PTSD relief can potentially be achieved in a non-toxic and everlasting manner with the use of CBD Oil. Since May is National Mental Health Month and PTSD is one of the most debilitating mental illnesses, there’s no time like the present to discuss new potential treatments for PTSD.
Although many people mistakenly associate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) solely with military veterans who have experienced combat, PTSD is prevalent among youth and adults who have experienced many different types of trauma. The Mayo Clinic categorizes PTSD as a psychiatric disorder that can manifest after a variety of events, including a perceived trauma, sexual assault, acts of terrorism, bad accidents, natural disasters, and many other types of traumatic incidents.
The symptoms associated with PTSD can be quite serious. Dr. Nancy Irwin, psychologist at Seasons in Malibu says, “If unresolved, PTSD sufferers may experience sleep disorders, irritability, anger, addictions, memory loss, lack of focus, lack of joy, depression, anxiety, heightened startle reflex, hypervigilance, emotional detachment, flashbacks, nightmares, and more.”
Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist, PTSD/anxiety specialist, and author of Joy from Fear, adds that “PTSD symptoms can affect nearly every aspect of the traumatized individual’s life, such as sleep, eating habits, relationships, work, daily social interactions, and mental status.”
Psychiatric and medical studies have found evidence that CBD could provide relief from PTSD symptoms.
A 2012 medical study on how CBD prevents PTSD symptoms investigated the anti-anxiety actions of CBD administration in a model of PTSD that was simulated by being exposed to a predator. The study concluded that:
Repeated CBD administration prevents the long-lasting anxiogenic effects observed after predator exposure probably by facilitating 5HT1A receptors neurotransmission. Our results suggest that CBD has beneficial potential for PTSD treatment and that 5HT1A receptors could be a therapeutic target in this disorder.
A 2016 medical study on the Bidirectional Effects of Cannabidiol on Contextual Fear Memory Extinction found that CBD inhibited fear expression produced longer lasting reductions in fear. The study concluded that“these observations provide further support for the potential translational use of CBD in conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and specific phobias.”
Quartz and the Harris Poll carried out a survey in April that asked more than 2,000 Americans about their CBD usage. Fifty percent said they used CBD to relax and relieve symptoms of anxiety.
Who Suffers From PTSD? It’s Not Solely War Veterans
Dr. Manly explains that aside from military combat:
Other common examples of traumas that can result in PTSD are as follows: experiencing a natural disaster (e.g., fire, flood, earthquake); witnessing a serious crime (e.g., robbery, assault, home invasion); being the victim of a crime (sexual assault, physical assault, robbery, etc.); domestic violence; accidents (e.g., plane crash, auto accident, bicycle accident, etc.) Sexual assault cases are one of the most common causes of PTSD, along with military combat.
Nick Levich and Tommy Joyce, co-founders of Key To Cannabis explain:
The symptoms of PTSD are often uncomfortable, including nightmares, avoidance of certain activities, heightened reactions, depression and anxiety. The most common treatment for PTSD in the United States is pharmaceutical medications that often come with a long list of serious side effects. Those suffering from PTSD often feel relegated to a life of pharmaceutical drugs – that is, until they stumble upon the wonderful healing effects of CBD. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is an all-natural, plant-based PTSD treatment option derived from hemp. Although PTSD itself is not curable – because the event can’t be un-lived – it’s symptoms no longer have to run your life.
Organizations such as PTSD United have projected that 70 percent of adults in the United States have undergone some sort of traumatic event during their life. Not everyone who experiences trauma will develop PTSD, but those who have pre-existing anxiety disorders at the time of the trauma may be more likely to develop PTSD.
Dr. Manly confirms this:
Those who have mental health issues such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, social anxiety, or depression are often more susceptible to PTSD given their psychological and physiological make-up. In fact, those who struggle with anxiety and other common mental health issues are often more vulnerable in general to negative life experiences.
