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Insomnia and Medicinal Cannabis

This learning module is suitable for healthcare practitioners with an interest in learning about medicinal cannabis. 

About this module:

In this presentation, Professor Kylie O’Brien PhD examines the topic of insomnia, including the architecture of sleep, the pathophysiology of insomnia, how the endocannabinoid system is involved in sleep regulation and what happens to the endocannabinoid system in insomnia. She examines the scientific evidence for the treatment of insomnia with cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and identifies some of the inconsistencies and gaps in the research. 

This presentation is a deep dive into the science and is suitable for healthcare practitioners and those with a background in biomedical sciences.
It assumes a knowledge of the endocannabinoid system and medicinal cannabis pharmacodynamics.
Learning Outcomes

At the end of this module, learners will be able to:

  • Describe the mechanisms of sleep.
  • Debate evidence that the endocannabinoid is involved in regulation of sleep.
  • Describe the effects of THC and CBD on sleep. 
  • Argue the evidence base for the use of medicinal cannabis for insomnia.
  • Critique the available evidence for the use of medicinal cannabis in treating sleep disorders such as insomnia, identifying current gaps in research. 

Professor Kylie O'Brien, PhD

Professor Kylie O’Brien PhD is an Adjunct Professor at Torrens University. She has a strong academic career in the fields of Chinese medicine, integrative medicine, and, since 2018, in medicinal cannabis. She has worked for the Victorian Department of Human Services, and held senior leadership roles in the university and private education sector. An internationally recognised expert in Chinese medicine and integrative medicine, she has published extensively, including a book on integrative oncology (US: Springer, 2017). Kylie’s second book, with co-author Dr Philip Blair, O’Brien K, Blair P, Medicinal Cannabis and CBD in Mental Healthcare, Springer, 2021 has now been published (Springer). She is a member of the Australian government’s Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) Expert Panel and a previous member of the TGA Advisory Committee for Complementary Medicines.

Kylie has been leading doctor education on medicinal cannabis in Australia since 2018. Her courses were the first to receive RACGP Category 1 CPD accreditation. She also set up the pathway via the National Institute of Integrative Medicine Ethics Committee for doctors to apply to become authorised prescribers of medicinal cannabis under the TGA’s Authorised Prescriber Scheme.
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