CBD Oil for PTSD [Exploring How it Works]
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that just about everyone has heard of by now. But this doesn’t mean that it’s well understood. On the contrary, PTSD is one of the most commonly misunderstood disorders. A lot of people relate it to veterans or first responders, but in reality, it encompasses so many more people and situations.
PTSD stems from trauma and is described as repetitive re-experiencing of that ordeal. The portion of the brain that controls fear is triggered, which causes the person to relive the event repeatedly, especially in response to specific occurrences or similar stimuli occurring around them.
If you are currently living with PTSD, you are not alone. Research has shown that around 7.8% of Americans will suffer from the disorder at some stage in their lives. Unfortunately, PTSD can be tough to deal with. Processing traumatic experiences, especially without any help, can be near impossible.
But luckily, there are a few available treatment options for PTSD to help people who are suffering from many of the problematic symptoms, and one of the treatments gaining more popularity among medical professionals and patients is none other than CBD oil.
What is PTSD?
PTSD can happen to anyone and at any time for a million different reasons. It’s a mental illness that will usually have a direct cause or source; in cases where people experience an exceptionally traumatic situation, PTSD may arise. It may not even set in for months or years, but it’s a very common reaction to significantly stressful events.
Soldiers, veterans, and those who have served in the armed forces are all groups who typically suffer from PTSD. Whether a combat fighter or involved in the field some other way, the war setting can be extremely damaging to a person’s psyche. If a person experiences something horrific during their time in service, it’s more likely that they will suffer from PTSD at some stage. It will often pop up when the person is finally out of harm’s way. It’s as if the mind and body finally allow them to begin to process the experience that they have gone through.
While the above mentioned demographic groups are commonly known to suffer from PTSD, there are also many other causes of the disorder. Anyone who has lasting emotional trauma from any experience or incident can fall into this category. PTSD doesn’t discriminate – it can happen to any race, age, or gender, after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. Some of the other common events known to result in PTSD are violent crime, a bad accident, childhood physical abuse, sexual molestation, rape, the death of someone close, or severe weather conditions such as hurricanes or tornadoes.
Some PTSD symptoms include the following:
- Emotional numbness
- Inability to sleep
- Exaggerated reactions when startled
- Substance abuse
- Inability to control emotions, including sadness or anger
- Recurring nightmares
PTSD is not easy to deal with. Intrusive thoughts, night terrors, hallucinations, violence, and anger may all arise when a person has a PTSD episode. Once PTSD has developed, it’s more about managing the symptoms than finding a cure. It’s not like a virus or disease or something that you can cure by taking a specific medication. However, people can make progress through treatment and therapy.
That said, extreme PTSD results in multiple symptoms. This is why CBD oil is starting to become more popular in the medical community, as this compound has shown signs of managing the complex symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
Most patients who suffer from PTSD get prescribed with several antidepressants and antipsychotics that may have a small positive effect on them, but render many adverse side effects. Therefore, many doctors are increasingly suggesting CBD oil for the relief of symptoms and treatment of PTSD.
So, What is CBD oil?
Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is one of the most well-known cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound, meaning that it won’t make the user high. It’s legal in all states where medical marijuana is legal and is notorious for its various medicinal benefits.
CBD oil is what is produced when you extract cannabinoids from the cannabis plant (mainly cannabidiol) and mix it together with a carrier oil, like MCT (a form of coconut oil). People use CBD oil for many different reasons, including to reduce anxiety, stress, depression, pain, inflammation, to improve the immune system, and to treat PTSD, among other things.
CBD can be found in the stem, leaves, and flowers of the cannabis plant, but the flower is very much the most valuable for a rich, dense, balanced CBD oil. Many people who use CBD say that they have stopped using conventional medication because CBD offers relief without the same intense side effects that accompany pharmaceutical drugs.
