Anywhere from 11-20% of veterans from our most recent war in the middle east are affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Also in mid-2017, the VA (Veterans Association) circulated an influential report that documented veteran deaths by suicide at an average of twenty per day.
The unfortunate situation is that the veterans affected by PTSD and other Service related mental health issues received from duty may find difficulty adjusting to regular life and unfortunately end up on the street, addicted to drugs or sadly even end up committing suicide.
Evidence suggests that a good deal of deaths are directly related to the over-prescription of opioids as well as other medications that are prescribed to veterans when they are injured. Many veterans live with combat-related chronic pain, a debilitating condition that affects everyday life and makes every task painful.
Many doctors prescribe opioids as their first choice for dealing with chronic pain. Opioids are known to cause side effects like anxiety, mood swings and lack of interest in life.
The VA reported in 2016, that they treated 66,000 veterans for opioid addiction. The reality is that Cannabidiol (CBD) relieves pain, reduces inflammation, is mood enhancing and treats a variety of other ailments both mental and physical.
What this suggests is that CBD can possibly be an alternative for opioids for military veterans with depressive symptoms and PTSD. Hemp-derived CBD needs additional studies, but initial tests have shown positive improvement for these symptoms.
How does CBD Work For PTSD & Anxiety?
A study in 2011 researching the effects that CBD has on anxiety noticed that “a single dose of 600 mg (CBD) led to reduced anxiety” – However evidence found that the CBD reduces anxiety best “in subjects where stress had been induced before CBD administration.”
Meaning those who become anxious right before CBD use are helped most. This means that CBD is best for those who become anxious from experiences, situations, or in unpredictable moments.Therefore, veterans currently suffering from PTSD who get random episodes of major anxiety, could find relief taking CBD oils after each traumatic episode.
In one medical paper from 2015 called ‘Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders’ they studied this possibility of CBD helping with erratic and unstable moments of PTSD. The study noted that “in a subchronic study, CBD administered daily 1 h (hour) after predator stress (a proposed model of PTSD) reduced the long-lasting anxiogenic effects of chronic predator stress, partially via 5-HT1AR activation."
In an additional study of chronic anxiety, systemic CBD "prevented increased anxiety produced by chronic unpredictable stress, in addition to increasing hippocampal AEA.”
In other words, what this means is that they found the use of CBD to be most effective post-experience or traumatic events. By helping relieve the effects and anxiety caused by the disorder. What this means is that Veterans, combat soldiers, or other people alike can possibly use CBD within an hour of their experience, and sufficiently decrease the negative effects of the disorder.
This is extremely important, because if this is in fact the case, CBD oil products can be revolutionary for the military and VA in terms of managing these issues. This is not a 'solution' or full 'treatment' per se, because CBD won’t make the symptoms go away. But it may lead in the right direction for successfully managing the issues of PTSD and post war anxiety.
Or at least minimize the major effects of them. Additionally, the possibilities of CBD may be even more useful for active members of the military in combat. No evidence explicitly states this, however, it is possible that using CBD while on active duty could possibly decrease the development of PTSD and severe anxiety before it is too late.
Possibly relieving the disorder symptoms before they even start. In other words, the immediate use of CBD oils or other products when active duty soldiers feel anxious or PTSD may help reduce their anxious symptoms and put them in a less depressive or anxious state overall. At least temporarily, which is likely a limitation of CBD oil products, but using them early enough could possibly prevent severe PTSD or anxiety from completely developing.
As well, “Another publication studied the difference of acute and chronic administration of two doses of CBD in nonstressed mice on anxiety” found that an administration of 3mg/kg worked comparably to 20mg/kg of imipramine, which is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor [SSRI] that is often prescribed to those with depression and anxiety.
This means that CBD could help decrease the use of external medications that often have worse side effects than the symptoms they are addressing. The quality of life, and lower need to rely on prescribed medications could lead to a better quality of life with less mental and physical strain for military veterans. This is still useful even if the only solution is to manage the disorder as best as possible.
But for those yet to develop PTSD, if CBD can decrease the odds of PTSD developing or reduce the severeness of anxiety by even 5%, that is ground-breaking. This is all speculation, but is something research will be looking deeper into in the near future. Either way, CBD is still a better, safer, and more effective than most alternatives based on what the evidence suggests.
Another study researching cannabidiol users specifically, found that around 62% of all CBD users were using it to treat medical conditions, with the top three being pain, anxiety, and depression - Each of those being commonly occuring issues for most veterans or active duty military soldiers.
From the pool of 62% CBD for medical users, only 4.3% reported that CBD did not treat their conditions well, with around 36% of users reported that CBD helped “very well by itself.” This means that United States Army, Navy and Airforce veterans and soldiers have a greater chance than not in receiving positive effects from using CBD for their pain, anxiety and depression.
From a medical and scientific point of view, another study from 2017 about how Cannabidiol affects the regulation of emotion for anxiety and substance abuse related disorders states that “CBD may also reduce anxiety via the serotonin 5-HT1A and/or GABAA receptors. These receptor pathways are being explored in hopes of novel therapeutic strategies for phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and drug abuse.”
Serotonin and dopamine receptors are both known to be important parts of anxiety and PTSD, and scientific research has been recently studying different effects of CBD on brain endocannabinoid receptors. The serotonin and GABBA receptors can be an important part in targeting CBD post-traumatic stress disorder relief.
In addition, another study from the same medical document states that CBD can also aid with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and PTSD symptoms by “enhancing the extinction and blocking the reconsolidation of persistent fear memories.” Blocking the persistent fear memories means that there is a reduction in avoidance and arousal of the disorder, which in the long term means less adverse effects caused by the stress of PTSD.
Therefore, CBD basically tones down a person’s reaction to specific post-traumatic-stress-disorder events, which has a snowball effect on long-term health and maintenance. Especially for those who have been dealing with severe stress and PTSD for 30 years or more!
This gives a new and shining light to military veterans and active duty soldiers who are deprived of a natural and healthy way to address their PTSD and anxiety symptoms without intense adverse side effects. In fact, this same study found that unlike other treatments of PTSD, CBD does not produce anxiogenic effects at higher dosage. This means less adverse side effects when taking higher doses of CBD.
What are the side effects of CBD for veterans with PTSD?
However, this brings into question, what are the possible side effects of using CBD?
For a more in-depth analysis of CBD side effects, click here. However, in short, CBD oils and other CBD products have been found to have very little side effects according to customer use and testimonials at this moment.
The user reported study of CBD found that only “one out of every three users reported a nonserious adverse effect.” The side effects can range from possible nausea, dryness of the mouth, dizziness and more. Again, nonserious side effects, but are still things to keep in mind when using CBD oils.
Nonetheless, this same study concluded that the data found provides enough evidence to warrant increased studies and tests to more deeply analyze the positive effects of CBD. Within the next few years, more scientific evidence and studies should reveal the side effects of CBD. However, so far so good.
To see our entire CBD collection for veterans, PTSD, and Anixety click here!