Does Hemp Benefits Those Who Have PTSD?

Does Hemp Benefits Those Who Have PTSD?

Hemp carries a wide variety of uses, from building materials and biofuel to food and even health supplements. As its many uses gain traction, some experts argue that hemp may be one of the most resourceful materials known to man!

As a health supplement, hemp benefits people both physically and mentally. In fact, mounting research points to hemp as a potent health tool for the treatment of PTSD. Join us as we explore the fascinating relationship between PTSD and hemp!


What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. ​Traumatic events may be shocking, frightening, or scary in nature, leaving you with feelings of intense fear or helplessness. If these feelings persist for more than a month, you may be suffering from PTSD.

What are the symptoms?

PTSD symptoms can be divided into four categories: intrusion, avoidance, alterations in mood or cognition, and alterations in arousal or reactivity.

  • Intrusion: this refers to intrusive thoughts, including involuntary memories, disturbing dreams or nightmares, and flashbacks. Flashbacks can be extremely vivid, making people feel that they are reliving their traumatic experiences.
  • Avoidance: many try to avoid things that remind them of their traumatic experience, including people, places, objects, activities, and situations that may trigger distressing memories. They may also avoid talking about their traumatic experiences.
  • Alterations in mood and cognition: this includes haziness surrounding traumatic memories or even the inability to recall specific details regarding the event. Many people also have negative thoughts or feelings about themselves or others, persistent feelings of fear, horror, shame, guilt, or anger, and disinterest in activities or hobbies they enjoyed prior to the traumatic event. Feeling detached from others or being unable to express or experience positive emotions are also common.
  • Alterations in arousal or reactivity: this includes irritability, angry outbursts, recklessness or other self-destructive behaviors, being overly suspicious of one’s surroundings, being easily starting, and having difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

Symptom severity varies and can intensify based on how recently you experienced the traumatizing event and your exposure to stress triggers.

How is PTSD treated?

Treating PTSD can be a complex process, often involving a combination of therapies and medications. Common therapeutic approaches include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Prolonged exposure therapy
  • Eye desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

In addition to therapy, many patients treat their PTSD with psychiatric drugs like:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (e.g., Prozac, Zoloft)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., Elavil, Doxepin)
  • Mood stabilizers (e.g., Lamictal, Depakote)
  • Atypical antipsychotics (e.g., Abilify, Seroquel)

Although some people respond positively to pharmaceuticals, these drugs often come with unwelcome side effects that only further impede your ability to function and ultimately recover.


What is hemp?

When traditional treatments fail to provide sufficient relief, many patients turn to natural alternatives to aid in the healing process. One such remedy is hemp.

Hemp is a type of Cannabis sativa plant that is federally legal across the United States. To be considered legal, hemp must contain no more than 0.3% THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, by weight.

Although THC produces the “high” you might feel when consuming marijuana, the miniscule amount found in hemp and hemp-derived products is not potent enough to produce any discernable psychoactive effects.


How can hemp help treat PTSD?

Hemp interacts with the human body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is connected to all other bodily systems.

The ECS is made up of two main types of endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are located primarily in the brain and nervous system, and CB2 receptors can be found throughout the entire body.

Consuming hemp or hemp-derived cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol) triggers the endocannabinoid receptors in your body to regulate various functions like blood pressure and metabolism. When using hemp to treat mental health conditions like PTSD, the substance interacts with the brain and nervous system to relieve certain symptoms and help the body regulate itself.

CBD may mitigate flashbacks and nightmares

Flashbacks and nightmares are two hallmark symptoms of PTSD that can be debilitating and extremely disruptive to patients. These symptoms can also be very difficult to treat due to their intrusive nature.

This 2012 case study found that, when combined with THC to induce an entourage effect of benefits, CBD reduced the intensity of flashbacks in a patient suffering from severe PTSD. Additionally, this 2018 review discusses CBD’s ability to lessen trauma responses like flashbacks before the acquisition and retrieval of adverse memories, reducing the severity of PTSD symptoms overall.

A more recent 2020 study looked into PTSD and sleep specifically, finding that a combination of cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, drastically reduced the intensity and frequency of nightmares. Interestingly, researchers here noted that the benefits of cannabinoid use did not wane over time, unlike the effects of certain other pharmaceutical drugs.

This additional 2019 study concluded similarly: CBD alone significantly reduced nightmare symptoms in PTSD patients with no negative side effects.

CBD and CBN may improve sleep cycles

Nightmares aren’t the only sleep-related symptom PTSD sufferers endure: reduced quality and quantity of sleep also plague patients. Fortunately, hemp-derived cannabinoids are known to be fantastic sleep aids!

This 2019 study concluded that daily doses of CBD significantly increase sleep scores while decreasing anxiety scores in patients with diagnosed sleep and anxiety disorders. A more recent 2023 study additionally found that CBD substantially improves both sleep disturbances and overall sleep quality.

Similar to CBD, CBN is a cannabinoid touted for its ability to help you get a good night’s rest. In fact, this study found that isolated CBN consumption improves overall sleep quality while reducing nighttime awakenings and other sleep disturbances.

CBD can reduce chronic stress and anxiety

Anecdotal reports have long implicated CBD as a powerful anti-anxiety tool, and emerging research only confirms these claims. Because PTSD is often considered an anxiety disorder, CBD may be an effective treatment option for the condition.

According to this 2020 review, researchers observed a positive impact on patients suffering from PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and social anxiety disorder (SAD) when administered daily doses of CBD. The review concluded that CBD interacted with limbic and paralimbic brain activity to significantly decrease feelings of anxiety.

Another 2020 review noted that, alongside decreased stress and anxiety, CBD also reduced cardiovascular and other physiological responses to stress.

In addition, this 2019 study found that CBD decreased clinical and subjective anxiety scores within a month of consistent treatment. A study from that same year concluded similarly: large doses of CBD reduced anxiety in users placed in high anxiety-provoking situations.


Roughly 5.2 million Americans suffer from PTSD, and many neglect to receive sufficient care for the disorder. If you’re struggling with PTSD, you aren’t alone, and treatment is available. Whether you prefer traditional treatments or opt for natural solutions like hemp or hemp-derived cannabinoids, we hope you get the help you deserve.

time Jun 20, 2024

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