PTSD treatment with natural supplements, herbs, vitamins, alternative therapy
July 1 2017 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.


Coined during the Vietnam War, the term post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD is often used to describe the condition affecting soldiers returning home from war, for example, or that affecting individuals who have witnessed horrors such as the attack on the World Trade Center. Among battle-injured soldiers, the severity of their physical injuries is a significant predictor of the development of PTSD or depression several months later. Early psychiatric evaluations do not always identify those who will later develop these disorders. PTSD may be best known as a consequence of combat exposure, but people can also develop the disorder after suffering other types of trauma, such as a car crash or personal assault. Certain people may be at increased risk of developing this condition long after exposure to a traumatic event. Veterans who come home from Iraq and Afghanistan with posttraumatic stress disorder and other mental health diagnoses have a greater risk factors for heart disease.
   Currently, the standard treatment is extinction-based exposure therapy, in which a therapist guides the person to revisit the traumatic memories repeatedly, until he or she is able to experience them without fear. However, more than 40% of people still have PTSD after undergoing this treatment. Biofeedback has not been found to be of much help.
   A minority of people will develop PTSD after surviving traumatic events, such as being raped. They will continually re-experience the traumatic event in an intrusive way, while trying to avoid things that will trigger these memories or remind them of the traumatic experience.


Natural pills for PTSD treatment, alternative therapy
Unfortunately, little research has been done regarding the use of natural therapies or remedies for this condition. There are a number of natural supplements that could help reduce overall stress and perhaps make this condition more tolerable. See this anxiety article for additional information. Some of these include 5-HTP hydroxytryptophan, the serotonin precursor, theanine the amino acid, kava, an herb from the South Pacific, and passion flower, a gentle herb that helps you relax. Some people prefer an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine called ashwagandha. For those who have trouble relaxing at night and falling asleep, the occasional use of theanine amino acid together with graviola is helpful. Discuss with your doctor if any of these are appropriate for you.

Testimonial received by email
I have been on theanine, for near 8 years. It has worked great, frankly I'm amazed. I have major PTSD from 3 causes. Finally, a long term counselor who I have know for near 30 years, suggested it 8 years ago. No side effects and I take between 400 to 600 mg a day. Usually, 450 mg when I awake at night for a bathroom visit.


Medication use, Propranolol, Inderal
Email - I suffer from severe ptsd severe anxiety, borderline personality disorder and others. For years i was in a state of fog i couldn't think i couldn't function i was passing out all the time. I couldn't cope after many years and a very patient doctor they finally found a drug that has changed my life the drug is propranolol. i started taking it because my adrenal glands in were in hyper overdrive from what i suffered in my childhood. The first 2 weeks of taking this drug was horrible i was laying on the couch with horrible headaches / migraines i couldnt move but i followed through with it i was desperate. after about 2 weeks one day i woke up and i could see the sun how bright and beautiful it was i could feel the warmth it had on my skin. at that very moment i realized the medication was working. week after week i noticed that things were brighter more beautiful then i ever thought. i wasnt as scared anymore the night mares i was having for `15 years were gone. it was like someone was lifting a vale off my head one at a time. its been 9 months now and yesterday i found myself dancing with my daughter and my husband in a bowling alley for my son's 10 birthday. I now know that i an never go off this medication but that is okay. I'm working now i'm happy i cant explain it but it feels like my soul and the hole in my heart are getting fixed piece by piece. please let others know my story you can email me if you have any other questions.


CNS Drugs. 2014. Prospects for the Pharmacological Prevention of Post-Traumatic Stress in Vulnerable Individuals. Biological studies of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have found alterations of physiological stress pathways [sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis] soon after trauma in individuals who have subsequently developed PTSD, leading researchers to hypothesize that pharmacological manipulation of stress hormone levels may aid in preventing the development of post-traumatic distress. The present paper first reviews the current understanding of the neurobiology of PTSD development and then provides the rationale and evidence for early pharmacological strategies to prevent/reduce post-traumatic distress in at-risk trauma victims. Emphasis is placed on those interventions targeting the SNS and the HPA axis. Furthermore, in light of recent calls to move away from categorical diagnostic outcomes, we discuss how examining post-traumatic distress from a transdiagnostic viewpoint may inform novel chemoprophylactic approaches (intervening pharmacologically after trauma to prevent post-traumatic distress). Current evidence is suggestive for medications, such as propranolol, hydrocortisone, morphine, and oxytocin, impacting early stress hormone levels and subsequent risk for post-traumatic distress; however, future research is needed prior to adapting recommendations for widespread use of any chemoprophylactic treatments.


