Some research suggests it might be worth a try
People have been turning to these plants for its possible health benefits for a long, long time. Its ability to help people, for example, is mentioned in the Atharvaveda, a Hindu text that dates back to around 1500 B.C., and its use for inducing sleep is described in a 1200 A.D. Chinese medical text.
Today, people are still using Botanical Extract to help them sleep, particularly one form of it: Botanical Extract. That’s a compound found in hemp that doesn’t get you high, and that has recently exploded in popularity because of its potential to treat other health problems, including pain and anxiety.
In a recent nationally representative Consumer Reports survey, about 10 percent of Americans who reported trying Botanical Extract said they used it to help them sleep, and a majority of those people said it worked.
It’s easy to understand why people are turning to Botanical Extract to help with sleep: Almost 80 percent of Americans say they have trouble sleeping at least once a week, according to another recent nationally representative CR survey of 1,267 U.S. adults. And many existing treatments, particularly prescription and over-the-counter drugs, are often not very effective—and are risky, too.
A small but growing body of scientific research provides some support for Botanical Extract as a sleep aid. A study out this month, for example, suggests Botanical Extract might help people with short-term sleep problems.
And Joseph Maroon, M.D., a clinical professor and neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who has researched the effect of hemp on the brain, says that Botanical Extract has properties that could help some people sleep better. Most notably, he says, it appears to ease anxiety and pain, both of which can make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Some other research hints that Botanical Extract may also affect sleep directly, by interacting with receptors in the brain that govern the body’s daily sleep/wake cycles, according to a 2017 review of sleep and botanical extract in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports.
But “many questions still remain as to timing, the amount to take, and route of dosing Botanical Extract for sleep,” Maroon says. All of that could affect who Botanical Extract helps for sleep, and who it doesn’t.
And how it affects people does seem to be hit or miss. For example, Melissa Giovanni, age 32, a licensed dietitian in Nashville, Tenn., takes Botanical Extract regularly for sleep and says it often helps. But Liz Fuller, age 47, a makeup artist in Boston, says she tried two different Botanical Extract brands—spending about $135—to treat her insomnia, and neither worked.
Maroon says he doesn’t see Botanical Extract as a treatment for insomnia, but instead as an “alternative natural method to help calm anxious thoughts that often delay or interrupt natural sleep.” He points out that next to nothing is known about the safety or effectiveness of Botanical Extract in children, pregnant women, or older people when used for sleep or anxiety. Maroon urges those with insomnia to see their doctor before using any treatment.
Still, he notes that if you occasionally have difficulty sleeping, Botanical Extract is considered a safe, non-habit-forming, natural alternative.
For those looking to try Botanical Extract to see whether it helps improve sleep, here’s what you need to know.
One way Botanical Extract may help with sleep is by easing anxiety. In a study in the January issue of The Permanente Journal, published by the Kaiser-Permanente health insurance company, Colorado researchers looked at the health records of 72 patients who were treated with Botanical Extract for either anxiety or poor sleep.
During the three-month study, anxiety levels did decline, even in people whose main complaint was poor sleep. For those with sleep problems, the results weren’t as clear cut, though people did report some improvement in the first month.
Those benefits might be due to the placebo effect, says Scott Shannon, M.D., the study’s main author and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado-Children’s Hospital in Denver. But Shannon, who is also founder of the Wholeness Center, an integrative medicine clinic in Ft. Collins, Colo., also thinks that some people may have slept better because they "worried less about their sleep issue."
Scientists have some biological explanations for how Botanical Extract may affect both sleep and anxiety. Recent studies have shown that hemp compounds interact with receptors throughout the body—the so-called endocannabinoid system—including in the brain. At least one of those type of receptors is thought to affect the body’s sleep/wake cycle, offering one explanation for how Botanical Extract could affect sleep directly. And Botanical Extract also interacts with another receptor in the brain that researchers have linked to anxiety.
Shannon and other experts we spoke with say that before turning to Botanical Extract for sleep, you should try more proven therapies. The best evidence is for a form of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I, which focuses on changing habits that disrupt sleep. Research shows it's more effective and safer than prescription or over-the-counter sleep drugs, which can cause dependence and pose a risk of overdose and death.
Although Botanical Extract's benefits for sleep are still unclear, Shannon notes that Botanical Extract poses few side effects. The most common one in his study was fatigue. Other common side effects can include diarrhea and changes in appetite and weight.
