Roll roll roll, flip flip flip, and an hour later, you are still on your bed with your eyes wide open? Want a good night’s sleep? Cannabis may be able to help.
A study published in June 2015 tried to find out the mechanism of how cannabis improves sleep disorders. Researchers did a correlation study between the type and concentrations of cannabinoids (tetrahydrocannabinol or THC and cannabidiol or CBD) in different strains of cannabis that human subjects consumed and their sleep quality in a dispensary in California.
Subjects who self-reported using cannabis to treat sleep problems have a choice of what strains of cannabis to use such as sativa/sativa varieties, indica/ indica varieties or hybrid of both varieties. These participants from dispensaries are better subjects as they use cannabis straight from the plant. A cannabis plant contains different kinds of cannabinoids with varying effects. Though cannabinoids such as CBD and ∆9-THC have both psychoactive effects, ∆9-THC provides the primary psychoactive effects.
“Studies have examined sleep effects following laboratory administration of cannabinoids, but laboratory-based studies do not necessarily translate to “real world” behaviors as cannabis choice is not afforded within the laboratory context.”
Out of the 163 subjects, 50% of them used cannabis to treat insomnia symptoms and 9% used cannabis for nightmares. Most of the subjects preferred sativa and primary sativa varieties for nightmares while there was not as much preference for insomnia and sleep quality.
What kind of cannabis should you use? According to the study, there seems to be no definite answer. Subjects who had a harder time sleeping (i.e., subjects who have insomnia or longer self-report latency) used cannabis with a higher concentration of CBD. While subjects who often resorted to sleep aids used lower THC cannabis compared to those who were less dependent on sleep aids. There was no association between cannabis use and sleep problems.
It is also worth noting that indica has higher THC than sativa and therefore more likely to develop cannabis dependence or cannabis use disorder (CUD). Therefore, for those who does not want to have major psychoactive effects, THC concentration might be something that you want to pay attention to.
Although this is a very primitive study of its kind, it certainly sets a ground for future cannabis use studies because in one cannabis plant there are hundreds other cannabinoids besides THC and CBD. The real value of cannabis would not be discovered unless more extended research can be done.
“In this large cross-sectional adult survey with high prevalence of both substance use and obesity, cannabis use in the past year was associated with lower BMI, lower percentage fat mass, lower fasting insulin, and HOMA-IR (insulin resistance). As a result, cannabinoids from cannabis may be viewed as an interesting avenue for research on obesity and associated conditions.”
Along with the medical treatments that benefit from medical marijuana, research has shown that obesity and cannabis are positively associated with each other. Studies from the Conference of Quebec University Health Centers, American Journal of Medicine, and the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that cannabis users were less likely to be obese obtaining lower body mass indices (BMI) and lower fasting insulin.
Specifically, researchers reported that cannabis users possessed an average BMI of 26.8 compared to an index of 28.6 for non-users, after controlling for age, gender and other factors. Those subjects who reported using cannabis but never having used tobacco, or who were former users of tobacco, possessed on average the lowest BMI.”
“Cross-sectional data published in 2011 in the American Journal of Epidemiology similarly reported that the prevalence of obesity in the general population is sharply lower among marijuana consumers than it is among nonusers.”
Cannabis can indeed lower obesity rates and prevent the risk of diabetes among marijuana users.
Do you ever get blamed for being forgetful? Long-term cannabis use has been associated with poor short-term memory. Why is that? Let’s go through some fast facts about the mechanisms.
What are the receptors in the endocannabinoid system? There are three endocannabinoid receptors that have been discovered so far – CB1, CB2, and CB3. The CB1 receptors are located mainly in the central nervous system with a small number in other areas on cells’ surfaces. CB1 receptors are associated with learning, sleep, coordination, and pain sensation. CB2 receptors are different, located throughout the body and associated with immune function. Though only three receptors have been discovered, cannabis researchers believe there may be as many as 10!
When one of the cannabinoid compounds in cannabis called ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) binds to and activates the CB1 receptors it was thought that this binding would give cannabis users the memory deficit effect. However, researchers from a recent study found that serotonin 5-HT2A receptors (5-HT2AR) are instead the ones to blame.
Because both CB1 and 5-HT2A receptors are neighbors, when THC binds to CB1R, it signals 5-HT2A by forming a heteromer. To prove this, research experiments were done on mice. When THC binds to CB1R, both the pain-relieving effects and psychoactive effects such as memory loss were observed in normal mice with normal CB1R and 5-HT2AR. However, when blocking the CB1-5-HT2A receptors’ \heteromer, the mice had no psychoactive effects, but no change in pain relieving effects. The same happened to a genetically modified mice which had the 5-HT2AR mice removed; the mice showed no change in pain relieving effects. Similarly, they found that the GM-mice had no signs of memory deficit. This concluded that CB1R was responsible for the anxiety and pain feelings and 5-HT2AR was responsible for the relaxation and memory loss effects.
