Cannabis therapy in Complex PTSD recovery


For the last five years, I have been using Cannabis to support my recovery.  After having severe side effects from psychiatric medication, I turned to marijuana because I simply could not find anything that could help me cope with the severe symptoms I was dealing with.  I knew nothing at that point about cannabis as therapy.  I had never heard of the endocannabinoid system.  In fact, I was ashamed and desperate about my marijuana use for quite a long time.

I learned about it a bit by accident, even though the news and science journals seemed to be covering medical marijuana more and more.  I looked into the benefits more to help with chronic pain and digestive issues from a separate health issue.  I found some eye-opening articles about studies that show that this amazing plant can have benefits for mental health and trauma recovery.  I was amazed (and happily so) to find that cannabis can help manage Complex PTSD symptoms including anxiety, hyper-arousal and depression.   Cannabis can help maintain remission, provided it is used properly and there is a deliberate approach to reducing stress and avoiding further traumatization and triggers.

Of course marijuana is not a panacea.  It does not — on its own — fix all of the issues that a person with CPTSD needs to address.  It is easy to get stuck using marijuana and not moving forward in recovery.  I did that for a while.  But, I found that my need to get my life back in order was strong enough that I finally pushed myself into really working on being better.  Knowing that about one third of people with Complex PTSD do not fully recover, I felt that was too great a risk and that I needed to look for every resource I possible could find that would improve my mental and physical health and let me live fully again.

It has been a trail-and-error process.  Finding a balance is hard.  Like others with this condition, I had recurring episodes of relapse and remission.   As I learned more about the effects of Complex PTSD on physical health, I added nutritional therapies and started to exclude certain foods, food additives and chemicals.  I slowly added necessary supplements, but only when I couldn’t find a natural food source for the micronutrients I need to be well.

I have been in remission for nearly three months now, my longest period of freedom from CPTSD symptoms since my diagnosis.  It feels great, but I have to stay with my program.  Cannabis is still a part of my routine.  It keeps my anxiety down, treats my pain and occasional insomnia and helps me maintain an appetite.  I have started to add exercise and I work more often outside home than I have before.

For anyone working on CPTSD recovery, it is important to learn how your body feels versus what is projected in your mind. Sometimes anxiety symptoms can be triggered by blood sugar imbalance and food additives.  It can take several days to clear your body of the effects of food chemicals and excessive sugar. Depression and fatigue can be caused by nutritional deficiencies. Foggy brain may be caused by an electrolyte imbalance.  Clean eating, eliminating processed foods, sugars and all sugar substitutes may be the change needed that will get you feeling strong and stable again.

Here are some great resources for those who want to read more:

The evidence behind marijuana and PTSD

PTSD and medical marijuana

Marijuana could keep PTSD in check, study suggests

The links between sugar and mental health

Diet, nutrition and your mental health

Sugar and mental illness (glutamate)

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