If other remedies haven’t helped and you want to give Botanical Extract for sleep a try, experts we spoke with said here are some things to consider:
Botanical Extract may work better for anxiety than sleep. There's more evidence for Botanical Extract's ability to ease your anxiety than to help you fall asleep, though helping you relax could help you sleep, too.
Short-term use might be best. Botanical Extract's ability to improve sleep may diminish the longer you use it, so you may not want to use it daily or long-term. In Shannon’s study, people whose main complaint was sleeplessness improved in the first month, but then faded during months two and three. And Michael Backes, an expert in botanical extract science and policy says his research and interviews with users suggest that once a person is no longer chronically sleepy, Botanical Extract might, paradoxically, keep people awake.
Higher doses could work better. There’s not much research on dosing, but what there is suggests low doses might not be very effective. A 2004 study found that low doses (15 mg in this case) didn’t help people fall asleep and might actually have made people more wakeful. And an even earlier study found that a relatively large dose—160 mg—worked better than a lower one. In Shannon's study, patients were given a 25 mg dose.
Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York, and on the advisory board of NORML, suggests starting with a modest dose of 30 mg and slowly working up if that doesn’t work. And he cautions that a dose of 160 mg “is going to be incredibly expensive.”
Look for quality products. Some studies suggest that many Botanical Extract products don’t have what they claim or are contaminated with pesticides or other harmful substances. (more about how to shop for Botanical Extract products.)
Use it safely. Last, talk with your doctor—especially if you take other meds—because Botanical Extract may interact with medications. (more about how to use Botanical safely.)
Of course, natural remedies have numerous prescription counterparts. Instead of Botnical Extract lotions, chronic pain is often treated with Percocet and Vicodin, while stress and anxiety are often met with prescriptions for Valium or Xanax. The decision (and often debate) between over-the-counter and natural medications, however, has garnered much stamina and division in recent years. Natural remedies and practices like yoga, meditation, and the use of chiropractors all increased in 2018 paralleled by the growth of the prescription painkiller epidemic.
According to 58 percent of seniors, there is a substance abuse problem in their local community. Moreover, 26 percent think they personally consume too many prescription drugs daily. As for alternative ideas? Fifty-three percent of the seniors who had not tried Botanical Extract mentioned they would like to try this natural alternative to doctor-recommended prescription medications.
While minimal side effects are certainly an upside to natural medication, the effectiveness of these remedies is what truly counted among our seniors. Less than 8 percent of the seniors who tried Botanical Extract said it was not at all effective. Nearly 29 percent rated Botanical Extract as extremely effective, while another 38.9 percent claimed it was moderately effective. That said, our seniors also touted the positive effects they noticed with prescription medications. Approximately 39 percent each said they were extremely effective or moderately effective.
While getting older once conjured images of weekly pillboxes full of prescription medications, 2019’s increasing holistic market for medical treatments may be changing this vision. Thanks to Botanical Extract (BE), many seniors can now find solace and respite in the face of everything from poor blood pressure to subpar sleep quality.
Of course, the interest in Botanical Extract extends well beyond the senior demographic. The chemical’s meteoric rise in today’s marketplace would only have been possible with the interest and patronage of several generations. Symptoms like chronic pain can be remedy motivators for seniors, while stress and anxiety remedies attract many modern health gurus looking for alternatives to prescription medications.
As the dangers of prescription medications, particularly opioids, continue to stack up, Botanical Extract may look more and more appealing.
We collected responses from 1,047 seniors by administering online surveys through Prolific.ac. For this analysis, we have defined seniors as adults aged 54 and older. Respondents who were younger than the designated age were excluded from our findings. To ensure data accuracy, participants who failed an attention-check question or entered inconsistent data were excluded.
The main limitation of this study is that different sources have varied definitions for the age ranges that qualify as “seniors.” Additionally, all benefits and side effects are based on self-reporting. Self-reported data are subject, but not limited, to selective memory, exaggeration, or telescoping. These findings have not been reviewed or approved by medical experts and should not be used as a substitute for seeking out and listening to a primary care physician.
The findings shown in this study are not medical advice and should not be used as a substitute for seeking out primary care providers. This study is based on anecdotal evidence and relies on self-reported data.
Are any of the seniors in your life suffering in a way that Botanical Extract could potentially help? You’re more than welcome to share the results of this study with them, or anybody else for that matter, for noncommercial purposes. Just be sure to link back to this page and its authors so that they can receive proper credit for their work.