CBD and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A Potential Relief for Veterans

The Prevalence of PTSD among veterans


How does CBD and PTSD relate to veterans? New studies show an increase over the last 10 years for PTSD among veterans. Many of those veterans that suffer from PTSD have witnessed active combat.

According to experts, the delayed onset of PTSD and the lack of support after leaving the military were likely causes.

As more awareness of PTSD has come to light, more and more veterans are looking for an effective treatment. Could CBD and PTSD go hand in hand to help veterans? 

The need for effective treatment options

Treatments such as therapy and medications are traditional methods for treating PTSD. Unfortunately, they are not always effective for all veterans as well as having adverse side effects. One of the main restrictions is their inadequate effectiveness.

Anti-anxiety and antidepressants medications for example are drugs that might provide a little relief and may be somewhat effective, however, they do not work in all situations.

Furthermore, they may take time to become effective and a lot of veterans can experience adverse side effects.

CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy and talk therapy are both common treatments for PTSD. As stated before, these may be helpful for some veterans, but for numerous different reasons it also may have a high drop-out rate as many veterans stop treatment before they are completely finished with the therapy.

Understanding PTSD 

PTSD is a condition that is a shared disorder among veterans who have experienced events that are life threatening or severe trauma.

PTSD has also been discussed in the past as combat stress or shell shock. It happens when the nervous system gets hit and cannot get back to its original state of balance.

There are two instinctive ways the nervous system will respond to stress: fight or flight or mobilization and immobilization.

Mobilization will help defend and survive situations that seem dangerous, while immobilization happens when there is too much stress for the nervous system to cope with.

Definition and Symptoms of PTSD


Impact on veterans’ mental health and daily life 

PTSD is a mental health condition that is a response from a life-threatening event that they have seen or experienced. The effects could last years when left untreated an could become significant life changing in regards to your mental health and daily life routines.


Those that experience PTSD may try to avoid people, situations that may remind them of the trauma, places and feelings. Commonly, they may dodge discussing their trauma with other people.

Mood and Reasoning Changes

People that suffer from PTSD may look at themselves, others and the world differently. They might have more negative feelings and thoughts and could have issues trusting others and even themselves.

Veterans can be affected from PTSD in a variety of ways. However, they do have something in common, which is battling with their mental health. That is what makes daily living a challenge for them. It can affect relationships with loved ones, children, spouses and also have an impact on their work. The stress that it puts on them can many times lead to social withdrawal, anxiety, shame and even suicide. 

CBD and its Potential Benefits 

Benefits of CBD:

Overview of CBD and its origins


Non-psychoactive nature of CBD

CBD and THC work in unison making them the powerful duo of cannabis therapeutics. Given the close interactions between the two plant compounds, does it make sense to feature psychoactivity solely to one THC and not the other, CBD? It is correct to state that CBD is not a psychoactive substance?

Perhaps it is meant in a different way. Research has shown that CBD deliberates reduction in anxiety, antipsychotic and antidepressant effects. So, if CBD may relieve psychosis, depression or anxiety, then clearly cannabidiol is a mood-altering substance, even though it does not cause much in regards to euphoria. Maybe it is safer to say that CBD is not psychocactive like THC, as opposed to saying the same confusing catchphrase that CBD is not psychoactive.

Potential therapeutic properties of CBD 

Also extracted from the hemp plant is CBD. It also has many medicinal properties with the possibility to help millions through the treatment of anxiety, pain or seizure disorders.

CBD is marketed as providing relief for PTSD, depression and anxiety. It is also known to promote better sleep. CBD is popular in part due to its implications to be nonpsychoactive and users may gain many health benefits from CBD without having to deal with that high feeling.

Unfortunately, so many soldiers come home from war suffering from PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. They will avoid certain people, places and activities that are a reminder of their traumatic events. The VA is going to fund its first study on CBD, coupling it with psychotherapy.

Research on CBD and PTSD 

Recently, MDMA and psilocybin have been looked at as possible treatments for PTSD. On the quieter side, cannabis has also been on the radar. According to PubMed, in the scientific literature, cannabis has a better and longer association with PTSD than any psychedelic.

