Does CBD Help PTSD [CBD For PTSD – Benefits and Treatment Guide]

Does CBD Help PTSD? A lot speaks for it, but before we examine some facts, lets take a look at this disorder.

What Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

 It wasn't until after the Vietnam was over, that one of the triggers of this illness was recognized and rightfully named Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Called 'shell shock' during and after WW I, then 'combat fatigue' after WW II, more than 270,000 veterans who served in the Vietnam war zone suffer from symptoms of PTSD​​​​​.  This mental health condition is characterized by painful flashbacks, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the disturbing events they experienced.

However, PTSD is not confined to occur just in combat veterans. This disorder is not picky, it hits people of any nationality, ethnicity, culture, and any age.

People suffering from PTSD have intense, often time terrible feelings and thoughts stemming from events they experienced or witnessed. These symptoms can occur long after the traumatic event happened.  They suffer through nightmares and flashbacks, sadness, fear and anger. People with PTSD tend to avoid crowds, public events or situations that may remind them of the traumatic event. And many feel betrayed by society and harbor suicidal thoughts.

Many people who lived through traumatic events experience symptoms of PTSD within days of the event. However, symptoms may develop over time, sometimes many weeks or months, and persist for long periods of time.   

Symptoms Of PTSD

According to the American Psychiatric Association symptoms of PTSD fall into four categories.

  1. Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.
  2. Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects and situations that bring on distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
  3. Negative thoughts and feelings may include ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; or feeling detached or estranged from others.
  4. Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being easily startled; or having problems concentrating or sleeping.

Symptoms Described

It's important to hear from people who have to live with PTSD to really get an understanding of this disorder. Here is how some of them describe their illness:

  • "Physical, tantalizing pain all over my body. Constant nightmares. Out of control full-body contractions when waking up".
  • "Nightly panic attacks where I lose all body strength".
  • "Hyperventilating, sometimes for 40 minutes or longer. Often to the point of throwing up, just dry heaving for 15 minutes or longer".
  • "I experience sensory overload. Distorted vision and hearing, panic attack. Whole body goes numb, then tunnel vision and I black out".
  • "Horrible dreams accompanied by terrible migraine headaches that last for 6 - 8 hours".
  • “Chronic fatigue from dealing with PTSD symptoms. Mental exhaustion  becomes physical...it saps all energy and motivation out of me".

Treatment Of PTSD 

The common PTSD treatment consists of a combination of psychotherapy and anti depression medication.

Psychotherapy efforts include...

  1. Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET)
  2. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
  3. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  4. Stress Inoculation Training (SIT)

The anti depression medications can sometimes have ugly side effects like headache, nausea, sleeplessness or drowsiness, agitation and sexual problems.

does cbd help ptsd

Does CBD Help PTSD: What We Know...

It is a sad and unfortunate fact that research of the healing powers of Cannabis in general, and cannabinoids in particular, is extremely slow and in many instances non-existing. However, what we do know is that two major cannabinoids found in Cannabis influence the body’s endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system plays an essential role in maintaining emotional homeostasis, and in regulating memory consolidation, retrieval and extension. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) activate the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) of the endocannabinoid system.  As a result, the release of neurotransmitters produce a wide range of effects on the central nervous system, including an increase in pleasure and the alternation of memory processes.

The three core symptoms of PTSD are ...

  • re-experiencing
  • avoidance and numbing
  • hyperarousal.

When using cannabis, PTSD patients saw a 75% reduction in PTSD symptoms. We should not forget that these patients were treated with cannabis that contained a relatively high percentage of THC, the stuff that get marijuana smokers the high they are seeking.

However, a study from the year 2015 concludes...

We found that existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely.

Therefore, it stands to reason that CBD, with a THC content of less than 0.3%, can be indeed become the 'go-to-remedy' to treat the ugly symptoms of PTSD.

Treating PTSD Symptoms With CBD

A study... 

Cannabidiol as a Therapeutic Alternative for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: From Bench Research to Confirmation in Human Trials

published July, 2018 concludes:

Human and animal studies suggest that CBD may offer therapeutic benefits for disorders related to inappropriate responses to traumatic memories. The effects of CBD on the different stages of aversive memory processing make this compound a candidate pharmacological adjunct to psychological therapies for PTSD. CBD also shows an action profile with fewer side effects than the pharmacological therapy currently used to treat this type of disorder. In addition, even at high doses, CBD does not show the anxiogenic profile of compounds that directly activate eCB transmission.

