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Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3 percent THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the active compounds from the cannabis plant. It may help reduce and manage symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in both topical and edible forms.

A quick look at the 6 best CBD products for PTSD:

According to Frontiers in Neuroscience, PTSD is a long lasting mental health condition that people may develop after experiencing a traumatic event. Around 10% of people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.

Some people may have trouble sleeping, relive the event repeatedly, and experience depression and anxiety.

Although there are several treatments for PTSD, there is increasing evidence that CBD may help people manage symptoms.

This article will discuss the research on CBD and PTSD, the best forms and strains of CBD, risks and side effects, and other alternative treatments.

A person new to CBD products may find it helpful to become familiar with some common CBD terms. The below table introduces some of these terms and explains what they mean.

TermMeaning
CBDA compound within the C. sativa plant that does not create the high sensation individuals commonly associate with cannabis use.
THCA compound in the C. sativa plant. It is the psychoactive compound that creates the high sensation from cannabis use.
Full-spectrumA full-spectrum product will contain all of the natural compounds in the cannabis plant, including THC. However, THC levels must be no more than 0.3% to comply with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation on full-spectrum CBD products.
Broad-spectrumBroad-spectrum products contain natural compounds of the cannabis plant. However, while manufacturers remove all or most of the THC in broad-spectrum CBD, it may still be present in trace amounts.
CBD isolateThis is the purest form of CBD and should contain 0% THC.
CannabinoidsThe compounds within the cannabis plant, of which there are over 120. CBD is the second richest compound in the plant after THC.
TerpenesAnother compound of the C. sativa plant, terpenes typically give plants their specific aromas. Some terpenes, such as limonene, may have specific health benefits.
Certificate of analysis (COA)Reputable manufacturers of CBD products should ensure a COA is available for inspection. A COA provides information on the third-party testing that independent labs conduct on a particular product. Sometimes, products will have a scannable smartphone code that directs people to the COA online.

Read more about terminology and other important CBD information here.

A 2019 literature review on medical cannabis, synthetic cannabinoids, and PTSD found that CBD may be help ease symptoms. However, it concludes that scientists still need to carry out more research into its therapeutic uses, effectiveness, and safety.

Some research suggests that taking CBD immediately after a traumatic event might make it more difficult for the brain to form the memories that may later develop and cause PTSD symptoms.

A 2016 study found evidence that drugs acting on the endocannabinoid system may reduce the symptoms that a person with PTSD experiences after a memory extinction procedure. This is because the endocannabinoid system, which includes CBD receptors, can affect anxiety and memory, two factors that play a significant role in PTSD.

Aversive memory extinction is a therapy process in which a person, under the guidance of a therapist, experiences similar situations to those that led to their PTSD symptoms, without any of the traumatic stimuli.

Researchers are still unclear why CBD works as a treatment for PTSD. However, according to Frontiers in Neuroscience, it is possible that CBD may affect the amygdala and the hippocampus in the brain. The article notes that people with PTSD have a hyperactive amygdala, which may make symptoms worse. CBD may cause the hippocampus to grow and may reduce hyperactivity of the amygdala.

Multiple studies, using different forms of CBD, investigate whether CBD is an effective treatment for PTSD. Some of the studies use topical CBD, such as oils, and other studies use edible CBD, such as gummies. Some studies looking at the different forms of CBD found the following information:

  • CBD capsules: A 2019 study found that people with PTSD who took CBD capsules alongside traditional counseling saw a reduction in their symptoms.
  • CBD oil: A 2016 study found that CBD oil applied to the skin effectively treated anxiety and sleeping problems in a child with PTSD.
  • CBD with THC: A 2018 literature review suggests that a combination of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD may help treat PTSD symptoms.

However, THC does have more severe side effects than CBD. According to a 2016 article in the European Journal of Pain, older studies suggest an increased risk of developing psychosis and schizophrenia. Researchers should carry out further studies to determine whether CBD products containing THC are a safe and appropriate treatment for PTSD.

Individuals with a family history of psychosis or schizophrenia should discuss using CBD products with a doctor, particularly if they also contain THC.

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Ingredients: MNT chooses products containing safe and high-quality clearly labeled ingredients. They should also confirm they are free from pesticides, heavy metals, and mold.
  • Dosage: MNT chooses products that must clearly state the CBD dosage.
  • Serving size: MNT selects products in which manufacturers recommend a dosage.
  • Third-party labs: MNT chooses products that must undergo third-party testing for contaminants by an ISO 17025-compliant laboratory.
  • Available certificate of analysis: MNT chooses companies that demonstrate transparency and share a product’s certificate of analysis (COA) following receipt of its third-party lab results.

