Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a traumatic and terrifying event. Though most commonly associated with military soldiers who have seen combat, PTSD can be triggered by anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Symptoms can include severe anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, and uncontrollable thoughts. Negative changes in thinking and mood are common, including hopelessness, lack of interest, and detachment. These symptoms can make it hard for a person with PTSD to adjust and cope with life after the event. They can vary in intensity and may get worse with time, affecting day-to-day functioning. Social relationships and work may be negatively impacted. PTSD can also increase the risk of substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. While there is no cure for post-traumatic stress disorder, there are PTSD natural therapies that can help reduce symptoms.
Causes and Risk Factors of PTSD
The cause of PTSD is usually clear: A person has seen, learned about, or actually experienced a traumatic event, which may include a serious injury, threatened death, or a sexual violation. Common causes of PTSD include combat exposure, physical assault, being threatened with a weapon, sexual abuse, childhood physical abuse, and an accident. Natural disasters, life-threatening medical diagnoses, and other extreme life events can also cause PTSD. Anyone of any age can experience PTSD. However, certain risk factors may make some people more susceptible to getting PTSD than others. These risk factors may include:
Genes: a family history of mental health risks, including anxiety and depression
A diagnosis of other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression
The amount and severity of earlier traumas someone has experienced in their lifetime
The intensity and duration of the traumatic event
The way your brain regulates stress hormones and chemicals
Being employed in a job that exposes you to traumatic experiences, such as a first responder or military personnel
A lack of a good support system
PTSD Natural Therapies
Holistic, natural therapies can complement a medical treatment plan for people with PTSD. Because the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and their severity can vary from person to person, no one approach works for everyone. While medications can improve PTSD symptoms related to mood by changing brain chemical levels, using a combination of PTSD natural therapies and other medications is often a way to improve symptoms.
Studies show medical cannabis can help manage many PTSD symptoms, including reducing nightmares, limiting negative outbursts, and reducing instances of avoidance of situations related to the traumatic event. For this reason, PTSD is a qualifying condition for medical cannabis treatment in many states. If you’re interested in this holistic treatment option, Heally can help you connect with a doctor in your state to get a medical cannabis card.
Alternative Medicine Practices
Yoga, meditation, and massage are relaxation techniques that can help reduce anxiety and stress, while improving both physical and mental wellbeing. Research shows that yoga can help improve quality of life and reduce stress in veterans suffering from combat-induced anxiety and PTSD. What’s more, massage can increase serotonin and dopamine to reduce anxiety, while reducing cortisol in PTSD patients, which can reduce feelings of vigilance and hyper-arousal. Acupuncture, Reiki, Tai chi, hypnosis, and guided imagery are other alternative medicine practices that may bring relief from PTSD symptoms.
The right herbs may be used as a PTSD natural treatment to help calm the nerves, lift spirits, and ease the pain and numbness often associated with PTSD. Rose for example is a mild sedative that’s emotionally uplifting, while kava kava, holy basil, and bacopa can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Nutrition plays a key role in the structure and proper functioning of our brains and bodies. It’s no surprise, then, that diet is considered a possible PTSD natural therapy option. Eating a diet full of nutritious whole foods can support medication and therapy while providing only positive effects on the mind and body. Because PTSD is associated with poor dietary patterns, emotional eating, and stress-related eating disorders, focusing on maintaining a healthy diet can only help to improve overall health and wellbeing. Further, diet also has the potential to influence underlying biological mechanisms in PTSD, including inflammation, brain chemistry irregularities, and oxidative stress. Certain diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, may have a positive effect on these mechanisms and help address some of the symptoms of PTSD. To follow a diet that’s potentially good for mental health, increase your consumption of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Limit your intake of processed foods, and eat balanced meals and snacks. Starting small can help you make more sustainable and lasting dietary changes. To learn more, book a telehealth appointment with Heally to talk to a holistic doctor.
Interested in using cannabis as an alternative treatment? Get your cannabis card with a licensed physician.