Orth: To treat PTSD, CBD oil can replace prescription drugs

Savannah Orth

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder that occurs in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Many veterans, after returning from combat, have PTSD.

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There were about 2.7 million American veterans in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Out of those 2.7 million, 5 to 20 percent of veterans who did not seek treatment had PTSD, and 50 percent of those who sought out treatment had PTSD. Another startling statistic is that on average, 22 veterans commit suicide every single day.

To combat these high levels of depression, suicide, and PTSD, veterans are prescribed prescription drugs. Two of the most commonly prescribed are Sertraline (Zoloft) and Paroxetine(Paxil) which are the only two FDA-approved drugs used to treat PTSD. While commonly prescribed, these prescription drugs actually cause many other symptoms.

Sertraline, one of the two most commonly prescribed drugs for PTSD, is an antidepressant; a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Sertraline has side effects ranging from the common – dizziness, nausea, and decreased sex drive – to the extreme – fevers, hallucinations, seizures, and breathing that stops.

Recently, there has been a push to replace pharmaceuticals with harmful side effects, such as Sertraline, with cannabis. The cannabis plant includes at least 113 different cannabinoids. The two most common cannabinoids are CBD and THC. Studies have shown CBD to have much fewer side effects than prescription alternatives, with a 2017 study showing only tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite and weight. THC’s side effects are similarly minor, with only dry eyes, dry mouth, and increased appetite.

With such a drastic difference between the side effects from prescription drugs versus cannabis, it is clear why more people are working towards replacing over the counter pills with cannabis.

Unfortunately, many veterans taking these antidepressants are also being prescribed opioids to help with their physical pain. This combination is extremely harmful. The FDA reported that using these drugs in combination with each other depressed the central nervous system and has caused comas and even death.

The biggest side effect of taking prescription painkillers, which is often not mentioned by the pharmaceutical companies, is the risk of accidentally overdosing. 25 veterans die every single day from an accidental opioid overdose. In comparison, there has not been a single death, by a veteran or civilian, due to overdosing on cannabis. Not a single death.

Luckily, there are people in the cannabis industry who are aware of this difference in both side effects, and mortality rates, and are doing something about it.

While there are multiple people, companies, and organizations working towards providing all of society with the benefits of a natural medicine, one organization in particular has been heavily involved with the veteran community specifically.

The organization, veterans for Cannabis, avidly works to replace opioids with cannabis. They have done so by teaming up with Medicinal Genomics and Potent LTD in order for veterans to gain access to genetically certified DNA sequenced cannabis strains. veterans for Cannabis have created this program with 3 phases:

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Phase one is providing a legal option for all 50 states, which means providing a product with little to no THC. To this end, they provide a CBD oil paired with a clear dosing schedule and bottles that are easily measured and accurately dosed.

veterans using this product are able to track their progress, which the veterans for Cannabis database can then record and turn over to the government in the hopes of implementing a legislative change that allows veterans all over the country to have access to medical cannabis.

Phases two and three involve getting the properly sequenced DNA and certified cannabis strains into both recreational and medical dispensaries across the country. This product allows veterans to know they are getting the exact same medicine every time they purchase this specific strain.

One of the criticisms of using cannabis as medicine is the inability to know and have a consistent dosage every time. By having a certified product and specific instructions, veterans for Cannabis is ensuring that just like a prescription drug, the cannabis oil will always be a precise and dependable dosage for safe and natural relief from PTSD.

The combination of SSRIs and opioids is dangerous, and the side effects can be extreme. By replacing this treatment regimen with CBD products, a veteran can have one safe, natural product that alleviates both the physical and mental pain from PTSD. 

If you are a veteran or know someone who is, please look into the benefits of cannabis as opposed to opioids and SSRIs. 22 deaths due to suicide, and 25 due to accidental drug overdose every single day is both staggering and unacceptable.

Medicinal cannabis is helping and will continue to help save veterans’ lives.

Savannah Orth can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @SavannahOrth