The numbers of sufferers inside the military community are sobering, but it’s important to remember that PTSD doesn’t only affect those who have experienced military combat. Still, an estimated 11 to 20 percent of Iraq War veterans suffer from PTSD. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates around 30 percent of Vietnam veterans have suffered from PTSD in their lives.
PTSD Treatments: Effective And Controversial
The symptoms of PTSD vary depending on the person. Some might have physical, emotional, or cognitive trauma that could manifest a short time after an incident. Others might not have any issues until many years later.
Treatment for PTSD can come in the form of trauma-focused psychotherapies like Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). These treatments help people process different traumatic experiences and gain control over negative feelings, while ensuring that emotions are not avoided or suppressed, but dealt with in a constructive way.
Other potential PTSD treatments include prescription antidepressants such as Zoloft and Paxil, or general anti-anxiety medications such as Ativan.
However, as noted earlier, many are concerned about the hazardous side effects of these medications, the potential for addiction, and the negative impact of just placing a ‘”Band-Aid” over an issue without any foresight for the future.
As a result, some veterans and others affected by PTSD have expressed growing interest in more holistic treatments like cannabidiol (CBD).
Dr. Lisa Smith, certified hypnotherapist at CRE8TVE Solutions (which specializes in helping sexual assault and domestic violence victims overcome their trauma) says that CBD is a potentially beneficial treatment method.
“CBD can be an excellent substitute for serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) which are often prescribed for anxiety,” says Dr. Smith.” CBD helps increase serotonin levels in your brain, which can reduce the number of free-floating thoughts, fears, and worries.”
Dr. Smith points out that several studies have already explored CBD’s usefulness in managing the symptoms of anxiety, and that there are many reports of negative side effects from prescription medications being used for anxiety and PTSD.
“Long-term usage of SSRIs or prescription anti-depressants have resulted in unwanted side effects such as weight gain, emotional numbness, sexual problems, and withdrawal,” Smith explains.
Failure to take the prescribed pills for any reason can result in unwanted withdrawal symptoms that include nausea, dizziness, and paranoia. Cold and flu-like symptoms such as chills, shaking, migraines are also expected. For those who have experienced unwanted side-effects from prescription medication, CBD could be an alternative treatment.
Indra Cidambi, M.D. and Medical Director at the Center for Network Therapy agrees that prescription medication may not be the best route for everyone:
Given that existing pharmacological therapies for treating PTSD are not very efficient and come with considerable side effects, CBD is a possible therapeutic alternative for treating PTSD. Recent studies have confirmed the ability of CBD to alter important aspects of aversive memories in humans and promote significant improvements in symptoms.
Dr. Cidambi notes that CBD, which isn’t addictive, has already been approved for the treatment of two pediatric seizure disorders.
Isn’t CBD Like Marijuana?
CBD (Cannabidiol) is one of many naturally occurring cannabinoid compounds in the cannabis plant. According to Elizabeth Moriarty of Luminary Medicine Company, “Hemp and marijuana are strictly legal terms that distinguish between high THC and very low THC cannabis.”
CBD has been gaining research attention since it is the “second most prevalent cannabinoid in marijuana and the top non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in hemp,” according to Moriarty, adding that the vast majority of products that include CBD are made from hemp.
A growing number of researchers have been looking into how CBD could be used to help treat PTSD symptoms. Many think it has a lot of promise as a treatment method for PTSD relief.
CBD Oil: A Potential PTSD Treatment That Works?
Dr. Vinay Saranga M.D., psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry, told HoneyColony that more research must be done on CBD as a treatment for PTSD and says:
Some patients have had great experiences with CBD oil. However, like any alternative treatment, it’s difficult to know for sure what will work and won’t work for someone, and it’s hard to say with certainty how effective this kind of treatment will be. People do say that CBD oil helps give them a sense of calm and helps with sleep, which could be beneficial for PTSD sufferers.
A small but steadily growing number of veterans are turning towards CBD oil to alleviate PTSD symptoms.