Pediatrics. 2015. Remission From Behavioral Dysregulation in a Child With PTSD After Receiving Procedural Ketamine. Ketamine, an N-methyl-D-aspartate-type glutamate receptor antagonist, has long been used for anesthesia and has recently been investigated for its rapid antidepressant effects in adults with treatment-resistant depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We report a case of a child with PTSD and episodes of severe aggression and emotional dysregulation that were refractory to multiple medical and behavioral interventions. This child demonstrated sustained (8-13 days) remission from these symptoms when exposed to ketamine in the context of 2 procedures.


Symptom of PTSD

Symptoms include re-experiencing, by which sufferers relive the trauma they experienced through flashbacks or nightmares; avoidance, whereby affected individuals stay away from certain people, places, activities, or other reminders of the trauma; and arousal, as affected individuals are constantly on the alert for any signs of danger, have trouble sleeping or concentrating, and are easily startled. Some doctors are exploring the potential for MDMA as a treatment for this condition.


Brain health, mental function
J Clin Psychiatry. November 2013. Posttraumatic stress disorder and cognitive function: findings from the mind your heart study. In this cohort of veterans under age 65 years without known neurologic disease, patients with versus without PTSD had significantly poorer performance in several domains of cognitive function, particularly in tests involving processing speed, executive function, and learning. These cognitive deficits were largely explained by modifiable risk factors. Interventions targeted at these risk factors might minimize the impact of PTSD on cognitive decline and dementia risk as patients age.


Diabetes, high blood sugar
Women with post-traumatic stress disorder seem more likely than others to develop type 2 diabetes, with severe PTSD almost doubling the risk.


PTSD and heart disease

Post-traumatic stress disorder is associated with increased levels of two coagulation (clotting) factors and may thereby promote atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Several studies have demonstrated the increased cardiovascular risk associated with PTSD, even years after the trauma. Suggested mediators of this relationship include unhealthy lifestyle, chronic low-grade inflammation, and blood clotting activation, but until now no one had investigated any link between PTSD and a "hypercoagulable" state. Symptoms could lead to a hypercoagulable state, which could be of particular clinical importance in terms of an elevated cardiovascular risk and overall mortality several years down the line. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, online June 2013.

PTSD and suicide
Young adults who develop posttraumatic stress disorder after traumatic events are at increased risk of attempting suicide later on. People who experience a traumatic event but do not develop PTSD are not at increased risk of attempting suicide. Archives of General Psychiatry, March 2009.


PTSD and military service
Women soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress, such as those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, are best off directly confronting their wartime experiences in therapy. Women are more prone to PTSD than men and the incidence is particularly high among women who have served in the military. The disorder is triggered by traumatic experiences such as occur during combat, a natural disaster or a rape.


Not just due to war

PTSD is not limited to troops on the battlefield; it can also affect patients with heart disease as well as those with other medical conditions. Individuals can also experience symptoms after being diagnosed with cancer or some other serious illness, after undergoing some type of major surgery, or after experiencing heart trouble.

Guanfacine and PTSD
Guanfacine, a medication commonly prescribed to alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, is no more effective than a placebo, according to a study led by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. "There was no benefit at all, and there were several adverse side effects," says lead author Thomas Neylan, MD, medical director of the PTSD treatment program at SFVAMC. "People with symptoms of PTSD should probably stay away from this drug and others of its type." The study appears in the December 1, 2006 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. Guanfacine belongs to a class of medications known as alpha-2 agonists, which lower the brain's supply of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit electrical signals between nerve cells. They are responsible for many aspects of behavior. Guanfacine and clonidine, another alpha-2 agonist, are commonly prescribed for PTSD symptoms. "There are at least 20 peer-reviewed articles published in the field of PTSD that recommend drugs which lower norepinephrine," Neylan says. "However, ours was the first randomized, controlled study of alpha-2 agonists for symptoms of PTSD."


Pain threshold
Military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD show reduced sensitivity to pain, and altered pain processing may be responsible.


Would Mind Power Rx product be suitable for a patient recovering from post traumatic stress PTSD? My symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, sleep problems, depression, irritability and difficulty concentrating.
   We have not tested this product for this condition, hence we don't know.