Through the recent legalization of cannabis in many states and research into the chemicals in cannabis, we’ve learned that cannabidiol, one of the cannabinoids found in hemp, can actually help treat some types of mental illness. CBD hemp oil therapies are being developed to help PTSD and anxiety sufferers. We’ve always known that CBD can help with anxiety, but new studies point to its action in the brain involving emotional processing, specifically fear. These studies into fear show that CBD hemp oil can help patients break the cycle of fear and lead calmer, happier lives.
Want to learn more about hemp oil treatment for PTSD and anxiety? First, let’s look at exactly what cannabidiol, or CBD, does in the brain to understand how it all works.
What does cannabidiol do in the brain?
CBD and other cannabinoids are unique in that our body actually produces a small amount of them naturally in something called the endocannabinoid system. This means that when a doctor gives a patient CBD instead of other psych drugs, they are helping to balance the body with naturally occuring chemicals instead of man-made ones. The CBD molecules actually slot into neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, balancing out the delicate balance of neurotransmitters to calm the person. CBD can even help the brain “learn” to make these neurotransmitters on its own when used as a treatment for drug withdrawal. These unique actions in the brain make CBD uniquely suited to helping individuals who have issues related to the levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, glutamate, adrenaline, and serotonin.
By the way, those nifty neurotransmitters? They’re instrumental in our responses to good things (dopamine, serotonin), but also our responses to fear (adrenaline). Some of these hormones like adrenaline are released when we’re stressed, anxious, or scared; but the levels of hormones like serotonin drop dangerously, creating a panic attack or depression. These neurotransmitters are crucial to understanding conditions like PTSD and anxiety, which are basically a fear response in the brain when no actual threat is present. Let’s look at how CBD helps balance the levels of these hormones to calm an overactive fear response and treat PTSD and anxiety.
CBD Hemp Oil Treatments for Anxiety
For years, scientists have known about the anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol, which in plain English means the anxiety-reducing effects of CBD hemp oil. During an anxiety episode, commonly known as a panic attack, CBD acts to raise levels of serotonin, a feel-good hormone, and at the same time lower levels of adrenaline, the hormone released during a fear response. This allows the person to calm themselves more easily. When the person isn’t anxious, CBD hemp oil can also help by keeping neurotransmitter levels on an even keel so that panic attacks occur less often. New studies are suggesting that cannabidiol can even help the brain process negative emotions like fear.
How does that work? Well, neuroscientists know that anxiety is related to serotonin levels, which is why they’ve developed drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), commonly known by brand names like Zoloft and Prozac. After animal studies with CBD, scientists think that cannabidiol acts in a similar way by blocking the serotonin receptors, allowing more of that feel-good hormone to float around the brain and make you happy instead of anxious. This research also suggested that CBD hemp oil may even act faster on the brain. These scientists said: “The fast onset of antidepressant action of CBD and the simultaneous anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect would solve some of the main limitations of current antidepressant therapies.”
CBD Hemp Oil Treatments for PTSD
Recently, brain scientists in the UK studied the effects of CBD hemp oil treatments on emotional processing and fear response, two of the main components of PTSD. In their research, they found that CBD “reduces anxiety via [serotonin receptors] and (indirect) cannabinoid receptor activation in paradigms assessing innate responses to threat. There is also accumulating evidence from animal studies investigating the effects of cannabidiol on fear memory processing indicating that it reduces learned fear in paradigms that are translationally relevant to phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Wow, that’s a lot of medical speak, right? What that means is that when given cannabidiol (CBD), the animal test subjects were less likely to have a major fear response at the time, and then later they were less likely to remember their learned fear trigger. Basically, the CBD helped blunt that overactive fear response using the serotonin action we reviewed earlier, so that the animals suffered less and were able to be calm even when presented with a fear trigger. This is super promising news for CBD hemp oil treatments for fear-based mental illnesses like PTSD and anxiety.
How can CBD hemp oil help PTSD and anxiety sufferers?
See, anxiety and PTSD have the same root problem: fear. An anxious person is constantly feeling a fear without a rational source. With PTSD, people are remembering a past event that traumatized them; way after the event is over, they continue to react to that old fear trigger. When a chemical like CBD can help calm the brain and heal it from the trauma of fear, then the patients can be calmer and experience fewer panic attacks. This works in several different ways.
- One, CBD allows for more serotonin to be in the brain, keeping that feel-good hormone floating around in the brain.
- Two, CBD protects the brain during a panic attack or “fear trigger” to make anxiety less severe while the panic attack is happening and also keeps the brain from forming a memory of the fear trigger.
- Three, CBD interacts with neurotransmitters to continue blunting the memory of the fear trigger, so that anxiety is reduced overall, even when there’s nothing causing a fear response.
With these kinds of actions in the brain, neuroscientists are excited to develop new CBD hemp oil treatments for these kinds of fear-based neurological disorders. With CBD oil, PTSD patients can be calmer, have fewer panic attacks, and slowly release the grip of fear on their minds. Anxiety sufferers can also avoid SSRI drug side effects by using CBD hemp oil to balance out their neurotransmitters and have a happier, calmer life.