Is CBD the silver bullet for PTSD?

Posted on by Nicholas Cracknell

Is CBD the silver bullet for PTSD?

As our understanding of CBD and medicinal cannabis improves, researchers are increasingly exposing its potential as a treatment for various conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as CBD Army reports.

PTSD is a mental health condition which usually occurs after a person endures a trauma, and is commonly associated with veterans returning from war.

The disorder can trigger increased feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as other symptoms such as insomnia and traumatic flashbacks.

According to mental health charity Mind, 4 per cent of people in the UK will experience symptoms of PTSD in any given week. Other studies suggest up to 10 per cent of the population will experience it in some form during their lifetime.

Traditionally, PTSD has been treated using a course of drugs such as antidepressants, but these do not necessarily work for every patient. Therapeutic  treatments have shown promise in treating the condition, such as talking therapy.

Long exposure therapy is another popular treatment which has shown some success. This involves a patient being shown a similar traumatic scenario to that which caused their PTSD, in a safe environment. Again, this is something which does not have unanimous success.

But a rising force among the various options for PTSD patients is medical cannabis. Cannabis medicine and CBD products generally have shown much promise in treating the disorder. It has already been well established that CBD and other cannabinoids can help to relax the body and relieve anxiety symptoms. 

Furthermore, PTSD can often cause sleep problems, including night sweats. Again, evidence suggests that cannabis products could improve this, with countless studies showing CBD can greatly improve a person's quality of sleep.

However, there is some initial research which shows some cannabinoids can help treat the more specific symptoms of PTSD. For example, researchers from Canada found that using CBD before bed can significantly reduce - or even eliminate in some cases - the amount of nightmares patients experience.

More evidence of symptoms being relieved comes from Washington State University, which concluded a study this year about how cannabis use affects PTSD. The study involved over 400 PTSD patients. They recorded their symptoms after taking cannabis, and showed some encouraging results.

Just over half of the participants saw a reduction in flashbacks, while 57 per cent saw a reduction in anxiety symptoms. A further 62 per cent saw a reduction in intrusions. This is where a person is spontaneously reminded of their trauma and is known to be one of the most damaging effects of the disorder.

Despite this positive evidence, both these trials stated that more research needs to be done before medical cannabis can be prescribed for a condition like PTSD; particularly warning about the unknown psychological effects that might be caused from THC.

The University of Texas has taken on board this evidence and recently launched a large scale clinical trial on the effects of CBD in terms of treating PTSD. This is opposed to the observational trials which have been completed so far.

The study features around 120 patients and the researchers hope it will produce more clear-cut evidence of the effectiveness of the drug when it comes to relieving PTSD symptoms.

For now, however, it remains to be seen how effective cannabis can be when it comes to treating this mental health disorder; and it seems we are a long way off before prescriptions can be handed out for it.