With all the fuss surrounding CBD’s medical potential, it can get confusing trying to sort through claims backed by science and anecdotal evidence, and those that may be slightly inflated. High-quality CBD manufacturers don’t like to claim that CBD is some magical cure-all, but there is a wide range of potential health benefits linked to the cannabinoid.
One claim that is backed by a bit of science is that CBD may help with PTSD. Of course, the evidence is limited due to legal restrictions, but several studies have pushed through in order to supply us with a bit of knowledge about how cannabidiol may affect people with PTSD and whether it helps manage any symptoms related to the condition. If you’re curious about using CBD for PTSD and want to know about more about how this supplement proved itself in research efforts, you’re in the right place.
Is CBD Good for PTSD?
If you dig into the reported therapeutic value of CBD products, you’ll likely find some anecdotal reports of CBD improving the symptoms of PTSD. PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is typically treated with a series or combination of therapy programs and psychiatric medications, like anti-depressants or anxiolytic medications. Users who have ventured away from traditional treatments to try CBD have been reportedly impressed with the results. This comes as no surprise to some researchers, who have looked into CBD’s therapeutic value for PTSD patients and worked out that there is definitely some potential benefit.
One study shows that the body’s endocannabinoid system has a direct impact on PTSD related brain activity and described the bodily system as an “avenue for evidence-based treatment development for PTSD.” This suggests that CBD, which interacts with the endocannabinoid system in the body, may have an impact on symptoms of PTSD as well. In fact, studies show that patients with PTSD have much lower levels of the neurotransmitter anandamide, which is why introducing certain cannabinoids that replicate some functions of anandamide may help create balance. This neurotransmitter, like others, is partially responsible for regulating feelings of happiness, fear, anxiety, and other mood functions.
It’s not entirely new news, because researchers have already linked medical marijuana to potential benefit for patients with PTSD. CBD may bring a new therapeutic option to the table, one without psychoactive effects that could be more accessible to men, women, and children alike.
Research Says Using CBD for Anxiety Could Benefit PTSD Patients
Because PTSD is classified as a type of anxiety disorder, it often falls into similar categories for treatment options. Evidence suggests that cannabidiol has anxiolytic properties, which may help patients with PTSD cope with anxiety-related behaviors and symptoms. CBD has become a popular option among consumers for anxiety-related medication, and the evidence seems to support the overall idea that CBD can help lower anxiety, including in patients with social anxiety disorder, which can be difficult to treat.
Another study suggests that CBD may be one key proponent to advancing anxiety treatments to cover fear-based anxiety-related disorders that are more difficult to treat, like phobias and PTSD. The study looks at one common therapeutic option, called “fear extinction,” which involves repeatedly exposing the patient to things that trigger their fear in order to repress the fear response over time. The study also suggests that CBD could potentially help modulate these fear responses to benefit the patient during fear extinction therapy.
Another study shows that CBD reduced contextual fear memory both for short term and long term periods in patients with strong fear conditioning to start. Yet another study shows that CBD has a direct impact on the regulation of emotion and emotional memory, which may have major benefits for patients with PTSD. There have been other studies that look specifically at CBD and its impact on PTSD patients when taken regularly, most with similar findings of cannabidiol’s therapeutic potential.
CBD for PTSD Nightmares and Sleep
Certain symptoms that are closely related to PTSD may also respond to cannabinoid-based therapy, like insomnia or poor sleep and nightmares. One study shows that a synthetic cannabinoid, called nabilone, greatly reduced PTSD related nightmares that were otherwise treatment resistant. In 72% percent of PTSD patients who received nabilone a complete elimination or significant reduction of nightmares was observed.
Further, CBD may have its own benefits for improving sleep. One case study looked at the impact of CBD on anxiety and sleep over time, and found that nearly 80% of patients reported a significant decrease in anxiety levels after the first month, and the levels were consistently low throughout the entire length of the study. The study also reported that sleep improved in almost 67% of patients after the first month, too, and all but 3 out of 72 adult patients tolerated CBD well. Because nightmares and poor quality sleep due to anxiety are often top concerns for PTSD patients, this is one area where CBD may provide much-needed benefit. Still, studies have looked deeper into CBD for PTSD patients.
Studies Show CBD May Be Suitable for Pediatric PTSD Symptoms
Though PTSD is more common in adults, there are cases of PTSD in children, usually due to some sort of childhood trauma or abuse. One study looked at a young girl who suffered from anxiety-related insomnia due to PTSD from childhood abuse. The girl was initially treated with various pharmaceutical options, which provided partial relief, but also came with several severe side effects. However, treatment with cannabidiol proved to lower anxiety and keep anxiety levels consistently low over time. Cannabidiol also slowly improved the girls quality and quantity of sleep, and the study labels cannabidiol oil as a “safe treatment for reducing anxiety and improving sleep” in these conditions.
One reason that many are interested in CBD is because of its low-risk side effect profile, which may make it a suitable treatment for children or others who are more sensitive to certain pharmaceuticals. Of course, pediatric medication complicated, and you should always consult your pediatrician before using CBD for children.
Should I Use CBD for PTSD?
There is quite a bit of evidence to support the idea of using CBD for PTSD, and many people have reported a significant decrease in symptoms after starting cannabinoid-based therapy for anxiety disorders. As each case of PTSD is unique, each person’s experience with CBD is unique as well. If you’re curious if CBD is right for treating your PTSD or other anxiety-related symptoms, talk to your doctor. CBD may be an effective treatment for many, but you should never discontinue any prescription medications or make changes to your health and wellness routine without your doctor’s guidance. Although it is usually rare, cannabis-based products may interact with certain medications. If you’ve got the doctor’s okay and you’re looking for guidance on how to get started with CBD, you may want to read “The Many Forms of CBD: Choosing the Best CBD Product for You.”