Veterans are historically a group that suffers silently, with a constant lack of education and options presented to them to battle the scars of war. They are unlikely to seek help even when they are struggling with PTSD, anxiety, insomnia or depression. Even those who do seek help do not receive the level of aid and resources that they deserve. That is why it is so critical to outline the potential for CBD as both a resource and treatment for troops returning home from the horrors of combat. In 2016 Congress approved the use by veterans of medical marijuana, which helped bridge the gap to an even greater resource for their mental, physical, and emotional recovery: CBD. CBD is short for Cannabidiol, and it is one of the 60 cannabinoids of the cannabis plant. It’s application and potential across various aspects of problems veterans suffer is a source of both relief and excitement within the military community.
According to various statistics such as Veterans Health Administration (VHA) there has been a marked higher percentage of veterans who experience severe pain. Earlier, the prescription of opioids led to crippling addictions. This is one area in which CBD has already shown a clear and significant impact, both in terms of offering an alternative as well as path from opiate addiction. Extensive research about the pain alleviating properties of CBD has shown it’s efficiency in managing traumatic injury as well as Chronic neuropathic pain.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is probably the most common issue faced by many veterans. This is a particularly interesting area because CBD can boost a neurotransmitter called anandamide. This neurotransmitter promotes feelings such as happiness. CBD restricts the enzymes, which slows down degradation of anandamide and thus, it stays longer in our bodies. A 2014 study has shown that more than 75% people reported reduction in PTSD symptoms through usage of CBD along with other alternative non-pharmaceutical treatments.
Being exposed to traumatic events, veterans develop something called learned fear. CBD can help in reduction of learned fear. Anxiety levels that are associated with it can also be alleviated. This works through disruption of re-activation of traumatic memories. It also decreases the expression of fear. It can also reduce fear that is bound to certain cues of sounds such as gunshots, or loud sounds.
Anxiety in itself can also be a difficult issue for many veterans. There can be many causes for it even apart from combat such as discrimination, sleep deprivation and long periods of being apart from families. CBD has quite a special ability here to reduce and in some cases, eliminate anxiety completely.
Sleep is the most important process to rest our bodies. Insomnia runs high among veterans and prohibits proper sleep. This becomes extremely detrimental to our health. Also, sleeping pills are not the right solution due to its many side effects. CBD can improve sleep by balancing the endocannabinoid system.
Nightmares are another common issue that veterans deal with. Dreams occur when we go into REM sleep. CBD can suppress this process of REM sleep that in turn can suppress nightmares.
Veterans are women and men who have put lives at stake for the country. Thus, they should be able to access every available treatment and it is imperative that we continue educating not only our veterans and military community about the benefits that CBD can bring to their brothers in arms, but also to the public at large to both highlight the difficulties faced by our veterans as well as the unbound potential of CBD and cannabinoids as a whole in providing a safe effective option in their recovery.