Life is unpredictable, and you’re likely to experience at least one traumatic event in your life. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to move forward after trauma: some end up developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a common medical term, but this condition is often misunderstood, as many people connect it to war veterans, and no one else. Well, the truth is that PTSD can affect anyone. You can develop PTSD after a traumatic loss, natural disaster, accidents, sexual assault, and even abuse. In each of these cases, your ability to adjust to regular life will be impacted. In fact, PTSD often leads to addiction, joblessness, and even suicide. Over the years, many people have turned to CBD to help manage their PTSD symptoms, and for good reason.
Previously, opioids were used to treat this disorder, but they came with numerous side effects, including anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, and even mood swings. Of course, opioid addiction is also a major crisis in this country, meaning these strong drugs aren’t ideal for treating individuals with PTSD. As a result, scientists are exploring CBD as a non-addictive alternative. And, while more research is needed, early results are quite positive. So, what are the benefits of using CBD to help manage some of the symptoms of PTSD? How does it help, and is it safe? Read on to find out more.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is a psychological condition you develop after a traumatic event. It is a mental state that may set in after you experience a disturbing event such as an assault, war, act of terrorism, or natural disaster, among other triggers. One of the common misconceptions that people have is that PTSD only affects a specific group of people, but the truth is that it can affect anyone at any time. No one is immune.
Symptoms of PSTD
Once you experience a traumatic event, your body tries to cope in different ways. PSTD can, therefore, manifest in several ways, with symptoms varying between different people. The symptoms can appear within a month of the horrific event, to years later. The time varies, with the symptoms affecting your daily life in various ways. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Flashbacks of the trauma
- Emotional detachment
- Difficulty concentrating
- Social isolation
- Substance Abuse
- Physical symptoms, such as sweating and racing heartbeats
How is PTSD diagnosed? A doctor may have to do a physical exam and a psychological assessment to reach an accurate diagnosis. You should experience all four symptoms we’ll list below, for at least one month, before seeking a PTSD diagnosis.
Re-experiencing the Traumatic Events
Here, the individual will relive the terrible event through flashbacks and nightmares. They may seem completely real, interfering with your day to day activities. The flashbacks can be triggered by an image, sound, words, or anything else that takes you back to that traumatic moment.
Experiencing Avoidance Symptoms
This is a situation where the affected individual avoids activities, people, and places that remind him or her of the trauma.
This includes agitation, insomnia, aggression, hyperarousal, and impulsiveness.
Here, you will experience the numbing of your body, isolation, confusion, depression, and anxiety. You will be detached from the things that you previously enjoyed.
Using CBD to Address PTSD Symptoms
Traditional treatments for PTSD include psychotherapy and antidepressants, to help manage your symptoms. However, these come with numerous side effects such as nausea, dry mouth, and headaches. CBD, on the other hand, may present itself as a safer alternative, without these side effects.
What Is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is one of the non-psychoactive compounds of the cannabis plant. It is different from its counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which has psychoactive effects.
How Does CBD Work?
Before we can look at how CBD might help the symptoms of PTSD, we need to understand how CBD works. The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that plays a vital role in your internal functioning. It is used to maintain homeostasis (balance), despite any changes in your external surroundings. It has receptors all over your body and modulates appetite, pain, sleep, and other cognitive functions.
CBD targets the CB1 and CB2 receptors of your ECS, located in the central and peripheral nervous systems. It activates these endocannabinoid receptors, enabling the serotonergic receptor, 5-HTIA. Serotonin is responsible for regulating social behavior, mood, sleep, and even your brain’s memory. And studies suggest that having low serotonin levels can lead to anxiety and PTSD. CBD appears to activate the 5-HTIA receptor, which then helps to improve your mood, aid in sleep, and even reduce your stress.
In the endocannabinoid system, the lower the anandamide levels, the higher your chances of getting PTSD. Why is this so? Because anandamide is mood relaxing. CBD improves your anandamide levels by hindering its breakdown in your body; hence the CB1 receptors are activated for a longer time.
Benefits of CBD to Help PTSD
CBD may help alleviate symptoms associated with PSTD. Some of the benefits of using CBD might include:
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Improvements in quality of sleep
- Help to stop nightmares and reduce flashbacks of the traumatic event
How to Use CBD for PSTD
Always talk to your doctor before starting on your CBD journey, especially if you have an underlying condition. Do not start experimenting with different products, without receiving the go-ahead from your physician: only your primary caregiver can ensure that your existing routines and medications will work properly and won’t trigger adverse side effects when mixed with CBD. They will also advise you on the precautions to take when using CBD, as well as suggested dosing requirements.
With CBD, there is no one recommended daily dose, since everybody reacts differently to this natural supplement. As such, we suggest starting with small doses, around 25 mg, once or twice a day. Monitor your symptoms during the process, and gradually increase or decrease your dosage by 5-10mg, until you get the desired benefits.
There are different ways you can take CBD, depending on your preference, and how fast you want to experience results. CBD delivery methods include:
- Edibles and drink concentrates
- Food additives
- CBD oil
- CBD creams and gels
- CBD capsules
- CBD vape oil
- CBD sprays
- CBD oil patches
CBD vaping is the fastest way to get CBD into your bloodstream, but, due to the negative side effects of vaping, we recommend choosing alternative CBD delivery methods. For CBD oils and capsules, the effects will take longer to manifest since the active ingredients have to go through your digestive system before hitting your bloodstream.
When it comes to CBD dosage, it is essential to remember that everyone is different, and what works for you may not produce the same results in another individual. The only way to know the right dosage is through trial and error, which will help you arrive at the proper dosage for your specific needs.
Side Effects of CBD
CBD is considered safe; however, some people may experience a few side effects, especially at high dose levels. Some of these effects include:
- Weight change
- Changes in appetite
Also, CBD can interfere with your current medication, which is why you must discuss supplementation with your doctor. Specifically, you must avoid taking CBD when also taking blood thinners as it will put you at risk for liver toxicity. Your doctor should review all your medications before greenlighting a new CBD routine.
Natural Therapies to Combine With CBD for Better Results
There are numerous natural methods that you can try to address PTSD symptoms, in addition to using CBD. These therapies will help alleviate the symptoms, and ensure that you get maximum results.
Yoga is quite beneficial for people who have PTSD, as it helps you focus on staying in the moment, which can help improve sleep and help you relax.
It is prudent to have a good quality of sleep to ensure that your mental health is up to par.
It is incredible how much of an effect a good workout routine can have on your body. It will improve your mood, sleep, and appetite, hence making your PSTD symptoms more manageable.
PSTD is a severe condition and living with it is difficult and can take a toll on your quality of life. Sadly, there is no cure, but with the guidance of your physician, you may be able to better manage your symptoms through CBD supplementation and other alternatives. With time and effort, you can improve your quality of life and return to the routines you used to enjoy.