CBD – a natural remedy for PTSD symptoms


CBD has been reported to be beneficial in treating several medical conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.  According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD affects nearly 3.5 percent of U.S. adults, with an estimated 1 in 11 people diagnosed during their lifetime as a result of traumatic events.  PTSD United, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support and resources for sufferers of PTSD, reports approximately 44.7 million people struggle with this condition.

PTSD defined:

The American Psychiatric Association defines PTSD as “ a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.” (1) PTSD is not limited to these experiences.  Individuals who have lost their homes to fire, floods or tornadoes, those who have lived with life-threatening illnesses or those who have gone through a divorce or relationship breakup may experience PTSD.

Individual symptoms of PTSD may include:
  • distressing memories or negative thoughts related to a past experience
  • living through memories of the event with flashbacks or nightmares
  • unusual sadness, fear, or anger
  • feeling detached from people or the world around them
  • avoiding social situations that may seem similar to the past event
  • becoming startled by loud noises
  • experiencing touch or smells that remind the individual of an event

Prescription drugs currently used to treat PTSD include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and sedatives.  These types of medication carry major side effects such as nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness and further, can be addictive.  Also, the Harvard Health Publishing newsletter updated March 2019 reported that “The risk that antidepressants will incite violent or self-destructive actions is the subject of continuing controversy. In 2004, the FDA first initiated a Black Box Warning on SSRIs — its strongest available measure short of withdrawing a drug from the market.” (2)

What is CBD and how can it help with PTSD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound that comes from the cannabis sativa plant, an annual herbaceous flowering plant.  It is one of over 100 such compounds, known as cannabinoids, that are found in the plant.  CBD does not have any psychoactive effects and has a good safety profile.  It does not get the user “high.”  The cannabinoid has become increasingly popular over the last several years for treating patients with a range of medical conditions, including PTSD.

The body has its own endocannabinoid system or ECS.  Our body’s ECS is made up of three components: cannabinoid receptors (the things that receive chemical signals outside the cell), endocannabinoids (small molecules that activate cannabinoid receptors), and metabolic enzymes that break down endocannabinoids after they are used.  “All vertebrate animals [naturally] express at least two cannabinoid receptors.  The CB1 receptor principally functions in the nervous system but is expressed in many cells throughout the body.  CB2 receptors are primarily associated with cells governing immune function.” (3)  Researchers believe that CBD compounds may positively interact with receptors and block the retrieval of memories of traumatic events, which in turn can reduce anxiety connected to the events.

A study conducted in July 2018, which follows the history of cannabidiol use as a therapeutic alternative for PTSD found, “… the use of components from Cannabis sativa such as CBD particularly promising.” (3)

Human and animal studies suggest that CBD may offer therapeutic benefits for disorders related to inappropriate responses to traumatic memories. The effects of CBD on the different stages of aversive memory processing make this compound a candidate pharmacological adjunct to psychological therapies for PTSD. CBD also shows an action profile with fewer side effects than the pharmacological therapy currently used to treat this type of disorder. (3)

Should you decide to use CBD products for PTSD symptoms, or for any other medical condition, always contact your doctor first to be sure there are no interactions with medications you may be taking.

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For more information regarding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs – National Center for PTSD – the world’s leading research and educational center on PTSD and traumatic stress: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/

Faces of PTSD – Non-combat PTSD, same disease, same symptoms: http://www.facesofptsd.com/non-combat-ptsd

PTSD United – a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to providing support and resources for sufferers of PTSD, their families and caregivers, and anyone interested in learning more about Post Traumatic Stress: http://www.ptsdunited.org/

by Colleen Morgan
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
(1) https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd; (2) https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/what-are-the-real-risks-of-antidepressants; (3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6066583/