Wednesday, June 19, 2019

cannabis sleep

Although there are strains of cannabis that will have a greater or lesser effect on how easily you get to sleep, there’s some debate about how it affects your sleep itself. There have been studies that show smoking can help you get to sleep faster, and honestly the plant has been used as a sleep aid for centuries. So we know cannabis can make you sleepy, but does it help you sleep better?

There are two components in rating the effectiveness of sleep: the duration and the quality. You’ve no doubt heard everyone recommend eight full hours of sleep, although science shows there is some variation here. There’s a small percentage of the population that can truly skip an hour or two, but that’s about it. Sleep is utterly essential to our survival and mental well-being, as Randy Gardner found out years ago when he stayed awake for 11 days straight — a record he never fully recovered from. The good news is, cannabis can prolong sleep and help you get to sleep faster.

However, researchers have found that cannabis can disrupt REM sleep. There are essentially two phases of sleep that account for the restful sleep your mind and body require to keep going every day. One phase is deep sleep, which cannabis promotes. Deep sleep helps the brain sort and store all the stuff it encountered through the day. This is why cannabis is great if you have insomnia, as sufferers only sleep a few hours and the brain has a harder time with memory recall (among other issues) as a result.

Now, REM sleep comes from the “rapid eye movements” seen under the eyelids during this phase. We’re still unlocking the mysteries of sleep, but REM sleep is usually when we dream. Since cannabis can shorten the amount we’re in the REM phase, it can also reduce dreaming. There are actually four phases of REM sleep, but scientists believe overall it’s needed to help regulate the body’s temperature and neurotransmitter levels. All the chemicals that are used during the day to help you make decisions need replenishing and something that can happen is it can become harder to make decisions later in the day. This is called “decision fatigue” and you can imagine it gets much worse with less REM sleep.

The good news here is that your body can “catch up” on REM sleep provided you eventually get a full night’s rest and your brain goes through all the necessary phases. Cannabis isn’t the only compound to deter REM, as nicotine and alcohol will do the same, as will some medicines.

Speaking of medicine, it’s the complex nature of the cannabinoids and their interaction in our bodies that makes this research a little uneven so far. For example, since cannabis is prescribed for PTSD, at what level is it aiding sleep versus the effects of the trauma? Trauma can induce insomnia, as can chemical interactions and a dozen other factors. Figuring out which cannabinoids work best with sleep is what researchers are starting to figure out.

What you need to know is the three well-known cannabinoids in cannabis will impact your rest in different ways. CBD is often used to help with alertness, but it can help relax the body enough to become restful. Cannabinol (CBN) appears to have a strong sedative effect. When combined with THC, CBN may even multiply this effect. But CBN is found in aged cannabis, whereas THC is more prevalent. THC reduces dreaming and REM, as mentioned above, even though it  may offer sleep-inducing effects.

Finally, the terpenes in cannabis that give each strain its particular smell and taste also play a role in sleep. Perhaps the most promising is Linalool, also found in lavender, a plant well-known for its calming properties. Linalool increases adenosine, which is a sedating hormone that helps guide our body into restful sleep.

The effects of cannabis on your sleep are still being understood, but sleep itself is a bit of a mystery to us. We can’t live without sleep, however, and it seems cannabis can help those who have trouble getting enough.

cannabis allergies symptoms

Allergies are just one of those facts of life for millions of people. Nobody wants allergies, of course, which is why there’s a ton of medicine to reduce or even eliminate allergies. While pollen is definitely a problem for some, male plants (which produce pollen in cannabis plants) are not typically ingested. The female plants are generally isolated so buds can form without seeds, which also increases THC content. So cannabis allergies and their symptoms are a little more complicated than your run-of-the-mill tree pollen or mold allergy.

Since cannabis is ingested in many different ways, allergic reactions may or may not happen depending on the combination of cannabinoids involved. Unfortunately, it appears THC itself may be an allergen. One of the reasons there are more reported cases of allergic reactions to various cannabis preparations? Simple numbers. More people are enjoying it in many more different ways than ever before, which is leading to more discoveries about how it interacts with our bodies.

