Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic psychiatric condition that may develop after experiencing a potentially traumatic event. The disorder manifests itself at different levels, through symptoms such as sleep disturbances; changes in cognition (e.g., repeated recall of the event), mood (e.g., depression, anxiety), and emotion (e.g., psychological instability); and reduced social skills.
PTSD is characterized by poor adaptation to a traumatic experience. At some point in their lives, approximately 10% of people will be affected by PTSD, resulting in an enormous economic and social impact. This impact is aggravated by the scarcity of psychological and, above all, pharmacological approaches to PTSD treatment current pharmacological therapies for PTSD have been shown to be inefficient and produce considerable side effects. Since the discovery of the involvement of the endocannabinoid (eCB) system in emotional memory processing, pharmacological manipulation of eCB signaling has become a therapeutic possibility for the treatment of PTSD. Cannabidiol (CBD), a phytocannabinoid constituent of Cannabis sativa without the psychoactive effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, has gained particular attention. At present, approved treatments for PTSD involve anxiolytics and antidepressants, which are inefficient and have considerable side effects.
The eCB system can provide more efficient and better-tolerated alternatives to the standard treatments for PTSD. The eCB system plays an important role in the regulation of emotional behavior and is essential for synaptic processes that determine learning and emotional responses, especially those related to potentially traumatic experiences. Among the possible alternative approaches, the use of components from Cannabis sativa such as CBD is particularly promising. Recent reviews have reported promising results of CBD treatment of several neuropsychiatric disorders, including PTSD. What began as a possibility discovered in a study of an animal model of aversive conditioning gained strength through results obtained in humans for a brief history of CBD in PTSD). Because the compound has been proved to be well tolerated by humans, both in overall safety and possible side effects, CBD is now considered a new therapeutic possibility for treating PTSD.