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CANNABIS: Friend or Foe (Part 3 of a 3 part exploration)

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Insomnia affects just about everybody at some point in their life. About 25% of Americans experience acute insomnia each year, while most recover, some go on to develop chronic insomnia.

The most common causes of insomnia are about what you would expect; stress, shift schedules, poor sleep habits, mental health disorders, medical conditions, medications and substances (such as coffee, nicotine, alcohol), etc. Unfortunately, insomnia can also increase as we get older.

Our current sleep aids can be addicting, ineffective, or have unpleasant side effects. Some even have episodes of amnesia where they may engage in normal activities or do things outside of their typical character. (I had a friend desperately try to eat a frozen pie….while it was still frozen.)

So, where does cannabis fit in to this? Well, to refresh your medical marijuana knowledge, there are 2 cannabinoids most commonly used: CBD and THC. One, the CBD, is not psychoactive and the other, THC, is psychoactive and causes the “high” that people feel.  CBD is thought to alleviate anxiety, relaxing the mind and body and allowing for quality sleep. Thus, those unable to sleep due to anxiety would likely benefit. THC is typically more sedating. It reduces the time spent in REM so can be very useful for PTSD. (However, in large amounts it can be very stimulating, so THC in moderation, insomniacs).

The current literature available is conflicted with regards to medical marijuana and insomnia. There are studies which report its beneficial while others contradict this. However, in a research paper published 2018, a study of 409 patients had 1,056 medical marijuana administrations.  They rated their experiences regarding quality of sleep and side effects. The results were overwhelmingly positive.

     There are several types of THC, and there are different ratios of CBD to TCH preparations. If you feel medical marijuana is something you are interested in for sleep, it would be worthwhile to discuss this with both your doctor and the  dispensary in order to find the best strain for your needs.


-Brooke Rieth NP

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