How CBD Affects Fear Extinction

Published in 2016 by Neuropsychopharmacology concludes that CBD helps fear extinction, a learning process to stem unwanted retrieval of traumatic memories. They write:

Emerging evidence suggests that the largest phytochemical component of cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), may possess pharmacotherapeutic properties in the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. CBD has been reported to functionally interact with both the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) and serotonergic (5-HT) receptor systems.

In addition, findings show that once properly stored, CBD actually keeps learned extinct memories from becoming renewed.

How CBD Affects PTSD Related Anxiety

We published an article by Nina, a contributing author of CBD Oil Chronicle, in which she gives a detailed account of her personal experience with Anxiety and how CBD helped her to cope with anxiety disorder.

CBD Oil For Anxiety [A Natural Remedy That Works Wonders]

CBD and PTSD Related Substance Abuse

PTSD and substance abuse seem to go hand-in-hand. Statistics proved that over 60% of individuals with suffering from PTSD also developed an addiction to one, or even several substances like alcohol or illegal drugs.

The National Center For PTSD published this frightening statistics:

  • More than 2 of 10 Veterans with PTSD also have SUD.
  • Almost 1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD.
  • The number of Veterans who smoke (nicotine) is almost double for those with PTSD (about 6 of 10) versus those without a PTSD diagnosis (3 of 10).
  • In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning Veterans seen in VA have a problem with alcohol or other drugs.
  • War Veterans with PTSD and alcohol problems tend to binge drink. Binge drinking is when a person drinks a lot of alcohol (4-5 drinks or more) in a short period of time (1-2 hours).

A 2017 study recognizes that a more favorable CBD : THC ratio might be an option..., meaning that CBD with a THC level of less than 0.3% may lead to the development of a formulation of CBD for use as a treatment for anxiety‐related and substance abuse disorders in the future.

Is It Legal To Treat PTSD With CBD

CBD derived from Hemp is legal in all 50 states IF the THC content is 0.3% or lower. However, the FDA so far has only approved one CBD based drug, Epidiolex,  for the treatment of epilepsy related seizures. Therefore, it is ILLEGAL to make the claim that CBD has healing powers or is the cure for any sickness.

Having said that, 24 states have approved medical cannabis specifically for the treatment of PTSD. These states include: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

In addition, California and Massachusetts allowing medical cannabis to be used for the treatment of other conditions, including PTSD, with the recommendation by a physician.

It is safe to say that you will not end up in prison for using CBD for any purpose you wish.

How To Use CBD For PTSD?

Before using CBD, you should check with your doctor to ensure it won’t create negative side effects with any other medication you may be taking for PTSD or other conditions.

CBD can be used in different ways:

  • Sublingual (hold under tongue for at least 30 seconds)
  • Capsules
  • Edibles
  •  Vape Oil
  • CBD Sprays
  • Gels or Creams

We advise against the use of Vape Oil for obvious reasons. Although it does not contain nicotine, 'sucking stuff' into your lungs cannot be healthy, and reports just a few days ago links 'vaping in general' to several cases of damage to lungs. 

In addition, we cannot recommend sprays, creams or gels due to difficulties in determine the correct dosage AND the time it takes for the CBD to act.

The best way to take your CBD is to put the serving under your tongue and hold for at least 30 seconds before swallowing. The CBD should take effect within 10 minutes.

Unfortunately, there are no dosage guidelines, so it's up to you to do the old 'try until you get it right' method. We suggest you start out by taking ONE serving using the 'dropper' and then adjust accordingly.

Author's Choice: CBD Oil For PTSD

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Conclusion

So, does CBD help with PTSD? We answer that with a resounding YES.

With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, we are beginning to understand the clinical benefits of CBD. However, much more research is necessary to fully understand the workings of this natural remedy. 

If you have any questions, or something you want to share with us, please don't be shy and leave word in the box below. Thanks for stopping by

John Worthy 

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