Understanding CBD and PTSD
There is a significant lack of understanding around CBD and PTSD. Researchers are uncovering the mechanics of how CBD works with the endocannabinoid system and the potential benefits within various human systems. Some of that research is outlined below.
PTSD. It’s not a medical buzz word. To quote Kate Jackson of CRX Magazine, it’s a “significant problem that’s inadequately addressed,”. Her claim that “existing therapeutic approaches are often ineffective,” is proving to be more than a simple commentary on how the medical industrial complex in the United States approaches mental health. Concerned researchers are exploring other treatment options for PTSD. As anyone in the hemp industry knows, much of that research involves plant derived options and includes CBD, one of the 87+ cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, 3.5% of adults in the United States suffer from PTSD, and “women are twice as likely as men to experience it,” (Jackson 2020). An alarming statistic was revealed by Emily Ozer and Daniel Weiss (UC Berkeley and UCSF School of Medicine, respectively), in their article, Who Develops Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from 2004. In their work they state, “Nearly half of U.S. adults experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetimes, yet only 10% of women and 5% of men develop PTSD,” (Ozer and Weiss 2004).
Who PTSD Effects
While it’s certainly true that PTSD is most often associated with combat veterans and first responders, other traumatic events such as sexual assault, natural disasters, and accidents can trigger PTSD. Some of the symptoms often associated with the disorder include heightened anxiety, intrusive memories, avoidance, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, irritability, and nightmares-just to name a few, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Regarding PTSD susceptibility, many variables may factor into this complex equation. To date, there is no “tried and true” method of determining who is most susceptible to the ill effects of PTSD or to what extent their lives may be impacted. According to researchers from UC Berkley and UCC San Francisco, “PTSD symptoms wax and wane, especially in response to subsequent life events (not necessarily traumatic ones), many people experience partial PTSD, or clinically significant symptoms of PTSD that do not meet the diagnostic criteria for the disorder,” (Ozer and Weiss 2004).
How do we move toward more viable treatment options? Is there more to uncover to aid our understanding of CBD and PTSD?
What is CBD?
As mentioned previously, cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive, non-intoxicating cannabinoid (compound) found in hemp and cannabis plants. According to an article citing multiple studies and published in Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, “Cannabidiol (CBD) is the main non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid present in the Cannabis sativa plant, constituting up to 40 per cent of its extract. The chemical characterization of the main cannabi- noids present in this plant by Mechoulam’s group in the 1960s  originated the first wave of scientific interest in this compound,” (Campos, Moriera, et al. 2012).
Their findings led to their 2012 claim that “It is now clear that CBD has therapeutic potential over a wide range of non-psychiatric and psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis,” (Campos, Moriera, et al. 2012). That study, along with dozens, if not hundreds of studies that have followed, laid part of the groundwork for the rise in CBD use today and helps the greater population form a stronger understanding of CBD and PTSD.
PTSD and CBD
A recent Forbes Health article which was reviewed by Dr. Bindiya Gandhi (MD) states that “studies suggest CBD can reduce PTSD symptoms” when the entourage effect is achieved (Perez 2021) . The same article claims that “some studies also suggest CBD can enhance the effects of exposure therapy—which assists patients in dissociating certain cues with a fear response—and cognitive behavioral therapy,” (Perez 2021).
What’s known as the “fear response”, is a critical component or feature of hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD. It’s well known that fear, which is reasonably linked to traumatic events, “initiates the flight or fight” response. (Ozer and Weiss 2004). The part of the human brain that is responsible for controlling reactions to acute stress is called the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, or HPA. Research shows that individuals who may be prone to experiencing the sometimes-debilitating symptoms of PTSD, tend to exhibit dysregulation of hormones regulated by the HPA axis. (Ozer and Weiss 2004)
CBD’s molecular structure allows it to through the “blood-brain” barrier. It’s that ability and the properties within the molecular make up of CBD that allows it to react with a specific receptor in the brain. That receptor is called the 5HT1A receptor and a significant amount of research suggests that CBD is attracted to that receptor. It has been discovered that CBD “blocks long lasting behavioral consequences of predator threat stress,”. (Campos, Ferreira and Guimaraes, Cannabidiol blocks long-lasting behavioral consequences of predator threat stress: Possible involvement of 5HT1A receptors 2012).
While there is still a considerable amount of scientific evaluation necessary for us to fully understand the potential benefits that CBD can offer, research is making great strides thus far. One relevant point mentioned by Perez is that to get the most out of CBD, “you have to find the right CBD dosage” for full efficacy. Perez goes on to write that “experts suggest starting small and working your way up depending on how your body reacts,” (Perez 2021).
Many factors should be considered when it comes to the most effective dosage, as there is significant variation based on a person’s symptoms and physiology. The World Health Organization (WHO), in their CBD Critical Review Report recognizes CBD as not only being safe, but also “a useful treatment for a number of other medical conditions,” (Dependence 2018).
To learn more about the process of CBD extraction, click here.
For more information about WayMaker Labs, visit the about us section.
*This content does not constitute medical advice. It is for informational purposes only.
Ali, Maitha Badi. 2020. “Healing a Nation in Pain: exploring the viability of cannabidiol as a potential treatment to our opiod crisis.” Guilford College 2-59.
Campos, Alline Cristina, Fabricio Araujo Moriera, Felipe Villela Gomes, Elaine Aparecida Del Bel, and Francisco Silveira Guimaraes. 2012. “Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum theraperutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders.” Philosophical Transactions:Biological Sciences 3364-3378.
Campos, Alline Cristina, Frederico Rogerio Ferreira, and Francisco Silveira Guimaraes. 2012. “Cannabidio blocks long-lasting behavioral consequences of predator threat stress: Possible involvement of 5HT1A receptors.” Journal of Psychiatric Research (Journal of Psychiatric Research) 1501-1510. Accessed 2021.
Cherney, Kristeen. 2020. Using CBD Oil for Anxiety: Does It Work? April 3. Accessed Sept. 10, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-for-anxiety.
Dependence, Expert Committee on Drug. 2018. Cannabindiol (CBD): Critical Review Report. Critical Review, Geneva (Switzerland): World Health Organization. Accessed Sept 2021.
Jackson, Kate. 2020. “From the Editor: Easing Trauma.” CRX Magazine, Spring: 1.
Ozer, Emily J., and Daniel S Weiss. 2004. “Who Develops Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” Current Directions in Psychological Science (Sage Publications-Association of Psychological Science) 13 (4): 169-172.
Perez, Lauren. 2021. Forbes Health. Aug 18. Accessed Sept 10, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/health/body/cbd-for-anxiety/.
Petrov, Petar. 2021. CBD Health & Wellness. May 31. Accessed Sept. 10, 2021. https://cbdhealthandwellness.net/2021/05/31/terpenes-and-cbd-combinations-for-certain-benefits/?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=terpenes-and-cbd-combinations-for-certain-benefits.