CBD for PTSD: An Effective Therapeutic Alternative?

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CBD for PTSD: An Effective Therapeutic Alternative?

PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious medical condition. Many people suffering from PTSD have been unable to find a solution for a long time. Until now. Using CBD for PTSD seems to be an extremely effective way for people to cope with the horrible symptoms that accompany this disorder.

New Phase Blends is a veteran owned and operated organization, and PTSD is an area that is very near and dear to our hearts for obvious reasons. If we can help even a fraction of the vets, first responders, and other people who struggle with PTSD, well, it would be a great thing.

The human body’s endocannabinoid system has been extensively studied over the past few years and shows a lot of promise due to its significant activity when interacting with the active ingredient cannabidiol (CBD) found in the cannabis plant.

When the cannabinoids activate the endocannabinoid system they send signals to different parts of the brain and body which can have a beneficial effect on them.

This is why many people choose CBD to manage Post Traumatic Disorder symptoms.

Cbd For Ptsd - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Let’s first explain what PTSD actually is.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is an emotional response to traumatic events that often relates to difficulties in dealing with emotions. In many cases the symptoms can interfere with daily life, relationships or work.

Ever been violently assaulted? Well, it is not just reserved for war veterans. Human-caused disasters can be major triggers of PTSD.

Ptsd Often Involves Intense Fear And Anxiety Disorders

If you’ve ever been in a motorbike accident, car crash, or drowning in a local river you know that dreadful feeling. The shock can be so great that there is a high chance that a horrible event like this can stay with you for the rest of your life.

Symptoms of PTSD

Mental symptoms include:

  • outbursts
  • panic attacks
  • seizures
  • epilepsy

Physical symptoms include:

  • chronic pain
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • lethargy
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • dizziness
  • irritation
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

All these symptoms are common in patients who experienced debilitating events in their lives.

PTSD Is More Than Anxiety

In normal circumstances anxiety disorders can be managed quite easily but for patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder this can often be impossible.

Trauma can have long lasting effects on the body and mind. It is said that 10% of the human population experience anxiety related disorders such as PTSD at some point in their lives.

The stress associated with debilitating stressors acting on the brain results in significant changes in the brain. Those changes can lead to developing a mental illness.

People with a mental health disorder such as PTSD often have difficulty in social interactions due to high anxiety caused by the alterations in cognitive function. Depression is also not uncommon in people with PTSD and often leads to further problems in relationships, learning or work.

Brain Receptors

The brain of a PTSD patient becomes hypersensitive to anxiety. The bottled-up feelings cumulate into a sudden outburst of anger. This is caused by fear coming from the changes in the brain and is a defense mechanism used to protect themselves.

After the defense, they like to retreat and choose to avoid all social interactions. Getting involved emotionally for them is often the hardest thing to do and can be met with violent responses and instant rejection.

What Can Trigger PTSD?

PTSD develops when an event is so traumatic that it imprints permanent memories in the brain and plays them back in similar “threatening” situations.

These memories are activated and re-lived in new situations creating a similar experience in the patient’s mind.

Humans have very strong senses that can detect signals and associate them with external forces exceptionally well. Especially if these signals were significant in the first place and caused a cascade of negative emotions. Externally, these triggers may not seem life threatening but for patients traumatic events may render them unable to have a normal happy life.

Anything that serves as a reminder of what happened right before or during a trauma is a potential trigger. They are usually tied to your senses.

You may see, feel, smell, touch, or taste something that brings on your symptoms. While triggers themselves are usually harmless, they cause your body to react as if you’re in danger.

There are different types of PTSD triggers. Some of them include:

People

If someone reminds you of a person associated with trauma it may trigger PTSD. This can be something as simple as a mustache that brings back memories of an assaulter.

Feelings

Pain, jealousy, fear are feelings that can cause PTSD. Even the slightest touch can evoke horrifying memories.

Objects

Seeing an object such as a car can elicit a PTSD reaction related to a car accident.

Places

Going back to places where traumatic events happened can also be a PTSD trigger. For example walking into an elevator may be impossible after having a traumatic experience when the power went out while you were stuck in a powerless elevator.

Sounds

Certain noises, songs or sounds such as a train approaching can play back traumatic memories.

Tastes And Scents

Taste and scent are senses that can leave a heavy footprint on the brain. Memories of a house fire can be triggered by the smell of a campfire or barbecue.

