The benefits of CBD have become widely known, understood, and hyped in recent years. Celebrities tout it. Universities excitedly announce study after study demonstrating how it can help with a variety of conditions. It is found in tinctures, creams, capsules, drinks, shampoos, skin care products and more – and has proven itself as a true health & wellness mainstay.
Similarly, veterans and their health care providers have come to recognize the effectiveness of CBD for a variety of conditions – even though the US Department of Veterans Affairs remains dubious.
What Conditions Can CBD Help Veterans With?
CBD can help Veterans with the same conditions that it can help anyone with. Among others, these may include sleep, anxiety, PTSD, pain, arthritis, and many more.
CBD Can Help Veterans Sleep
CBD is an NIH-recognized sleep aid, and evidence suggests that CBD has a calming effect on the central nervous system. Unlike the psychoactive cannabinoid THC, CBD does not cause intoxication and will not interfere with dreams. This means that it does not interfere with all the important processes that take place in the body and mind during sleep.
CBD Can Help Veterans Manage Anxiety
CBD’s efficacy as a sleep aid is strongly related to its efficacy in the treatment of anxiety. CBD has been studied as a treatment for a range of neuropsychiatric disorders, and it was concluded that CBD has “considerable potential” as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.
CBD Can Help Veterans with PTSD
CBD has been studied as a treatment for PTSD, and the results indicated it is effective, with 10/11 patients reporting an average of 28% reduction in their scores as measured by the PCL-5 (the DSM-5 PTSD checklist). Similarly CBD has been studied by VA as a treatment for PTSD in Veterans, although the results of this study do not appear to be readily available.
CBD Can Help Veterans with Pain
As a treatment for pain, CBD’s effectiveness is widely known. It has an analgesic effect on pain itself, it reduces pain related anxiety, and can even treat the inflammation that is causing pain in the first place.
In certain instances of extreme pain, CBD may be recommended along with its other more famous cannabinoid counterpart, THC. THC is the cannabinoid that produces the famous effects that are associated with cannabis. In other words, THC “gets you high” and intoxicate you. Veterans who are considering THC for pain should take this intoxication into consideration. CBD and THC are often recommended in a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio to treat pain.
CBD Can Help Veterans Manage Arthritis
Because of its use in the management of pain and because of its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD is an excellent addition to an arthritis treatment regimen. When taken into the bloodstream, CBD treats pain, the perception of pain, and the inflammation that can cause pain. When used topically it can similarly reduce pain and inflammation directly at the site.
It is for this reason that it is often recommended when using CBD to treat arthritis that one not only inhale or ingest CBD, but also apply it topically via a CBD cream.
How Can Veterans Take CBD?
There exist myriad ways to take CBD. In most cases medical CBD is inhaled or ingested. In certain appropriate cases (such as the app for mentioned arthritis) CBD may also be applied topically.
Smoking or Vaping CBD
Inhaling cannabinoids from high-CBD cannabis strains, or extracts, is the quickest and among the most potent ways of delivering CBD. While smoking is not recommended – even though CBD is beneficial, inhaling smoke is not good for anyone – vaping can be a safe and effective way to get the CBD you need.
Since not everyone can tolerate vapor, tinctures are recognized as the next best thing. CBD tinctures are taken sublingually, which means that they are administered beneath the tongue. Absorption then takes place within approximately 15 minutes. Using a CBD tincture is an excellent way to administer a controlled dose of CBD and have it work relatively quickly.
CBD capsules offer a way to control dosage precisely without the potential discomfort of vaping or the inconvenience of holding a tincture under your tongue for 15 minutes. The trade-off is that the CBD takes longer to take effect, and for the effects to be consistent it must be taken on an empty stomach each time.
Edibles and CBD Infused Products
CBD edibles and beverages represent a convenient and enjoyable means of taking CBD but may be less consistently potent and therefore make dosing more of a challenge. However, this does not represent a health risk as it is essentially impossible to overdose on CBD and doing so via consumption of edibles particularly so. You will get full long before you could ever take too much – if such a thing is even possible!
CBD cream is an effective topical treatment for certain types of pain and for inflammation including arthritis. This makes it highly effective in situations where a topical pain cream or anti-inflammatory would be administered – but less appropriate as a sleep aid or as a treatment for PTSD.
Of these methods a delivery, if getting CBD into the bloodstream is the goal then vaping or tinctures are the quickest and most precise way of taking CBD. If the situation calls for pain cream, and CBD cream is appropriate. There is no reason of course not to do both. Topical CBD works extremely alongside ingested CBD.
CBD Is an Approved Medication for North American Veterans – With Some Caveats
While both the US Department of Veterans Affairs and Veterans Affairs Canada have recognized the medical benefits of cannabis and CBD (in particular) for veterans, Canada’s stance on medical cannabis is much more comprehensive and progressive.
This is because cannabis and cannabinoid products are federally legal in Canada, whereas in the USA cannabis and cannabinoids remain federally illegal – a relic of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. This is the case even though many CBD extracts are derived not from cannabis but from industrial hemp, which contains little to no THC, which is the psychoactive cannabinoid that led to cannabis illegality in the first place.
In Canada, veterans can be prescribed cannabis products including CBD and be reimbursed for these expenses. It is that simple. Canadians can easily shop for CBD oil products online in Canada and, with a CBD prescription which can be obtained from a variety of sources including online clinics, get reimbursed along with their other medical expenses.
In the United States, obtaining medical CBD is more complicated. Veterans can use medical marijuana without becoming ineligible for benefits, but VA physicians are not permitted to prescribe cannabis or CBD, or even to help veterans obtain their state medical marijuana cards. This means that veterans who wish to explore the medical benefits of CBD must do so with their own physician.
Nonetheless, with VA researchers studying the benefits of CBD, and with top Democratic lawmakers promising to federally legalize marijuana within the next two years, it seems very likely that CBD will become recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Perhaps there may even be the potential for retroactive reimbursement.
Talk to your Dr. to see whether CBD might be right for you. Write your representatives if you would like it to be a recognized medication. And above all, be well.