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Preclinical evidence suggests that it’s time for well-designed clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of cannabidiol in the management of acute and chronic coronary syndromes, researchers say. Does CBD really work for sleep? One very tired Cosmopolitan UK writer shares her experience of taking CBD oil for sleep disturbances – and found it helped her The U.S. Department of Agriculture has strict guidelines on what you can buy with Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, otherwise known as food stamps. This applies to both food items…

Time to Test Effects of CBD in Cardiovascular Disease?

Well-designed clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD) for cardiovascular disease are needed, based on evidence from preclinical studies showing that it has anti-inflammatory effects, a new report suggests.

The systematic review of nine preclinical studies found reproducible positive cardiovascular outcomes in in vivo models with CBD. Mechanisms for the findings included reduction in oxidative stress and inflammation.

“CBD worked very well in all the experimental models, compared to placebo,” lead author Mario Zúñiga, MD, a cardiology fellow at Hospital Regional 1º de Octubre Issste in Mexico City, Mexico, told theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology.

“It seems CBD has true potential in the setting of myocardial infarction, reperfusion, arrhythmias and metabolic syndrome-like conditions,” Zúñiga said.

He presented his study in a poster session at ACC Latin America 2022 Together With CardioAcademic, which was held in Mexico City.

“Cannabidiol and medical cannabis use, alongside its many products, has increased considerably in the last decade, but there are few indications for its use based on good clinical trials,” he said.

Mario Zúñiga, MD

“Here, we sought to provide preclinical evidence, which ultimately serves as the cornerstone to establishing well-designed clinical trials in humans, to prove the effect on CBD on coronary syndromes with strong scientific evidence,” Zúñiga said.

CBD has substantial evidence for pain, cachexia, nausea and vomiting, multiple sclerosis spasticity, and most recently, epilepsy, he added. “Its pharmacological profile shows it is safe and well-tolerated in humans, although it has well described side effects. But the interaction with other medications often used by cardiologists, such as anticoagulation and antiplatelet drugs, is not well-known.”

He and his team did their systematic review according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta Analyses (PRISMA) and Collaborative Approach to Meta Analysis and Review of Animal Data from Experimental Studies (CAMARADES) guidelines; in the electronic database from PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus; up to April 2022.

The nine preclinical studies in their review, which were done in rats and rabbits, showed that CBD reduced infarct size when it was administered before the ischemia in four of the studies.

In addition, interleukin 6, cardiac troponin I levels, ventricular arrhythmias, oxidative stress, myocardial fibrosis, and heart mass were also reduced after administration of CBD.

“We think that CBD will eventually be part of the treatment of coronary syndromes in the not-so-distant future, and that it is time to study its potential in proper randomized trials,” Zúñiga said.

A “Big Leap”

Robert L. Page, III, PharmD, chair of the writing group for the American Heart Association’s (AHA’s) 2020 Cannabis Statement and professor at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Aurora, Colorado, commented on this study for theheart.org | Medscape Medical News.

Robert L. Page, III, PharmD

“The bulk of the data that are out there, particularly in the evaluation of clinical benefits, are primarily in animal data, and I have a big problem making that leap. The AHA’s clinical science statement, which was published in 2020 basically said that there’s really no evidence at this point to support any cardiovascular benefit,” Page said.

Removing the Schedule I status of cannabis, as proposed by the MORE Act, just passed in the US House of Representatives in April 2022, will make doing phase 1 studies possible, he said.

“The MORE Act has now gone to the Senate. So, until we can actually remove the Schedule I status and let it be evaluated in a good phase 1 clinical trial, in healthy humans, I warn against indiscriminate use, particularly in patients with acute coronary syndromes because of the potential proarrhythmic effects of any cannabis product,” Page said.

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Zúñiga and Page report no relevant financial relationships.

ACC Latin America 2022 Together With CardiAcademic. Presented September 10, 2022. Abstract #130

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“I tried CBD oil for sleep – and it changed my life”

The buzz around CBD oil (and its various offshoots: CBD gummies, CBD-infused lotion and even CBD tea) and its anxiety-reducing qualities have long been doing the rounds – but is CBD oil also good for sleep? If you’re asking team Cosmopolitan, the answer is a solid ‘yes’ on that front.

