Before we dive into the extraordinary benefits that CBD has to offer those who suffer from PTSD, I want to take a moment to remember the day of 9/11/2001, the 2,996 people that lost their lives, and the millions that were (and continue to be) affected by this devastating day. Thank you to those who make it their life’s purpose to keep the United States safe and free from harm each and every day. Nature’s Breakthrough appreciates each and every one of you!
A Natural Solution for Balancing Emotional Dysregulation
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is very common among war veterans. It is characterized by flashbacks, nightmares and uncontrolled anxiety due to exposure to a traumatic event. Research has revealed that cannabinoids have a role to play in minimizing the emotional impact of traumatic events on the people who experience them. Additionally, it improves sleep and lessens the intensity of fear and anxiety that afflict PTSD patients.
PTSD is a disorder that arises after a person has been exposed to a traumatic event or experience. According to the Mayo Clinic, people suffering from this disorder usually have severe anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and uncontrollable thoughts concerning the traumatizing event. Feelings of danger and stress persist even when none exist. The National Institute of Mental Health lists some symptoms associated with PTSD, which include:
- Maintaining a distance from places or events that remind the patient about the traumatic event
- Feelings of guilt or numbness
- Loss of interest in activities that were formerly enjoyed by the patient
- Getting easily startled
- Frequent outbursts of anger
PTSD is very common in ex-servicemen who have experienced combat exposure. However, it can also develop following any kind of traumatic event including childhood abuse, sexual violence, physical assault, kidnapping, a natural disaster or an accident.
Current treatment methods for PTSD include psychotherapy methods, such as exposure therapy and inoculation training. Exposure therapy gives patients a safe exposure to the trauma. The patient then undergoes a cognitive restructuring which allows them to make sense out of the traumatic event.
During inoculation training, patients are taught how to suppress their anxiety. The physician may prescribe anti-depression medications to help terminate negative feelings such as agitation, anger, sadness, numbness, and worry. Use of these medications is associated with some side effects such as nausea, insomnia, headache, sexual problems, and drowsiness.
Effects of Cannabinoids on PTSD
Studies have shown that cannabis helps in the management of symptoms associated with PTSD. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), two major cannabinoids, play key roles in influencing the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system helps in the maintenance of the body’s homeostasis, which includes emotional homeostasis. It is also involved in the consolidation of memory, extension, and retrieval.
Cannabinoids activate the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. This, in turn, modulates neurotransmitter release, producing major effects on the central nervous system such as memory alteration and increase in pleasure. The cannabinoids inhibit the continuous recycling of the traumatic event, thus reducing the associated anxiety.
These effects allow the patients to effectively manage the major symptoms associated with the condition, which include numbing, avoidance and re-experiencing. In one study, a measurement was done by the Clinical Administered Post-traumatic Scale when patients were using cannabis compared to when they weren’t, and PTSD patients experienced a 75% reduction in symptoms.
Cannabis is used by military veterans for coping purposes, especially in people who suffer stress intolerance or who have difficulty in emotional regulation. It also helps improve sleep quality for people suffering from nightmares or insomnia. It has been discovered that the use of cannabis by military veterans increases as the severity of the PTSD symptoms increase. The positive effects of cannabinoids in the treatment of PTSD are backed by preclinical evidence. Treatment is more effective when the CBD is administered in an acute pattern rather than chronically.
In addition, cannabinoids have much more than temporary benefits for PTSD patients. Studies have shown that cannabinoids are capable of dampening the emotional impact and intensity of traumatic memories. Furthermore, if a person is exposed to traumatic events and cannabinoids are administered shortly after, then PTSD symptoms may be prevented.
People suffering from PTSD have a dysregulation of their emotions and coping abilities that can be re-regulated with the aid of cannabinoids. A natural alternative that works to bring an emotional balance to the body’s endocannabinoid system, cannabinoid treatment for PTSD will not only have less potentially harmful side effects than anti-depressants, these exocannabinoids actually regulate in the same way the body’s endocannabinoid would if the ECS were not unbalanced.
The inner chaos that traumatic events cause people with PTSD deserves our attention and deserves a safe, well-researched, well-regulated and effective treatment. Cannabinoids are already known to have positive effects on people with PTSD. Our servicemen especially merit treatment that has been dignified by research and health care professionals and the support of our legislators, instead of the expired ignorance and fear that once demonized cannabis and industrial hemp products.
Akirav, I. (2013). Targeting the endocannabinoid system to treat haunting traumatic memories. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7, 124.
Betthauser, K., Pilz, J., and Vollmer, LE (2015). Use and effects of cannabinoids in military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. American Journal of Health System Pharmacy, 72(15), 1279-84.
Blessing, EM. Steenkamp, MM, Manzanares, J and Marmar, CR (2015). Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics. Epub ahead of print.
Boden, MT, Babson, KA, Vujanovic, AA, Short, NA and Bonn-Miller, MO (2013). Post-traumatic stress disorder and cannabis use characteristics among military veterans with cannabis dependence. The American Journal on Addictions, 22(3), 277-84.