CBD For Veterans: What Exactly Is CBD & Can You Get It From the VA?

Health & WellnessVeterans

Cannabidiol (CBD) is becoming more popular and more accepted within the mainstream medical community. As a result, more veterans are using the natural compound from the cannabis sativa plant to ease PTSD, anxiety and depression, as well as pain, insomnia and neurological disorders. 

Although CBD is legal in many states, there’s still a stigma associated with it because of its association with marijuana. 

Are you a veteran who is considering CBD but not sure exactly what it is, and which type is the best? This article will cover the basics, as well as the legality of CBD….

What is CBD? 

When most people hear “cannabis sativa,” pot comes to mind. Yes, marijuana does come from the cannabis sativa plant. But so too does hemp. Both pot and hemp are plants within the cannabis sativa genus. 

CBD can come from the marijuana plant. In fact, CBD is the second most prevalent compound in pot. The most common compound in marijuana is THC, the chemical that makes users feel stoned. CBD can exert an influence on the mind and body, but it doesn’t produce the “high” that THC does. Actually, CBD, like a seesaw, balances out the psychoactive nature of THC; some marijuana users prefer strains of cannabis that have some CBD so they don’t feel as high. 

But CBD can also come from industrial hemp. “Industrial hemp” means that the plant is grown as a commodity fiber. There are three main categories of hemp products, the first two of which do not contain CBD: dietary hemp seed (hemp seed oil); fibrous hemp products to make dozens of products such as textiles and biodegradable mulch; and hemp oil for therapeutic purposes, otherwise known as CBD oil. 

Can CBD Get You High? 

The short answer is no. Just like you’d have to drink a case of non-alcoholic beer to feel even the slightest buzz, you’d have to ingest an impossible amount of CBD oil to feel any effects. 

By law, industrial hemp products (CBD oils, creams, lotions, tinctures, salves) cannot contain more than 0.3% THC. This is an amount that will not make users feel high, although anecdotal evidence suggests it may help you feel more relaxed and calm. 

Is CBD Habit-Forming or Addictive? 

Veterans who have struggled with opioid addiction for pain management may be concerned about the potential for abuse with CBD. However, CBD is not addictive. (If you experience positive outcomes with it, it could very well be habit-forming.)

Is CBD Legal For Veterans? 

This answer requires more than a one word response. Most states do allow the commercial sale of CBD products, so long as the THC content does not exceed the 0.3% threshold. The passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, more commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp for the first time since the 1930s. 

With passage of the 2018 farm bill, hemp was officially removed from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Agency won’t bust you for using CBD. However, VA doctors are currently not allowed to prescribe any products with CBD, even if THC is completely absent (as is the case with so-called CBD isolate). 

The good news for veterans is you will not be denied benefits by the VA if you use CBD (or THC), according to a military benefits informational website

Will the VA Cover CBD? 

Not unless you have a rare form of epilepsy. Thus far, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one CBD drug that treats two uncommon epilepsy disorders that cause frequent seizures. 

If you want to use CBD, you’ll most likely have to pay out of pocket. But know that high-quality CBD is quite expensive. A small bottle that will last 3 to 4 weeks costs anywhere from $50 to $300. Unfortunately, your VA benefits, at least as of now, will not cover the expense of CBD as a therapeutic intervention. Thankfully, many CBD brands offer military discounts. 

What Is The Best CBD For Veterans?

Because CBD is unregulated by the FDA, like supplements, not all products are created equal. Basically, any product that you can find at the supermarket that has CBD added to it probably won’t work for anxiety, pain, sleep and other common health concerns. So skip the CBD toothpaste, hair gel, chocolate, shampoo, etc. 

Full spectrum CBD oil is considered premium. When CBD oil is extracted, it contains a few different types of CBD compounds as well as natural chemicals called terpenes. These compounds “feed” the endocannabinoid system, which has receptors throughout the body. When activated, the receptors exert a beneficial influence on several bodily functions. For example, CBD can help control inflammation and help calm an overactive mind. In addition CBD helps release serotonin, one of the so-called feel-good chemicals in the body. 

CBD isolate contains just CBD. “Broad spectrum” CBD contains the different CBD compounds plus the terpenes but no THC, while full spectrum contains all the compounds naturally found in the hemp plant, albeit with a very low concentration of THC. 

When purchasing CBD, make sure the brand has a certificate of analysis that’s conducted by a third-party lab. Each “batch” or “lot number” of CBD should be tested. 

How To Use CBD Oil?

For all health concerns that aren’t related to pain, the best way to use CBD is with a full spectrum oil taken sublingually (under the tongue). For pain management, you can mix the CBD oil with a topical cream such as Biofreeze and apply it directly to the problem area. 

Is There Proof That CBD Works?

Because federal law declared industrial hemp up until 2018, research on CBD is very limited. However, some preliminary studies show promise for treating PTSD, anxiety, and improving sleep, among other health concerns. 

How Long Does CBD Take To Work?

There’s no clear cut answer. For some users, results are felt immediately, while for others, it can take weeks to notice positive outcomes. And for some users, no beneficial effects are noticed. 

Keep in mind that CBD may take time to accumulate in your system. The endocannabinoid system can promote balance in your body. (This is called “homeostasis.”) But if you’ve been out of balance (physically, mentally or emotionally) for a long time, CBD probably won’t work like magic overnight. 

But besides the cost of it, there is no harm in trying it; it’s non-addictive and non-toxic.

However, if you take medication, check with your doctor to make sure CBD won’t cause a drug interaction. It’s best to use CBD at least a couple hours before or after taking a pharmaceutical drug.


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