By Neil Tunbridge, Co-Founder, mellow
Better sleep is a common motivation for giving cannabidiol (CBD) products a try. But with many different products aimed at improving sleep, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here we’ll answer a few pressing questions around CBD and sleep, and share some practical advice on how to choose the right product for you.
How is CBD linked to achieving better sleep?
The association between CBD and sleep seems to be the way it makes us feel. CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is responsible for maintaining balance within the body. It regulates elements such as temperature, hormone levels and heartbeat to keep our internal environment stable. This means CBD can induce feelings of balance and calm, potentially assisting with a good night’s sleep.
Does research support a link between CBD and sleep?
When people explore CBD to help with any issue, including sleep, it is essential to understand the scientific evidence available. Knowledge is power and can help users make informed decisions around which products to try.
Research into a link between CBD and sleep looks promising. A large case series was designed to determine whether CBD can help to improve sleep and anxiety measured sleep-related concerns using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Within the first month of taking CBD, two-thirds of participants improved sleep scores.
Also, a paper published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found ‘systemic acute administration’ of CBD appears to increase total sleep time, while positively impacting rapid eye movement (REM) sleep latency. There’s more research to do to further explore the impact of CBD on sleep, but these initial results are encouraging.
How do I choose the right CBD sleep products?
There is unclear legislation around CBD which can be confusing, but there are a number of ways to choose between low and high quality CBD products.
For a start, in the UK legal CBD products must contain ‘no trace’ of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD products containing this compound cannot be legally traded. Also check whether the product is tested by a third-party laboratory, whether the hemp is grown organically, and whether the product is certified by a relevant authority, such as the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA). Reputable sellers and marketplaces will provide this level of detail.
You can also look for CBD products that are created with improved sleep in mind. These are likely to be formats such as oils, supplements or edibles, where the CBD needs to enter the bloodstream, rather than topical formats such as creams which are designed for issues such as pain.
What CBD dosage is necessary to assist with better sleep?
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) – who is responsible for regulating CBD as a novel food – recommends that healthy adults take no more than 70mg a day, unless under medical direction. This equates to roughly 28 drops of 5% CBD. This guidance is based on recent findings by the UK government’s Committee on Toxicity (COT).
Be mindful that each individual may also have different CBD sensitivity, impacted by factors such as weight, height and metabolism speed. In tandem, the way people take CBD will be different, for example some may take CBD multiple times throughout the day and others just once in the evening. Keeping a sleep diary will help track how sleep patterns and quality are changing.
There are no right and wrong answers around using CBD for sleep, as long as users check out the science behind the products, know how to look for high quality products, and stay within the recommended daily dose of 70mg or below a day.
Thanks to Neil Tunbridge of mellow.store for putting this article together.
Natural vs Synthetic: Do ‘green’ cannabinoids always come out on top?
Synthetic cannabinoids are often regarded as a lower-quality alternative, but often they surpass natural compounds in terms of product quality and purity, Professor Edvinas Orentas, head of research at Sanobiotec, argues here.
The widespread notion about the superiority of natural products in terms of health benefits and safety, and commonly held attitude that ‘Natural = good’ and ‘synthetic = bad’ are often exploited in advertising behind such labels as green or organic.
In reality, however, natural products may not always be worth the hype.
With the ever-increasing popularity and assortment of cannabis sativa derived extracts and compounds, as well as a large number of suppliers entering the market every year, more careful consideration of the quality of these products is required.
Most common pollutants – in arable lands
The most common environmental pollutants bearing the greatest impact on human health are relevant to agriculture: polychlorinated compounds such as derivatives of dioxins or biphenyls, herbicides, and pesticides, among which glyphosate is the most notorious representative.
The sources producing these contaminants are, in fact, abundant. The major identified contributors of chlorine-containing compounds include combustion, metal smelting, refining and processing, various types of industrial manufacturing, or even natural sources and environmental reservoirs. Pesticides, on the other hand, are inevitable in modern large-scale agriculture to maintain the required level of crop productivity and food supply.
Hurdles in toxic impurities’ control
The possible contamination of the environment and the risk associated with possible entries of these persistent pollutants into the food chain has raised great concerns about their impact on well-being.
Indeed, multiple recent studies focusing on the toxicity of dioxin-like compounds indicate their carcinogenic effect. They are also associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and other diseases.
