Many, many veterans returning from the service face more than the already-daunting challenges of reintegrating into home life. The gamut of PTSD symptoms—intrusive memories or flashbacks of traumatic events, nightmares, irritation, a jittery feeling, fear, and trouble with relationships and trust—affect up to 20 percent of veterans in a given year. These issues are often highly disruptive, causing both veterans and their loved ones undue distress. No one should have to pay such a high price for service to the country: Fortunately, CBD could play a key role in therapy and treatment.
How Does CBD Help with PTSD?
The stereotypical recreational cannabis user is seriously chilled out—and there’s certainly truth behind that image, as cannabis has a known anti-anxiety effect. That’s where the benefits of cannabinoids as PTSD treatment start: They’ve been shown to help with common PTSD symptoms such as sleep issues and hyperarousal. CBD might also help keep people with PTSD from resorting to risky self-medicating behavior; one clinical study is currently investigating whether CBD can reduce alcohol abuse in PTSD patients.
But CBD’s role in healing may extend well beyond even that: A number of studies have begun to explore how the substance can actually help people process their traumas, or even prevent PTSD altogether. Animal studies suggest CBD can reduce the severity of the fear response and disrupt the way the brain stores fearful memories. And promising new research has shown that CBD helps with “extinction learning,” or the forgetting of traumatic memories. Therapy-based treatments for PTSD involve revisiting and reprocessing disturbing events until they no longer trigger the same reactions—so taking CBD in conjunction with therapy could make treatments that much more effective.