For a veteran, the fight against post-traumatic stress disorder can sometimes seem like a lonely one. Some isolate themselves from those who can help. Some don’t know where to turn.
However, for many of those who are seeking treatment where counseling or support groups might not be enough, or who want to avoid prescription medication, they are turning to the cannabis plant.
But not the marijuana it’s associated with.
Connecting with CBD
Air Force veteran Emily Murray said she got post-traumatic stress disorder from a few things during her time in the military.
"Stuff just happens, and you create your own luck," Murray said. "I guess in a way I got really lucky."
But eventually, things from her past came back to haunt her. People who were once her friends were no longer her friends. Her relationships faltered.
“And I felt like not even the military cared about me,” Murray said.
She tried to die by suicide and survived.
“I know that I'm the only person that can take care of myself, so it was kind of an eye-opener."
She was diagnosed with PTSD in August 2018, four months before her contract ended.
When she first heard about cannabidiol or CBD, she started looking into it. However, since she was still in the military, she thought she would get in trouble, so she avoided it.
As a waitress, she struggled to find time to use her VA benefits or VA hospital for services.
Now she works at a place that she said helped her with her PTSD: Gruene Cross.
CBD vs. THC – no stoning competition
When people see the word, “cannabis,” the first words that come to mind may be marijuana and drug charges.
While many people recognize the acronym, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, others may not know of the cannabis plant's 79 other chemical compounds and effects.
While THC and CBD have similar chemical structures, they do not have the same effects when consumed.
Both have been used to treat diagnoses like cancer or PTSD while CBD has also been making an appearance in the beauty market.
Now, CBD is no longer limited to skincare and mascara. The strain comes in various forms like edibles, oils, or creams.
In December 2018, President Donald Trump signed the U.S. Farm bill into law legalizing hemp, but with restrictions.
While the bill also removes hemp products from the Controlled Substances Act, it doesn’t mean CBD is completely legalized.
Hemp growers must be a licensed hemp grower, and the CBD must be produced and consistent with the Farm Bill, as well as follow federal and state regulations.
In June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved a drug called Epidiolex. The drug is the first to contain CBD and treats epilepsy.
In May, the Texas legislature approved House Bill 1325, legalizing hemp and hemp-derived products, as long as they do not contain more than 0.3% of THC. The bill would also allow farmers to grow their own hemp but would fine those growing plants containing more than the required limit of 0.3% THC.
The bill would require the state to do random testing in shops selling CBD items as well as require permits to sell.
HB 1325 is now waiting for Governor Greg Abbot’s signature to be made into a law. If signed, the law will go into effect on September 1, 2019.
In April, a study released found that oral CBD, in addition to psychiatric care, reduces PTSD symptoms.
Another study conducted by the New York University Langone Medical Center cited those diagnosed with PTSD have lower levels of anandamide or natural cannabinoids produced by the body.
This neurotransmitter stimulates the natural cannabinoids responsible for core functions such as mood, happiness, and anxiety, serving as an antidepressant.
When the levels are low, NYU researchers said PTSD symptoms are induced.
Monica Broiles, store manager for Gruene Cross in San Antonio, said they see a lot of military, veterans, as well as their friends and relatives coming in looking for relief.
“Those people are looking for something to get them off of all those prescriptions and Medicaid medications without them having an effect on their daily life," Broiles said. "We wanted to make sure we have that option on the more natural side on the health and wellness side to help them with the anxiety, the stress, or any sleeping issues without it affecting their life.”
Marine veteran Amy Towers said the nonprofit organization she works for, the Cpl. Chad Eric Oligschlaeger Foundation for PTSD, partners with Gruene Cross.
Towers, who lives in Schertz, is the San Antonio liaison for Cpl. Chad O nonprofit. She said that the organizations provide strictly non-medicated treatments for PTSD.
"Gruene Cross is amazing, I'll always advertise Gruene Cross," Towers said. "They go above and beyond for their veterans and help find the right form and strength of CDB for the individual. They change lives.”
Many of Gruene Cross’ staff members are veterans themselves or connected to the military in some way.
Broiles said that when someone comes in asking about their CBD products, the staff listens to what the potential client is going through. From there, they recommend products or dosages of their CBD products.
“We encourage those people to come in here and ask every single question that they have, and possibly they can ever think of so that we can be sure that we're erasing that stigma," Broiles said. "The biggest thing for us is just education, and we really want people just to come in and ask every question that comes to their mind."
New Braunfels has a Gruene Cross shop, located on 382 South I-35.