CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant, more commonly known as marijuana or hemp. Proponents of CBD say the substance helps cure a wide variety of ailments, including insomnia. Let’s put their claims to the test.
What are the effects of CBD, and how is it used?
It’s common knowledge that marijuana produces a “high” when smoked, but its intoxicating effects are attributed solely to a molecule called THC. CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t alter the mind in the way that THC does. Rather, it induces a feeling of slight relaxation or calmness.
Since CBD doesn’t get you high, it has been legalized in many modern societies. As a consequence, the compound has garnered a reputation as a miracle cure. And its reputation is well-deserved in some cases — but not all. Studies show that CBD can effectively help relieve pain and some of the other symptoms of:
But since research on CBD has been restricted for many years, it’s difficult to know what else the chemical can be used for. For example, some suggest that CBD can even help with insomnia. From a scientific perspective, does this claim hold up?
What causes insomnia?
First, let’s look at what causes insomnia. Insomnia is a widely experienced sleep disorder. 30 percent of Americans suffer from short-term insomnia, while 10 percent live with it in the long term. The condition can be caused by a variety of factors, which may include drug use, depression, anxiety, obesity, and other medical disorders.
Can CBD help with insomnia? A review of the research
The harsh restrictions placed on CBD for the last few decades have hindered research on the chemical. Thus, to date, there is no concrete proof that CBD helps with insomnia. But smaller studies done in recent years show promise: CBD may in fact be effective as a sleep aid, at least for some.
A 2019 study focused on 72 adults with anxiety (47) and sleep troubles (25). Patients with sleep troubles took 25 mg of CBD in the evening, while patients with anxiety took the same dose but in the morning. After only one month of CBD treatment, 48 out of 72 participants reported better sleep overall.
Why was the CBD so effective at relieving their insomnia? One theory is that since a majority of the patients suffered from anxiety, they were unable to fall asleep due to that condition, and their nightly dose of CBD calmed their minds.
Another smaller study, also released in 2019, explored the effects of CBD on patients suffering from PTSD. 11 participants took, on average, 48.6 mg of CBD per day, once or twice a day, for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, not only did the vast majority (91%) report reduced symptoms of PTSD, 38% noted an improvement in sleep quality. Some patients also noted a reduction in their PTSD-induced nightmares.
Finally, a 2018 study found that 409 people with self-reported insomnia experienced symptom relief when using CBD. However, this study was not done in one of the standard scientific formats, such as double-blind, placebo. Instead, patients logged their symptoms into a mobile app.
From the studies available to us, we can conclude that while there is no strong evidence (so far) that CBD is a legitimate treatment for insomnia, the chemical shows promise in treating the disorder. Furthermore, CBD has no significant side effects. We still need more research on how it impacts our memory.
Written by Natan Rosenfeld
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