Moreover, since dioxins are poor substrates for most of the enzymes, they are poorly metabolized and eventually accumulate in adipose tissues resulting in a remarkably long half-life of up to 15 years.
Although most of the approved pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture are regarded as generally safe at low concentrations, their overall spread in the environment and food is also strictly regulated in order to prevent long-term exposure and possible impact on health.
The control of dioxins in the environment is further complicated by multiple sources and modes of their release. Often produced during the combustion of waste or fuels, they are spread over large distances before getting washed down by rain. Even the remote areas regarded as clean of industrial pollution and used to grow organic food might eventually become contaminated.
Advantage of synthesized cannabinoids
The initially low levels of dioxins are further amplified in the animal food chain, whereas in plants they are absorbed through roots or leaves. Unlike in animals, the concentration of these compounds in plants generally remains at levels too low to pose any danger to the consumer, however, the situation might become worse in the case of natural isolates due to the peculiarities of the manufacturing procedure.
“One should not forget that when the products are isolated from plants using the extraction process, the material gets concentrated thousand-fold, as do all the impurities. If no additional precautionary measures are taken, the concentration of harmful pollutants thus might well exceed the safety threshold,” says Prof Orentas, head of research at Sanobiotec.
Ironically, the often-discredited synthetic compound might be, in fact, much safer compared to the one coming from fully natural sources.
“Of course, it is impossible to fully replicate natural mixtures consisting of many constituents by combining synthetic components because the full composition of the former is either unknown or too complex,” he continues.
However, for pure compounds, synthetic analogues are preferred. In fact, the majority of pharma companies are choosing synthetic components over natural as the quality of lab-made material is easier to monitor and reproduce. When adhered to good manufacturing practice, synthetic compounds are ultimately safer.”
Precautionary measures in the production process
The large disregard for possible contamination of natural products by manufacturers comes with no surprise. The constant screening of production for pesticides or dioxins requires expensive, sophisticated and highly specialised analytical set-ups, whereas outsourced analysis is also very costly.
“This is why we developed our equipment and implemented an extra purification procedure specifically designed to substantially reduce these contaminants in the extraction products,” says Prof Orentas.
“We cannot simply rely on chance that all these impurities are below the threshold and therefore, each batch is quantitatively tested.”
Consumers should be aware that due to the risks these contaminants present, all natural cannabinoid products on the market should be analytically tested.
Otherwise, one should avoid products for which detailed COAs (certificates of analysis) including the quantitative results of the aforementioned impurities cannot be provided.
Integro Medical Clinics: Living with and managing fibromyalgia
As part of their ‘Medical Case Book ‘ series, the team at Integro Medical Clinics explore living with and managing fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. Anyone can develop the condition, although it affects around seven times as many women as men. It typically develops between the ages of 20 and 50 but can actually occur at any point in your life and can also affect children.
It is estimated that 1 in 20 of the population may be affected by fibromyalgia to some degree. However, it is difficult to give an exact number as the condition is tricky to diagnose because there is no specific test for it, and the symptoms can feel similar to many other conditions. The potentially debilitating effects can include headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), brain fog, muscle stiffness, extreme fatigue, increased and acute sensitivity to pain and difficulty sleeping, amongst many others.
“This can be a very troublesome condition and we frequently see it presented in rheumatology clinics, because it produces tight, painful muscle spasms, which patients feel must be coming from their joints or bones.
“There is no conventional medicine to treat Fibromyalgia, although nerve pain medicines and anti-depressant medicines are often tried. These sometimes do help, but often can add their own side effects to the patient’s difficulties.
“Cannabis medicines can offer a potentially effective treatment as they re-balance and regulate the human body’s natural endocannabinoid system. This system can become unbalanced, for example by long term stress, and sleep deprivation, and individual genes may make some people more prone to fibromyalgia than others.
“I am very interested in the relationship between impaired sleep and fibromyalgia. Stress and psychological trauma can lead to disturbed sleep physiology. Stress can prevent patients from reaching Stages 3 and 4 of deep sleep during which the body normally repairs itself. Over time this can lead to physical and mental fatigue, and changes in the body resulting in Fibromyalgia symptoms.” – Dr Anthony Ordman, Senior Clinical Adviser and Hon. Medical Director Integro Clinics.