Some researchers rounded up what we know about cannabis allergies, and did find that there are reactions not dissimilar to pollen-type allergies. In particular, smoke is made of tiny particles just like pollen and has a similar response in the body, causing runny nose, coughing and sneezing (among other symptoms). These symptoms may also appear if exposed to the pollen. Cases of allergic asthma have been reported, but seem to be more prevalent with pollen exposure. However, it’s also important to note that some of these symptoms could be caused by mold on cannabis. Mold isn’t inherent to cannabis, but it can grow if stored for too long or in a damp environment, etc. Still, some may have reactions to both THC and mold. Any gardener will tell you what a pest mold can be on plants!

Cannabis isn’t just ingested, it’s put on the skin as well. Long before decriminalization began in the U.S., hemp lotions were available. Hemp seed products abound, including items you can eat. Depending on the severity of the allergy, those sensitive to cannabis have reported everything from hives to trouble breathing or speaking. Unfortunately, cannabis allergies aren’t usually detected until someone has a reaction.

This is why if you’re concerned about this allergy, it’s best to get to an allergist. The common method for detecting allergies these days is doing a skin prick test, which will cause a small welt on the skin when an extract of the potential offender is deftly placed in the upper layers of the skin. It’s not an invasive procedure, but a lack of standardization can yield varying results. Still, a trained professional is your best bet for narrowing down what’s causing a reaction.

So what can you do if you have an allergy to cannabis? One allergist in Colorado documented his experiences, but they mostly boil down to the same prescription for hay fever and similar sufferers. If possible, avoid exposure (especially high concentrations of THC), or take medicines that you’d take for allergies. Nasal sprays, decongestants, antihistamines and the like can be used. Interestingly, in Dr. Silvers’ report he noted that one patient had a severe reaction when he smoked wax. At first, it was thought the high THC content was the culprit, but it was determined to be more likely a contaminant in the wax itself.

As with most medical issues, this is a complex topic that’s still being researched. What we know is cannabis allergy and symptoms are pretty similar to other allergies in their range of severity and cure. Since there’s no easy fix, individuals will have to talk to their doctor about what is best for their needs. Even so, the allergy appears to be rare among cannabis consumers overall.

cannabis affect memory

It’s a well-worn joke that smoking cannabis negatively impacts your memory. As early as January 2019, 60’s legend David Crosby tweeted, “If smoking marijuana causes short-term memory loss, what does smoking marijuana do?” Decades of comedy bits and musical works have reinforced this notion, but is it true? No one can remember! Kidding aside, “memory” as a construct isn’t so easy to pin down as you might think, which means the impact of cannabis is a bit more complicated than perceived short-term memory loss.

What Is Memory?

The thing is, unlike cognition (how we think), memory is harder to measure. There are many types of memory, too. Add to this complicated mess the fact that our focus, or lack thereof, can impact memories. And memory has two sides: making memory and recalling a memory. So when someone says “smoking hurts your memory” it’s hard to know exactly what that means.

When talking about cannabis, we’re focusing on the short-term recall and longer-term memory creation aspects in your brain. And yes, cannabis does affect your memory in some particular ways.

Making Memories

Like anything that alters your consciousness, cannabis can impair cognition, which can impact making memories. In other words, smoking and trying to speak a new language is maybe not the most effective way to learn. This is also because THC can affect the hippocampus, and cause portions of the brain to sort of get out of sync. The effects are temporary, although long term effects were suggested by one study.

So, in the short term, it can be more difficult for the brain to make and recall memories when smoking. The good news for regular cannabis enthusiasts is that frequent use may create a tolerance to short term memory problems seen when smoking. Even casual users will find the memory impairment is short-lived, wearing off in 24-48 hours.

Memory Recall

What about memory recall after years of cannabis use? One medical study found that daily consumption for five or more years did lead to slightly lower verbal recall scores. However, the “lower score” was only slightly less than those who didn’t indulge. As for cognition, the study showed no impact on focus or processing speed — so thinking wasn’t diminished over time with constant cannabis use.

Perhaps most important is the role cannabis can play in therapeutic uses for those with PTSD. We’re only just beginning to unlock the possibilities here, but preclinical research shows promise when using THC and CBD for treatment of mental trauma.

