Is CBD The Best Treatment for PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PSTD, most commonly seen in war veterans nowadays. It includes an uncontrolled and unbearable flashback of previous traumatic experiences which ultimately results in a scary level of anxiety and pain. Today many recent pieces of research and studies conducted by the scientific community shows that Cannabidiols or CBD found on cannabis plant are highly effective in PSTD treatment. CBD is effective at lessening the emotional impact of traumatic events and can help patients experience less anxiety and fear which gives them relief from pain and improve their sleep.

Understanding PTSD

Before talking about PSTD treatment, let’s try to understand the causes and symptoms of PSTD. According to American Psychiatric Association Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.

Before talking about PSTD treatment, let’s try to understand the causes and symptoms of PSTD. Though PSTD is a common threat to war veterans, it can common people of any ethnicity, nationality, culture, or age. In PSTD diagnosis direct or indirect exposure to an upsetting traumatic event is observed in the first hand. Numerous methods have been used to treat the symptoms of PSTD throughout the past years. psychotherapy and pharmaceutical medication are traditional methods for PSTD treatment. Nowadays CBD as a treatment of PSTD is emerging successfully.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of PSTD

The inherent characteristics of any psychiatric disorders make them hard to diagnose; according to professionals, a patient diagnosed with PSTD if he/she experience all of the following symptoms for at least a month.

  • Re-experiencing past traumatic symptoms: Flashbacks, bad dreams, frightening thoughts or anything that may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. Words, objects, or situations can trigger re-experiencing symptoms.
  • Avoidance symptom: Avoiding thoughts, feelings, places, events or objects that remind a person of a traumatic event can trigger an avoidance symptom. These symptoms cause a person to change his or her personal routine, such as avoiding cars after a car accident.
  • Over excitement and reactivity symptoms: Reactivity simply refers to reactions such as “lashing out” in relation to irritability and being triggered by seemingly nothing. Arousal symptoms, on the other hand, are constant. This would be referring to symptoms such and difficulties concentrating or insomnia. These symptoms cause stress and anger, and may cause difficulty eating, sleeping, or concentrating. These symptoms are usually related to the anxiety, insomnia, and outbursts connected to PTSD.
  • Cognition and mood symptoms: These symptoms begin or worsen after a traumatic experience, but are not due to an injury sustained in the event. The symptoms include loss of enjoyment, distorted feelings, negative and pessimistic thoughts, and trouble recalling significant features of the event.

Side effects and problems of traditional medication:

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil), both antidepressants, for use as post-traumatic stress disorder medication. The side effects of these drugs include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sleeplessness or drowsiness
  • Agitation or a jittery feeling
  • Problems having or enjoying sex

Physicians also prescribe medications like Zoloft and Paxil genre medications. According to the US National Institute of Health (NIH), benzodiazepines are also used to give relaxation and sleep to patients. The side effects of these 3 types of drugs include problems with memory and the risk of drug dependency. Antipsychotics may be prescribed. They are typically given to patients with coexisting conditions, such as schizophrenia. Some side effects of antipsychotics are weight gain and a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, other antidepressants may be used as PTSD drugs. Possible options are fluoxetine (Prozac) and citalopram (Celexa).

In addition to the side effects already listed, the following side effects may occur:

  • Dry mouth
  • Increased appetite
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness

PTSD Drug Addiction, Dependence and Withdrawal illness:

The Journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians warns about the abuse risk of benzodiazepines. When taken chronically, they can be addictive but they are relatively safe when taken in moderation. If you have a history of substance abuse, benzodiazepines should not be used. It is important that you not cease taking your medication as this can cause withdrawal effects and lead to recurrence of the symptoms of your illness.

Medication Overdose

The New York Times of February 14, 2011 carries the disturbing news of an alarming increase in deaths from accidental overdose among our active duty military personnel and our war veterans. The usual scenario is a diagnosis of PTSD unsuccessfully treated with a wide array of psychotropic drugs, which in their aggregate wind up killing the patient– often at a very young age. Autopsy reveals significant blood levels of prescribed medication reflecting the heavy drug cocktail and no other apparent cause of death.

PTSD sufferers have often prescribed a combination of psychotropics that may include–one antidepressant, one antipsychotic, one antianxiety, one sleep, and one pain medicine. Sometimes, the enormous medication burden is worsened even further–either by the simultaneous prescription of more than one drug from a given class or the additional self-medication effected by the sharing of pills among patients. With this wide range of medication comes with their own side effects and often cause overdose eventually results in death.

Using CBD for PTSD

There is no ideal drug treatment for PTSD sufferers, clinical or preclinical, however, studies suggest that the endocannabinoid system, which plays an essential role in maintaining emotional homeostasis and in regulating memory retrieval, consolidation and most importantly extinction, is a possible and ideal target to treat both the emotional and cognitive characterizations of PTSD.