Putting aside just for a minute the effectiveness of psychedelics may or may not be as an advanced treatment for PTSD, there is not any doubt that cannabis remains much easier for those suffering to access.

New studies from several different countries suggest that increasing numbers of people suffering from PTSD are using cannabis to help manage it and find it extremely helpful.

How CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system


Potential effects on neurotransmitters and stress response

The endocannabinoid system was developed more than 400 million years ago. Its existence and main function have only been revealed within the last several decades; it maintains a neutral, balance state which is known as homeostasis.

The ECS helps to control a variety of physiological processes which include body temperature, sleep, stress, immune function, reproduction, mood, appetite, metabolism and memory.

This amazing system connects through compounds called endocannabinoids. They are go-betweens or neurotransmitters naturally produced by the body that adhere to distinct receptors. THC and CBD are both plant-based cannabinoids found in the hemp and marijuana and are alike chemically to endocannabinoids which also interrelate with these receptors.

When it comes to tempering anxiety and stress, the ECS is believed to work mostly within the brain.

Anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD 

Research and scientists propose that CBD has influential pharmacological effects. They also know that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and is extremely beneficial. It blocks specific enzymes that activate inflammation in the body.

Further studies suggest CBD also helps with reducing anxiety and insomnia regarding falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer.

CBD Dosage for PTSD

 There is no one size fits all when it comes to CBD dosage for PTSD or any other reason for using it. Everyone is different as their physiology and experiences are different. The intonation for all cannabis used to treat a medical condition is start with a low dose and increase it slowly. The end goal is to find that sweet spot of the lowest dose that is effective for you with no adverse side effects.

Newbies to CBD are most likely to start with a pure CBD product at a very low dosage. If you have taken CBD before then most likely you will require more to achieve the results you are looking for. Also, for those that are used to taking CBD products may begin taking a combination of CBD and THC at a higher dosage.

cbd and ptsd

Lack of standardized dosage guidelines


Importance of individualized approach 

The importance of individualized approach regarding the dosage of CBD prior to taking it is crucial. Having a better understanding of concentration and dosage will make sure you take the correct amount and reap the most benefits from using CBD.

Reputable CBD companies will provide information on dosage such as the recommended dose according to your body weight and the amount of CBD per drop which can help make it less confusing.

When starting a CBE routine, body weight can be considered a guide. When looking to treat specific conditions, using the correct dosage is important. Some conditions might need different dosages than originally recommended.

Starting with low doses and gradual titration 

Starting with low dosages and increasing slowly until you find your desired effect is always recommended. Speak to your health care provider to ensure efficacy and safety.

There is an abundance of CBD concentrations out there. Be certain to estimate the right dose in order to achieve the full benefits of using CBD.

Potential Side Effects

Commonly, CBD is well tolerated. However, it can have a few side affects you may want to be aware of. Most shared are:

  • Changes in weight
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting and nausea

The above side effects are only likely to happen when you take higher doses and will most likely fade away as you adjust to the CBD. If they do not subside, then it is suggested to lower you dose and/or speak to a health care professional for advice.

Common side effects of CBD


Interaction with other medications

It is possible that CBD may interact with certain medications. Review your list of medications with your health care provider prior to taking any CBD product. Below are a few potential CBD interactions. However, keep in mind that it is not a complete list of medications that could possibly interact with CBD. It is recommended that to avoid possible interactions with your medications, go over your list of medications with your doctor prior to taking it.

Medications that may interact with CBD:

  • Warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Antidepressants
  • Sedating medications
  • Caffeine
  • Anti-seizure medications

Importance of consulting with healthcare professionals

CBD is a natural remedy that can help manage anxiety, pain, insomnia, depression and PTSD, just to name a few. No wonder why millions of people have turned to CBD products. However, prior to starting CBD it is recommended to talk with your healthcare provider. They can provide information and recommendations on different products and strengths. Below are some other reasons to speak to a medical professional prior to using CBD products:

  • Get the correct dose
  • Avoid drug interactions
  • Check for allergic reactions
  • Monitor any side effects

Legal status of CBD in different countries


Variations in regulations and restrictions

Is CBD legal to buy in your country? Most of us can purchase CBD products with no trouble as the laws regarding legality change between countries. Poland and Switzerland claim very liberal CBD buying laws of any other countries. Portugal, on the other hand makes it more difficult to buy CBD products.

