7 PTSD Natural Treatments: Alternative Therapies for Overcoming PTSD and Reclaiming Your Life12 June 2023
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a neurobiological disorder that involves changes in the brain’s structure and function. Many people with PTSD also experience depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse or other mental health issues.
- The primary treatments for PTSD involve therapy and medication. Often, these two treatment routes work together to help people regain control of their lives.
- Aside from therapy and medication, alternative therapies can help those with PTSD manage their symptoms. Yoga, deep-breathing exercises and vitamin supplementation are some natural treatments for PTSD that show promise.
- Medical cannabis has been shown to help with several PTSD symptoms, including hyperarousal, troubled sleep and nightmares. It may also help with comorbid conditions such as anxiety and depression.
- Home remedies for PTSD should be taken in conjunction with standard treatment. In most cases, PTSD is treated through intensive psychotherapy.
Traumatic events are devastating, and their impacts can linger even after the initial trauma has passed. Even if one is not involved in an incident, the trauma can be as intense. Most people who experience a traumatic event will not develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but those who do will likely have their lives affected for years to come.
PTSD makes it difficult for people to live on with their normal lives. People with PTSD experience intense flashbacks of the traumatic event, so much so that they may experience physical symptoms. The condition (unfortunately) affects millions of people worldwide, causing emotional distress, anxiety and a range of other debilitating symptoms.
Treatment of PTSD largely involves the combination of both medication and psychotherapy. Most people with PTSD are initially treated with psychotherapy, in which they are encouraged to talk about their trauma and express their feelings. This process relieves the emotional distress caused by the trauma and helps them come to terms with it.
However, in some cases, medication may be required as well. Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed medication for people with PTSD.
While prescription medication may be effective, others may want to augment their healing journey with PTSD treatment at home. Natural solutions may offer a natural PTSD treatment route. From medical cannabis to mindfulness techniques, we will delve into natural healing, empowering you with options to make informed decisions about your own PTSD management.
At Lyphe, we understand how difficult it can be to take the first steps to one’s recovery from a traumatic event. That’s why we’ve made our medical cannabis for PTSD services as easy as possible. Our compassionate team of medical professionals will work with you to understand your symptoms and explain how cannabis can help. Book an appointment today.
1. Medical Cannabis
As the global perspective on medical cannabis continues to evolve, researchers and healthcare professionals are increasingly exploring its therapeutic benefits. Medical cannabis, derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, contains compounds known as cannabinoids. These cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of receptors that regulate mood, stress response and other vital functions.
Recent studies have revealed that people with PTSD exhibit a dysregulated ECS. These findings have led researchers to explore the potential of medical cannabis as a natural remedy for PTSD. While research is still in its early stages, preliminary findings indicate that medical cannabis can help alleviate PTSD symptoms in various ways.
Regulating the stress response
Cannabinoids, particularly CBD, have been shown to modulate the body’s stress response by interacting with the ECS. This interaction can reduce anxiety and improve emotional regulation, which is critical for individuals with PTSD.
One 2017 study published in the Journal of Pain Management found that medical cannabis helped reduce stress, suicidal thoughts and the impacts of PTSD on social life. The study involved military and police veterans diagnosed with varying degrees of PTSD. Furthermore, the researchers concluded that medical cannabis improved all symptoms associated with PTSD that prior medications failed to alleviate.
Improving sleep quality
Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia and nightmares, are common among those with PTSD. Medical cannabis has been found to improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing the frequency and intensity of nightmares.
A 2014 study found that medical cannabis can help improve the sleep quality of individuals with high PTSD scores. The study suggests that the sleep-promoting effect of cannabis is the leading use of cannabis for those with PTSD.
Alleviating depression and anxiety
The cannabinoids in medical cannabis can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. This holistic PTSD treatment modulates the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which play a vital role in mood regulation.
A 2019 systematic review shows that cannabinoids may play a role in modulating anxiety in individuals with PTSD. The review suggests that a combination of CBD, THC and other cannabinoids may be a promising treatment option for people with PTSD experiencing anxiety.
Considerations for using medical cannabis for PTSD
While the potential benefits of medical cannabis for PTSD are promising, it’s essential to consider the following precautions and guidelines:
- Consult with a healthcare professional. Before using medical cannabis for PTSD, consult with a mental health professional experienced in medical cannabis treatment to determine if it’s an appropriate option for you.
- Source from quality clinics. Getting your medical cannabis prescription from a trusted cannabis clinic in the UK can take away some of the guesswork about which dosage will work best for you.
