Cannabidiol as a Therapeutic Alternative for Post-Traumatic Stress
Cannabidiol is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis sativa. Although the plant is comprised of more than a hundred cannabinoids, CBD has become the most talked about one, along with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The compound has an abundance of health benefits when consumed. This is because cannabidiol is an anti-inflammatory, as well as being analgesic, anti-anxiety, and has seizure suppression propensities too.
CBD can be sourced from both marijuana and hemp. While the former’s legal status is still in flux, hemp is legal is most countries because it contains minimal amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol.
Cannabidiol is a phytocannabinoid molecule that is the result of excessive heating or decarboxylation of cannabidiol acid (CBDA). Although CBD has gained media attention, it is its natural precursor CBDA which is the unique cannabinoid found in cannabis.
In most cultivated varieties of cannabis, cannabidiol generally ranks on the lower end of the spectrum. As in, it doesn’t feature in a large quantity. A recent discovery found that a handful of strains were enriched with cannabidiol, as opposed to THC.
Nevertheless, CBD is essential because it is an effective form of treatment. The compound can be utilized for various health concerns, which we will discuss in the following passages.
The Link between CBD and PTSD
Health benefits of Cannabidiol
For instance, one of several health related benefits of using cannabidiol is that it can combat the anxiety and depression that an individual may experience. Both of these are frequently occurring mental disorders that can have a negative impact on a person’s life on a daily basis.
Moreover, according to the World Health Organization, depression is the biggest contributor to disability in the world. This means that depression, which is itself quite debilitating, leads to other ailments and afflictions as well.
The conventional method of treating both depression and anxiety are with pharmaceutical drugs, which are typically prescribed by medical professionals. However, such medication is sporadically accompanied by side effects. Examples include insomnia, sexual dysfunction as well as drowsiness.
A commonly administered medicine called benzodiazepines is a good instance because it can be addictive for patients, which is another concern altogether. This is unwarranted because on top of the anxiety, patients may go towards substance abuse too.
In such dire circumstances, cannabidiol can serve its purpose and be an excellent alternative to mainstream medication. Luckily, it has shown immense potential as a treatment form for both depression and anxiety.
Naturally, this development has piqued the interest of patients who are suffering from either disorder and they are more than willing to try CBD. This is also because it is a natural and organic solution to their ailments.
Studies have also been conducted on the subject matter and have provided meaningful results. They have shown the positive effect CBD can have on patients with the aforementioned conditions.
In one such trial, two dozen participants with social anxiety disorder were given either 600 milligrams of cannabidiol or an alternative placebo before they were scheduled to have a public speaking test.
The individuals who has taken CBD showed considerably less anxiety and corresponding psychological impairment that is a byproduct of panic attacks. On the other hand, volunteers who were given the placebo did not show vast improvement.
Additionally, cannabidiol has also been utilized to treat children who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In previously held tests conducted on animals, CBD has shown antidepressant traits as well.
In essence, the aforementioned qualities are linked to the capability of cannabidiol to engage the brain’s receptors for serotonin. The latter is a neurotransmitter that controls a person’s mood and social demeanor.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
We alluded to it in the previous passage and it is a blessing that cannabidiol has shown positive results when it comes to patients who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Before we proceed further, it is important to define PTSD, so readers can comprehend the condition and why treatment is imperative.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a group of stress reactions to tumultuous incidents like death, severe injury or sexual violence. Therefore, triggers can include a bereavement in the family or being the victim of sexual assault.
As the name implies, PTSD transpires in the aftermath of such incidents. Individuals are unable to cope and generally experience crippling tension and pressure. These stress reactions can develop after a disconcerting event, which may continue to haunt a person.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur in the fallout of a single incident or gradually through repeated exposure to the same abject occurrence. In addition, there are also cases where post traumatic stress disorder may manifest in a person after they hear disconcerting details regarding a devastating event.
It is equally vital to understand that not every person who has experienced psychological or physical trauma goes on to develop chronic or acute PTSD. It is not necessary that each individual suffers from an ongoing issue or a short-term concern.
Likewise, it is not obligatory that people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder have experienced a catastrophic event.
Moreover, symptoms of PTSD typically manifest early on i.e. within the first 90 days of a calamitous incident taking place. However, in anomalies, signals of the disorder may begin years after the actual event!
Naturally, medical professionals believe that indications of PTSD must last more than a few weeks for patients to request treatment. Therefore, if an individual feels significant stress for longer than a month, then we strongly suggest consulting a doctor.
PTSD can be an overpowering, immobilizing affliction which begins to interfere with a person’s routine. For example, it will adversely affect their relationships, their work and so on.
Moreover, the length of the ailment can vary from one person to the next. While some patients may recover in a few months, others may continue to exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress for much longer than that. In other words, this is called a chronic condition.
Typically, medical professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists are well equipped to treat patients with post traumatic stress disorder. They can provide the appropriate diagnosis and recommend medication as well.
In order for PTSD diagnosis to be corroborated by specialists, an adult must meet certain requirements. For instance, they must show signs like having one re-experiencing symptom at the very least.
They must also exhibit signs of avoidance and also a few arousal and reactivity symptoms for a minimum of one month.
Naturally, it is absolutely imperative to seek clinical help when a person feels under considerable strain and can no longer deal with the overwhelming pressure.
