Dave Gibson
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Food General sleep tips

CBD Oil and Sleep

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in hemp plants (which are a variety of the Cannabis plant).  CBD has been available over the counter for a while now. Research suggests that CBD could help with relieving inflammation, pain and nausea associated with a variety of conditions. CBD can be used to reduce anxiety and as an aid to both getting to and staying asleep.  It is available as gums, oils, sprays and drops, with a large number of online and specialist high-street retailers now selling it.

Can CBD make you high?

The simple answer is no, as it’s another cannabinoid contained in cannabis called THC which produces this effect. To be sold in the UK any CBD product must contain virtually no THC (up to 0.2% is allowed).

How does CBD work?

The exact mechanism is still being researched however scientists agree that CBD works on a system in the brain called the Endocannabinoid System.  This system regulates a range of functions and processes including sleep, appetite and mood, as well as Circadian Rhythms.

What’s the difference between CBD and THC?

CBD and THC interact with the Endocannabinoid System in fundamentally different ways. THC binds to specific cannabinoid receptors in the brain, producing a sense of euphoria or a ‘high’. However,  CBD interacts with the Endocannabinoid System to encourage it to produce its own cannabinoids which have more wide-ranging effects on the Circadian System. Both CBD and THC are found in the Cannabis sativa plant. The Cannabis Sativa plant is legally separated into two different strains, ‘hemp and marijuana’ based on THC content.  Hemp has virtually no THC ( less than 0.2%), and high levels of CBD. THC however is found in high levels in Marijuana, hence its use as a recreational drug. CBD can be found in Marijuana but in low levels. Most of the CBD sold in the UK comes from crops grown as Hemp, extracted from its seeds, flowers and stalk.

What’s the entourage effect of CBD?

Whilst CBD and THC are the most common compounds associated with Cannabis and Hemp there are in fact over 113 cannabinoids found in Hemp. Hemp is also a rich source of natural flavonoids, terpenes and fatty acids all of which contribute to the overall medicinal potency of the hemp plant.

The entourage effect is the name given to the overall interaction of these compounds together. Thus, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts of the hemp plant.

How does CBD help you sleep better?

Scientists still aren’t sure how, or if, CBD affects the sleep/wake cycle. However, as CBD helps reduce anxiety, those with ‘anxiety-based insomnia’ often find CBD helpful. Equally, as CBD can reduce muscle and joint pain, should this be interfering with sleep, CBD’s could help to aid better sleep in these circumstances too.

What’s the best way to take CBD?

Most people take CBD as an oil which is placed under the tongue. There are also various types of ‘edibles CBD products’ available which are infused with CBD oil. These include gummy bears, cookies and cakes. Edibles usually have the concentration of CBD listed on them. CBD extract can also be inhaled through a vaporizer or vape pen. CBD also comes in tinctures, where it can be added to drinks. There are even CBD creams, lotions and even CBD bath bombs.

What forms does CBD come in?

CBD comes in three different forms called Broad Spectrum CBD, Full Spectrum CBD or CBD Isolate.

Full Spectrum CBD contains trace elements of THC ( up to 0.2%) along with all the other components of the cannabis plant. Broad Spectrum CBD has other the elements too ( but no THC) whilst CBD isolate is pure 100% CBD and contains no other compounds other than CBD itself. Although you will get the primary effects of CBD with an Isolate you lose the wider entourage effect.

Also, as full spectrum products contain trace amounts of THC if they are taken in very high doses it means in very rare cases it might lead to a positive drug test. Most mistakes of this type occur with products of poor quality. It’s also important to check the products lab reports to verify the cannabinoid content, and buy from a reputable source, especially if you require zero THC for work reasons.

If you want to totally avoid THC always use a Broad Spectrum CBD or an Isolate.

What should I look for when I buy CBD?

Firstly, I would always look for organic CBD, in order to make sure it is free from pesticides and chemical impurities.

Then the extraction process is important too. Supercritical CO2 extraction is generally considered the best, but most expensive method of extracting CBD. This produces a clean, pure oil. Ethanol is also used for extraction, but don’t buy the cheaper products which use butane as this process can be toxic.

A product which is independently tested by a third party is also worth looking for, as is one from a reputable brand with good customer service and good reviews.

A Full Spectrum CBD is often considered better than an isolate as it offers the full entourage effect which can last longer. However, if the product has more than 0.2% THC in it then it’s illegal and to be avoided.

Getting the right concentration is also important. This is typically shown on the lab certificate for the product which can be found in the packaging or on the brand’s website. Concentrations start at 300mg or 3% and can go as high as 1800 (18%).

What is the right dosage to take?

The dosage of CBD oil you should use depends on your body weight and concentration of CBD oil, and what you are using the oil for.

It is still not known what dose is required to help sleep issues. Thus, if you are trying CDB for the first time it could take some trial and error to judge what works best for you.

I would suggest starting with a product with a low concentration. Then incrementally increase your intake or product concentration until you find the level which works for you. The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society recommend that if you haven’t used CBD before you start at a low dose of 10mg a day. This is because about 10% of people are very sensitive to CBD. Then, if you notice no difference of a few days, increase this amount by 5 mg daily and continue this process until you feel a difference. Their advice is to build up gradually over about 4 weeks to around 60mgs and then reassess the results.

Always follow the dosage instructions on the packaging. There should be details on how much CBD is in 1 ml. If you are using a dropper, one drop is typically 0.25 or 0.5 mL. Drop as many drops as you need in order to reach your targetted dosage.

If you are taking a CBD tincture or CBD you put the drops underneath the tongue and hold it there for about 30 seconds before swallowing. As the CBD absorbs into the capillaries under the tongue it enters your bloodstream far quicker than if you swallowed it.

One of the top-rated companies is called Blessed CBD which offers Full Spectrum CBD products. Vibes CBD is also well regarded as are Holistic Hemp Scotland.

Before you try CBD

You should always check with a GP before using CBD. This is especially important if you are on any medication as there may be interactions. It’s also important to check out that you are taking a reputable product from a recognised supplier. Also, there are possible side effects which are reported by some which include dry mouth and drowsiness, and in rare cases diarrhoea.

It’s recommended that you don’t use CDB if pregnant or breastfeeding. CBD is also not recommended for teenagers or children.