Over the past decade, medical research has done plenty to establish the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other forms of natural medicine.
This combined with the extensive documentation of harmful side effects from synthetic drugs (e.g. Prozac, Xanax) has shifted public interest away from conventional forms of mental health medication and onto natural alternatives like cannabidiol, or CBD.
What are examples of side effects of synthetic drugs?
Conventional antidepressants, anxiolytics, and painkillers have accrued a degree of notoriety over the last thirty years for their range of serious side effects. Benzodiazepines, for instance, are a class of tranquilizers whose side effects include loss of coordination, diminished focus, and muscle weakness. Common names for benzodiazepines include Valium and Xanax.
Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) commonly sold under the brand
names Sarafem and Prozac. The emergence of long-term studies has revealed that
common side effects of fluoxetine range from insomnia to tremors, extreme nausea, and
even sexual dysfunction.
Natural medicines like CBD have significantly changed mental health therapy for combat
veterans and others who need it most. In this post, we go over how CBD works, as well as three examples of how it’s changing mental health therapy, preventative self-care, and health supplementation.
How Does CBD Work?
Cannabinoids like cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and CBD affect change on a
neurophysiological level based on their interactions with a network of receptors known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is so-called because it was discovered in the course of research into the possible health benefits of medical marijuana.
In CBD’s case, the key receptors within the ECS are the cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) and type 2
(CB2). Because these receptors are located within the nervous system, immune system, and
peripheral organs, they can significantly influence the brain’s chemical response to signaling
molecules like hormones and neurotransmitters.
By exerting a modulatory effect on key receptors within the ECS, CBD can reduce the
symptoms of a variety of common chronic conditions in veterans, including chronic pain,
depression and anxiety.
Treating PTSD & its Symptoms Using CBD
Because there is a strong yearning within the veteran community for alternatives to the
commonly prescribed SSRIs and opiates that are commonly prescribed by the VA, many
veterans have taken to self-medication or health supplementation using CBD to alleviate
common symptoms of PTSD. These include anything from hypervigilance or irritability to chronic restlessness, insomnia, and even recurring night terrors.
The Viability of CBD for Improving Behavioral Dysfunction
Although the large majority of the veteran community is comprised of high functioning, educated individuals seeking alternatives to what they view as less than optimal answers from the VA for their mental and physical concerns, there are a significant number of veterans who suffer from debilitating behavioral dysfunction rooted in acquired anxiety disorders. This varies between individuals, but most commonly manifests as one or multiple specific or social phobias.
According to researchers, these phobias typically come about in veterans with behavioral
dysfunction as part of their extreme aversion to reminders of specific events. This can make
readjustment to civilian life particularly difficult for individuals suffering from these conditions, which can range from a fear of being alone (autophobia) to fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia) or even a fear of crowds (enochlophobia).
While there is no established form of treatment for behavioral dysfunction, CBD can help to
reduce the severity of symptoms (e.g. shaking, hyperventilation, etc) associated with anxiety
disorder, which is identified as a root cause of all three categories of phobias.
Using CBD for Relief from Psychosomatic Disorders
Advances in battlefield medicine over recent decades have made it possible for a much higher proportion of traumatically wounded service members to survive injuries they could not have in previous conflicts. However, the psychological impact of such injuries remains difficult to measure, diagnose or treat because of key differences between individual cases.
For veterans who’ve survived traumatic amputations, a common psychosomatic disorder is a
condition known as phantom pain, which is characterized by perceived pain originating from a body part or limb that is no longer there. This can be particularly disruptive for veterans already struggling with readjustment into society as handicapped persons.
While the cause of phantom pain is debatable and the pain itself is imagined, the physiological processes that manifest the pain response are identical to those involved in non-psychosomatic disorders. Many veterans report significant relief from phantom pain by using CBD products designed as localized analgesics, such as infused lotions and balms.