Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental condition that can result from experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It’s commonly associated with experiences like war or combat, natural disasters, rape or sexual assult, and serious accidents or injuries. While the duration and severity of the condition can vary dramatically, approximately 10% of people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.
People with PTSD can experience a wide range of symptoms including reliving the event (commonly through nightmares or flashbacks), insomnia and other sleep-related issues, depression and anxiety, panic attacks, difficulty forming or maintaining relationships, anger and other emotional issues and addiction problems.
PTSD can be extremely difficult to treat, with the road to recovery often being long and painful. Traditional PTSD treatments include both therapy and pharmacological medications. Unfortunately, the existing pharmaceutical therapies for PTSD produce significant side effects and have questionable efficacy. It can also be difficult to determine what pharmaceutical intervention is suitable for individual patients, meaning there may be some trial and error involved in finding the right medications.
An increasing body of scientific research is demonstrating the potential that CBD has for helping to manage the symptoms of PTSD. So, let’s find out how.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the primary active compounds in cannabis (marijuana). Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another primary cannabinoid present in cannabis, CBD does not promote a psychoactive response in the user.
CBD comes in many forms, including oils, extracts, capsules, patches, vapes, and topical preparations for use on skin. Recent changes to legislation mean that CBD products are now legally available for over-the-counter purchase in Australia.
How can CBD help with PTSD
CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid (eCB) system. The eCB system is involved in regulating our cognitive processes, emotional memory processing, fear learning, immune systems and even some of our movements. Because of its role in memory formation and emotional processing, the eCB system plays a significant role in PTSD.
As a result, compounds that interact with the eCB system have been the subject of significant research due their ability to modulate memory processes and reduce anxiety and depression.
PTSD has been associated with problems with one of the body’s natural endocannabinoids, a neurotransmitter called Anandamide. Research suggests that Anandamide is important for memory formation and the neural generation of motivation and pleasure. It participates in the eCB system by binding to cannabinoid receptors. CBD is believed to stimulate the same cannabinoid receptors in the body, helping to reduce fear and anxiety, improve mood, and provide relief from hyper-arousal and hyper-stimulation.
One recent study also found that CBD can reduce hyperactivity of the amygdala, a part of the brain associated with fear responses to threats, thereby helping to reduce the hyper-stimulation that can cause anxiety and panic.
PTSD and Memory
Memory plays a major part in processing trauma. Most people who experience traumatic events will naturally work through these events via a process called ‘extinction learning.’ New memories gradually form to override the traumatic memories of the event, making it easier to deal with the trauma. However, for people with PTSD, extinction learning may not properly take place. The old memories can remain fresh and when triggered can cause PTSD responses like fear, anxiety and panic.
Research suggests that people with PTSD show impaired functioning of the endocannabinoid system, which may be why they are unable to go through the normal extinction learning process. However, one study showed signs that CBD can stimulate the eCB system, improving extinction learning in animals. Those running the study theorised that THC together with CBD may be able to jump start the extinction learning process, helping sufferers to process and move on from their traumatic memories.
CBD and Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the primary symptoms of PTSD. It can manifest in a variety of forms from mild tension and social avoidance to debilitating panic attacks. Anxiety is a natural and adaptive response to threats and stress. It places the mind and body in a heightened fight-or-flight state in preparation for dealing with the threat.
However, for people with PTSD, serious anxiety can arise due to the inability to process a perceived traumatic threat. For example, someone who has been in a serious car crash may have panic attacks whenever they get into a vehicle. While there may not be any actual threat, the car acts as a trigger, increasing the levels of fear and anxiety associated with the traumatic memory.
There is a growing body of research that strongly supports the potential of CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders. The research suggests that CBD exhibits a broad range of actions relevant to multiple symptoms. These include anti-anxiety and anti-compulsive actions, decreases in autonomic arousal, fear expression and the effects of stress.
By helping to reduce the experience of anxiety and suppress anxiety and aversive memory expression, CBD can be useful as a therapeutic aid as well as helping to manage the symptoms of anxiety that result from PTSD.
Try CBD Oil Today
While CBD oil may help to manage symptoms associated with PTSD, it should not be used as a substitute for professional therapy and healthcare. For best results, talk to your healthcare providers to find out how CBD products can be best incorporated into your care plan. They will also be able to direct you where to buy cbd oil and what to look for in a quality product.