For me, prior to trying CBD oil, a typical night would go something like this: I’d lie still in the dark, feeling as though something was rushing towards me, a dense unidentifiable mass – huge and heavy – aiming for my head. I’d move away just in time, jolting myself awake. This happened three or four nights a week; just an hour or so after falling asleep, my heart would thump so loud I could feel it in my eardrums and I’d be awake again. Shaking, feeling the adrenaline moving around my legs.

I was diagnosed with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at the age of 20, having first (unknowingly) shown symptoms at seven. After a failed counselling attempt, an allergic reaction to an SSRI and, finally, successfully undertaking months of EMDR therapy privately, I felt I had ‘overcome my traumas’. That was, until in the early hours of an unexpected Monday morning, when my sleep was abruptly broken by the sheer panic of feeling like heavy objects were falling on my head.

After speaking with a GP I learned that I had a diagnosable sleep condition commonly caused by trauma and anxiety. ‘Hypnopompic hallucinations’ are a multi-sensory experience that can happen just as you’re waking up, in those moments when you’re neither asleep nor awake. And the only way it would stop, my GP explained, was if I truly ‘dealt with my anxiety’ – especially that which had begun spiking around bedtime.

After a lot of relentless Googling, I came across a vast number of videos, forum entries and social media posts about how CBD products were helping people to not only sleep, but also relieve symptoms of anxiety and even soothe physical ailments. It was also something I’d heard chatter about in the office, with a fellow Cosmopolitan staffer swearing by CBD oil in moments on panic and CBD gummies at night. I was growing more and more tired (literally) of my sleep situation and the underlying anxiety I’d become accustomed to, and felt anything was worth a try.

So, I quizzed an expert on how CBD can be used to induce restful sleep – and put it to the test myself.

Does CBD oil help with sleep?

I took my first dose of CBD oil – via a pipette, dispensing a few drops under my tongue – on a Saturday afternoon and quickly, I felt the positive impact it had. From the Sunday, I slept soundly every single night for the following two months. Honestly, it was that quick – and it went on for eight glorious weeks. Uninterrupted, panic-free, blissful sleep. I felt better in every way.

Unfortunately, after those two months my former sleep terrors began creeping back in, once or twice a week, and I was truly devastated. Crushed, in fact. It had been working – what happened? So, I safely (with research and guidance) increased my CBD dose and once again, I was away.

But it wasn’t just my sleep that benefited from my CBD endeavours either. My thoughts weren’t as chaotic; I felt that I could carefully sift through them, categorise them and act on them. I had clarity, I could focus and it felt as if every process in my body was working better. My digestion, my sex life, my emotional agility, plus sleep, all tied in and were working in harmony for the first time in forever.

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I felt and became more pleasant, more patient and more consistently stable. PTSD provides peaks and troughs; CBD oil provided stability.

From an expert: How does CBD oil work?

Bea Lyus, Registered Nutritional Therapist, College of Naturopathic Medicine, and Resident CBD Expert at Cannabotech UK, says, “We know very well that anxiety and stress contribute to sleep problems such as insomnia and that CBD can effectively reduce anxiety and stress, therefore aiding a better quality of sleep. However, it’s important to note that a low dosage of CBD may actually cause alertness, whereas a higher dosage will help you to feel drowsy and sleepy.”

Essentially, CBD works by activating our serotonin receptors, which in turn calm the mind and any anxious feelings. “Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the brain and the gut which is responsible for managing our hormones and thus our mood changes,” adds Lyus.

The expert continues to explain that research has shown CBD works effectively to target the Endocannabinoid system (ECS) – the body’s network system. “The Endocannabinoid system is like a computer software which sends signals to the brain, nervous system, immune cells, organs. It acts like a main control of restoring balance in all biological functions, from sleep to appetite, memory, mood, immune system, pain control, energy, reproduction and cell replication.” Pretty powerful stuff, huh?