Martin Lee, a researcher of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Research, found people with PTSD had uniformly lower levels of an endocannabinoid called anandamide compared to controls. The experience of PTSD appeared to reset their baseline endocannabinoids at a lower level permanently. Endocannabinoids are involved in regulating dozens of biological and psychological functions, so addressing this deficiency through the highly refined chemistry of cannabis, people experiencing the diverse effects of PTSD can find relief.

The endocannabinoid system, first discovered in 1992 by Israeli researcher Dr. Ralph Mechoulam, is made up of two main receptors. These receptors, cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2), were found to be an integral part of all human and animal physiologies, and are only configured to accept cannabinoids, especially tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These receptors have been found to modulate the release of neurotransmitters and produce a wide range of effects on the central nervous system, including pleasure and the alteration of the memory process. Research suggests that the cannabinoids found in CBD have the ability to work in conjunction with the cannabinoid receptors to block the continuous retrieval of traumatic events and reduce the anxieties associated with it.

Why CBD is so Helpful for PTSD

The cannabis plant contains more than 100 different chemical compounds known as cannabinoids, which interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Cannabidiol or CBD is the most famous among them for having hundreds of medical benefits.

So, Cannabidiol—CBD—is a cannabis compound that has remarkable medical and recreational benefits, but does not make people feel “High”. It can actually prevent the psychoactivity of THC. Cannabidiol is one of at least 100 active cannabinoids identified in cannabis. It is a major phytocannabinoid, accounting for up to 40% of the plant’s extract. The fact is that CBD-infused cannabis strains are non-psychoactive or less psychoactive than THC-dominant strains. It’s made CBD products a good option for patients looking for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions without disconcerting feelings of lethargy or dysphoria.

In particular, CBD has been shown to be effective for PTSD. CBD and PTSD aren’t always associated together but CBD has shown to help. CBD does not directly stimulate the endocannabinoid system. Instead, it acts by inhibiting the enzymes that break down the endocannabinoids, much like an MAOI works by blocking serotonin destruction. This raises the levels of anandamide and symptoms are relieved.

Furthermore, because CBD does not directly stimulate the CB1 receptor in the brain, it is not intoxicating. It doesn’t get you high; it just brings relief. No impairment. No sleepiness. No effects that may prevent you from working or participating in society.

Recent Studies on CBD’s Effect on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

These studies showed evidence that how effective is CBD in PSTD treatment. These are all available in govt sites.

  • PTSD patients saw a 75% reduction in PTSD symptoms, as measured by the Clinical Administered Post Traumatic Scale when they were using cannabis compared to when they were not.


  • Evidence from human studies indicates that CBD found in cannabis has considerable potential as a treatment for anxiety disorders.


  • A review of published evidence finds that cannabinoids help PTSD patients manage the condition’s three major symptoms (re-experiencing, avoidance and numbing, hyperarousal) and helps improve sleep in those PTSD patients suffering from insomnia and nightmares.     


  • Repeated CBD administration prevents the long-lasting anxiogenic effects observed after predator exposure probably by facilitating 5HT1A receptors neurotransmission. Our results suggest that CBD has beneficial potential for PTSD treatment and that 5HT1A receptors could be a therapeutic target in this disorder.


  • case report of a 19-year-old male patient with a spectrum of severe PTSD symptoms, such as intense flashbacks, panic attacks, and self-mutilation, who discovered that some of his major symptoms were dramatically reduced by smoking cannabis resin…This review shows that recent studies provided supporting evidence that PTSD patients may be able to cope with their symptoms by using cannabis products. Cannabis may dampen the strength or emotional impact of traumatic memories through synergistic mechanisms that might make it easier for people with PTSD to rest or sleep and to feel less anxious and less involved with flashback memories. The presence of endocannabinoid signalling systems within stress-sensitive nuclei of the hypothalamus, as well as upstream limbic structures (amygdala), point to the significance of this system for the regulation of neuroendocrine and behavioural responses to stress. Evidence is increasingly accumulating that cannabinoids might play a role in fear extinction and antidepressive effects.


  • CBD both acutely inhibited fear expression and enhanced extinction to produce longer lasting reductions in fear. These observations provide further support for the potential translational use of CBD in conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder and specific phobias.


  • The main finding from this case study is that CBD oil can be an effective compound to reduce anxiety and insomnia secondary to PTSD. This case study provides clinical data that support the use of cannabidiol oil as a safe treatment for reducing anxiety and improving sleep in a young girl with posttraumatic stress disorder.



Unlike THC, CBD provides the same medical benefits of hemp plants without experiencing a high. The positive effects of CBD can help PTSD patients manage the core symptoms of the condition which include re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal.