Movies, Video, and TV Shows

All kinds of media have the ability to trigger traumatic symptoms. Some movie scenes can bring back flashbacks of debilitating past events.

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These risk factors increase the likelihood of recurring symptoms in PTSD patients.

How To Diagnose PTSD

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) provides a framework for diagnosing PTSD. Let’s now look at how PTSD is diagnosed.

Check out this nice graph from The Verywell Mind:

Diagnostic Criteria For Diagnosing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

It sums up a lot of the criteria.

The Diagnostic Criteria for Diagnosing PTSD Are:

  • Exposure to traumatic events
  • Recurring flashbacks
  • Denial
  • Inability of processing trauma by the brain
  • Cognitive changes

These symptoms need to persist for more than a month and negatively impact your social interactions, personal, and professional life to be considered PTSD. They can also cause functional impairment and long term distress.

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Can CBD Oil Help Treat PTSD?

The existing research is clear that the cannabinoids found in the medical marijuana plant interact with the human endocannabinoid system. Our bodies are equipped with endocannabinoid receptors that are activated when exogenous cannabinoids are introduced into the body.

As marijuana has been used for thousands of years to kill pain, treat various illnesses or help sleep, its benefits can be observed in relieving PTSD symptoms which are quite similar in nature.

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CBD As An Alternative Treatment For PTSD

Many people do not respond well to antidepressants, some do not wish to take them at all.

Innovative CBD in preclinical findings show evidence that CBD may alleviate many of the PTSD symptoms without the negative side effects of traditional treatments.

Originally started with bench research, today CBD is studied in multiple human trials designed to find out if CBD can in fact treat PTSD symptoms. That being said, the research is still ongoing and no clinical trial has been completed to conclude the effectiveness of CBD for PTSD.

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Benefits of CBD oil for PTSD:

1. Stops Nightmares

Patients using CBD reported lower frequency of nightmares due to its “anxiolytic and sleep-inducing effects” acting on CB1 receptors. This results in a bliss-like effect that may be the main reason behind a good night’s sleep.

2. Erases Bad Memories

Certain cannabinoids have the ability to flood the amygdala, inhibiting specific nerve cells and blocking fear memories. CBD regulates stress hormones by suppressing reconsolidating memory.

3. Calms The Hyperactive Amygdala

Cannabinoids are known to act on the amygdala. We do not exactly know how it happens but the therapeutic effects of CBD on the brain play an important role in the regulation of negative evasive responses which were reduced in patients with PTSD.

4. Reduces Anxiety and Depression Symptoms

Related: Can I Take CBD for Anxiety?

Full Spectrum CBD reduces cortisol levels and regulates serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. This is associated with boosting GABA activity in the brain.

GABA is a chemical in the brain which inhibits certain impulses in the brain. In other words GABA’s primary task is to put brakes on the endless thoughts in the mind.

When you feel nervous, restless or angry GABA steps in and blocks nerve cells from firing fear signals. If GABA is not working properly, you might never reach a calm state of mind. This can lead to frequent panic attacks and “freezes” every time there is a stressful situation.

CBD interacts with GABA receptors and acts similarly to pharmacological treatment of medications such as Xanax or Valium. However, the effect on GABA receptors seems to be less intrusive.

In this case, CBD helps stimulate the natural production of GABA that binds to the endocannabinoid receptors which results in a decrease in anxiety symptoms. This report goes into more detail concerning pediatric anxiety disorders.

5. Regulates Hormones

In a world where we are constantly stimulated by news, videos and social media our serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine levels can be off by a mile.

If any of these neurotransmitters stops properly sending signals you will most likely suffer from mood swings, anxiety, or depression.

CBD stimulates serotonin receptors to the point that the brain starts producing more of them. Low serotonin is linked to increased anxiety and panic attacks.

6. Lowers Inflammation in The Brain

This study concludes that neuroinflammation may cause anxiety and depression.

As we have previously mentioned, CBD products have anti-inflammatory properties on the body. But that is not all. The same qualities of CBD have a direct impact on the inflammation in the brain.

Limbic Forebrain

If there is too much inflammation in the body, the blood cannot effectively transport blood vessels into the brain. Some unwanted chemicals may enter the brain if there is an imbalance in dopamine.

Cannabidiol speeds up the healing process of damaged nerve cells due to inflammation in the body.

