CBD and Sleep

Words by Natasha Daniels
1st December 2020

In the UK alone one third of the population have reported to having sleep issues (1) and more and more of those people are leaning toward CBD as their sleep solution.

CBD covers a lot of ground while on its therapeutic travels. All types of inflammation, including digestive disorders and arthritis, may be improved through CBD-based therapy. One thing CBD will support with passion is your sleep. To understand how CBD helps with sleep we need to understand what happens when this powerful plant compound reach’s the system within our body which it interacts with, the endocannabinoid system. It appears the main function of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain bodily homeostasis— the ability to maintain biological stability and harmony despite changes in the world outside. When working properly, the endocannabinoid system helps regulate a wide range of processes including sleep, appetite, mood, digestion, inflammation, pain and many others.

The endocannabinoid system (abbreviated as ECS) is a remarkable network of compounds and receptors and is the is deemed as the central hub in the health and healing of our bodies. This system has the capacity to influence functions in the brain including memory, mood, pain response, appetite, perception, cognition, sleep, emotions, motor function and anti-inflammatory function as well as brain development and protection. The ECS is throughout the body – in the skin, the brain, major organs, connective tissue, glands, immune cells, etc. In each area of the body it carries out different tasks but the goal is always the same – the ECS works tirelessly to maintain the body’s internal balance and physical wellbeing. It creates an internal equilibrium, harmony and peace which resists even the most hostile fluctuations in the external environment. This state is known as homeostasis.

Are you wondering why you have never heard of the endocannabinoid system before? If so, you are far from alone! The science is relatively new. In 1988, in a government-funded study at the St. Louis University School of Medicine, Allyn Howlett and William Devane determined that the brains of mammals have receptor sites that respond to compounds found in cannabis. These receptors, named cannabinoid receptors, turned out to be the most abundant type of neurotransmitter receptor in the brain. It was not until 1992, however, that the endocannabinoid system was discovered by Dr Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who was researching the cannabis plant at the time. It is almost unbelievable to think this discovery is just under 30 years old, considering that the ECS is so fundamentally important.

It is safe to say the endocannabinoid system is the controlling system of essentially all functions within our body and mind. An Italian researcher, Vincenzo Di Marzo, says, the ECS is “essential to life’s basic processes by relaying messages that affect how we relax, eat, sleep, forget, and protect.”

Within the world of cannabinoids there is a theory backed by research called the entourage theory which supports the efforts of combining powerful plant compounds called terpene with cannabinoids to have a greater impact on the whole body and mind. Terpenes are known to synergistically work with cannabinoids to impact the body and mind, therefore being at the backbone of the entourage effect theory.

In 1998, Dr Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem first proposed the idea that the endocannabinoid system demonstrated an “entourage effect” in which a variety of “inactive” metabolites and closely related molecules markedly increased the activity of the cannabinoids.

Terpenes are some of the most common compounds in essential oils and botanical ingredients. They are a diverse group of organic compounds which heavily contribute to the aroma, colour and flavour of plants in which they are present.
Each terpene is associated with unique effects, typically supported with scientific research or/and anecdotal evidence. Aromatherapists and herbalists have used the science of terpenes for years when formulating plant based blends to create certain desired effects on the body and mind, whether to promote relaxation or to stimulate focus and clarity, plus many more effects. The chemistry of CBD oil and essential oils complement each other, creating a magical synergy in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Terpenes can add great power to a CBD product. Most relevantly, they may offer additional therapeutic value as they mediate the body’s interaction with cannabinoids. Terpenes can interact with the endocannabinoid system in a comparable way to cannabinoids. Early research supports the capability of terpenes to enhance the effect of cannabinoids. When inhaled or ingested, terpenes act as an assistant to cannabinoids as they work to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. For example, myrcene is a terpene found in botanical ingredients like juniper and lemongrass essential oils and it is known to increase cell permeability, allowing for faster absorption of cannabinoids. A study in 2002 (2) showed that myrcene promoted muscle relaxation and increased the sleeping time.

Terpenes like myrcene and linalool are sedative and calming helping to support a healthy sleep pattern. Terpenes are known to influence neurotransmitters in the brain, affecting dopamine and serotonin production and destruction. Caryophyllene is another well-known terpene found in many different essential oils and herbs which is known for its capacity to relieve stress and anxiety and encourage sleep to the extent that it is often used to treat insomnia. Nerolidol is a terpene that gives certain cannabis strains a distinctive woody aroma. Besides contributing to the scent profile, nerolidol can also be used as a natural sleep aid. These terpenes are typically found in broad spectrum CBD.

This insight also gives us an idea as to why different hemp plants not only smell and taste different, but also have various effects on our mood and physical experience.

Dr Ethan Russo expanded on the entourage theory at a conference in Israel in 2010, asserting that phytocannabinoid-terpenoid interactions – the interactions between cannabinoids and terpenes enhance the therapeutic effects of the plant. The synergy created greatly increases the activity of our bodies own cannabinoid production.

Dreem Night drops are an innovative night-time formulation containing an increased level of CBD oil which has been extracted from the industrial hemp plant, a member of the Cannabis sativa L. family. Each drop has been delicately flavoured with peppermint flavouring, so you will not experience an earthly taste like other products on the market. If you are having sleep problems or would like a more peaceful and restful night why not try Dreem Distillery night drops to support your endocannabinoid system, bringing your body back to haemostasis.

1 – https://www.aviva.com/newsroom/news-releases/2017/10/Sleepless-cities-revealed-as-one-in-three-adults-suffer-from-insomnia//
2 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12587690/

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