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CBD for PTSD: A Survey of Current Research

Millions of people around the world suffer from PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder. This is both debilitating and draining on an individual level, as well as on a societal level.

Fortunately, recent studies on CBD show that it may be an effective aid and supplement for treating PTSD, especially in combination with proper self-care and professional help, because CBD can offer relief from some symptoms of PTSD, and maybe even help treat it. 

This would make CBD a potential alternative to currently prescribed medicines, which have been shown to cause considerable side effects, while being ineffective.

 

What is PTSD?

*PTSD is a disorder that usually develops after a traumatic event occurs in your life. Generally, symptoms will start to occur within the first month, but they can take anywhere from a month to a year to develop.

Symptoms include reliving traumatic events, unhealthy avoidance of confrontation with traumatic events, negative changes in cognition, and mood instability. 

PTSD can have severe consequences if left untreated and can lead to someone hurting either themselves or others. 

 

How does CBD help PTSD?

CBD is a cannabinoid, or a natural compound found in the cannabis plant, that interacts with your endocannabinoid system. The ECS, or the Endocannabinoid system is a complex system spread throughout your body made up of endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by your own body), enzymes, and receptors. These endocannabinoids, enzymes, and receptors help oversee the regulation of various functions like sleep, mood, appetite, reproduction and emotional memory processing.

One endocannabinoid of particular interest for the treatment of PTSD is anandamide Anandamide, better known as the bliss molecule, works to regulate your emotions and provide rewarding sensations. Anandamide is also responsible for coordinating the reward system in your body that stimulates a sense of happiness and mental wellbeing.

 

How does CBD help PTSD?

CBD is known to restrict the enzyme FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase), which primarily functions to degrade the anandamide in your body.  

So when you’re using CBD, your body processes more anandamide rather than break it down, thus making its effects even stronger. This may help relieve some of the symptoms caused by PTSD.

A study from December 2021 also suggests that CBD can help relieve the symptoms of PTSD by reducing hyperactivity in the amygdala which restores balance to medial prefrontal cortex activity and that of the amygdala. An earlier preclinical study from 2018 demonstrated that CBD can promote the elimination and alteration of negative memories in rodents, as well as prevent their reformation. While more clinical studies need to be done, these findings are very promising because PTSD is characterized by a poor response to traumatic events. A similar study was conducted with a sample size of 11 humans, who took CBD for 8 consecutive weeks. 10 out of the 11 test subjects reported a decrease in PTSD symptom severity.

 

Well how else can CBD help with PTSD 

The reduction of symptoms is only one step of the overall PTSD treatment process. CBD is also showing a lot of promise as an actual treatment for PTSD, especially when used together with more established treatments that usually used to treat PTSD.

 

CBD for Exposure therapy

The idea behind exposure therapy is to learn to manage your anxiety and extinguish fear through exposure to personal triggers 

CBD has demonstrated effectiveness as a stress and anxiety reliever, so by associating positive control over your emotions when exposed to trauma, it can help to reduce fear levels and negative reactions when being exposed to trauma

The endocannabinoid Anandamide acts as a behavioral reinforcer. As mentioned earlier, CBD increases anandamide, so when you’re going through the exposure therapy process, being able to have more controlled reactions to trauma can boost the building of healthy thinking patterns. Forming associations with trauma to healthy, positive thinking habits can help promote fear extinction, and overall mental wellbeing. Considerable evidence has also shown anandamide to reinforce the satisfaction of making progress in exposure therapy. 

 

Cognitive behavior therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a talk therapy that helps you analyze negative thought processes. The point of this therapy is to help you learn to manage your negative thought patterns in a more positive way. These exercises help to build trust, confidence, and behavioral skills that people with PTSD often suffer with. 

CBD can help with cognitive behavioral therapy in a lot of the same ways it helps with exposure therapy. Being able to put yourself into a more positive and relaxed state of mind can help make it easier to manage thought processes and train them to be more positive. Since anandamide is also a behavioral reinforcer, this can help reinforce positive thought patterns and help build more healthy thinking habits.

 

Conclusion

In order to make any conclusive claims about CBD as a treatment for PTSD, more studies need to be done on a larger scale. However, the existing research is very promising, and CBD may be a safe and natural treatment for those suffering from PTSD.

If you are suffering from PTSD, we recommend consulting with a medical professional. In addition, if you are interested in trying CBD for yourself, check out our shop to buy cbd oil for PTSD

 

Sources

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  5.     Elms L, Shannon S, Hughes S, Lewis N. Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series. J Altern Complement Med. 2019;25(4):392-397. doi:10.1089/acm.2018.0437
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