Future Research

With time, we’ll have more data not only about how cannabis affects the brain, but how it can be used to treat specific maladies. Our understanding of memory and cognition is also an area that continues to move quickly, which impacts cannabis research as well. One promising area is combining THC and CBD, which could lessen any negative impacts on memory due to THC alone. Still, as more studies are conducted and more research on the many compounds in cannabis goes on, we hope to better understand the risks and uses of this versatile plant.

Marijuana is something of a paradox when it comes to anxiety. On the one hand, pot is well-known to cause mild panic and paranoia in many users. At the same time, countless medical cannabis patients attest to the drug’s ability to alleviate anxiety and stress.

The reality is, patients with anxiety disorders often do benefit from medicinal pot, but it’s important to find the right marijuana strains to do the job. Here’s a list of some of the best strains for anxiety.

Grandaddy Purple

Cannabis for Anxiety
Grandaddy Purple

“Purps,” as the kids call it (or used to), is an all-time favorite among stoners both medical and recreational, but it’s especially popular for its ability to calm chronic anxiety.

Granddaddy Purple is a near-pure indica made by combining Purple Urkle and Big Bud. With such strong indica heredity, this strain is ideal for treating stress and insomnia, both common aspects of anxiety and panic disorders, as well as lack of appetite and depression.

Purps generates a decent amount of euphoria, but mostly the sensation is physically relaxing and sleepy. That makes it a great choice for drifting off without the endless distraction of anxiety.

Cannatonic

Best Weed for Anxiety
Cannatonic

Most medical marijuana patients seek out pot with high levels of THC. That makes sense, as getting high is part of the healing process for many. But for others, there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing.

That’s where Cannatonic comes in. This cannabis hybrid, one of the best strains for anxiety, offers an equal balance of THC and CBD, another critical chemical component of the marijuana plant. The THC still provides a kick, but the CBD helps reduce the anxiety and paranoia that can come with it.

Bubba Kush

Marijuana for Anxiety
Bubba Kush

Bubba Kush, another potent indica classic, delivers a strong dose of drowsiness and physical relaxation. A few quick puffs are followed by loosening muscles, lifting moods, and a blast of euphoria.

This California native is noted mostly as an effective therapy for stress, both physical and mental, and for chronic pain. Anxiety, as anyone who has experienced it knows, often comes in the form of physical pain, lack of appetite, and insomnia – all symptoms that respond to Bubba Kush.

Blue Dream

Weed for Anxiety
Blue Dream

Sativas aren’t typically associated with unwinding, but this favorite hybrid manages both a deep sense of calm and a healthy wallop of cerebral euphoria. Best of all, Blue Dream usually coes packed with THC, making it a great choice for patients with daily anxiety, stress, and pain.

What’s more, this strain works faster than most, delivering medical benefits in a matter of seconds without leading to couch-lock. For this reason alone, Blue Dream is one of the best strains for anxiety.

Strawberry Cough

Best Strains for Anxiety
Strawberry Cough

Social anxiety is one of the most common forms of mental illness, and it can cripple a person’s ability to function in the wider world. Thankfully, there are marijuana strains such as Strawberry Cough that can help.

Like Blue Dream, this is mostly a sativa, but the pep it generates is part of how it works, adding a bit of social energy while also keeping distractions and panic to a minimum. That can make it easier to enter any room with less anxiety, more confidence, and a greater sense of calm.

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It’s hard to get away with a great high when your eyes are hazy, puffy, and bloodshot. Eye drops may protect you a bit. Sunglasses and tinted contacts might help. But it sure is annoying.

super high eyesSo why do your eyes go red when you smoke up? Is there a scientific explanation? And what can you do to keep your peepers clear, white, and innocent-looking?

Weed is not the only intoxicating drug that causes red eyes. Too much alcohol, too much cocaine, almost any amount of methamphetamine will turn your eyes bloodshot. But it all depends on the person.

Some people are simply more sensitive to red eyes, and there’s not an awful lot that can be done to change that. Most potheads will have the experience at least once, but it’s far more common for some users than others. If your eyes tend toward the bloody, you’ll just have to work harder at covering up.

Here’s why it happens:

THC, the primary psychoactive chemical in marijuana, lowers blood pressure. This then causes blood vessels in the eyes to expand, or dilate. As the ocular capillaries dilate, blood flow increases and pressure inside the eyes drops. The extra blood flow gives the expanded capillaries their bloodshot look, creating a web of red within the whites of the eyes.

