CBD For PTSD (Why and How it Works)


Although PTSD statistically has been an increasingly common condition, it is still gravely misunderstood. Little is known about how it arises, what neurological pathways are involved, and how to appropriately treat it.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is most commonly associated with veterans, and while it does affect people returning from combat zones, it also impacts people from all walks of life for varying reasons.

It is now understood that PTSD can arise from any form of traumatic event – including childhood neglect, sexual assault, or physical abuse.

And of course, treating PTSD isn’t as easy as taking a pill like you would for a standard headache. There are a number of prescription medications on the market aimed at treating the anxiety and depression that can come with PTSD. These drugs include benzodiazepines like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. All too often, however, these pharmaceuticals can lead to side effects such as nausea, headaches, and trouble enjoying sex.

There are alternative treatments for PTSD on the market, but in most instances, it is hard to assess their effectiveness. Thanks to recent awareness and the publication of several high-profile studies detailing the compound’s effectiveness, CBD – a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis – has been suggested as a potential PTSD treatment. In fact, CBD is already being used by thousands of PTSD victims throughout the U.S.

Before we discuss the benefits of this natural cannabis-based compound, however, here are some rather startling PTSD statistics to show you just how concerning (and prevalent) the condition actually is:

  • Up to 8% of Americans suffer from some form of PTSD (roughly 24.4 million people)
  • As many as 11% of veterans returning from Afghanistan have PTSD
  • Roughly 17% of Iraqi war veterans have PTSD
  • 70% of Americans experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime

Now that you understand the general basis of what post-traumatic stress disorder is and in what ways it can manifest itself, let’s take a closer look at CBD for PTSD. Tens of thousands of people around the world are starting to turn to the compound to help find natural relief — let’s explore why.

CBD: A Practical, All-Natural PTSD Treatment?

For the millions of people worldwide who suffer from the condition, there is really no other way to put it – living with PTSD can be extremely debilitating. From night terrors and hyper-vigilance to simply being in a crowd, you never know when the condition may strike. As you may imagine, it is truly horrific to be perpetually on the cusp of panic.

PTSD victims all over the U.S. (and the globe) have recently been drawn to CBD. In fact, for going on half a decade now, CBD has represented a potentially effective treatment with very promising results, and little to no side effects.

Most importantly, the effects of CBD for PTSD have been backed by studies showing the compound to have mitigating components at the biochemical level.

In other words, it is becoming more and more clear that in terms of a safe and effective treatment for PTSD, CBD oil could be the answer. Let’s take a more in-depth look at why this is the case, and whether or not you can expect doctors to start recommending CBD for post-traumatic stress disorder in the future.

Why CBD Might Just be the Answer for PTSD Treatment

THC, the iconic psychoactive compound in marijuana, has long been championed as a potential PTSD treatment. But while it may have positive effects on the condition, residents of at least 17 American states have no access to it due to state law. In contrast, CBD from hemp is legal in most states and is easy to purchase online — and in stores all over the country.

Moreover, it appears that CBD for PTSD may work in a very different manner to THC, which is good news for those who tend to suffer from things like THC-induced paranoia or anxiety. In fact, studies have suggested that PTSD sufferers may express lower levels of anandamide, which is a natural endocannabinoid molecule known to promote feelings of joy and happiness.

What is Anandamide… And What Does it Have to do With PTSD?

Anandamide is believed to be released when we do things like exercise. It promotes serotonin activity and lowers feelings of stress and depression. From a physiological sense, some have suggested that CBD may work as a form of anandamide replacement (they express very similar chemical and structural properties). This might help revert stress levels and erratic brain activity back to a state of homeostasis when endocannabinoid levels are imbalanced.

Thousands of people have used CBD for PTSD and experienced extraordinarily positive effects.

Indeed, it has been postulated that PTSD patients have lower levels of endocannabinoids, along with higher densities of inactive endocannabinoid receptors like CB1 and CB2 receptors. Remember that CB1 receptors may be able to deactivate memory — including potentially traumatic ones.

Moreover, if you have an endocannabinoid deficiency it is likely that you may suffer from an increased susceptibility to things like chronic anxiety, impaired fear distinction, and other issues associated with PTSD. Phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids like CBD) can act as substitutes for endocannabinoids when levels are low, thereby manipulating CB1/CB2 receptors and helping them to regain normal function.

And as we mentioned earlier, these are not simply assumptions. While much is still unknown about the effects of CBD for PTSD, several important scientific publications have emerged with data that points to very real – and promising – treatment possibilities.

