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Clinical trial will investigate medicinal cannabis for sleep disturbances


Caitlin Zillman
7 September 2021
A cannabis plant against backdrop of sunset
Cannabis plant at sunset (credit Kym Mackinnon on Unsplash).

Southern Cross University researchers have commenced Australia’s largest clinical trial investigating the efficacy of an over-the-counter botanical cannabidiol (CBD) product to help with sleep disturbances in a healthy population.

Dr Janet Schloss, Clinical Trials Fellow, is the lead investigator together with Associate Professor Romy Lauche, Deputy Director of Research from the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine.

The trial, funded by Australian hemp company Ecofibre, will compare the effects of their Ananda Hemp CBD extract to a placebo on participants’ self-reported changes in sleep disturbances.

“Approximately 33%-45% of Australians currently suffer from sleep disturbances which can impact both our physical and mental health, when left untreated. We are currently investigating if a low-dose botanical CBD soft gel will assist people with sleep disturbance compared to a placebo, which is an inactive substance,” said Dr Schloss.

Georgie Rist, Ananda Hemp’s Vice President Global Accounts said: “Given many Australians are reporting less quality sleep during current lockdowns across the country, there has never been a more important time to help Australians with such an essential, yet often neglected, aspect of their health.”

A large laboratory with two male workers

A laboratory at Ecofibre (credit Ecofibre).

The Sleep Foundation has also emphasised the importance of sleep in helping to fight off infection. The Foundation has noted that when sleep is of poor quality, it can impair the immune response. In addition, poor sleep might result in ‘flare-ups’ of other chronic illness and disease.

After a historic decision made in December 2020, when the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Association) down-scheduled CBD to a Schedule 3 (Pharmacist Only Medicine) from a Schedule 4 (Prescription Only Medicine), there are still no TGA-approved CBD products that pharmacists can prescribe.

This exciting clinical research comes after the 1 February 2021 legalisation in Australia allowing the purchase of CBD-containing products over the counter as a pharmacist-only medicine.

“Currently there are no registered CBD products that pharmacists can dispense, even though it has been rescheduled and thus approved for over-the-counter sales,” said Dr Schloss.

“Additionally, no clinical trials on low-dose CBD have been undertaken to see what amount works for sleep disturbances. Trials like this will add to the current evidence for pharmacists, doctors and patients which is important moving forward in this space.”

How to participate

Researchers are seeking generally healthy individuals aged 18-65 years old, who have self-reported poor sleep. This may include people who have difficulty initiating sleep, maintaining sleep, or are waking earlier than desired. Participants can partake in the trial in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane or Lismore. In total, 438 participants will be included in the trial, each participating in the trial for 10 weeks.

For further information about the trial, or to complete the online screening survey, visit or email [email protected]

This research has been approved by Southern Cross University Human Research Ethics Committee, SCU/HREC no. 2021/031.

National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine

The National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine at Southern Cross University is an internationally recognised centre of excellence and innovation in naturopathic medicine and health education, research and practice. NCNM creates, promotes and advocates a strong culture of incorporating evidence-based science into healthcare education and clinical practice.


Media contact: Caitlin Zillman, NCNM Marketing and Communications Manager, +61 424 632 177 or [email protected]