Several CBD products may help treat PTSD. Below we look at some of the most popular.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tested these products. All information presented is purely research-based.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for sleep: CBDistillery 30 mg Broad Spectrum CBD Sleep Gummies + Melatonin

Cost$65
Quantity30 gummies
Typebroad spectrum
Dosage30 milligrams (mg) CBD and 2 mg melatonin
Prosthird-party tested, certified by U.S. Hemp Authority, reviews state they have a good flavor
Conssome people might prefer a higher dosage of melatonin

CBDistillery Nighttime Gummies have a mixed berry flavor and contain 30 mg of broad spectrum CBD and 2 mg of melatonin, which the company claims will promote restful and natural sleep.

The company sources its CBD from Hemp Authority-certified, non-GMO, organic hemp in the United States.

The company recommends taking one gummy before sleeping, as it claims this product may best suit those who experience difficulty falling and staying alseep.

Best for pain relief: Sagely Calm & Centered Body Cream

Cost$29.99
Quantity4 fluid ounces (fl oz)
Typebroad spectrum
Dosage250 mg (around 1–2 mg per pump)
ProCBD made from organic hemp, reviewers appreciate the scent and lotion quality
Conprecise dosage unclear as depends on amount of product a person uses

Formulated by scientists and holistic naturopaths, Sagely Calm & Centered Body Cream is a lightweight cream a person can use as a calming, centering, daily moisturizer.

It is made from organic U.S.-grown hemp and soothing essential oils from lavender, bergamot, and chamomile.

It is vegan and does not contain sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrances, artificial colors, or dyes. Argan seed helps moisturize and soothe the skin.

The bottle contains 250 mg of broad spectrum CBD. Sagely recommends that users start with one pump, which contains around 1-2 mg of CBD, per application. The manufacturer states that its products are THC-free.

Sagely recommends applying the cream liberally after a shower or bath and massaging it into the skin for 30–60 seconds. This cream is suitable for use every day or as needed.

Best muscle soak: Vertly CBD Infused Bath Salts

Cost$24
Quantity9 ounces (oz), two soaks per bag
Typefull spectrum
Dosage100 mg per bag
ProCBD obtained through CO2 extraction process, may best suit people experiencing physical and emotional
Consomewhat more expensive than other CBD products

Vertly CBD Infused Bath Salts contain natural, dead sea and Epsom salts, minerals, organic botanical infusions, and cannabinoids. As well as CBD, the bath salts include lavender, lemon, arnica, and clary sage to promote full-body relaxation, and reduce inflammation. Each packet of bath salts contains 100 mg of full spectrum CBD,

Vertly recommends using one whole bag for a deep soak, or half a bag for a milder soak. People should mix the salts into the water and make sure they dissolve and soak in the bath for at least 20 minutes. The product has a lavender as clary sage scent.

Best full spectrum tincture: Liftmode Calm CBD Oil (for Sleep) with Terpenes & Melatonin

Cost$36.68
Quantity30 milliliters (ml)
Typefull spectrum
Dosage40 mg per 0.5 ml serving
Proreviewers found it effective at promoting sound sleep, uses healthy oil as a carrier
Consome users report problems with website, checking out, and occasional delivery problems

This product contains full-spectrum hemp extract oil, coconut-derived MCT oil, and 1 mg of melatonin per serving. Chamomile, lavender, and frankincense essential oils also promote relaxation.

The company recommends people take this product to reduce stress and promote a calm mind following a difficult day. For best results, it advises that people should take one serving 1 hour before going to sleep.

This oil may best suit those who would benefit from mind calming and stress reduction. The company recommends a person take half a dropper, or 0.5 ml, once or twice per day.

Liftmode products are third-party tested and it’s website shows the COA’s for each product.

Best melatonin-free: Calm by Wellness Hemp CBD Sleep Oil Tincture

Cost$99.99
Quantity30 ml
Typebroad spectrum
Dosage34 mg per 1 ml serving
Promade in the U.S. from organically-grown hemp, CO2 extraction process
Conthird-party testing not up to date, reviewers report not feeling effects for some time

Unlike some other CBD products that promote sleep, Calm by Wellness Hemp CBD Sleep Oil Tincture does not contain any melatonin, and the company state that this will help people wake up relieved, refreshed, and ready for the day ahead.

This CBD oil contains 17 mg of CBD per serving, which is 1 dropper full. Other ingredients include lavender, hops, chamomile, and lemongrass. The company recommends taking 1 full dropper an hour before bed.

The company’s website displays the COS for this product, however, it has not updated since April 2021.

Use code MNT20 for 20% off.

Best hemp flower CBD: Whole Flower USDA Organic CBD Oil

Cost$34.99
Quantity15 ml
Typefull spectrum
Dosage25 mg per serving
Proproduct comes in medium and high strengths, it uses only whole flowers from organic hemp
Conthe dropper can be difficult to use

Cornbread Whole Flower USDA Organic CBD Oil is made from “flower only” Kentucky hemp grown by USDA-certified organic farmers. The manufacturer claims that using CBD obtained solely from hemp flowers results in better quality products.

The company uses organic sugarcane ethanol to extract CBD oil, which it claims keeps its product free from a harsh, bitter aftertaste.

