Chronic insomnia is a common sleep disorder affecting an estimated 10% of the U.S. population according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Insomnia has numerous causes, including physical conditions (such as pain from arthritis), mental illness (such as anxiety), certain medications (such as beta-blockers), and life circumstances (such as a stressful event like the loss of a job). While anyone can be affected, certain segments of the population are at elevated risk, including women and people over the age of 60. In addition to being associated with increased risk for stroke, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and depression, chronic sleeplessness also increases the risk of being hurt or killed in an accident caused by fatigue, making insomnia a dangerous and harmful condition.
If you are among the thousands of Massachusetts residents who suffer from insomnia, and prescription medications haven’t been able to help you get full, restful nights of sleep, consider talking to your physician about medical marijuana (Cannabis). Studies have shown that, for many people who suffer from chronic insomnia, Cannabis is an effective sleep aid that is powerful enough to promote deep, restful sleep, yet gentle enough to be used monthly, weekly, or daily in accordance with the patient’s needs.
To learn more about treating insomnia with medical marijuana, contact Inhale MD at (617) 477-8886 today. In addition to our two medical offices in Brookline and Cambridge, we also offer secure online consultations for patients outside the Greater Boston area.
Can You Get Medical Marijuana for Insomnia in Massachusetts?
The short answer to this question is yes, under certain conditions. The long answer, of course, is more involved.
In 2012, Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana with a piece of legislation called the Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana. This legislation features a section which lists “qualifying conditions,” or conditions for which a diagnosed patient may be prescribed medical Cannabis.
As of March 2017, insomnia is not listed as a qualifying condition. Nonetheless, patients who suffer from persistent insomnia may still be able to lawfully obtain medical Cannabis due to an additional provision in the law, which allows physicians to recommend medical marijuana in cases where the medical benefits would outweigh the medical harms or risks.
In essence, the law makes exceptions for certain non-qualifying conditions – including insomnia – in cases where the patient’s doctor determines that treatment with Cannabis is medically appropriate. Because Cannabis typically has mild and tolerable negative effects, while seldom causing long-term harm or serious adverse effects, many adult insomnia sufferers are suitable candidates for treatment with Cannabis. For most patients, the negative effects of Cannabis are limited to temporary dry mouth and temporary increased appetite.
You may also qualify for a Massachusetts medical marijuana card if your insomnia is related to a qualifying condition, such as chronic sleeplessness caused by pain resulting from Crohn’s disease. Qualifying conditions in Massachusetts currently include:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Hepatitis C
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
What Are the Best Marijuana Strains for Insomnia and Sleep?
This is a common question among patients who are beginning to explore the possibility of using medical marijuana for insomnia relief. However, as patients are often surprised to learn, “strains” (or, as they are more properly called, “cultivars”) are largely irrelevant. In order to understand why, patients need to have some basic background information about how marijuana works to aid sleep and alleviate insomnia.
Your CNS or central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), along with many other parts of your body, contains structures called “receptors,” whose job is to transmit signals in response to stimuli. Some receptors will only respond to certain types of neurotransmitters, which are endogenous chemicals produced in your body to regulate various functions.
Two types of receptors, called “CB1” and “CB2” receptors, respond specifically to endocannabinoids (endogenous cannabinoids), or cannabinoids that are naturally produced in your body. As you might have guessed from the name, Cannabis also contains cannabinoids. When you use Cannabis, these cannabinoids quickly begin to amplify the functions your CB1 and CB2 receptors control – including regulation of sleep. Studies have shown that, for many individuals, this results in improved quantity and quality of sleep, such as:
- Falling asleep more quickly and easily.
- Staying asleep for a longer period of time.
- Waking up less frequently in the middle of the night.
Researchers have identified approximately 85 endocannabinoids so far, the most famous and well-understood being THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), followed by CBD (Cannabidiol). While THC arguably has the greatest medical value, all cannabinoids work together to produce the effects caused by Cannabis use, which is why the question of “strain” is largely immaterial. The size of your dose will have much a greater impact than the type of Cannabis you use to treat your insomnia, which is one of the reasons it is so important to be guided by a doctor who can oversee your care plan and recommend modifications as necessary.
Boston Medical Marijuana Doctor in Brookline and Cambridge
Insomnia can have debilitating effects over time by increasing your susceptibility to deadly diseases, raising the odds you will be injured or killed in a car accident, and suppressing the function of your immune system. Unfortunately, in our high-stress, fast-paced world of multi-tasking, where constant entertainment is available on our phones and computers, many people do not give insomnia the attention – and treatment – it requires.
If you repeatedly experience sleepless nights and frequently feel tired, drowsy, or “cloudy,” swift intervention is critical to your long-term health. Get the relief you deserve, and start enjoying restful, refreshing nights of sleep again. To learn more about treating insomnia with medical marijuana in Massachusetts, contact Inhale MD at (617) 477-8886 for a confidential consultation today.