Science Backs CBD for PTSD

Since CBD now enjoys a very different legal status from THC (thanks to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill Act), we expect there to be an increased number of studies on CBD for PTSD in the coming years.

To date, while PTSD-related studies involving cannabis and canna-related products have been few and far between (federal restrictions have made it all but impossible for researchers to gain access to the drug), there has been no shortage of data-backed suggestions that CBD for PTSD may be a reliable form of treatment.

In a 2014 study for the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, for example, 80 patients were given marijuana for their PTSD, with results noting a 75% reduction in symptoms as per the Clinical Administered Post-traumatic Scale.

Another recent study, published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, showed that CBD had “bidirectional effects” on PTSD (more specifically one symptom of PTSD called Contextual Fear Memory Extinction), as well as specific phobias. The research team gave 10 mg injections of CBD to rats that had been exposed to strong fear conditioning, and when exposed to a traumatic condition after consuming the CBD, they exhibited a lower level of fear.

Finally, preclinical evidence from a 2015 study in Neurotherapeutics stated that “CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety orders.” This is of course highly relevant given the fact that PTSD is recognized by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America — not to mention the fact that anxiety is one of the primary features of PTSD. The study also determined that CBD is more effective when given acutely (“as needed” or “as symptoms arise”) rather than chronically.

Can CBD Provide Long-Term Health Benefits for PTSD Patients?

By far the most exciting aspect of CBD (and cannabis in general), perhaps, is its apparent potential for long-term positive health benefits. At present, prescription medications that are readily available for PTSD tend to have short-term benefits and long-term negative side effects.

Case in point, an enlightening 2018 publication in Frontiers in Neuroscience declared that CBD presented “…the ability [to alter] important aspects of aversive memories in humans, and promote significant improvements in the symptomatology of PTSD.”

As a result, people who take CBD for PTSD may experience fewer episodes of panic and anxiety on a day-to-day basis, as well as have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep through the night. The important thing, though, is that these effects do not appear to be temporary.

Here’s what one CBD customer has said in regard to specific results that he experienced after taking the non-psychoactive hemp compound for post-traumatic stress disorder:

“I live in PA and have access to potent CBD-rich oil which I’ve been using for my PTSD. It has literally changed the way I feel. I was on two antidepressants and self-medicating constantly. I used to feel terrible. In 3 months I am down to one antidepressant. Nothing for anxiety and I haven’t slept this good in years.” – Joe Summers

Why Choose CBD over THC for PTSD?

Unlike THC, CBD does not provide any kind of intoxicating or mind-altering effects. In other words, it does not cause you to get “high.” This is the reason why so many individuals are opting to use hemp-based CBD for PTSD compared to high-THC marijuana.

Furthermore, CBD has shown to have a continuous positive effect on many aspects of general health. There’s a good chance that CBD will simply help you feel more ‘normal,’ and as it is non-intoxicating, there is little concern over its potential to negatively impact day-to-day life.

If anything, it is likely that CBD will improve day-to-day life. This is because the compound is known to boost energy levels and even improve levels of self-confidence. As another CBD user recently proclaimed:

“I have been on and off meds for years. I suffer from social and general anxiety. There are some days that I simply don’t want to leave the house. I was a bit reluctant to try this as I thought this was mumbo jumbo – I was wrong! It took a week to start to feel the real effects but I feel so much better lately. I am more energetic and have a lot more confidence. I don’t feel as nervous and my general health has seemed to improve. Would recommend.” – Eve C

Final Thoughts About CBD for PTSD

Of course, CBD isn’t for everyone. If you do decide to use CBD for PTSD, however, understand these simple takeaways: the natural hemp compound is 100% natural, it’s ideal for both daytime and nighttime use, and there have been multiple scientific publications showcasing its potential benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you are brand new to CBD oil, one of the things we do here at MarijuanaBreak is compile reviews on some of the best CBD oils on the market. There are A LOT of options currently out there, but given the lack of regulations that exist (cannabis is not regulated by the FDA), we suggest you do your own research and learn as much as you can about the company you’re buying from before you start using CBD for PTSD. Also, it’s imperative that you don’t discontinue your current medications without the supervision of your physician. 

Whatever you decide on, be advised that CBD is safe and easy to use: you can consume it by placing it under your tongue and swallowing (sublingual tinctures), or you can add it to food for ultra-simple delivery. And of course, there are things like CBD edibles, CBD creams, and CBD capsules if you don’t like the taste of oil. Best of all, since CBD can be effectively extracted from hemp, it is easy to order online. You can use CBD for PTSD no matter where you live, as high-quality products are available in all 50 states.

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