The simple definition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is: adapting poorly to a traumatic experience or situation. Common medical prescriptions (therapies) that treat PTSD have serious side-effects and are relatively ineffective.
Now that research and scientific data has exploded with information and insight into our endocannabinoid system (ECS) that regulates and monitors many vital functions and systems (including our nervous system), we are seeing natural therapies like cannabidiol (CBD) prove more effective than traditional methods.
This paper is a review of how far CBD research has come regarding PTSD. From pre-clinical studies in animals to human experimental studies, cannabidiol enables the ECS to do what it does best: restore homeostasis (balance).
Pre-clinical Studies: CBD dissolves negative memories and thoughts by helping the ECS.
Human Studies: CBD may alter import aspects of how we store bad memories and reduce symptoms of PTSD.
What is PTSD?
After a person suffers a traumatizing event, they may develop an ongoing psychological condition called PTSD. While everyone’s experience is different, PTSD often appears through sleep disturbances, repeating the events over and over, changes in emotion, and changes in mood.
The inability to adapt after a stressful or traumatic experience is the essence of PTSD. The endocannabinoid system regulates and monitors many essential functions in the body, like emotional behavior.
Symptoms of PTSD
There is nothing scarier than a flashback that happens in real time. Going back to a horrifying scenario mentally even though you are physically safe is a major symptom of PTSD. These unwanted memories are involuntary and reoccurring.
Having trouble processing emotions, abrupt outbursts of anger, restlessness, unable to maintain concentration, and constant wakefulness are only some of the discomforting symptoms associated with PTSD.
Cannabinoids and the Nervous System
CBD works by performing at different points on a cell at once, that’s how it is able to restore balance within the body in many of our essential systems and vital functions.
Our endocannabinoid system promotes homeostasis. It works to restore balance in our body and minds. Our body craves normalcy. Our ECS gets a boost from CBD because these cannabinoids mimic the actions of our ECS.
Panic attacks are often a flashback without visual effects. The body is still flooded with the same flight-or-fight hormones it fills with during an intensely traumatic event. CBD can intervene these hormones on serotonin receptors that alleviate our body and protects it from bouts of high-anxiety.
Our ECS is like a superhero in the sense that it activates when it senses danger, it responds to the threat, and then it disappears into the background until it is called into action again.
One of the many therapeutic benefits of CBD is that it prolongs our ECS and encourages it to stay activated for longer and keep fighting off symptoms by producing their stress-reducing effects.
CBD in Action: How Does it Work?
It’s not clear how CBD works, and we are far from understanding what makes CBD work. Recently we are learning how CBD expresses itself on different receptors to block negative (aversive) memories.
This breakthrough is important to the PTSD community because they are in need of effective therapeutic treatments that have less harmful side effects.
People suffering from stress-related disorders or who have suffered trauma may benefit from CBD not only for aversive memory suppression but for its sleep encouraging, mood-calming, stress-releasing abilities.