Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that develops in people who have been traumatized. Military veterans, survivors of car accidents, and victims of assault are among the people who may experience this disorder. Although the cultural image of PTSD is that of a male combat veteran, they are not the most commonly treated. In fact, more women than men receive PTSD diagnoses. Sufferers describe symptoms including flashbacks, depression, lack of affect and social anxiety, any of which can last for years. They disrupt sleep, create emotional turmoil, and make it difficult to maintain relationships. In some patients, the signs can disappear for a time and re-occur years later, out of the blue.
The development of more effective treatments for PTSD would be a boon to patients and physicians. In recent years, much promising new research has emerged; one team of scientists is working on a brain implant. Some of the most cost-effective and promising treatments are plant-based, and clinical studies have shown cannabidiol can reduce anxiety.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a phytocannabinoid found in hemp and cannabis plants. THC, probably the plants’ most well-known compound, produces a high. CBD, however, has a calming effect and is an antipsychotic. Although at present, only limited research is available on CBD’s effect on humans, existing studies have demonstrated that it reduces anxiety.
CBD works best when it is isolated. Consumption of marijuana is not nearly as efficient. Growers cultivate marijuana for high THC content, which does nothing to reduce anxiety. The Veterans Administration has reported that veterans suffering from PTSD tend to be more susceptible to marijuana dependency. Because addiction disrupts relationships and employment prospects, it only complicates the problem of PTSD rather than eliminating it.
In clinical trials, subjects take CBD orally. In this form, it has been shown to reduce anxiety among patients with and without diagnosed anxiety disorders. There are few CBD preparations approved for prescription in North America. Sativex, which contains both CBD and THC, is used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. CBD is an active ingredient in Epidiolex, which is used to treat febrile and epileptic seizures.
What Does the Future Hold?
Although CBD shows lots of promise, the consensus is that it needs to be studied more. Some studies have used sample sizes as small as 10 individuals. Proper research requires a wider range of test subjects, and appropriate dosing still needs to be determined. In the United States, the legal landscape creates another issue. Hemp contains suitably high concentrations of CBD for extraction, but under federal law, it cannot be used to make drugs. This law complicates research and makes it difficult to market and sell treatments. If these restrictions are relaxed, it will open a whole new world of research and treatment for PTSD patients.
Find out how CBD can help with PTSD and other ailments, both common and more serious, in an article we published here.