Weekly Medicinal Cannabis Research Wrap - 8/7/2020

Cannabis shows potential for immediate, short term relief from the symptoms of depression

Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the United States, effecting roughly 20% of the adult population. An extremely large proportion of people with depressive symptoms that use cannabis to cope report an immediate anti-depressive effect. A recently published study (1) in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine reported that 95.8% of users experienced symptom relief immediately following consumption with an average reduction of 3.76 on a scale between 1 and 10.

In this study, researchers observed 1,819 people through 5,876 administration sessions. Interestingly, the immediate relief did not seem to be related to whether the plant was an Indica or Sativa, nor did the administration method seem to have any influence. Plants with higher THC levels tended to have a more obvious effect, while CBD levels seemed to be unrelated to the reduction in symptom intensity.

The researchers did note that while these results of short-term symptom reduction are positive, 20% of long-term cannabis users reported increased depressive symptoms. These results show that there is definitely room for cannabis to be used within a conventional antidepressant treatment regime, however long-term use tends to exacerbate depressive symptoms. Current conventional anti-depressant medications tend to have large lag periods of weeks to months before the effects of the medication can be noticed. There is a need for options to alleviate symptoms in the short term and medicinal cannabis could be one of these options.

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7309674/

Li, X., Diviant, J. P., Stith, S. S., Brockelman, F., Keeling, K., Hall, B., & Vigil, J. M. (2020). The Effectiveness of Cannabis Flower for Immediate Relief from Symptoms of Depression. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 93(2), 251–264.

Cannabis as a treatment option for acute insomnia

Our sleep patterns and the quality of our sleep relies heavily on the state of our mental health. With a global pandemic in our midst, it makes sense that people are reporting increased issues with insomnia and vivid dreams. A recent survey (1) on healthcare workers carried out by Sleep Standards shows the recent covid pandemic has affected both their sleep and health dramatically. The survey found that healthcare workers are sleeping only 5 hours a night on average, with 41% surveyed experiencing insomnia, 27% are dealing with nightmares, with only 21% of healthcare workers surveyed reporting no sleep issues at all.

A recent study (2) carried out by the University of Western Australia centre for Sleep Science has found that cannabis provides an ideal treatment option for those suffering from acute insomnia. Patients that were treated with cannabis containing a blend of THC and CBD reported not only falling asleep faster, but also sleeping for longer hours. They also found it much easier to get back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night. Lead research Peter Eastwood said, “this study represents the most rigorous clinical trial undertaken to assess the therapeutic potential of medicinal cannabis to treat the symptoms of chronic insomnia”.

In this study, twenty-three patients were treated for 14 nights with an active medication and for 14 nights they were given a placebo. There was a one-week separation period between the two different treatments. Along with aiding the patients to sleep, participants also reported improvements to fatigue, social functioning and stress.

1 https://sleepstandards.com/healthcare-workers-sleep-covid-19/

2 http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/2020040711981/research/cannabis-proven-help-insomniacs-sleep?fbclid=IwAR0OVzWU7q8YeZitWXM6Nc6nAhns7s8qjGUXKWEgM9Sj5PHoTJnnw70ZJd4