In the United States, laws regarding CBD are bit more confusing although they are legal in all 50 states. The Farm Bill was signed by President Trump in 2018, making hemp federally legal in the U.S.

However, any CBD products that are a derivative of marijuana remain illegal. CBD products derived from hemp cultured by licensed businesses are legal federally for selling. It is easy for customers to find a variety of CBD products in the U.S. stores, either online or locally.

All CBD products seem to be alright with the FDA regulation. Companies may sell CBD, but marketing the products as animal feed, food or dietary supplements is actually illegal.

Importance of sourcing CBD from reputable sources

Even though CBD is safe, it is important to purchase any CBD products from a reliable, trustworthy company. This is due to the quality of the CBD, as they are not all created equal. Companies might use toxic and/or artificial ingredients to make their products. Also, just because most CBD products are taken from the hemp plant, some might be taken from cannabis plants that haven’t been accurately regulated. Meaning they may possibly have higher levels of THC than they have stated.

Also, any reputable CBD company will provide a Certificate of Analysis (COA) and have their products triple lab tested. This will make certain that the amount of CBD in their products are exactly what they have advertised.



Summary of the potential benefits of CBD for PTSD

CBD can be beneficial for symptoms of PTSD, without having any THC. It will help by providing better REM sleep, reducing anxiety, and interrupt fear memories. It works by circuitously networking with the serotonin, dopamine and CB2 receptors. CBD does not essentially increase dopamine or serotonin.

Need for further research and clinical trials

Research predicts that patients taking CBD broad spectrum or isolate will have significant improvements in the symptoms of PTSD and functional weakening at the post treatment and follow up after one month relative to patients taking a placebo. It also seems to show that greater improvements came from patients using CBD broad spectrum then those using CBD isolate.

Need for further research and clinical trials are clearly to evaluate the effects of CBD treatments covering the full spectrum of anxiety and trauma related disorders like PTSD.

Studies are clearly needed to assess the effects of multi-dose CBD treatments across the full spectrum of trauma and anxiety-related disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder.

Importance of informed decision making

CBD is becoming quite popular as a safer, natural treatment for a variety of medical issues. It is still important to speak to your healthcare provider prior to adding any new supplements, including any CBD product. If you have certain medical conditions, CBD may have dangerous side effects. Your healthcare provider can help determine the pros and cons of taking CBD and recommend the right dosage for your specific needs.



Is CBD legal for veterans with PTSD?

Clinician from the VA can only prescribe medications approved by the FDA. Currently, products that contain THC, cannabidoil or other cannabinoids cannot be approved for medical reasons by the FDA.

Can CBD alone treat PTSD?

After experiencing a traumatic event many can begin to have symptoms of PTSD, a medical condition that can last a long time.

Although there are a variety of treatments out there, like therapy and medications, research has shown that CBD may also be beneficial in helping manage symptoms of PTSD like reducing stress, anxiety and fatigue while also helping to promote deeper, better-quality sleep.

Are there any potential drug interactions with CBD?

CBD is a physically active compound, making it possible to have consequences that are unintended. That would include CBD side effects. However, it may also cause interactions with herbal products, prescription medications, over the counter and supplements.

How long does it take to experience the effects of CBD for PTSD?

Waiting for the effects of CBD will be different for each person. It would depend on the method, individual biochemistry and dosage. Typically, people feel the effects within 20 minutes up to a few hours, possibly longer for the maximum effects.

For those that suffer from PTSD, as they may feel some effects within hours of taking CBD, it may be several weeks to feel it is being managed.

Are there any age restrictions for using CBD as a complementary therapy?

Federally, there is not an age limit to using CBD products. CBD taken from the hemp plant is legal in all 50 states. They must however contain less than 0.03% THC. There are some states that require you to be at least 18 or 21 in order to buy any CBD products.

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