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CBD for PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder): A look at Recent Research


What is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a fairly common condition and especially common in military veteran groups. Although it was classified as an anxiety disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV), it is now classified as a trauma and stress-related disorder in the new DSM-5. PTSD is usually associated with a traumatic event where a person was either part of the event or witnessed the event. Either way, the effects of the traumatic event stay with the individual causing distress and a range of symptoms, including Sleep disturbances; changes in normal cognitive function (e.g., repeated recall of the event), alterations or fluctuations in normal mood (e.g., depression, anxiety), hypervigilance (e.g., always being on guard), overwhelming guilt or shame, difficulty sleeping; and feeling detached from family and friends, to list a few of the symptoms. With this laundry list of debilitating symptoms, the question of whether it is helpful to use CBD for PTSD is starting to be investigated by medical science.

CBD for PTSD? A Look at the Research

A recent 2020 study published by researchers working in The University of Pennsylvania, The University of California San Diego, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and The University of Colorado seems to indicate that patients who use cannabis for their PTSD are around 2.5 times more likely to see a reduction in their symptoms than patients with PTSD who do not. Their findings call for more conclusive research into this area, but this, and preceding studies, are starting to provide strong indicators that cannabinoids might provide a helpful form of anxiety reduction treatment for individuals who have PTSD.

In the most recent study, two groups of 75 PTSD patients each were observed over 12 months. The first group used cannabis for assistance with the symptoms of PTSD, while the second group did not. All 150 participants were selected based on their meeting the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for PTSD. The research results confirmed that subjects that used cannabis for PTSD saw a reduction in the severity of their symptoms. Although the control group (PTSD patients who did not use cannabis) also saw a reduction of their symptoms over time, the subjects who used cannabis enjoyed a rapid reduction of their symptoms and demonstrated lower symptom severity than the control group. Obviously, more conclusive research is needed to confirm these results. Still, this large study of 150 patients seems to point in a positive direction for those seeking relief by using cannabis for their PTSD.  

The most exciting result to emerge from the study was that those who used cannabis were more 2.57 times more likely than their counterparts in the control group to no longer have the symptoms of PTSD at the end of the year-long study. Although more research will be needed, the suggestion which emerges from this is that cannabis may facilitate some healing role in PTSD, rather than simply toning down the adverse symptoms.

Other studies have also indicated the usefulness of cannabidiol as a treatment for PTSD, and this body of positive research seems to be growing steadily. For example, a 2016 case study observed that a victim of childhood sexual abuse saw symptom relief by using CBD oil for their PTSD. Of interest was that the subject had not enjoyed much success with traditional anxiety medications and that the CBD and counseling had ultimately proved most effective in this case. Thus, the researchers concluded that CBD might well be an effective treatment for patients with PTSD. Finally, a 2019 study of 11 subjects concluded that CBD could be an effective treatment in reducing the symptoms of anxiety (e.g., sleep disturbance), typically associated with a diagnosis of PTSD.

As the research deepens and science explores this subject more comprehensively, we are starting to see more and more research studies publishing confirmation of the efficacy of CBD for PTSD treatment, alongside more traditional methods of PTSD management like counseling and psychotherapy. The symptom reduction and limitation of the effects of trauma when CBD is used for PTSD treatment seem to be pointing to conclusions that some veterans and trauma survivors have stumbled upon on their own–CBD for PTSD can be an effective treatment. With this said, it is still not clear whether CBD or THC is the dominant cannabinoid in the success of these treatments. This is potentially one benefit of Soulsome’s full spectrum raw hemp flower CBD oil which brings the full efficacy of the entourage effect to bear on anxiety and stress, utilizing the symphony of cannabinoids working together within the human endocannabinoid system to provide relief and clarity to those struggling with hard-to-manage conditions like PTSD.


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