Everyone knows when your life is threatened or endangered it is natural to feel fear, and a lot of it. The “fight or flight” response is so deeply ingrained in the human brain it’s almost instinctual. But when that system breaks down or begins to short-circuit the result is debilitating and very hard to control. When this happens it can cause what’s known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is very difficult to live with. It is marked by flashbacks, memory loops, isolation, sleep problems, hyper-vigilance, anxiety, depression and constantly being on edge. Many times the symptoms are treated with synthetic drugs that are only moderately effective and often have side effects just as bad as the PTSD symptoms themselves.
This is why a drug therapy based on the naturally occurring hemp derivative cannabidiol (CBD) can have a huge impact for PTSD sufferers. CBD is an active cannabinoid found in cannabis. It acts on different pathways than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and because of this does not cause the “high” commonly associated with THC. It has very limited side effects and is non-psychoactive, making it very attractive for medical applications. CBD’s commonly known medical benefits include:
Antiemetic: Reduces nausea
Anticonvulsant: Reduces seizures and associated seizure activity
Antipsychotic: Suppresses psychotic disorders
Anti-inflammatory: Reduces inflammation
Antidepressant: Reduces the effects of anxiety and depression
But that’s not all it can do. CBD also has positive effects on sleeping disorders. Some of the most common symptoms PTSD sufferers report is difficulty sleeping, chronic insomnia, difficulty engaging in deep sleep, disrupted sleep and constant fatigue. Often these sleep issues are the first indicators of PTSD. Although CBD acts on the same receptors as caffeine, and has similar characteristics, it has a stabilizing effect that normalizes sleep rhythms. Research has shown that CBD, in small doses, increased slow wave brain activity associated with stage-4 sleep. It also seemed to impact wakefulness following sleep depending on the dose.
Besides its positive effects on sleep, CBD has also been found to decrease hyper-vigilance and feelings of constantly being on edge. For PTSD sufferers it is near impossible for them to be in groups of people or open public areas for any length of time because their brain is constantly telling them they are in danger or danger is near, even when it is not. CBD acts on the amygdala complex, frontal cortex and the hippocampus in the brain, the three primary organs engaged during the “fight or flight” response. Initial research is finding that CBD reduces the chemical reactions in these organs, specifically reducing the longer lasting effects that keeps these systems from fully shutting down this survival response. Since hyper-vigilance and being on edge are a direct result of the brains inability to modulate these chemicals, CBD shows significant promise in helping PTSD sufferers regain functional control over these debilitating symptoms.
Because CBD comes from cannabis, which has a long history with drug culture, research is not nearly as extensive as with purely synthetic options. But CBD’s positive effects are undeniable. More progressive researchers are beginning to understand the benefits of CBD and its many applications. Hopefully this will translate to more effective cannabidiol PTSD treatments in the near future.
FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION (FDA) DISCLOSURE These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always check with your physician before starting a new dietary supplement program.