The Therapeutic Potential of CBD for PTSD
Many people trying to move forward after trauma have difficulty coping with their experience. Most take comfort knowing that the fear, grief, anxiety, and sleep disturbances commonly experienced in the aftermath eventually fade.
But it’s important to recognize that a considerable number of people continue to experience flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and reactive symptoms long after a particularly traumatic event. Lingering symptoms could indicate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Post-traumatic stress disorder is triggered by any event that threatens your safety. It’s not uncommon for symptoms to appear after a natural disaster, assault, accident, or combat.
Although there are numerous treatment options for people living with PTSD, the medications and therapies commonly recommended to treat the disorder are not always effective. Many have unpleasant side effects. That likely explains why so many people living with PTSD are curious about the therapeutic potential of hemp CBD.
Recognizing the Symptoms of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress will affect more than 10% of our population at some point in their life. The disorder can occur after a one-time event, or as the result of repeated exposure to disturbing circumstances. While flashbacks and intrusive thoughts are common, symptoms can also include overwhelming feelings of isolation, sadness, and general distress.
The symptoms of PTSD may not appear for several months, or even years, after a triggering event. If you are living with PTSD, you will likely recognize some of the other common signs, which can include:
- Recurrent, distressing memories of the traumatic experience
- Seemingly unrelated feelings of impending doom
- Aggressive, risky, or self-destructive behavior
- Difficulty falling asleep or concentrating
- Experiencing a past event as if it were happening in the present (flashback)
- A tendency to avoid discussing the experience that triggered your symptoms
- Overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame
The symptoms of PTSD can vary in intensity, overwhelming on some days while manageable on others. You may notice that symptoms increase when faced with subtle reminders of your experience. For example, the sound of a car backfiring could trigger a flashback if you’ve been traumatized by combat, or you may be overcome by unpleasant memories when hearing the details of a disturbing attack.
Investigating the Therapeutic Potential of CBD for PTSD
Many of the medications commonly prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD work by increasing the levels of key neurotransmitters in your brain. Antidepressants can improve overall feelings of wellbeing by increasing serotonin or dopamine levels, while anti-anxiety medications (benzodiazepines) increase the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid, the amino acid that calms over-excited nerve impulses. Research shows that the effects of CBD are quite similar to the effects of these prescription medications without the high risk of side effects.
CBD works by relaying urgent messages to the receptors of your endocannabinoid system, the largest regulatory system in your body. It’s your endocannabinoid system that regulates numerous processes affected by PTSD, moods and emotions, stress responses, sleep cycles, and more.
To better understand the therapeutic potential of CBD for PTSD symptoms, consider the value of the following observations:
- A case report published in 2016 described the effects of CBD for a ten-year-old child diagnosed with PTSD after years of abuse. Standard pharmacological treatments were only providing partial relief from her symptoms. This child was also experiencing significant side effects. A daily dose of CBD (12-25 mg) appeared to alleviate the girl’s anxiety symptoms and improve sleep quality without side effects.
- An article published on org mentions a 2011 study investigating the therapeutic potential of CBD for anxiety and PTSD. Investigators determined that CBD lessened anxiety symptoms in test subjects experiencing symptoms at the time the CBD was administered. The author concluded that CBD could be beneficial for PTSD symptoms because the cannabinoid appears to be effective for people living with anxiety triggered by memories, events, or other situations.
- In a retrospective study, patients taking oral CBD experienced an overall decrease in PTSD symptoms during an eight-week trial. A small number of participants reported mild fatigue or gastrointestinal discomfort. Researchers noted that the dosages of CBD used during this successful study were generally lower than those used in previous preclinical trials.
Learn More About The Therapeutic Potential of CBD
Although CBD (cannabidiol) is not a cure or treatment for any known health condition, research investigating the therapeutic potential of CBD and other plant-based cannabinoids for PTSD symptoms is encouraging. It’s important to understand that this non-intoxicating cannabinoid interacts with several medications. This includes the medications commonly prescribed for anxiety and depression. If you currently take prescription or over-the-counter medications, please consult your healthcare provider before including CBD in your daily routine.
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