence that CBD contributes to better sleep is mounting, according to credible research studies.
A 2019 study reported in the Permanente Journal revealed that levels of the known sleep inhibitor cortisol decreased with the ingestion of 300 or 600 mg of CBD oil, suggesting that CBD’s cortisol-releasing ability may act as a sleep sedative.
The sleep scores improved in 66% of participants but fluctuated over time.
Dosage matters, according to one study, which showed taking less than 160 mg of CBD oil may actually promote wakefulness, according to researchers. They also noted that taken in higher doses, CBD can promote sleep.
The CBD and Other Cannabis Compounds on Insomnia observational study, which gathered data from 400 volunteers using a digital app, found that CBD “significantly reduced insomnia symptoms.”
Another observational survey, which relied upon participants self-reporting product efficacy, found that CBD helped them get to sleep more quickly, taking just 20 to 60 minutes to get to sleep, and they reported waking up less often.
The survey results yielded promising findings, revealing that 75% of non-CBD users reported waking up tired versus only 9% of CBD users reporting sleepy awakenings. The Cultivating Wellness survey, conducted by Project CBD, is among a number of observational studies where researchers observe participants’ current treatment plan and track health outcomes without intervention. The FDA frequently requires drug manufacturers to conduct observational studies as a follow-up to successful clinical studies.
In contrast, clinical studies employ specific interventions, like a change in diet or use of a drug that is believed to have beneficial properties. Clinical trials often compare one medical approach against a standard (known) treatment method or to a placebo that contains no active ingredient nor intervention.
Even those with chronic sleep issues or health conditions may benefit from adding CBD to their sleep routines. Researchers have found that CBD improves Rapid Eye Movement (REM) in Parkinson’s patients and RBD (REM sleep behavior disorder).
Other research published in Current Psychiatry Reports seems to support the Parkinson’s study, citing CBD may “hold promise for rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder,” but mixed results call for future study.
Similarly, a 2019 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found cannabidiol (CBD) improved the sleep quality and reduced nightmares of 38% of the participants, all of whom had PTSD.
Joseph Maroon, M.D., a clinical professor and neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who has researched the effect of cannabis on the brain, says that CBD has properties that could help some people sleep better. Most notably, he says, it appears to ease anxiety and pain, both of which can make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep, according to a published statement in Consumer Reports.
Our body comes equipped with its own support system. One of them, the endocannabinoid system, naturally helps our body produce cannabinoids that regulate everything from mood, pain sensors, appetite, metabolism, and memory to our bone development and immune function.
Think of CBD as a potential “boosting agent.” Derived from plant-produced cannabinoids, CBD is comprised of the same helpful elements our body produces naturally.
CBD-based products come in many forms. It can be taken orally, applied to the skin, or inhaled. Talk to your doctor and/or a CBD specialist to explore which might be best for you.
TINCTURE/SPRAY (Under Tongue). Tinctures are one of the most popular forms of CBD. Place tincture liquid under the tongue (sublingual) for 60 to 120 seconds to aid absorption and speed delivery into your bloodstream. Sprays are becoming more popular and work in a similar fashion. Whether you use a tincture or spray, most users feel effects within 15 to 45 minutes of dosing.
When you place CBD under your tongue, it gets absorbed directly into your bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system and metabolization by the liver.
Product taste varies by brand, so it may take some experimentation to find the right product for you. There are enough flavors and varieties to suit most any taste preference from mint and fruity flavors to more earthy varieties.
ORALLY (By Mouth). Whether in capsule, food or liquid form, CBD is absorbed more slowly through the digestive tract. The process can delay the onset of the effect (1- 2 hours) depending on your stomach acids, food consumption, and other factors.
CAPSULES. (By Mouth). Capsules are a very reliable method that allows users to manage a consistent dosage of CBD. They are also are tasteless, odorless and convenient for individuals who are always on-the-go.
TOPICAL (On the Skin). Topical CBD lotions, balms, and rubs can be applied directly to the skin. Some contain additives like menthol, capsaicin or camphor, which enhance the effect of the product. Critics note that these additives may mask the efficacy of the CBD product. Users that question CBD’s impact are encouraged to use CBD products that don’t contain additional additives so they can evaluate CBD’s effectiveness.
Studies are underway to determine exactly how much CBD is absorbed via topical applications. Most users feel effects near immediately.
VAPE/INHALER (Inhaled). CBD can be inhaled via a vaporizing or vape pen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating vaping-related hospitalization and deaths, which appear to be associated with additives, not the vaping compounds themselves.
CBD use recommendations vary. Experts advise:
Liquid forms of CBD require users to be mindful of both the amount of liquid product (the dose) and the among of CBD in each dose (concentration).
Experts say it is best to “go low and slow,” starting with just a few milligrams of CBD in sublingual form twice a day. Wait about a week before amping-up dosage and increase in small and equal increments over time. Once you find your sweet spot, you’ll have a better idea of how many milligrams you’ll need in order to notice a result.
There are a number of things to look for when buying CBD. Chief among them is where it’s grown. Look for U.S. grown products manufactured with domestically grown ingredients.
Check manufacturing processes. As CBD increases in popularity, more CBD brands are following Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) guidelines set forth by the FDA and other regulatory bodies to ensure consumer safety.
Look for a companies COA (Certificate of Analysis) from an accredited independent laboratory that uses validated, standardized testing methods approved by the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) or the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists (AOAC).
Every batch of every product made should be tested and available for customer review.
Leave the research to the researchers. Credible CBD brands cannot nor should not claim that their products cure health conditions.
Editor’s Note: As with any supplement, users should seek medical advice before use.