FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects nearly 2.5 million veterans in the U.S. Its symptoms can be massive barriers for vets returning to civilian life. One company is trying to use the benefits of CBD to combat PTSD.
Nick Dunnigan served two tours in Afghanistan.
“When I got out of the military, it was kind of a typical standard story. Went to a really dark place for a year or two. Was dealing with a lot of hyper-vigilance, depression, anxiety, constantly on guard,” he said.
The base where he worked experienced missile and mortar attacks daily. Living in that environment for so long caused Dunnigan’s stress levels to spike and he was eventually diagnosed with PTSD.
“I couldn’t often go into a room or a place where there was a crowd of people that I didn’t know because instantly I just, it triggered those symptoms and I tried to get my back up against a wall so no one could come up behind you,” said Dunnigan.
Between 11% and 20% of veterans who served in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from PTSD.
“In post-traumatic stress disorder, they can’t forget about it and these recurrent thoughts are going constantly, and they can’t get rid of those thoughts,” said Dr. Philip Blair.
Blair served as a combat physician during the first Gulf War. Today, he studies hemp and its effects on humans. Right now, he’s looking at what it can do to treat PTSD, working with Emek Blair, the founder of Cellg8.
“What we know is it attaches to certain receptors in your body and helps normalize your mood, helps normalize your body’s responses,” said Blair.
Cellg8 makes all kinds of supplements, including CBD products.
CBD is a component of marijuana, but by itself, it does not cause a high.
Blair tested the CBD products on a group of veterans who suffer from PTSD.
“There was a 67% reduction in their symptoms as they went along through the four weeks," said Blair.
CBD products are widely available these days. Blair claims something called liposomal delivery makes his products different.
“Your body likes to absorb things wrapped in fat,” said Blair.
Basically, wrapping the vitamin or CBD in a membrane of fat can help deliver it more effectively.
While these types of products are not subject to FDA approval, Blair says he and his team follow their own high standards.
"From start to finish, we test these products about five or six times throughout the process. And then on top of it, we conduct things like clinical studies to prove that they're safe and effective," said Blair.
Cellg8, through a sister company Puffin Hemp, offers special pricing on CBD products for veterans
“These products are $150 a unit and we said, 'that’s just not fair,' so we want to give it to them at very affordable or free,” said Blair.
Veterans can get a bottle of the CBD for as low as $10, vets like Dunnigan.
“I was able to start to ingest this stuff and really feel a difference in the overall just kind of calmness in life,” said Dunnigan
While the CBD is just one tool in Dunnigan’s toolbox for fighting his PTSD, he thinks it’s a really important one.
“If I’m not able to take the CBD and not get to a place to calm down and manage, then am I even going to get off the couch and out of the house today to go and paddleboard or go and go for a hike, anything like that. All these things that I love to do,” said Dunnigan.