How Does CBN Help PTSD?

How Does CBN Help PTSD?

*Despite what you might read elsewhere on the internet, CBN has not been medically proven to prevent, treat, or cure PTSD. This article discusses ongoing research into the endocannabinoid system and should not be the foundation of any medical or health recommendations or diagnosis. If you have or suspect you may have PTSD, talk to your doctor.*

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Events such as a serious accident, terrorist act, rape, natural disaster, threats of sexual violence, serious injury, or death can all contribute to the condition. In the past, PTSD was called “shell shock” or “combat fatigue.” But PTSD doesn’t affect only combat veterans. Symptoms can include:

  • Intense, disturbing thoughts or feelings
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Feelings of sadness or anger
  • Detachment from people
  • Avoidance of situations that remind you of the traumatic event
  • Negative reactions to loud noise or accidental touch

A PTSD diagnosis requires a past exposure to a traumatic event and symptoms that last for more than a month. These must cause significant distress or make it difficult for the sufferer to perform activities of daily living. Not all people who live through a dangerous event develop PTSD. Some factors may increase the risk. Some experts have wondered whether one of those potential PTSD risk factors is a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system.

The Endocannabinoid System and PTSD

In the early 1940s, scientists extracted tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) from the cannabis plant. But it was another 20 years before scientists understood the structure and chemistry of these chemicals. Since then, researchers have identified over 100 cannabinoids derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. 

It wasn't until the 1990s that research scientists discovered the human body has receptors built specifically for cannabinoid substances. A receptor is a structure in a cell that binds with chemicals and signals cells to perform an action. Researchers discovered two receptor types, CB1 and CB2. These receptors are located throughout your body. 

Scientists named the system of receptors the endocannabinoid system because it appeared to react with endogenous cannabinoid-like chemicals. These are chemicals the body makes. In other words, your body produces chemicals similar in nature and structure to the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. 

CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain, and CB2 are generally found in the immune system. One study using brain imaging found links between CB1 receptors in the brain and post-traumatic stress disorder. This might help explain why some people with PTSD who use cannabis report more relief than they do from pharmaceutical drugs and other psychiatric medications.

A second study published in 2020 found that cannabis reduced the severity of symptoms by more than half during cannabis use. This evidence appears to support the theory that people with PTSD may have a deficiency in their endocannabinoid system.

Does CBN Help PTSD?

Evidence shows that the endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in stress-related psychiatric conditions like PTSD. Cannabinol (CBN) is one cannabinoid found in cannabis. When THC breaks down in the plant, CBN is produced. For this reason, older plants exposed to oxidative stress, such as heat and light, have more CBN and less THC than younger plants. CBN does not have the psychoactive effects found in THC.

There have not been many studies of CBN and its effects. But there is preliminary information about the therapeutic benefits. As more people use CBD, scientists are how other cannabinoids might have a therapeutic effect. Thus far, there is evidence to suggest that CBN may act as a:

  • Ache reliever
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Discomfort reducer
  • Calming agent

CBN has also demonstrated powerful neuroprotective properties in animal studies. In one study, researchers used CBN to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The researchers found CBN could delay the onset, suggesting it may play a role in the fight against neurodegenerative conditions.

Researchers are just beginning to explore the health benefits of CBN. Currently, there is evidence to suggest that CBD might help relieve some symptoms that are associated with PTSD. However, there is little evidence that using only CBN may offer similar results.

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