An introduction to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurs when a person has experienced severe trauma. It affects 7-8% of the American population, where 6 in 10 men and 5 in 10 women experience some form of trauma in their lifetimes (1). PTSD is classified by the inability to inhibit inappropriate fear responses, such as explosive anger, physical violence, spontaneous crying, flashbacks, and other reactions. Some causes of PTSD are accidents, sexual assault, combat, violence, early childhood trauma, and experiencing a death close to oneself. Typically, people who experience PTSD have issues with alcohol and other substances, and trouble sleeping. The types of medications used for PTSD are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft (2). The problems with such medications are their side effects, and their potential for overdose. Side effects of these drugs include suicidal and violent thoughts, increased risk for diabetes, stroke, immune system difficulties, heart disease, birth defects, stillbirth, and brittle bones.
Recent studies have shown that antidepressant overdoses take up to 40,000 people’s lives per year (3). There is a spike in celebrity deaths linked to medications, such as Michael Jackson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Chris Cornell. It is easier than ever to obtain a prescription for antidepressants. It seems that every other commercial is advertising another prescription medication. Prescription antidepressants negatively interact with alcohol, which is problematic given the tendency for sufferers of PTSD to engage in drinking. There are almost thirty different kinds of antidepressants available today and there are five main kinds, all of which have side effects(4).
Medications Commonly Prescribed for PTSD
- SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)
- SNRIs (Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors)
- NASSAs (Noradrenaline and Specific Serotoninergic Antidepressants)
- MAOIs (Monoamine oxidase inhibitors)
So, what alternatives can one take to improve the quality of life and progress to a healthier state of being?
Full Spectrum Hemp Oil and PTSD
Full spectrum hemp oil is a known Anti-psychotic and Anxiolytic (anti-depressant), as well as a sleep aid, and could be an option for those who do not want to take a lot of prescription antidepressants. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for many aspects of regular functioning; when it comes to PTSD, it helps with mood, memory, sleep, appetite, stress recovery, and homeostatic regulation. Also, there are currently no direct cannabis related deaths. Knowing this information, it would seem the better alternative would be to take full spectrum hemp oil. Full spectrum hemp oil and cognitive behavioral or exposure therapy could be safer than risking the side effects of being on prescription medication.
Researchers have discovered that people suffering from PTSD have a deficit of normal levels of a substance called “anandamide” which is our body’s own cannabinoid compound (5) . Through fMRI scans, physical differences can be seen between a PTSD brain and a “normal” brain. If a person suffers from PTSD and anxiety when around others, it would make sense to dose in the morning after breakfast before leaving the home. This will also help with appetite regulation, since most who suffer have problems eating when depressed. If a person has issues sleeping, one could dose full spectrum hemp oil before bedtime and avoid taking hormones like melatonin. Finally, given full spectrum hemp oil’s ability to help regulate stress, taking full spectrum hemp oil when a stress spike comes can be very beneficial.
If you currently are taking prescription medication and are interested in weaning yourself off, make sure to consult your family doctor. You can also call our office to see if Palmetto Harmony oil interacts with your current prescription. You can also find Natural PTSD relief using St. John’s wort, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), SAMe, fish oil, and L-theanine (6). Diets that include natural cannabinoids such as cacao, black pepper, echinacea, tumeric and even carrots can be helpful to maintaining a healthy lifestyle (7) . Plenty of exercise and time in the sun also helps. Everyone who suffers PTSD is different, so therapeutic doses may vary. With a complex condition like PTSD, a combination of proactive behaviors is most beneficial for improving the quality of life.