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PTSD and its Link to Anxiety & CBD: How do they all relate and can CBD Help Both?

By Dan Putnam December 24, 2016 0 comments

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that can develop at any age, and affects an estimated 8% of Americans at any given time. Source PTSD is often associated with combat veterans who often return home having experienced a traumatic event on tour. However, experiencing a shocking or dangerous life-changing event such as natural disasters, terrorist acts, serious accidents, or sexual or physical assault can also lead to PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD are potentially debilitating and can manifest in several ways. Many survivors of trauma can bounce right back to their normal routine after a short while, but stress reactions can linger, get worse over time, and consequently lead to a serious problem. PTSD can also make the sufferer more susceptible to developing generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which makes the management of PTSD crucial to the overall wellbeing of patients. Recent studies have shown cannabis could possibly provide a method of coping with PTSD and anxiety, by alleviating the symptoms that are often associated with the disorder.

PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

Cannabis is often viewed as a self-medicated “coping” drug, and many individuals suffering from PTSD and anxiety disorders are prone to substance abuse. Emerging research provides strong evidence to suggest that cannabis could have a positive impact in the treatment of PTSD and anxiety. Today, PTSD patients lack specialized and effective medications that can rid them of PTSD, but new discoveries about the human body, particularly the endocannabinoid system, is providing a new outlook on how to manage and treat PTSD. Martin Lee, an affiliate of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), has conducted in-depth research on PTSD and cannabinoids. Lee wrote, “Researchers found that people with PTSD had lower levels of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid compound, compared to those who did not show signs of PTSD. Innate to all mammals, anandamide (our inner cannabis, so to speak) triggers the same receptors that are activated by THC and other components of the marijuana plant.” Source 

People suffering from PTSD have a diminished level of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid compound that triggers the brain receptors upon activation by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CB1 receptor helps to facilitate a range of physiological functions related to fear, stress, and memory. This endocannabinoid deficiency is where cannabis can become useful in treating PTSD, by replacing the depleted endocannabinoids with those present in cannabis, which could relieve PTSD patients from their traumatic memories. 

CBD Treating PTSD and Anxiety

Hemp cannabidiol (CBD) oil, low in THC and high in CBD may have a significant impact on fear memory. Animal studies have indicated that CBD could tackle the primary side effects of PSTD by relieving past events and emotions. Source By enhancing cannabinoid receptor signaling, CBD helps the psyche to release stored traumatic memories that plagues PTSD patients. Cannabidiol provides a safe therapeutic method to restore the brain’s chemistry that does not have the side effects as pharmaceutical drugs. 

Roughly 17% of individuals who have had PTSD also experience generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) at some point in time. Source In the aftermath of a traumatic event, an individual can experience feelings of anxiousness for months or years if not treated.  PTSD individuals can startle easily, become emotionally “numb” and withdrawn, and overwhelmed with fear. Anxiety can lead to destructive behavior in individuals with PTSD in an attempt to cope with the symptoms of the disorder. As such, substance abuse is often common in individuals with PTSD. Cannabidiol (CBD) is also known for its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties and anti-stress benefits, and can potentially help PTSD patients lower their levels of anxiety and depression. When administered acutely, CBD may be beneficial in treating anxiety by boost signaling through serotonin receptors, whereby feelings of anxiousness be diminished. Source

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the consequence of a traumatic ordeal and can be debilitating, disrupting the normal day to day life of the sufferer in one way or another. Since PTSD can result in significant coping problems that can lead to risky behavior, anxiety, and feelings of helplessness, the right method of treatment is necessary. Studies have shown that cannabis compounds such as cannabidiol (CBD) could serve a therapeutic treatment for PTSD individuals by treating several of the symptoms of the disease, which includes anxiety and fear memory that can plague these individuals. While there is certainly a connection between cannabis and PTSD, more research is needed to establish a specialized treatment for the disease directly.

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