How Does CBD Oil Help With PTSD?

Since the cannabinoids can bind to the endocannabinoid receptors in different parts of the body they can be effective in managing pain, stress and anxiety. Veterans supplementing with CBD oil with higher concentrations of THC showed significant improvements in the severity of their PTSD symptoms.

Pros And Cons Of CBD Oil For PTSD

Cbd Oil For Ptsd Symptoms

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Pros

  • CBD is undergoing clinical studies to test its efficacy in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Multiple data analysis shows that CBD can have protective qualities on the amygdala blocking fear and anxiety responses that occur in patients with PTSD.
  • May be a safe alternative and an effective treatment for improving the quality of sleep.
  • Observational studies show that the active cannabinoids found in CBD activate the cannabinoid receptors present in the endocannabinoid system all over the human body. This is why it is so extensively studied as it affects numerous parts of the body.
  • CBD will not make you “high” as it does not have psychoactive properties compared to THC.
  • CBD is legal in most states and around the world. You do not need a doctor’s prescription to legally buy CBD oil or other CBD products.
  • The FDA has officially recognized the potential therapeutic effects of CBD. Compared to other medications, CBD is quite safe to use with minimal or non-existent side effects.
  • The Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) was granted $12.9M for research on CBD for Veterans with PTSD.
  • The World Health Organization stated that CBD is very well-tolerated in clinical trials and is non-addictive. This is important in subjects suffering from dependency and addiction.

Cons

  • No human trials have been completed to fully solidify the effectiveness of CBD in treating PTSD as well other medical conditions.
  • Even though certain medications that contain CBD such as Epidiolex have been approved by the FDA they still cannot be properly marketed and made available to the general public for treating various conditions and diseases.
  • When taken with other medications, CBD can cause unwanted interactions. As with any prescription medications, some of the negative side effects when taking CBD may include fatigue, low appetite, diarrhea or headaches.
  • Unclear ingredients, vague production process and poorly labeled products mislead many PTSD patients into thinking they are getting a product with full potency. Always make sure to check the manufacturer before taking CBD oil.
  • The growing demand for CBD has led to an increase in mislabeled products, especially those sold online and in some dispensaries. Purchasing CBD through these channels brings a higher risk of consuming more or less of the compound in each product.
  • The endocannabinoid system is still studied and it is unclear how to use cannabinoids to their fullest potential.

What Are The Side Effects When Taking CBD For PTSD?

All in all, CBD is considered safe by the FDA and WHO. The side effects experienced by PTSD patients seem to be minuscule when compared to traditional medicines.

Dosage of CBD always plays a crucial role in its effectiveness as well as its effects. Too much of anything can have potential detrimental effects on your health. This is why we made sure to outline some negative side effects of CBD taken at high doses.

Here are the side effects CBD we have noted:

  • Vivid dreams
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Weight Loss
  • Low/high appetite (depending on the individual)
  • Changes in liver function
  • Low blood pressure

That being said, most of these symptoms can be mitigated just by changing the dose.

You should always take your time and experiment with the dose and type of your CBD oils.

Is CBD With THC Better For PTSD?

Veterans supplementing with CBD oil with higher concentrations of THC showed significant improvements in the severity of their PTSD symptoms. Everybody is different and there are multiple factors at play when treating symptoms of PTSD.

The sedative and psychoactive effects of THC mixed with cannabidiol oil may have more powerful effects on patients with epilepsy and other PTSD-like symptoms.

It should also be noted that THC impacts deep sleep, otherwise known as REM sleep. CBD with higher THC concentrations might disrupt dreams. At the same time it may prove to get rid of nightmares and reduce anxiety.

A good test is to start with a CBD isolate which doesn’t contain any THC. From there you can observe your symptoms and their change over time. If the symptoms improve, you might just need a pure CBD oil. If they persist, you might want to try a full spectrum CBD oil. Remember to always start with a low dose and increase accordingly.

Is CBD Enough To Stop Prescription Medication For PTSD?

There is not enough scientific evidence to support the claim that CBD alone can effectively treat symptoms of PTSD.

In many cases CBD has no effect on PTSD patients. On the other hand, many PTSD patients have had much success using CBD to effectively downsize their prescription medication stack.

You should always consult your doctor before starting any additional supplementation or whether it is safe for you to stop your existing medication regimen.