What is CBD oil?

CBD oil stands for ‘cannabidiol’ and is not the same as marijuana, although it is extracted from the cannabis plant – something that’s a common misconception about this herbal hero. The two main active ingredients in cannabis are CBD and THC; CBD has a calming impact and is not psychoactive (meaning it does not change the state of mind), whereas THC is, and is responsible for the anxiety and paranoia commonly associated with marijuana use.

Is it legal to use CBD for sleep in the UK?

Yes, as long as it contains less than 0.2% THC, CBD oil is often sold as a food supplement or herbal medicine in the UK. “The UK is the first country in the world to regulate CBD for oral consumption, with the Food Standards Agency’s public list of cannabinoid (CBD) products permitted for consumer sale,” says Lyus. “Only the CBD products featured on the list have been given the green light by the FSA to stay on the market, in line with the UK’s Novel Food requirements, and any products not included must be removed from shelves.”

The bottom line? Be sure to do your research when choosing a CBD product, but as long as you’re shopping from a reputable retailer, such as Boots or Holland & Barrett, you’ll be fine.

Does CBD oil get you high?

No, that’s the THC talking. According to Lyus: “There are over 100 different types of cannabinoids and it’s important to differentiate between CBD and THC. CBD (or ‘cannabidiol’) is the most known for its health supporting benefits.

“The other compound is THC (or ‘tetrahydrocannabinol’), which is a controlled substance and is illegal in most countries worldwide. There are 3 different kinds of CBDs which are commonly available on the market including: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and CBD isolate.”

She adds that CBD isolate only contains CBD and no other cannabinoids, and absolutely zero THC. “With isolate, you can guarantee the amount of CBD per crop; it is pure and odourless plus there is no potential allergic reaction to other ingredients found in the hemp plant. This is backed up by a very recent study in the Lancet Psychiatry.”

To conclude: no, CBD oil will not get you high. “If you use a CBD with THC within the legal limit, it will not get you high,” Lyus confirms. “Better still, if you use broad-spectrum or CBD isolate, it will never make you high as they contain zero per cent THC.”

How long does CBD oil take to work for sleep?

Of course every brain and body works and reacts differently, but I noticed the anxiety-reducing effects of CBD within around half an hour. Longer-term benefits became more clear for me after around two weeks, and I stopped taking any CBD oil for my sleep after about six months. I simply didn’t need it anymore.

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Bea says: “We are all different individuals, so it may take longer for some people than others. Anecdotal evidence suggests it can take up to 15 minutes when using an oil, drop, tincture or mouth spray. Though, tablets and creams can take longer.”

Under periods of stress, I still experience the occasional sleep disturbance – but it’s nothing like the nightly battle I was having before I found the benefits that CBD oil can have for sleep.

Can You Buy Cannabis Products With Food Stamps?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has strict guidelines on what you can buy with Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, otherwise known as food stamps. This applies to both food items and non-food items such as cannabis products.

Certain non-food items are specifically designated as eligible to be purchased with SNAP benefits, according to the USDA website. When it comes to cannabis products, the USDA draws a line between hemp food products generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration and items that contain cannabis-derived products.

As the USDA states: “Food products that contain hulled hemp seed, hemp seed protein powder, and hemp seed oil may be purchased with SNAP benefits. However, hemp plants, leaves, and shoots are not eligible to be purchased with SNAP benefits. Food containing cannabis-derived products, such as CBD, and any other controlled substances, are not eligible to be purchased with SNAP benefits.”

Similarly, SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco.

Non-food items specifically designated as eligible for purchase with food stamps include the following:

  • Seeds and plants used in gardens to produce food for human consumption
  • Hunting and fishing equipment used in remote areas of Alaska, but only for eligible households who live in areas determined to have “extremely limited access” to retail food stores, and who rely substantially on hunting and fishing as a food source. Eligible households are issued identification cards that indicate their ability to purchase the equipment.
  • Military commissary surcharges established under federal law can be paid for with SNAP benefits.

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By Vance Cariaga

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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