Traditional methods of treatment such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), anti-depressants and pain killers may all be helpful. But an individually tailored cannabis treatment plan from a doctor specialising in cannabis medicines can result in a significant reduction of pain and an improvement in quality of life and allow other medicines to be carefully reduced or stopped.
“Fibromyalgia causes over-excitable pain signals in the brain and spinal cord, but through careful clinical observation we can provide a patient-centred personally–tailored cannabis treatment programme that can rebalance the body’s endocannabidiol system and change a patient’s life for the better.” – Sophie Hayes Specialist Cannabis Nurse at Integro Clinics.
The Patient’s Story
Steven is a fibromyalgia sufferer, who was struck down in the prime of his busy life by this disabling condition.
“Fibromyalgia arrived during a very stressful period in my life, triggered by a car crash. Four months later I was admitted to hospital having difficulties with walking and pain in my back, hips and legs. I had already exhausted all other common pain killers because of the treatment I had received for FSH muscular dystrophy, that had started a year before.”
“I got my first medical Cannabis prescription in June 2019, and it was the best decision I’ve made to treat my illness. The consistent quality and supply of medical cannabis allowed me to get a constant level of relief that really showed Cannabis’s ability to rebalance a vulnerable body and mind. With each month of use symptoms would reduce or completely go. “
“I finally reached a position where I was managing every aspect of the illness. I was still having symptoms, but they were far reduced, localised and manageable. It was like turning a forest fire that was destructive and damaging to everything around it, into a camp fire you could sit around. The fire is still hot and can burn but it does not get out of control. I feel protected on cannabis medicine, protected against triggers and best placed to deal with the continuous challenges this condition brings.”
If you would like further information or to speak to Dr Anthony Ordman or Sophie Hayes please contact them at Integro Clinics:
For support groups and charities please visit and their links:
https://www.fmauk.org/ – Fibromyalgia Action UK
https://ukfibromyalgia.com/ – UK Fibromyalgia
https://fmaware.net/ – National Fibromyalgia Association
https://fibroandpain.org/ – National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association
The stress-free route to accessing prescribed cannabis medicines
Do you live with a condition which you think could be helped by cannabis medicines? Here, Integro Medical Clinics walk you through the stress-free route to obtaining a prescription.
It is now well documented that the symptoms of many common conditions such as arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, migraine, depression and PTSD, as well as well as some rarer conditions such as Elhers-Danlos Syndrome can be successfully helped using cannabis medicines.
Integro Medical Clinics are a patient-centred medical cannabis clinic with expert doctors who are experienced consultants in disciplines relating to your condition, including Pain Medicine and Psychiatry.
If you would like to be assessed for cannabis medicines, please follow these simple steps, or watch the accompanying film:
You do – Step 1
We do – Step 2
An Integro clinic manager will speak with you, answering all your questions, and will ask for further details. They will send you links via email to fill in registration forms online.
Once these have been completed and returned to Integro Medical Clinics an administrator will book you in for an appointment with one of our doctors (who will be your consultant.). Most of our consultations are by video link at present.
Our specialist nurse will contact your GP surgery to request a copy of your medical records.
Your consultant will present your case to our weekly team meeting of doctors, nurses and pharmacy specialist, where the decision will be made about going ahead with your prescription of cannabis medicines. Sometimes, the team of experts will offer you other medical advice as well. Please note prescribing decisions are only finalised upon receipt of medical records.
Our specialist nurse will notify you of the prescribing decision, and providing you have been prescribed a cannabis medicine, will discuss any questions you may have about your new prescription.
Our Pharmacy will dispense your medication and deliver it to your home address.
Our specialist nurse support phoneline is open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm for patients to contact should they have any queries or concerns. Our nurse is always happy to help.
To begin with, you will then have a regular check-ups every month with your specialist doctor to ensure that together we find the right medication for your symptoms.
“Integro Medical Clinics always recommend remaining under the care and treatment of your GP and specialist for your condition, while using cannabis medicines, and the Integro clinical team would always prefer to work in collaboration with them”.
“Cannabis medicines prescriptions are fully legal, and compliant with UK regulations. Cannabis medicines are for controlled medicines, and so monthly prescriptions are needed.
They are unlicensed by the MHRA, but have a good safety record, and there is good evidence to support their safe use.” Dr Anthony Ordman, Senior Clinical Adviser and Hon. Clinical Director Integro Clinics
If you would like further information, or to make an appointment for a medical consultation, please contact us at Integro Clinics:
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