In  recognition of  National PTSD Awareness Day on June 27, Gofire honors those living with the condition as we look forward to the day when plant-based medicines become a mainstream approach to help alleviate its symptoms and enable people to live healthier, happier lives. The following article provides insight into what PTSD is and how healthcare professionals and others are managing it.

 

Living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not easy. Since its official recognition as an illness in 1980, researchers have struggled to find a treatment that is more effective than placebo. This has led to PTSD victims self-medicating with alternative medicines to cope with their symptoms. But as the legalization of plant-based medicine proliferates, more and more doctors are starting to acknowledge it as a legitimate treatment for PTSD. 

What is PTSD? 

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can be triggered by traumatic events. War veterans, victims of assault, or survivors of accidents are some examples of people with a high risk of developing the condition. In the United States, approximately 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime, resulting in 45 million American adults who struggle with PTSD.

This high incidence rate has given rise to research exploring the effects of plant-based medicine on people afflicted with PTSD, as well as other mental health problems. In the 33 states where it is legal, alternative medicine has become a viable recommendation for doctors to help alleviate the common symptoms of PTSD. Because of this, war veterans and other trauma victims can alleviate some of PTSD’s most distressing symptoms, including:

Pain
There’s a common misconception that the symptoms of PTSD are only psychological in nature. However, they can also manifest physically. The most common physical symptoms are persistent headaches or migraines, chronic back pain, stomach pain, and muscle soreness. Fortunately, plant-based medicines have been known to help people living with chronic or acute pain. For instance, CBD and THC products for pain management have risen in popularity as people have become wary of pharmaceuticals, which often come with a high risk of addiction. Aside from the common physical symptoms, it can be particularly beneficial for soldiers who incurred injuries in combat, for survivors of life-threatening accidents, and for victims of abuse. 

Instability
Alternative medicine will not cure PTSD, but the University of British Columbia’s Zach Walsh argues that it helps with finding stability. The clinical psychologist recommends its use for lucidity so that people with PTSD can go forward in their recovery with talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. He says: “In order to get to those types of therapy, you have to get past that critical point of suicidality and a really chaotic, agonizing life… to a stability that allows you to engage with those therapies.”

Though Walsh’s trials on the impact of plant-based medicine for PTSD are still underway, there’s evidence to support his hypothesis. Clinical research published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reveals that the treatment helped reduce the main psychological symptoms in patients with PTSD by 75 percent. These symptoms can be classified into three categories: re-experiencing, avoidance, and heightened arousal. Re-experiencing can come in the form of reliving trauma, vivid nightmares, and realistic flashbacks, which are not deliberate. Victims also tend to avoid physical and emotional triggers or stimuli that they associate with their traumatic experience. Lastly, PTSD sufferers have trouble with concentration, sleeping, and controlling their emotions due to heightened arousal. They experience feelings of mistrust, suicidal thoughts, and depression — all critical points that must be overcome first, as Walsh points out. 

Limitations of alternative medicine use in PTSD patients
Despite promising research, plant-based medicine should not be considered a cure-all. The impact of PTSD is too complex for any single treatment to manage. For instance, some people with PTSD experience impaired cognitive functions. They struggle with remembering words, facts, and specific details, especially because of their tendency to avoid triggers. Given that PTSD can occur at any age, school-aged victims may have difficulty with academics while professionals might experience a decline in productivity at work. In Maryville University’s overview of their psychology program, they explain how mental health is strongly associated with learning success and behavioral patterns in the workplace. This doesn’t help the fact that other PTSD symptoms, like anxiety and difficulty sleeping, further diminish one’s learning ability and general wellbeing.

However, plant-based medicine might not be ideal for impaired cognition. In fact, it may even lead to further cognitive decline in young people as many studies have shown that the long-term use of it stunts brain development. Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania discovered that teen users showed lower skills in memory, learning new information, problem-solving, and processing information. 

Nonetheless, alternative medicine has shown a lot of promise in areas where conventional medicine has failed to deliver. Doctors will continue to recognize it as a legitimate treatment given that it can help patients cope with the unpleasant effects of their trauma. This plant-based alternative medicine has and continues to help individuals tackle each day with less pain and a clearer head.

As healthcare professionals continue to search for solutions to address PTSD, Gofire is working with researchers and others to help identify exactly how alternative medicines work and the best ways for physicians to recommend them. Physicians need precise information— including exact dosing measurements of a specific medicine at predetermined intervals— in order to write a prescription. The Gofire inhaler combined with the Gofire App enables for the precise dosing and tracking all of this information, which will finally enable the prescription pad for alternative medicines. 

Written by Alicia Ellis

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