How CBD oil helps with PTSD
The science behind the effectiveness of CBD is pretty complex, but we will dive into the basics of just how it works to treat PTSD. You see, believe it or not, the body has been made to work with cannabinoids. This is all thanks to the endocannabinoid system; you can think of it as a communication network that your body uses to send and receive chemical signals.
This system is made up of receptors and transmitters which you can find throughout the human body, including in the spine and brain. Your body uses these to send natural endocannabinoids all around it – yes, as crazy as it seems, your body already has something like CBD in it. Endocannabinoids are very closely related to endorphins, so if you know what endorphins do, then you already understand a great deal about CBD.
Since endocannabinoids like CBD function much like endorphins, they play an important role as a mood regulator. They can help to boost or improve a person’s mood, making them feel more uplifted or more capable of handling what life throws at them. PTSD is thought of as something like a brain misfire; your brain brings up memories and gives them unrealistic power, which forces sufferers to relive the emotions of painful experiences. It’s a spike in brain activity which disturbs the chemical composition of the brain.
Research has found that CBD oil helped numerous patients who suffer from PTSD by improving their symptoms. Multiple studies have revealed that the human body is composed of several neurotransmitters, known as anandamide, that function to keep the individual emotionally stable. However, low levels of anandamide result in the triggering of PTSD. Anandamide is an important mood regulator that works in the body’s endocannabinoid system, and it’s believed that CBD works to plug this deficiency, which in turn regulates spikes in the mood.
CBD is well known for its anti-anxiety benefits, and because PTSD sufferers tend to experience huge anxiety spikes, users of CBD oil report that it allows the brain to slow down and better process intense situations. This reduces panic attacks and high levels of anxiety, which is why it’s believed that CBD might be able to help at least ease the dramatic sensations of PTSD.
What the research says About CBD for PTSD
A recent study* published by Frontiers in Pharmacology reported that CBD oil has been showing some promising results against PTSD. CBD oil has been found to have a significant impact on reducing the fear memory. In other words, it’s able to block the part of the mind that brings back the memory of a traumatic event. It also helps in enhancing the disappearance of consciousness related to trauma. CBD is able to perform the action of overcoming the fear memory with the help of its partial agonist, 5-HT1A.
A different study* that was published in Behavioral Pharmacology suggests that CBD oil efficiently helps by balancing anandamide levels in the body, preventing PTSD. Administering CBD after exposure to the traumatic event resulted in the treatment of PTSD symptoms. Also, CBD oil mitigates the impact of stress on emotional function and memory processes.
A 2016 study* published in the Permanente Journal looked into the effectiveness of CBD oil to treat pediatric anxiety and insomnia as a result of PTSD. These symptoms are often caused by the disorder and can impair the ability to focus and to demonstrate oppositional behaviors. The study was done on a ten-year-old girl who had been sexually abused and had experienced neglected parental supervision as a young child under the age of five. She suffered from anxiety and a sleeping disorder as a result, and while pharmaceutical drugs gave partial relief, the results weren’t long-lasting, and there were major side effects. A trial of CBD oil resulted in a steady improvement in the quantity and quality of the patient’s sleep and maintained a decrease in anxiety.
People who struggle to sleep also report success using CBD oil. Poor sleep has a negative impact on a person’s mood, which could make conditions like PTSD much worse. Using CBD oil to help get yourself rest can reassert control over one’s mood. Getting enough rest ensures that you are in your best frame of mind possible for confronting daily life and battles with PTSD. A lack of sleep won’t only drag down your mood, but it can also worsen your overall health and make you fight an uphill battle.
Final thoughts on CBD oil for PTSD
There is no simple solution for patients who suffer from PTSD. It’s a complex disorder that is often misunderstood. However, CBD oil can help victims to manage the various symptoms associated with PTSD and provide them with some much-needed relief.
As more research is done on cannabis, and more specifically CBD, we can only assume that more insight will be given to just how CBD can help those who suffer from PTSD. For now, it certainly seems as though CBD oil is an effective treatment option.