Cannabidiol has been showing very promising results in the treatment of PTSD. While many people label cannabis as a coping mechanism for PTSD patients, the science is saying that it is also an important mechanism for healing.
Not only does CBD have anti-anxiety effects that are very important for patients suffering from PTSD, but research also suggests that CBD might have an important role in storing traumatic memories through the disruption of traumatic memory consolidation in disrupting the way traumatic memories are stored and consolidated.1 For someone who is suffering from PTSD, these memories often produce symptoms like nightmares, anxiety, flashbacks, and depression. Many PTSD sufferers often present with drug and alcohol disorders, as well (CBD can help with that, too).
In a 2016 study, CBD injections were found to be effective at reducing “freezing behavior” (a common fear response in prey animals; think deer in the headlights) in rats that had been exposed to strong fear-based conditioning.2 The rats given CBD were significantly less likely to be fearful when exposed to the same conditions at a later date, suggesting that CBD can be effective at hindering the development of fear around traumatic memories. Evidence also shows reduced levels of circulating endocannabinoids in patients with PTSD. A 2013 study of individuals present at the World Trade Center attacks supports these findings.3 Increasing the endocannabinoid tone of the body would be helpful for these people.
Another way that cannabis can aid PTSD sufferers is through sleep. Because nightmares are often a symptom of PTSD, a good night’s sleep is sometimes impossible. Cannabis and CBD’s role as a sleep aid is yet another way it can help with PTSD.
- Jonathan L. C. Lee et al., “Cannabidiol Regulation of Emotion and Emotional Memory Processing: Relevance for Treating Anxiety-Related and Substance Abuse Disorders,” British Journal of Pharmacology 174, no. 19 (2017): 3242–56, doi:10.1111/bph.13724.
- Chenchen Song, et al., “Bidirectional Effects of Cannabidiol on Contextual Fear Memory Extinction,” Frontiers in Pharmacology 16, no. 7 (2016), doi:10.3389/fphar.2016.00493.
- Matthew N. Hill et al., “Reductions in Circulating Endocannabinoid Levels in Individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Following Exposure to the World Trade Center Attacks,” Psychoneuroendocrinology 38, no. 12 (2013): 2952–61, doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.08.004.