Of course, effective treatments are available for PTSD but cannabidiol may serve as a useful alternative. We will discuss the potential of CBD as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
CBD for PTSD
Cannabidiol, a constituent of cannabis, is a pharmacologically broad-spectrum compound. This means CBD can combat various diseases and disorders, much like we mentioned above. Similarly, it can tackle neuropsychiatric afflictions as well.
Due to cannabidiol’s potential suitability to anxiety related concerns, there is a belief that it can help patients suffering from PTSD. If we run through evidence that is already available, it will show us that if administered acutely, CBD can alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder to a great extent.
The nature of clinical trials is generally uniform. For example, research is usually conducted with a few dozen volunteers at best, in isolation and does not run longer than a few weeks. This is precisely why there is a scarcity of studies that have investigated long term cannabidiol dosing.
Furthermore, the same can be said for anxiolytic dosage, which has not been tested for chronic conditions either. In plenty of trials, the test subjects were animals and not human, which may give credence to the results but is not directly applicable to humans.
For cannabidiol to be confirmed as a therapeutic option for post-traumatic stress disorder, more research must be conducted. As far as trials with animals go, they ae vital as a justification of strategy that warrants tests to be conducted involving humans.
The cases and their results which are available have shown promise. For example, a detailed case study published in 2016 by Shannon and Opila-Lehman pertained to a ten-year-old girl who began suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in the aftermath of sexual abuse.
In this unfortunate case, she had suffered the oppression before the age of five and had developed PTSD later. When the child was given CBD oil, she showed considerable improvement.
Prior to the administration of cannabidiol oil, the child has undergone pharmacological treatment for her condition, which only rendered short term relief and did not result in a drastic improvement in the long run.
To make matters worse, the medication she was prescribed was also accompanied by side effects. These occur sporadically and are a byproduct of consuming mainstream medication. It generally compounds the problem that patients are already faced with.
Fortunately, when the girl was given cannabidiol in oil form, it managed to assuage key symptoms of PTSD in her. A small dose of 12 to 25 milligrams was administered once a day before the results were obtained.
All in all, she showed signs of less anxiety and sleep disturbances than before. What’s more, she did not suffer any ill effects of taking CBD either. This was an important breakthrough and showed the pivotal role that cannabidiol can play in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The aforementioned case is also significant because it is yet another instance of an isolation case and did not involve lengthier trials. Like we alluded to earlier, this is useful because the long-term effects of cannabidiol cannot be properly evaluated otherwise.
There are other case studies involving the administration of cannabidiol for PTSD patients as well. These tests showed that the chronic utilization of cannabis resulted in a considerable drop in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
Unfortunately, in both cases, titled Passie et al (2012) and Greer et al (2014), it was not entirely possible to assess the proportion of CBD and THC in the plant that was involved in the study.
The distinction and specific quantity is important because THC is considered a contentious compound because it can have an intoxicating effect on users. Like cannabidiol, tetrahydrocannabinol is also a compound found in the cannabis sativa plant.
However, unlike CBD, it can be a stimulant because it may give users a high. This is why despite its medicinal value; it is frowned upon by many.
On the other hand, cannabidiol is an anti-inflammatory, antipsychotic and much more, which is why it has witnessed a change in its legal status, what with the compound now being legal in most states in America.
Coming back to the central subject, there have been cases where patients with PTSD have used cannabis for self-medication in order to assuage symptoms of the condition. However, it should be clear that they cannot gauge how much CBD is involved and what quantity of THC they are consuming.
Cannabis can be used to lower issues like anxiolytic and sedative effects. It can also help incite better sleep in patients.
Moreover, research conducted more recently has shown a correlation between the use of cannabis as a therapeutic measure and the advent of trauma related concerns occurring in both children and adults.
It was also noted that the severity of the incident that incited post traumatic stress disorder was directly proportionate to the consumption of cannabis in both adolescents and adults.
All the aforementioned results are quite useful for a number of reasons. One, they corroborate the widely held belief that the entourage effect of cannabis in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder may be greater than the isolated effect of a solitary constituent like cannabidiol or tetrahydrocannabinol.
Two, it also shows the importance to additional research on CBD and how it is linked to PTSD. The aim of our discussion was to enlighten readers about the effect the former can have on the latter.
In the past, both human and animal studies have indicated that cannabidiol offers therapeutic benefits for disorders like post-traumatic stress disorders and many other ailments. The reason CBD is so well suited to treating mental health concerns is because it influences the various stages of aversive memory processing. This makes the compound a pharmacological adjunct to psychological therapies available for PTSD.
In addition, with fewer or in some cases, no side effects at all, cannabidiol is certainly of use for diseases and disorders. Like we mentioned before, mainstream medicines tend to be accompanied by side effects as well.
Furthermore, even if it is administered in high doses, CBD has shown no evidence of having an anxiogenic profile, which means it does not directly activate ECB transmission.
In conclusion, we believe that extensive research on the various qualities of cannabidiol are mandatory to comprehend just how useful it can be for patients suffering from different ailments and afflictions.
So far, clinical trials have been more focused on animals like rodents. Also, the ones that have taken place involving human beings have been detached and short term in nature.
This means that the results acquired from the former cannot be 100% applied on humans. The other determinant is that more sustained efforts must be made in order to judge the positive effects of CBD on humans in the long run.
This will likely corroborate what medical professionals and patients already suspect. Also, it will give recognition to cannabidiol as a viable therapeutic alternative for not just post-traumatic stress disorder but a wide variety of diseases.
Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cbd-oil-benefits
Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6066583/
- Nimh.nih.gov. (2019). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Mayoclinic.org. (2019). Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).