This is why cannabis is widely used to treat glaucoma, a serious chronic eye disease that causes high pressure within the eyes, leading to permanent vision loss and severe pain. Pot reduces ocular pressure and staves off glaucoma’s worst complications.

Why does weed give you red eyes

It’s important to note that red eye is not caused by marijuana smoke. Instead, it’s triggered by THC and other chemicals in the pot plant known as cannabinoids.

The dose of cannabinoids delivered by the weed you smoke helps determine how red your eyes become (as do your genes, allergies, and general sensitivity to marijuana). Smoking a bong-load of low-grade cannabis one day may have no effect while a few puffs of high-grade pot the next could leave you scrambling for Visine.

So how to avoid dreaded red eyes? Here are a few tips.

First, pick strains that deliver less THC. Many strains are high in CBD and other medically beneficial cannabinoids but low in THC. This means you won’t get as high, but if you’re more concerned with medication than recreation, this is a good way to keep your eyes white.

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Always have eye drops handy. The best brands are specially formulated to treat redness. And drink lots of water. Red eyes often come with dryness, and extra hydration makes that less likely.

Finally, don’t sweat your bloodshot eyes too much. The redness doesn’t pose a threat to your health or safety, unless maybe it tips off the narcs and gets you arrested on pot charges. Otherwise, it’s just another minor inconvenience, hardly enough for any serious stoner to give up the habit.

What do you think: Are red eyes a serious problem for you? Do you even care if people see you with bloodshot eyes?

Medical marijuana does many, many things, most of them good. It fights cancer. It reduces nausea. It saves the lives of patients with severe seizure disorders. Now it turns out marijuana could be useful in repairing broken bones.

Scientists at Tel Aviv University in Israel studied cannabis and its effects on fractured bones. Their research, published in the Journal of Bone and Medical Research in September, suggests that CBD, a chemical commonly found in marijuana, “significantly helps heal bone fractures” by speeding the repair process.

CBD makes bones heal stronger

CBD also makes bones stronger, the study found, which prevents damage from future injuries. Among other things, the findings mean CBD marijuana could help many patients who suffer from broken bones, osteoporosis, and other bone-related disorders. Osteoporosis is responsible for nearly 9 million fractures each year.

Researchers separately tested the cannabinoids CBD and THC on broken bones in rats. THC is the chemical that gets pot smokers high, while CBD has a wide range of non-intoxicating medical uses. The scientists said they discovered a link between cannabinoid receptors in the brain and stimulation of bone growth.

 

Cannabis broken bonesCannabinoid receptors are a type of nerve cell found in the brain. These cells bind to cannabinoid chemicals produced by the body (endocannabinoids) as well as cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant. When these substances trigger cannabinoid receptors, the brain sends messages that produce the physical and mental effects of cannabis.

“We only respond to cannabis because we are built with intrinsic compounds and receptors that can also be activated by compounds in the cannabis plant,” the researchers said.

“The clinical potential of cannabinoid-related compounds is simply undeniable at this point,” said Dr. Yankel Gabet of Tel Aviv’s Bone Research Laboratory. “While there is still a lot of work to be done to develop appropriate therapies, it is clear that it is possible to detach a clinic therapy objective from the psychoactivity of cannabis.”

Correlation between CBD and bone healing

The correlation between CBD and bone healing is important not only because of its medical implications but because the chemical doesn’t get users high. This could make it more appealing to many potential patients, especially children with bone fractures.

Colorado vs Oregon vs Washington Marijuana Laws

CBD is known as an effective medicine for a number of other disorders, especially severe pediatric epilepsy. THC also has many medical applications, but patients in many places are barred from using it. The new Israeli study also offers hope for the future – both for scientists and for patients at risk of further fractures.

“After being treated with CBD, the healed bone will be harder to break in the future,” Gabet said. “Other studies have also shown CBD to be a safe agent, which leads us to believe we should continue this line of study in clinical trials to assess its usefulness in improving human fracture healing.”

Tell us: Have you ever used non-intoxicating medical marijuana, or medical pot otherwise high in CBD? Did it help you? Leave a comment below.