This is a major find for medical cannabis users to avoid the adverse consequences from using medical cannabis treatments. Now you know there is a way to prevent further memory deficit from using cannabis. However, more studies are needed to put the observation into practice.
In the ideal world, patients think physicians are magicians. Once they pay a visit to the doctor and take the prescribed medication, conditions would improve. Our health care system expects physicians to know patients by a short period of time, but this is not possible with every patient, especially those who have chronic or severe conditions with long medical history or complications.
Patients who suffered from severe illness or illnesses who do not really have very effective treatment such as nausea, chronic pain, and epilepsy therefore start to look into alternative help such as medical marijuana.
As a matter of fact, a lot of patients are capable of taking care of their own medical issues. There are some tricks that healthcare professionals might not know that patients do know because they are the frontline fighters of that specific condition. Patients can help each other by sharing their knowledge of that illness and supporting those with similar conditions. Clinic staff can also provide more time and detailed information to patients such as cannabis strains education. It is actually very surprising to see how positive a marijuana clinic or dispensary can be.
Patients should be more proactive and take initiative in their treatment plan. It is only rational to do so since a majority of the patients are not financially able to hire a doctor who is available 24/7.
“Giving patients more control doesn’t mean handing over a blank prescription pad. Patients can gain more control — safely — if they understand a drug’s effects and duration, and if they have some leeway in when and how to use it. For instance, when I (David Casarett, MD) prescribe as-needed pain medication, I’ll give my patients permission to figure out for themselves how much to take and when. “
The health care system seems to lack this knowledge that the marijuana industry has already learned years ago.
Cannabinoids, compounds found in cannabis, incite brain cells to grow by neurogenesis and can alleviate depression, anxiety, and stress.
Low dose THC helps to protect brain cells from damage, such as stroke and head trauma, and may preserve cognitive function.
Traumatic head injured patients who have some THC in their blood are more likely to survive.
CBD and THC in cannabis (in mixture or independently) can help kill cancer cells and shrink brain tumors in concert with chemotherapy.
Low levels of THC act as an antioxidant, which can protect neuro cells by lowering beta-amyloid level. Beta-amyloid, which is present in high amounts in people with Alzheimer’s, is a protein in the brain that can clump together to form plagues. Plaques may activate the immune system to trigger inflammation.
Most of the cannabis studies referred to above utilized low doses of cannabinoids. Keep in mind that optimal dosage is key!
Did you know that cannabis can be juiced into a cup for health benefits? As a matter of fact, raw cannabis can be consumed just like any other leafy green!
Raw cannabis may help the body:
regulate the immune system
prevent inflammatory conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and COPD
trigger antioxidants to remove damaged cells
improve the efficiency and health of cells and the regulatory system
relieve nausea and pain (in HIV/AIDs patients or cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy)
reduce spasticity and seizures
“According to Courtney (Dr. William Courtney, physician, researchers and one of the leading experts in raw dietary cannabis), one of the biggest benefits is the positive effect cannabis has on the body’s endogenous cannabinoid system, which is made up of endocannabinoids, or chemical compounds found throughout the body that perform different processes.
“I believe this plant, having evolved over millions of years, is put together to support that system,” he said.“
Why raw? Raw cannabis green juice can provide more complete benefits than the heated forms of cannabis such as smoking, vaping, cannabis oil prepared with low heat, or cooked or baked edibles. When heat is applied, the majority of cannabis benefits – tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A) and cannabidiolic Acid (CBD-A) will be activated, or decarboxylated, into THC and CBD, respectively. Because it does not contain the psychoactive component THC, raw cannabis does have alter mood or perception. Cannabis leaves in raw form are great for patients who want the medicinal benefits of marijuana without its other effects. An excellent choice for those who have a low tolerance to THC, raw cannabis is the ultimate botanical booster in greens drinks. Adding sweeter and more watery vegetables and fruits such as cucumber, green apples, romaine, and avocado can mitigate the bitterness of raw cannabis leaves. You can create the ultimate detoxifying smoothie by combining cannabis with lemon, arugula, dandelion, or parsley. Try freezing the raw cannabis green juice in ice cube trays or as ice pops for a novel way to enjoy the natural benefits of cannabis in drinks!