Shannon Bitzer, a veteran who suffers from PTSD and is also the CEO of Sovereign Holistics uses CBD to treat her PTSD symptoms. Bitzer explains:
I have found that taking CBD in higher doses throughout the day helps to produce a very calming effect and provides me with relief from my PTSD symptoms. CBD noticeably diminishes my anxiety in several ways, and helps me to not only fall asleep but stay asleep. I use products such as CBD bath bombs to relax myself and CBD sublinguals to relax myself, and it really works. My PTSD has become substantially more manageable.
“You’re always clear and level-headed” after taking CBD oil, says Art Lopez, Army veteran and founder of Veterans Relief Group. Lopez recommends the substance to other veterans because “it just gets you some relief from your pain.”
Ramsey Cadena, the owner of Corpus Christi business Joint Venture, sells CBD oil products and asserts veterans are frequent customers. In an interview with KZTV, he said, “They say it works wonders for them” and helps reduce anxiety levels.
In February 2019, researchers at the VA San Diego Healthcare System announced a VA-funded study to the tune of $1.3 million that would aim to determine if CBD could be useful in helping ease PTSD.
Dr. Mallory Loflin, who is heading the study, notes that past research suggests CBD can help those with PTSD “unlearn” certain behaviors and responses that have manifested after trauma.
The study will incorporate 136 veterans from a variety of eras. Veterans with PTSD will receive capsules with CBD and a placebo, alongside “evidence-based psychotherapy.”
Loflin says she is interested in understanding if “taking CBD at the same time as psychotherapy disrupts treatment gains.” Loflin suggests it can be tricky to carry out trials and research work with cannabis or cannabinoids because of a perception that they are “cure-alls for everything.” Preconceived notions could impact people’s expectations when in a study.
Growing Advocacy Towards CBD’s Usefulness In Treating PTSD
Cautious optimism about PTSD and CBD were also expressed by researchers Rafael Bitencourt (University of South Santa Catarina, Brazil) and Reinaldo Takahaski (Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil) in Frontiers in Neuroscience in summer 2018.
Bitencourt and Takahaski explained,“Human and animal studies suggest that CBD may offer therapeutic benefits for disorders related to inappropriate responses to traumatic memories.”
At the end of their paper, both wrote about the need for more studies to determine the “neurobiological mechanisms involved in CBD responses.”
Finally, the two postulated how the steps towards understanding if CBD could be useful as a PTSD treatment might lead to a “formulation of CBD for the treatment of patients with trauma and stress-related disorders.”
HoneyColony previously published the story of an army retiree in Maryland who has found success with CBD oil in mitigating effects of anxiety and PTSD. Glenn said he was taking five to seven drugs after retirement from the military to treat a variety of conditions.
After making changes to his diet by cutting out sugar and gluten, he decided to say “to heck with all the pharmaceuticals.” Glenn then started to learn more about CBD.
After taking five to eight drops of CBD oil, Glenn related how “I feel a lot more at ease with myself and others around me.”
To him, CBD oil is a natural cure that “has relieved my PTSD issues, swelling, and some of the diabetes effects I was suffering from. It puts me at ease, and it gives me a deep sense of peace.”
Growing Optimism That CBD Can Be An Effective Tool For PTSD
The CBD industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds as more and more people become interested.
Crysta Icore, founder of Dancing With Fireflies, explains her experience of using CBD as a relief from PTSD:
I’ve been using CBD for about 4 years for Complex PTSD. After discovering how CBD can alleviate anxiety, my therapist suggested trying CBD to help with my nightmares. The nightmares have calmed, my startle reflex has settled down, and I can actually feel like I can live a ‘normal’ life without using psychiatric medications that Doctors prescribed.
Many researchers are still working to nail down exactly how CBD can be best used to treat PTSD and other health challenges, but one thing is clear: a steadily growing number of people who suffer from PTSD are already finding relief through CBD.
Kevin O’Brien holds a BA in International Affairs and has lived and worked in several countries. He enjoys collecting historical autographs and playing musical instruments.
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