The Veterans that protect our country, support our freedom, help those in crisis and risk their lives on a daily basis. Unfortunately when they come back from their assignments or engagements, they come back with multiple healthcare concerns- both physical and mental.
31% of returning military servicemen develop a mental illness after service. Some of the injuries include depression, traumatic brain injuries, PTSD etc. These can cause issues in there lives and relationships during the reintegration process into civilian life.
The majority of prescriptions provided by healthcare providers for there various injuries include opioids. As a result veterans all over the world have become addicted to opioids used for pain, depression, and mental health issues like PTSD. Relying on medication given to them can be expensive, addictive and have more side effects than expected.
Some veterans lives become impacted by the addiction from the prescribed medication. Last year, the CDC reported that 66,000 Americans died in the opioid crisis. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the nation’s largest dispenser of opioids, 22 veterans commit suicide each day. VA’s over-reliance on opioids has a heavy hand in generating these unfortunate statistics.
In an effort to lower opioid intake, some veterans are turning to hemp products, like CBD oil, to treat chronic pain and PTSD. And amazingly, they are experiencing relief without being high.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in the hemp plant that does not make a person “high,” as THC does (another cannabis compound). CBD gives relief from:
- Chronic pain
- Substance abuse side effects
How is it used?
CBD can be introduced into the body in form of food, drink, a vaporizer, or in the form of CBD oil.
How does CBD work? The science behind it.
We humans have an endocannabinoid system. It is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body. This system is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory.
One study suggests that people with PTSD have endocannabinoid deficiency. This means that their bodies stop producing enough endocannabinoids to fill CB1 receptor sites in the body. This deficiency can trigger symptoms such as anxiety. CBD attaches itself to CB1 receptors, and thus allow a healthy mental state.
What is the issue with veterans using CBD?
One word answer- Confusion!
CBD is sourced from Industrial Hemp. Industrial Hemp is a federally legal agricultural product that is grown in compliance with the 2014 Congressional farm bill. Industrial Hemp is not marijuana, but it is a type of cannabis that must contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive and provides the user with no associated high.
However, last month, the VA issued a statement that it will not study the positive medical effects of medicinal marijuana. Their justification was that marijuana is illegal under federal law.
But this does not apply to CBD derived from hemp. The problem is that very few people understand the nuanced difference between medical marijuana and CBD that is derived from industrial hemp, which is federally legal in all 50 states. The VA has confused industrial hemp, which is legal, with Medical marijuana, which is not.
What is the solution?
Despite being aware of the experiences of the veterans who have witnessed relief in pain after using CBD, many doctors are reluctant to prescribe them. This is because hemp products are marketed as unregulated supplements.
Veterans need access to CBD because the traditional treatments do not give them a high quality of life. CBD oil can improve veterans lives and should be available everywhere.
On points what can be and should be done for our veterans:-
- Study CBD. It’s composition, usage, effects on physical and mental health. Developing it as an alternative to opioids, and thus, saving our veterans from the medical trauma they suffer- pain, addiction and high price.
Last month, VA cannabis Research Bill has been introduced for the same purpose.
- Understand that CBD is not marijuana, and is safe even at high doses.
If we really want to honor our veterans, we should start by listening to their needs.