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PTSD & CBD

Updated on January 30, 2019.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist

Cannabidiol (CBD) can help patients with PTSD manage the memories of their trauma and reduce their mood symptoms. Discover how CBD works with the brain to improve the well-being of PTSD patients.

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops after the patient experiences a trauma. This anxiety disorder causes symptoms such as:

  • Intense flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • Intrusive memories of the trauma
  • Reoccurring dreams or nightmares about the event
  • Staying away from places, people or thoughts reminiscent of the trauma
  • Difficulty remembering the traumatic event
  • Losing interest in favorite activities and things
  • Trouble focusing or sleeping
  • Self-destructive behaviors

Children can develop PTSD, and they can have different symptoms than adults. Patients under age six may become non-verbal, wet the bed, act out or re-enact the event.

PTSD symptoms affect the patient on a chronic basis, impacting their quality of life. They can trigger mental health conditions like anxiety and depression or cause physical symptoms like nausea. CBD can help PTSD patients address these issues to increase their quality of life.

PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

Everyone’s body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that makes and uses cannabinoids. You may know you can find cannabinoids in the marijuana plant, but our bodies also create them as part of our natural functions.

The ECS includes our bodies’ cannabinoids, also known as endocannabinoids, and cannabinoid receptors. The cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 bind to endocannabinoids and cannabinoids from marijuana (phytocannabinoids) to send signals to the rest of the body.

People with PTSD have different ECS balances than people who don’t have the condition. They have a higher number of cannabinoid receptors and a lower amount of the endocannabinoid anandamide. This trend suggests that people with PTSD have an anandamide deficiency that contributes to their symptoms. Some researchers believe people who have an endocannabinoid deficiency have a higher predisposition to developing PTSD.

By addressing PTSD patients’ anandamide deficiency, we could help them have less severe symptoms. Let’s talk about how CBD can balance the ECS in people with PTSD.

CBD’s Impact on PTSD Symptoms

Research suggests that cannabinoids like CBD have an effect on our perception of traumatic memories. They help our brains with a process known as aversive memory extinction. In aversive memory extinction, the person learns how to separate an uncontrollable response from a bad memory. As a result, they get more control over their reaction to traumatic memories.

CBD could also influence the aversive conditioning process. During the aversive conditioning process, we develop a response to a negative event. Our brains use this process to form a fear response. When someone has PTSD, they have an unwanted fear response that CBD can manage.

When you take CBD medicine for your PTSD, it enhances your body’s ability to retain anandamide. A fatty acid called FAAH breaks anandamide down, but CBD blocks it. The anandamide then stays in your system longer, and you have more of it in your body at once. We could see symptom improvement in PTSD patients when they take CBD because it addresses their anandamide deficiencies.

Patients with PTSD can also use CBD to relieve symptoms related to mood and sleep. Many experts call anandamide “the bliss molecule” because of its ability to promote positive feelings. When you take CBD, the increased levels of anandamide help you feel happier and calmer. CBD also lets you sleep deeper and for a longer time.

How to Find a CBD Medicine for Your PTSD

You can get CBD products from a natural health store, at a recreational dispensary or through a medical marijuana program. Stores in many parts of the United States can sell CBD oil over the counter.

However, make sure a CBD oil product has enough CBD to provide symptom relief before buying it. The CBD medicine sold at dispensaries may have THC in it. Small amounts can enhance CBD’s effects with few psychoactive results in some patients.

To get the most out of your CBD regimen, we recommend consulting a marijuana-trained doctor. They know how to recommend cannabis medicine and can help you decide. Check out our database of physicians across the United States ready to assist patients like you.

Learn More From MarijuanaDoctors.com

Let MarijuanaDoctors.com teach you about medical marijuana. Our list of conditions gives you the opportunity to explore more uses for CBD.

Learn More About PTSD

Learn more about PTSD and what makes medical marijuana an effective treatment for PTSD’s symptoms.

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