Although PTSD statistically has been an increasingly common condition, it is still gravely misunderstood – little is known about how it arises, what neurological pathways are involved in its onset, and how to appropriately treat it.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is of course normally associated with veterans, and while it does affect people returning from combat zones, it also impacts people from all walks of life for varying reasons.
And of course, treating PTSD isn’t as easy as taking a pill like you would for a standard headache. There are a number of prescription medications on the market (such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft) but these often lead to side effects such as nausea, headaches, and trouble enjoying sex.
here are some rather startling PTSD statistics to show you just how concerning (and prevalent) the condition actually is:
- Up to 8% of Americans suffer from some form PTSD (roughly 24.4 million people)
- As many as 11% of veterans returning from Afghanistan have PTSD
- Roughly 17% of Iraqi war veterans have PTSD
- 70% of Americans experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.
Now that you understand the general basis of what post-traumatic stress disorder is and in what general ways it can manifest itself, let’s take a closer look at CBD for PTSD, and why tens of thousands of people around the world are starting to turn to the compound to help find effective, natural relief.
For the millions of people worldwide who suffer from the condition, there is really no other way to put it – living with PTSD is a nightmare. From night terrors and hyper-vigilance to simply being in a crowd, you never know when the condition may strike. As you may imagine, it is truly horrific to be perpetually on the cusp of panic.
Throughout the last few decades, opiates have been readily prescribed and recommended by most doctors. But as those who routinely take the drugs will know, not only can opiates not even be helpful, they can also be extremely dangerous.
As you might imagine, this is one of the reasons why PTSD victims all over the U.S. (and the globe) have recently been drawn to CBD – for going on half a decade now, it has represented a potentially effective treatment with very promising results, and virtually no side effects.
| Most importantly, the effects of CBD for PTSD have been backed by recent studies showing the compound to have mitigating components at the biochemical level.
In other words, it is becoming more and more clear that in terms of a safe and effective treatment for PTSD, CBD oil could be the answer. Let’s take a little more in-depth look at why this is the case, and whether or not you can expect doctors to start recommending CBD for post-traumatic stress disorder in the near future.
Blocking the repetition of traumatic memories, elevating mood, improving extinction learning, slowing serotonin re-uptake – these are just a few of the reasons why CBD for PTSD may be the perfect medicine.
Our understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has come a long way in a very short time. No longer a mental health struggle reserved for returning soldiers, it is now known to be an illness that can attach itself to any trauma. Several studies reveal that PTSD could be the result of an endocannabinoid deficiency within the patient exposed to the traumatic circumstance. For victims exposed to the same trauma (such as 9/11), those with low circulating endocannabinoids are at higher risk for developing PTSD. This definitely makes the case for cannabis treatment in PTSD. CBD for PTSD, in particular, has tested very successfully in animal models.
Of particular interest is cannabidiol, or CBD, one of the dozens of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant that lack psychoactivity. It’s thought to be safe to use, across a broad spectrum of illnesses, and even in high doses. In the early research, its already indicating it could be useful for the treatment of PTSD.
PTSD is partially characterized by disruptive and recurring memories of significant stressful life experiences. In a study done on lab animals, published in 2012, researchers found CBD, in 10 mg/kg doses was able to disrupt this traumatic repetition of memory.
They found that CBD was helpful for reducing the stickiness of memories one to seven days old, and hypothesized that based on further evidence, it could be beneficial for older memories.
Enhances Extinction Learning
Extinction learning is the ability of a new process to stop a behavior or conditioned response. In someone with PTSD, improving your ability to reduce conditioned and problematic responses to stressful situations is extremely helpful for recovery. According to the most recent research, not only has CBD shown positive results for improving extinction learning in rats, but also in human participants.
The 2013 study, found that CBD was effective when given to participants both before and after the experiment. The results are impressive, considering the high quality of the small trial. It was a double-blind and placebo-controlled. It’s also interesting to note, relatively low doses of 32 mg per person had measurable results.
Blocks Mood Receptors
PTSD is commonly associated with depression and severe mood swings, and CBD is showing potential as a powerful mood stabilizer. It won’t make you feel high, or euphoric, but it may help to regulate natural emotions.
CBD is a receptor antagonist. What does this mean? It prevents receptors from re-uptake activities, so lets any mood neurotransmitters currently swimming around in your brain stick around longer. Of particular importance is the ability CBD has to keep serotonin useful for longer, based on CBD’s relationship with the little-known 5-HT1A receptor. This is one receptor responsible for mood.
Modulates Pain Receptors
Another common experience among those with PTSD is dysfunctional pain modulation. There is a strong, yet poorly understood, connection between chronic pain and PTSD. Pain is one of the systems regulated by our endocannabinoid system, so the relationship makes sense.
Cannabidiol is increasingly thought to be a useful endocannabinoid regulator. It seems to work to return a dysfunctional endocannabinoid system back to homeostasis. Unfortunately, the research into CBD for pain is only in the early stages, but when combined with other cannabinoids, like THC, it does show some benefit. A THC:CBD combination has already been approved in some countries, for the treatment of pain associated with Multiple Sclerosis.
Modulates Stress Hormones
There has been significant attention paid to CBD for stress and anxiety. A recent review of the literature on the therapeutic properties of CBD found ten conclusive animal studies on CBD Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) characteristics. Four of these animal-based research studies were on rodents with PTSD. It may also help to reduce stress levels through its proven usefulness as an antipsychotic compound.
Some scientists believe CBD’s capability to minimize stress comes from the number of endocannabinoid receptors found in the hippocampus area of the brain. This is one area responsible for anxiety, and stress management. More research is needed on CBD’s specific role in this area.
Promotes Sleep Hormones
Cannabidiol has a very complicated influence over sleep, one which is highly dependant on the dose. Lower doses have proven useful for smoothing out a disruptive sleep cycle, while higher doses tend to have the opposite effect. This confusion and very early nature of the research hasn’t stopped companies from selling (and consumers from buying) CBD for sleep.
A case study, published in 2016, showed evidence that CBD helped reduce stress and reduce the experience of anxiety in a young girl who had PTSD. Notably, this is a single case, but the results were well documented and support the use of CBD for sleep issues related to PTSD.
There is a long way to go before CBD makes it way into pharmacies for the treatment of PTSD. However, the early results are encouraging. If these results lead into human clinical trials, patients with PTSD will have another tool in their box to recover from the debilitating illness.