What Is the Right Dosage Of CBD For PTSD?

The dosage of CBD oil depends on varying factors such as:

  • weight
  • age
  • sex
  • severity of medical condition
  • existing prescription medications
  • fitness level
  • diet
  • use of other stimulant substances

Everybody’s physiology is special and unique. In order to conduct a successful test you should make it a priority to minimize all random factors so that you can experiment with different doses of CBD. Only slow and steady can win this race.

Just think about it, if significant damage has been done to the brain through a prolonged exposure to stressful factors, do you think you can reverse all of them in a week, or even a month?

Well, it is safe to say that a few days might not be sufficient to observe the full potential of CBD.

The idea is to find the lowest effective dose and stay on it for a while.

Moving further, to make the test even more comprehensive you can also opt for CBD oils with high amounts of THC for more severe medical conditions. But, remember, THC will make you high, which can exacerbate symptoms in some users.

Use discretion.

CBD Products For PTSD

Several CBD products may help treat PTSD effectively, depending on different factors like body weight, severity of PTSD, and dosage of CBD.

Two products made by New Phase Blends should be tried by those who are looking for some relief:

  • The Pure Product Line
  • The Sleep Product Line

‘Pure’ is made from an organic hemp plant with a CBD-rich extract. This is basically the best CBD oil you can find on the market. It comes in capsules, gummy, or tincture form.

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‘Sleep’ is our patent-pending line of sleep aids made with CBD and melatonin.

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Traditional Strategies For PTSD Relief

Patients with PTSD can opt for therapy and pharmacological medication.

Therapy

Treating traumatic events associated with PTSD can be done with:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) helps patients change how they think and act in certain situations. CBT digs deep into the mind of a PTSD patient and breaks down their paths of thinking. The next steps involve facing one’s fears, role plays, learning to be more confident, or understanding the importance of acceptance.

  • Learning to recognize one’s distortions in thinking that are creating problems, and then to reevaluate them in light of reality.
  • Gaining a better understanding of the behavior and motivation of others.
  • Using problem-solving skills to cope with difficult situations.
  • Learning to develop a greater sense of confidence in one’s own abilities.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a practice where a patient is exposed to situations that remind them of a traumatic event in order to better cope and tolerate them.

EMDR therapy deals mostly with memory and its intention is to alter how the memories are stored and activated in the brain. It is a fairly new and unexplored method for treating PTSD.

Pharmacological Medications

Typical PTSD treatments include include antidepressants such as

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin–Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs).

They mainly influence the neurotransmitters serotonin and noradrenaline responsible for anxiety and depression.

Other types of medications include:

  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)
  • antipsychotics
  • anticonvulsants
  • benzodiazepines (Valium)

Traditional PTSD Treatment Side Effects

Since the SSRIs and SNRIs can be quite strong, they can also bring negative side effects such as:

  • dependency
  • nausea
  • headache
  • dizziness

Of course, the side effects are different for everybody. It should be noted that they can have potentially life-threatening interactions with other prescription and non-prescription medications.

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Is CBD Legal?

Cannabidiol oil is legal in most states and countries around the world. Be sure to always check beforehand before buying CBD in your location.

Is CBD The Ultimate Solution For PTSD?

The medical research on cannabis is still fresh to bring conclusive results. Even though humans have used the cannabis plant for thousands of years, the scientific research on CBD is only 20 years old.

A 2016 study by Frontiers on the contextual fear memory extinction showed “reduced contextual fear memory expression both acutely during the extinction session as well as later at a fear retention test.

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In 2018 The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study where 91% of examined patients demonstrated an improvement in symptoms of PTSD when using medical cannabis.

If you are interested in trying CBD, consider using our products over other brands. We offer the most pure form of cannabidiol from organic hemp that you can find. Sure, you may find another product out there of similar quality (if you search long enough), but you will not find anything better.

We actually guarantee this with a 30 day money back guarantee. If you don’t like it, just send it back. You’ll get a refund in full.

About the Author

Dale Hewett Author

Dale Hewett

Dale is the owner and founder of New Phase Blends. He discovered his passion for CBD use after suffering from injuries sustained while on Active Duty in the US Army. His number one priority is introducing the same CBD products that he himself uses for relief to others who can benefit from them.

Dale holds a Master Degree of Science, and is the inventor of the popular, patent-pending CBD-based sleep aid known as ‘Sleep.’

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