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Is Cannabidiol (CBD) Helpful In Treating Women with PTSD?

Oct 12, 2017 | Health

Any extreme shock or terror can create PTSD, and its effects are felt across one’s entire life. It imprints your nervous system, creating long-term physical and mental health issues we are only just beginning to understand.

But this is far from something reserved for war vets. It is a fairly common response to intense, traumatic events that anyone can experience. And research shows that women are actually twice as likely to develop PTSD following trauma than men.

PTSD in Women

Half of women report experiencing some form of trauma in their lives, though the type of experiences that create PTSD in women are generally different than those that affect men. The two most common are rape and child abuse. Women are also more likely to be the victims of sustained abuse.

Women tend to exhibit different outward behaviors of PTSD than men. Men tend to manifest anger, hostility, and unpredictable, uncontrollable outbursts, whereas women often turn inward and become depressed, exhibit antisocial behavior, and engage in self-harm.

The behavioral differences and social perceptions of PTSD can lead to misdiagnosis or even non-diagnosis, leaving many in dire need of treatment.

PTSD and Endocannabinoids

Whatever the cause and whatever the outward expression, the inner experience is basically the same. PTSD is PTSD.

This includes regular re-experiencing the trauma in flashbacks, numbness, avoidance, social isolation, insomnia, hyperarousal, and negative thoughts. Sleep, social behavior, and memory are all modulated by the endocannabinoid system in the brain.

Beneath all these symptoms, researchers have found that patients with PTSD all have significantly lowered levels of endocannabinoids and higher densities of CB1 receptors.

According to Martin Lee, a MAPS associate, “Scientists have determined that normal CB-1 receptor signaling deactivates traumatic memories and endows it with the gift of forgetting…But skewed CB-1 signaling, due to endocannabinoid deficits (low serum levels of anandamide), results in impaired fear extinction, aversive memory consolidation, and chronic anxiety, the hallmarks of PTSD.”

Cannabis Offers a Solution

Clinicians everywhere can agree that existing pharmaceutical treatments for PTSD are largely ineffective and behavior therapies are spotty at best. So where can these people turn?

Given the ubiquity of low endocannabinoids in PTSD, regardless of sex, cannabis offers potential relief to anyone suffering the effects of trauma. It holds the potential to rebalance the persistently low levels of endocannabinoids.

An Israeli researcher, for example, found that treatment with cannabis led to a 40% decrease in PTSD scores, and another survey of patients found cannabis both more effective and preferred than pharmaceutical medications in lowering symptoms.

CBD: Like an Anti-Depressant & Without the High of THC

Many may feel hesitant about using cannabis because of its psychoactive effects. It can hamper one’s ability to function in daily life. This, however, is almost entirely mediated by THC. Cannabidiol (CBD), on the other hand, has no psychoactive effect and can raise your endocannabinoid levels by preventing them from being destroyed, much like an MAOI antidepressant.

Healing Trauma: Complementary Medicine

This is not to say cannabis or CBD is the miracle cure for trauma. It can help individuals treat symptoms, but true healing from PTSD requires deep work with a skilled therapist. CBD for PTSD can make the steps towards healing easier and less charged with uncontrollable fear, opening the possibility of complementing treatment programs.

We recommend that you consult with a medical professional knowledgable about cannabis before you treat your own PTSD, but rest in the knowledge that a safe, natural treatment for the symptoms of PTSD is available. There are researchers and therapists around the world who can help.