Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition that can develop after exposure to a distressing event. Symptoms include intrusive thoughts and flashbacks, avoidance behaviours, anxiety and panic attacks, hypervigilance, and feelings of guilt or shame.
It is an unfortunate reality that anxiety and PTSD is common among people who have served our country in the military, affecting up to 20% of veterans in a given year. Veterans who are suffering from PTSD are at increased risk of dying or by suicide or becoming homeless if they are not treated.
Fortunately, both anxiety and PTSD are treatable. But many traditional medications can be habit-forming or may have undesirable side-effects. In recent years, there has been a surge of interest into whether cannabis products, including CBD, might help treat the symptoms of PTSD. Current research is extremely promising, and clinical trials are currently underway to systematically evaluate the effects of CBD on PTSD. For now, many veterans swear by CBD as a treatment for their PTSD symptoms.
Early research indicates that CBD is promising as a potential therapy for anxiety and PTSD.
A 2019 case series found that 10 of the 11 people with PTSD who were treated with CBD showed a decrease in symptom severity. In particular, patients reported that CBD helped reduce their nightmares.
A 2015 review concluded that CBD has “considerable potential” to treat anxiety disorder. A 2021 review further confirms this conclusion, saying that CBD is “a promising new agent in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders”.
A 2017 review found that CBD may be a possible therapeutic option for PTSD. According to the researchers, CBD may have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. Studies have shown that CBD may play a role in fear memory processing, which is related to PTSD. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin are currently conducting a clinical trial on the use of CBD in PTSD. The results will reveal much more about the effects of CBD on PTSD, and hopefully increase access to CBD among veterans.
CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, subtly tipping the balance toward increased levels of naturally occurring cannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system is related to anxiety, fear memory, and habituation, all of which are relevant in PTSD.
CBD inhibits an enzyme called FAAH, which is responsible for breaking down the endocannabinoid anandamide. When FAAH is inhibited, more anandamide sticks around in the body, causing relaxation, pain relief, anti-anxiety effects, and many other effects.
Cannabis contains two major cannabinoids: THC and CBD. THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis responsible for the feeling of being “high”. CBD is non-psychoactive and plays a balancing role, reducing some of the side-effects of THC.
When it comes to PTSD, it’s extremely important to differentiate between THC and CBD. In addition to blissful and euphoric feelings, THC can have side-effects, paranoia, confusion, dizziness and drowsiness,. Despite these side effects, some PTSD patients benefit from some THC to help with sleep and to control vivid dreams and nightmares.
CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive, and has much gentler effects. It is well known for reducing some of the negative side-effects of THC, and has exhibited anti-anxiety and antipsychotic effects.
When it comes to medical cannabis, it makes sense to include CBD when treating a patient with PTSD with chronic anxiety.
PTSD is often treated with benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam. However, these medications can be habit-forming, and are also not safe to mix with alcohol. Other medications such as antidepressant SSRIs (e.g. fluoxetine) may also have undesirable side-effects like nausea, headaches, or difficulty sleeping.
CBD is non-habit forming, and it is not known to have any interaction with alcohol. This can make it a better choice for some people. CBD may cause mild side-effects at high doses, including nausea, fatigue and irritability, but this is uncommon. A 2020 review explains that CBD is well tolerated with mild, if any, side-effects.
It’s extremely important to find safe, effective treatment options for PTSD to help the men and women who have served our country in the military.
Early research indicates that CBD is a promising treatment option for PTSD, and many veterans swear by it. Future research will reveal more about the exciting link between CBD and PTSD, hopefully opening the door to a better treatment option for our veterans living with PTSD and chronic anxiety.
ArthroCBD believes in honoring all veterans and military members for their service and sacrifice. To ease the burden of conditions more commonly experienced by our veterans, and as a small token of our appreciation — we are pleased to offer veterans and active military personnel 25% off on all orders. Sign up here to receive your discount.