CBD has become an alternative to traditional drug and psychotherapy treatments in recent years and at least 24 states have approved CBD and cannabinoids for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Frequently used for coping purposes by combat veterans, CBD has proven to be a suitable replacement for traditional drugs in treating emotional regulation, stress tolerance, irregular sleeping patterns, nightmares, social anxieties and lessening the effects of triggers.

While there is no cure for PTSD, CBD is a suitable replacement, backed by medical research, for both drug and psychotherapeutic means of controlling and treating symptoms. Traditionally, PTSD is very difficult to treat due to the plethora of symptoms. While most treatment options only focus on treating a few symptoms, CBD has the ability to treat a wide range of symptoms associated with the disorder. It has the ability to reduce anxiety, help with depression, fight insomnia, and reduce or eliminate flashbacks without the risk of possible substance abuse.


So, now we have it, a current look at how CBD and PTSD are becoming mutually beneficial terms instead of unknown ones. It is encouraging that more and more PTSD patients are choosing CBD as a way to at least take the edge off their pain, depression, and anxiety while steadily reducing the number of prescription meds that they have been prescribed. It’s obvious to all of us who use cannabidiol that CBD improves our quality of life as well as helping to heal our nervous system naturally instead of dealing with unwanted side effects of the aforementioned SSRI’s and SNRI’s.

In fact, all 85+ cannabinoids found in Cannabis are proven safe and non-addictive. CBD as no psycho-active properties (no high or euphoria) and is often recommended by health professionals for children for countless ailments and diseases ranging from PSTD, ADD/ADHD to asthma and epilepsy. CBD products are found with increasing frequency to be preferred by patients of all ages over prescription medication and the countless negative side effects that come with all of them. If the list of side effects from prescription medications seems antithetical to the discoveries from post-modern medical science

Any way you look at it, the Veterans Administration is and has been for too long complicit in not only obfuscation of the truth about Cannabis, but the withholding of proper medical care and general medical malpractice – the extent of which is only now being exposed. The question persists… How far down the rabbit hole do we have to go to determine the true extent of medical malpractice, insurance fraud, and Big Pharma/U.S. Government collusion that has permeated our medical system?


Akirav, I. (2013). Targeting the endocannabinoid system to treat haunting traumatic memories. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7, 124. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3776936/.

Betthauser, K., Pilz, J., and Vollmer, L.E. (2015, August). Use and effects of cannabinoids in military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 72(15), 1279-84.

Blessing E.M., Steenkamp, M.M., Manzanares, J., and Marmar, C.R. (2015, September 4). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neuotherapeutics, Epub ahead of print. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26341731.

Boden, M.T., Babson, K.A., Vujanovic, A.A., Short, N.A., and Bonn-Miller, M.O. (2013, May-June). Post-traumatic stress disorder and cannabis use characteristics among military veterans with cannabis dependence. The American Journal on Addictions, 22(3), 277-84.

Bonn-Miller, M.O., Babson, K.A., and Vandrey, R. (2014, March 1). Using cannabis to help you sleep: heightened frequency of cannabinoids use among those with PTSD. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 136, 162-5.

Bonn-Miller, M.O., Vujanovic, A.A., and Drescher, K.D. (2011, September). Cannabis use among military veterans after residential treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychology of Addictive Behavior, 25(3), 485-91.

Campos, A.C., Ferreira, F.R., and Guimaraes, F.S. (2012, November). Cannabidiol blocks long-lasting behavioral consequences of predator threat stress: possible involvement of 5Ht1A receptors. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 46(11), 1501-10.

Greer, G.R., Grob, C.S., and Halberstadt, A.L. (2014, January-March). PTSD symptom reports of patients evaluated for the New Mexico Cannabinoids Program. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 46(1), 73-7.

Passie, T., Emrich, H.M., Karst, M., Brandt, S.D., and Halpern, J.H. (2012, July-August). Mitigation of post-traumatic stress symptoms by Cannabis resin: a review of the clinical and neurobiological evidence. Drug Testing and Analysis, 4(7-8), 649-59.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (2014, April 15). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/basics/definition/con-20022540.

Potter, C.M., Vujanovic, A.A., Marshall-Verenz, E.C., Bernstein, A., and Bonn-Miller, M.O. (2011, April). Posttraumatic stress and Cannabis use coping motives: the mediating role of distress tolerance. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 25(3), 437-43.

Trezza, V., and Campolongo, P. (2013, August 9). The endocannabinoid system as a possible target to treat both the cognitive and emotional features of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7, 100.

Walsh, Z., Gonzalez, R., Crosby, K., S Thiessmen, M., Carroll, C., and Bonn-Miller, M.O. (2016, October 12). Medical cannabis and mental health: A guided systematic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 51, 15-29.

What is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml.







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