- Monitor your progress. Keep track of your symptoms, dosages and any side effects while using medical cannabis for PTSD. This information will help you and your healthcare provider fine-tune your treatment plan and make any necessary adjustments.
At Lyphe, we make the process of getting a medical cannabis prescription for PTSD easy. Our medical cannabis professionals can help you determine the best treatment option for your needs. We also follow up with you to monitor your progress, answer questions and discuss any changes in your holistic treatment for PTSD. If you have PTSD and want to try medical cannabis for relief, talk to us today.
Yoga has been found to help reduce symptoms of PTSD. Studies have shown that yoga can be used as an add-on treatment to reduce intrusive memories and emotional arousal and to produce calmer, steadier breathing.
Additionally, one study found that trauma-informed yoga significantly reduced the symptoms of PTSD, and the effects of it were comparable to well-researched psychological and medicinal methods. Yoga may improve the functioning of traumatised individuals by helping them tolerate physical and sensory experiences associated with a traumatic occurrence. A stabilisation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) through yoga can also help people engage with counselling and psychotherapy, allowing them to process their trauma.
Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine practice that dates back thousands of years, has received increased attention recently for its benefits in treating various mental health conditions. This ancient therapy involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body, known as meridians. By targeting these points, acupuncture stimulates energy flow and restores balance within the body’s systems.
While the exact mechanisms of acupuncture remain a topic of ongoing research, studies have shown that it can influence the body’s neurochemical processes. These include the release of endorphins and other neurotransmitters that play a role in mood regulation and stress response.
One review published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests that evidence of acupuncture as a treatment for PTSD is encouraging. The same review also suggests that the effects of acupuncture and cognitive-behavioural therapy are similar.
Sleep disturbances, including insomnia and nightmares, are common among those with PTSD. Acupuncture has been found to improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation and balancing the body’s natural sleep-wake cycles. This can result in more restful sleep and reduced sleep-related PTSD symptoms.
Hypnotherapy, also known as clinical hypnosis, works with a person’s conscious and subconscious minds to elicit emotional and behavioural changes. It has been found to be effective in treating various mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, phobias and PTSD.
Hypnotherapy can be an additive treatment for PTSD and has been found to decrease intrusive and avoidance symptoms of PTSD. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy of hypnotherapy in treating PTSD suggest that hypnosis-based treatments may work in some cases. However, the current state of PTSD treatment research still recommends individual trauma-focused psychotherapy over other avenues.
Visualisation, also known as guided imagery or mental rehearsal, is a powerful technique that helps people manage their emotional well-being. The human brain can create vivid mental images that evoke strong emotions and physiological responses similar to those experienced during real-life events.
By tapping into the mind’s ability to create vivid mental images and scenarios, visualisation allows individuals to explore new perspectives, confront their fears, and develop healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with traumatic memories and emotions.
Numerous studies have highlighted the effectiveness of visualisation. It’s been shown to help reduce stress, promote relaxation and improve various aspects of mental health. In the context of PTSD, visualisation techniques can reframe traumatic experiences, reduce anxiety and cultivate resilience.
A 2016 pilot study found that trauma-focused modified guided imagery has the potential to treat adult refugees with PTSD. After 16 one-hour sessions, the refugees who participated in the study reported better sleep quality, well-being and social function.
In an abstract presented at the 2016 American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, researchers found that guided imagery for trauma helped women survivors of military sexual trauma. The paper found that participants who received the treatment showed significant reductions in PTSD symptoms and depression over two months.
For example, visualisation can help individuals create new, more empowering mental scenarios that replace or reframe traumatic memories. It can also help people with PTSD develop healthier coping skills.
6. Thought field therapy
Thought Field Therapy (TFT) is an alternative treatment method that has gained traction in recent years as an option for individuals seeking relief from PTSD symptoms. Developed by Dr. Roger Callahan in the 1980s, TFT combines principles of acupuncture and psychology to address the negative emotions and patterns associated with traumatic experiences.
By tapping into the body’s natural energy system, TFT offers a non-invasive, drug-free approach to managing PTSD symptoms and promoting emotional healing. TFT practitioners use a series of tapping techniques on specific points of the body while the individual focuses on the traumatic memory. This process is thought to help release the energy blockages associated with the stress response and bring about a sense of emotional balance and relief.
A 2013 randomised controlled study found that TFT reduced trauma symptoms in Rwandan child genocide survivors. The positive outcome suggests that TFT may benefit those with complex PTSD.