As a full spectrum CBD product, this CBD oil contains up to 0.3% THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenes. It does not contain preservatives or flavoring.

The COA is available to view on the company website. However, it expired in May 2021 and a newer version is not currently available.

CBDistillery 30 mg Broad Spectrum CBD Sleep Gummies + MelatoninSagely Calm & Centered Body CreamVertly CBD Infused Bath SaltsLiftmode Calm CBD Oil (for Sleep) with Terpenes & MelatoninCalm by Wellness Hemp CBD Sleep Oil TinctureCornbread Whole Flower USDA Organic CBD Oil
Typebroad spectrumbroad spectrumfull spectrumfull spectrumbroad spectrumfull spectrum
Dosage30 mg per gummy1–2 mg per pump100 ml per bag40 mg per 0.5 ml serving34 mg per 1 ml serving25 mg per 1 dropper
Other key ingredients2 mg melatoninlavender, chamomile, bergamotarnica, Epsom salts, Dead Sea salts, magnesium, sulfur, lavender, clary sage1 mg melatonin, chamomile, frankincense, and lavenderlavender, chamomile, hops, lemon grass, ho wood, jasminecannabinoids, and terpenes
COA?yes, dated 2020 yes, date available by entering product batch numberyes, dated 2021yes, dated 2019yes, dated 2021yes, dated 2021
Flavorberry-flavoredscented with lavender, chamomile, and bergamotlavender and clary sage-scentedminty, flower, with traces of lavender, chamomile, and cardamomflowery, sweet flavor with undertones of hempfloral, earthy
Best forsleeppain reliefmuscle soakfull spectrum tincturemelatonin-freehemp flower CBD
Quantity30 gummies4 fl.oz9 oz30 ml30 ml15 ml
Cost$65$29.99$24$36.68$99.99starting from $34.99

The following considerations can help a person find the best CBD for PTSD symptoms:

  • specific issues: PTSD symptoms can include difficulty sleeping, chronic pain, and anxiety. Different products may help with different symptoms so a person may choose the most appropriate.
  • delivery method: Individuals may consider whether they would prefer a cream, tincture, or edible option for their CBD. All forms have different absorption rates.
  • THC content: Some people may prefer products that do not contain THC. The legal limit is 0.3% dry weight THC, so products should never exceed this amount.
  • COA: Companies should demonstrate transparency and display their COAs online. Individuals should look for COAs when purchasing their products.

CBD has few side effects compared to other cannabinoids, such as THC. However, people may still experience some side effects and increased risks while using CBD. These include:

  • drowsiness and sleepiness
  • suicidal thoughts and behavior
  • people with a history of alcohol or drug use disorder may find THC addictive
  • allergic reactions
  • to avoid liver damage, people should proceed with caution when using CBD alongside certain medications, such as valproate

Most reported drug interactions are through affecting drug metabolism enzymes such as cytochrome P450 (CYP450). P-450 is involved in metabolizing several exogenous cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, which is supported by clinical data on THC and CBD metabolism.

More traditional methods of treating PTSD include medication and psychotherapy.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), medications include antidepressants, which can help control symptoms of depression and anxiety. Doctors may also prescribe medication to help people sleep and reduce nightmares.

Other therapies include psychotherapy, or talking treatment, which usually lasts 6–12 weeks. People who have PTSD may benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can include memory extinction (exposure) therapy.

There is also evidence that Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is also effective in the treatment of PTSD and trauma-related disorders, by acting on the dysregulation of the learning process of aversive memories.

The NIMH also state that people can try to manage symptoms at home as well. People can join support groups, take up mild physical activity to reduce stress, and set realistic goals that they can break down into easily manageable steps.

If a person has PTSD symptoms that last for one month or more, that interfere with their ability to work, or that interfere with personal relationships, they should contact a doctor to discuss treatment options. Symptoms can include:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • being on edge
  • flashbacks
  • bad dreams
  • frightening thoughts
  • trying to avoid places, objects, and other reminders of the traumatic experience
  • distorted feelings

Below are some common questions about CBD for PTSD.

When is the best time to take CBD to help with PTSD?

When a person should take CBD will depend on the reason they are taking it. According to manufacturers, someone who is taking CBD to alleviate difficulties sleeping should take CBD around an hour before going to sleep. Individuals may apply other products, such as body creams, after bathing.

What dosage of CBD is best for helping with PTSD?

Research on the optimum CBD dosage is ongoing and indications point to variations depending different factors. These factors may include a person’s physical characteristics, and the condition they would like to address. Many manufacturers suggest a basic minimum dose that a person can adjust based on their experience.

Is it safe to use CBD daily?

Early studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that daily CBD use is safe. If a person intends to use CBD, they should first discuss it with their doctor or healthcare professional.

PTSD is a long-lasting mental health condition that people may develop after experiencing a traumatic event.

While there are various traditional treatments available, such as medication and therapy, evidence suggests that CBD could also help symptom management, such as reducing fatigue and stress and promoting relaxing sleep