How CBD Can Help PTSD in Veterans
Published on 12/16/19
Updated Jun 16, 2022
"War is hell," General Sherman famously said during the horrors of the Civil War. And, as soldiers all over the planet continue to find out year after year, war continues to be hell for many who fought long after their time in combat has passed.
According to several studies and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the number of veterans that fought in Afghanistan and Iraq and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) could be as high as 500,000.
PTSD is a chronic psychiatric condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event - in this case, combat and war. Anxiety, depression, psychological instability, and sleep disturbances can all result from PTSD. Veterans with PTSD can alleviate the symptoms with therapy and medications, but while these methods can help minimize the suffering, an effective medication designed specifically to fight PTSD has yet to be developed.
However, science shows that cannabis products might have a role to play in helping ease suffering associated with PTSD and other anxiety disorders. That's where we here at Where's Weed come in!
This article will break down exactly how and why cannabis has a role to play in helping those with PTSD, how specific cannabinoids could impact conditions you're dealing with, and most importantly, how medical cannabis compares with synthetic, addictive, and dangerous opioids. Let's get right into it!
CBD for Veterans
Anxiety and depression are two more prominent symptoms of PTSD, and taking CBD (cannabidiol) for those two debilitating psychological conditions is proving successful. So how does CDB help PTSD exactly? The substantial anecdotal evidence is backed by an increasing number of studies that link the use of CBD oil to a decrease in anxiety and depression.
Like standard anti-depressants such as Zoloft or Paxil, CBD can help the brain process serotonin - the hormone that regulates emotion. Traumatic memories are often a large part of PTSD.
A recent study concluded that CBD could alter how the brain handles such memories and mitigate or even eliminate traumatic memories. This can also benefit veterans with PTSD symptoms such as hyperarousal, insomnia, or recurring nightmares. CBD can also inhibit fear expression and produce long-lasting reductions in fear, which is a significant issue for those with PTSD.
CBD Oil vs. Opioids
Taking CBD oil for PTSD is also an excellent alternative to opioid use. The opioid abuse and fatalities rates are much higher among veterans than in the civilian population. Veterans are often over-prescribed opioids for their pain by overworked VA doctors.
CBD offers a safe alternative to those dangerous narcotics. It is also something that veterans can easily access without any prescription or professional analysis. There is a stigma related to "seeking treatment" for veterans.
Many who serve do not want to admit that they are struggling, and CBD can provide relief without the perceived negative association of needing to ask someone for help.
Sadly, however, cannabidiol and PTSD are two things that do not go together for most veterans who have PTSD. The Veterans Administration (VA) maintains that CBD has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use against PTSD and, therefore, cannot be prescribed. This is incredibly restricting for veterans who rely on VA hospitals and physicians for their medical care.
Although CBD can be easily purchased, many veterans simply refuse to take anything to ease their suffering. Their time in the military has left them with the perception that taking anything for their mental pain would be showing a sign of weakness.
CBD oil comes from cannabis, and many veterans do not want to be associated with a plant that is still perceived negatively. They may also fear that the CBD oil they use could contain THC and cause them to fail a drug test.
How Does CBD Help PTSD?
Research has shown that veterans with PTSD have lower endocannabinoid anandamide levels than those without the disorder. Anandamide is responsible for memory, motivation, and mental comfort.
CBD works with the CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system that regulate a variety of functions throughout the body, such as the eradication of fear, emotional development, and stress reaction.
When working usually, CB1 receptors help the body forget or dismiss distressing memories. In individuals with PTSD, the CB1 receptors are not working correctly. CBD assists by modifying the receptors' ability to bind to cannabinoids, boosts anandamide levels and restores normal CB1 function.
The Future of CBD for PTSD
The potential for CBD use in treating PTSD is immense. For veterans, it begins with education and understanding. As CBD continues to make its way into mainstream culture, the stigmatization of cannabis will decrease.
The knowledge that CBD oil does not need to contain any psychoactive THC should make veterans more inclined to try CBD to treat their PTSD.
Further research into how CBD interacts with the brain and nervous system will only result in improved refinements in CBD dosage for PTSD and a better idea of how veterans in mental and physical pain can find relief.
Are you a veteran suffering from PTSD? Have you tried CBD to ease your suffering? Please feel free to share your story in the comments section below.