My last post was about PTSD. I tend to jump around topically a bit simply because I’ll wake up in the morning sometimes with an idea in my head and think, “Oh, that would be interesting to write about.” The topic of PTSD, however, is germane to this blog because I have written so much about it not to mention I carry that diagnosis. I’ve had PTSD since childhood. In my case, it is a chronic experience in which the general PTSD experience ebbs and flows. Under high stress, it returns. When life eases up a bit, all systems slow down, and I feel much more at ease. It is practically a way of life at this point.
Life experiences have reinforced the PTSD experience as is the case for many. Childhood trauma can set it in motion. A later trauma will not only reinforce the biology behind PTSD but add additional symptoms to the overall experience. Abusive relationships or even one primary abusive relationship continue to reinforce post-traumatic stress responses that interfere with activities of daily living and quality of life and relationships. There is nothing new here in terms of a narrative. Many, many people experience this. How do we get out of it?
I have spent the last year inundated with post-traumatic responses and an equal desire to stop them. It has ruled my brain and body. Knowing why it’s there (leaving an abusive marriage) has not buffered the blows. I have still had to “ride the waves” of the extreme emotional experiences caused by PTSD.
What do we do?
Enter an adjunct therapy…
My state has recently legalized medical cannabis. No, our program is nothing like California’s or Colorado’s. Only pills and oil. There will be no recreational usage here say our legislators! At this point in the process, I don’t care about recreational usage. I care about treatment. So, let’s discuss cannabidiol (CBD). What is CBD?
“Cannabidiol—CBD—is a cannabis compound that has significant medical benefits, but does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC. The fact that CBD-rich cannabis is non-psychoactive or less psychoactive than THC-dominant strains makes it an appealing option for patients looking for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions without disconcerting feelings of lethargy or dysphoria.” (ProjectCBD)
So, it’s actually helpful then?
“CBD may have therapeutic benefits in the treatment of various conditions, including chronic pain,anxiety,nausea,rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia,diabetes,PTSD,alcoholism,strokes and cardiovascular disease,cancer,and other ailments.
CBD has been shown to suppress colon cancer tumors in mice and to kill breast cancer cells in lab studies by Dr. Sean McAllister at the California Pacific Medical Center. However, cancer specialists caution that the efficacy of CBD for cancer remains to be demonstrated in actual human studies.
CBD also has anti-inflammatory, neuro-protective, and antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are thought to fight degenerative diseases and aging. CBD has also been shown to stimulate bone fracture healing in laboratory animals.” (CANorml)
THC, the component of cannabis that causes the “high”, is therapeutic as well:
“Scientists at the Scripps Research Center in San Diego reported that THC inhibits an enzyme implicated in the formation of beta-amyloid plaque, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s-related dementia. The federal government recognizes single-molecule THC (Marinol) as an anti-nausea compound and appetite booster, deeming it a Schedule III drug, a category reserved for medicinal substances with little abuse potential.” (ProjectCBD)
I was recently certified for medicinal cannabis in my state. I sat down with a doctor who went over all my symptoms, and he recommended two blends. A THC dominant blend for pain and nausea and a THC:CBD blend for other health issues.
A happy accident occurred. While I was tracking my symptoms I noticed that my PTSD-related anxiety was decreasing. I found the most relief with the THC:CBD blend.
I’m fascinated by this and naturally want to understand it.
Enter the endogenous cannibinoid system aka endocannibinoid system (ECS). What is that? Well, it’s this:
“The endocannibinoid system is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment…
Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are also found at the intersection of the body’s various systems, allowing communication and coordination between different cell types. At the site of an injury, for example, cannabinoids can be found decreasing the release of activators and sensitizers from the injured tissue, stabilizing the nerve cell to prevent excessive firing, and calming nearby immune cells to prevent release of pro-inflammatory substances. Three different mechanisms of action on three different cell types for a single purpose: minimize the pain and damage caused by the injury.
The endocannabinoid system, with its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and all of the body’s organs, is literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding this system we begin to see a mechanism that explains how states of consciousness can promote health or disease.
In addition to regulating our internal and cellular homeostasis, cannabinoids influence a person’s relationship with the external environment. Socially, the administration of cannabinoids clearly alters human behavior, often promoting sharing, humor, and creativity. By mediating neurogenesis, neuronal plasticity, and learning, cannabinoids may directly influence a person’s open-mindedness and ability to move beyond limiting patterns of thought and behavior from past situations. Reformatting these old patterns is an essential part of health in our quickly changing environment.” (Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System)
Phytochemicals like CBD and THC, for example, are then known in the context of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) as phytocannibinoids because they are plant-based cannibinoids. Our body already produces cannibinoids. It has been postulated that homeostasis cannot be maintained when there is a lack of natural cannibinoids in the body, hence, disease processes begin and other syndromes like Fibromyalgia appear. Other brain-based disorders like anxiety, for example, of which PTSD is one appear on the scene. The brain cannot engage properly in neurogenesis and loses some of its neuroplasticity. Reintroduce cannibinoids to the body in the form of phytocannibinoids like CBD and watch the body return to homeostasis.
Months ago, I wasn’t sure what I thought about medical marijuana. To be honest, I didn’t think about cannabis at all. A close friend of mine, however, had a daughter with intractable seizures who finally found relief in the form of CBD oil. I had never heard of CBD. I was then faced with my own biases around the idea of cannabis. What did I even know about marijuana aside from having grown up watching Cheech and Chong films along with my not too recent viewing of “Pineapple Express”? Honestly, I only had second-hand knowledge at best. I knew absolutely nothing about medical cannabis. Surely, James Franco would not be the one certifying me for medical cannabis, right?
I have learned more about medical marijuana in the past year than I ever thought I would. I have also learned that it is practically impossible to recover from certain conditions if the body lacks what it is naturally supposed to have. I can do all the right things in the way of therapy (which I have done and continue to do). I can follow the right diet (which I do), and I can take even drastic steps to make my life better (which I did). But, if your body doesn’t have what it naturally requires to heal and maintain its ideal state of health, then those steps feel like walking through setting cement.
My conclusion? A 4:1 THC:CBD oil is highly therapeutic for neuralgia, nociceptive pain, migraines, and the symptoms of anxiety and perseveration that are comorbid to PTSD. This is, however, not a legal alternative for many people as medical cannabis is not available in many states. So, in the meantime, let me refer you to Dixie’s Botanicals CBD Hemp Oil Products. It’s legal. It’s CBD-based. Check them out!
If you really feel like getting your feet wet, then I recommend this book:
The world is changing, and I think that it’s changing for the better. There are options for achieving relief, recovery, and, ultimately, healing. We just need to expand our vision and take an honest look at our biases and their origins.
- Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System
- Beginner’s Guide to the Endocannabinoid System
- The Endocannabinoid System and CBD’s Role in Stress, Anxiety, and Fear Responses (this is an excellent article)