7. Herbal treatments
Herbal treatment may help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality in individuals with PTSD. Certain herbs, such as chamomile, lavender, valerian root and passionflower, have calming effects and can be used in aromatherapy to create a sense of relaxation. Other calming herbs include melissa, lemon balm, skullcap and kava.
Additionally, Chinese herbal medicines have been found to be helpful in PTSD cases. However, it’s important to note that natural supplements for PTSD should be used with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Final takeaway – Alternative treatments for PTSD
The journey to healing from PTSD is a unique and personal experience for each individual. While traditional medications and therapies remain the cornerstone of treatment, incorporating natural remedies can offer additional support and relief from symptoms.
Various alternatives, such as medical cannabis, mindfulness techniques and other holistic therapies, offer additional avenues for managing symptoms. That said, these natural ways to heal from PTSD do not guarantee anything. The psychotherapy route remains the most effective route to take.
As you consider incorporating these holistic PTSD treatments into your self-care routine, consult with healthcare professionals to ensure an approach is tailored to your needs. Remember to take it day by day, and do not overwhelm yourself with the thought of healing from PTSD. It is a process, and it will take time.
Once you are ready to take the next step in your healing journey, Lyphe will assist you. As the most trusted medical cannabis clinic in the UK, Lyphe will help you learn more about the growing options available to you and how best to use them to heal from PTSD. Book a call with one of our experts today!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What natural remedies are good for PTSD?
Several natural remedies can help manage PTSD symptoms. Exercise, a healthy diet, medical cannabis and even herbal treatments may help you find relief from the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
What herbs are good for PTSD?
Medical cannabis, ashwagandha, kava root and green tea are some herbs that have mood-improving effects. Other herbs and spices that may help support brain function and health include ginger, turmeric and holy basil.
How do you calm down PTSD?
Some techniques that can be helpful include distraction, deep breathing, mindfulness and behavioural activation. Expressive writing and grounding techniques can also make one focus and find relief when attacks occur.
Can you naturally recover from PTSD?
Most people recover from the immediate effects of trauma several weeks after a traumatic event. For the most part, PTSD symptoms go away on their own.
What vitamins help with PTSD?
One 2020 study found that PTSD is associated with reduced levels of Vitamin D. Supplementation with vitamin D may help some symptoms of PTSD.
Beck, B. D., Messel, C., Meyer, S. L., Cordtz, T. O., Søgaard, U., Simonsen, E., & Moe, T. (2017). Feasibility of trauma-focused guided imagery and music with adult refugees diagnosed with PTSD: A pilot study. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 27(1), 67–86. https://doi.org/10.1080/08098131.2017.1286368
Bonn-Miller, M. O., Babson, K. A., & Vandrey, R. (2014). Using cannabis to help you sleep: Heightened frequency of medical cannabis use among those with PTSD. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 136, 162–165. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.12.008
Connolly, S. M., Roe-Sepowitz, D., Sakai, C., & Edwards, J. (2013). Utilizing community resources to treat PTSD: A randomized controlled study using Thought Field Therapy. African Journal of Traumatic Stress, 3(1), 24-32.
Orsolini, L., Chiappini, S., Volpe, U., De Berardis, D., Latini, R., Papanti, G., & Corkery, J. (2019). Use of medicinal cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): A systematic review. Medicina, 55(9), 525. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina55090525
Rotaru TȘ, Rusu A. A Meta-Analysis for the Efficacy of Hypnotherapy in Alleviating PTSD Symptoms. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2016;64(1):116-36. doi: 10.1080/00207144.2015
Smith P, Chan S, Blake A, et al. Medical cannabis use in military and police veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) J Pain Manage. 2017;10:397–405.
Strauss, J., Calhoun, P., Marx, C. (2009). Guided Imagery as a Therapeutic Tool in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In: LeDoux, J., Keane, T., Shiromani, P. (eds) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Humana Press. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-60327-329-9_17
Terock, J., Hannemann, A., Van der Auwera, S., Janowitz, D., Spitzer, C., Bonk, S., Völzke, H., & Grabe, H. J. (2020). Posttraumatic stress disorder is associated with reduced vitamin D levels and functional polymorphisms of the vitamin D binding-protein in a population-based sample. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 96, 109760. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pnpbp.2019.109760
van der Kolk BA, Stone L, West J, Rhodes A, Emerson D, Suvak M, Spinazzola J. Yoga as an adjunctive treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2014 Jun;75(6):e559-65. doi: 10.4088/JCP.13m08561.
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