cbd oil for ptsd research

Cbd oil for ptsd research

Listed below is a description of our ongoing research projects. Some of these are actively recruiting participants and some are not. If you are interested in participating in one of our projects that are currently recruiting participants, click on the link below the respective project which will take you to a pre-screening survey that we will use to help determine your eligibility for the project.

Please note that none of our current studies provide monetary compensation for participation.

If you are interested in more information about one of the studies listed here and would like to speak with a researcher please call: 512-967-1074

Efficacy of CBD Oil in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Summary:This treatment study examines the relative clinical efficacy of an 8-week regimen of CBD isolate (300 mg/day), broad-spectrum CBD oil (300 mg/day), or placebo oil in reducing symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. If you’d like to learn about our study requirements and determine your eligibility, please complete the screening survey below.

Status: Actively Recruiting Participants.

Storytelling Study

Summary: Do you have shame related to a life event? Help us learn about different types of stories and the factors that contribute to them by completing questionnaires and discussing past experiences with other participants.

Status: Not currently recruiting participants.

Effects of Antagonistic Actions in Response to Trauma Exposure

Summary: Are you currently experiencing flashbacks, nightmares, sleep problems, anxiety, or avoiding places or situations resulting from a traumatic event such as a serious car accident, sexual or physical assault, or combat experience? If so, you may be eligible to take part in a University of Texas study testing several online strategies for reducing PTSD symptoms.

If you qualify for the study, you may receive the following at no cost (all online): a psychological evaluation; an intervention for reducing PTSD symptoms; and a 1-month follow-up assessment.

Status: Actively recruiting participants.

Impact of Cannabidiol on Reconsolidation Disruption of Naturalistic Interoceptive Aversive Memory in Humans: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Summary: This study aims to test whether cannabidiol (CBD) can reduce fear of anxiety-related bodily sensations by disrupting fear memory reconsolidation.

Status: Actively recruiting participants

Use of CBD Oil for Reducing the Negative Emotional Impact of COVID-19

Summary: This treatment study investigates the relative clinical efficacy of 300 mg. of pure hemp-derived CBD isolate, 300 mg. of full-spectrum CBD oil, 300 mg. of broad-spectrum CBD oil, or Placebo oil among adults presenting with COVID-19 – induced anxiety, depression, or sleep disturbance. If you’d like to learn about our study requirements and determine your eligibility, please complete the screening survey below.

Preliminary Efficacy of a One-Session Mindfulness Telehealth Intervention for Loneliness

Summary: The primary aim of this study is to examine the efficacy of a one-session hour-long video platform-based mindfulness + compassion telehealth intervention on reducing feelings of loneliness during COVID-19 quarantine. If you’d like to learn about our study requirements and determine your eligibility, please complete the screening survey below.

PTSD Secondary Prevention Study with Emergency Care Patients Using an Augmented Intervention

Summary: This study will examine the use of memory reconsolidation disruption and psychoeducation for the prevention of PTSD following a traumatic event. Individuals who present to a hospital emergency room for a traumatic event will be provided with the option to enroll in this study. Several hospitals in Texas will be participating.

Status: Not currently recruiting participants.


Narrative Exposure Based Intervention for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Summary: This ongoing treatment study examines whether narrative based exposures for PTSD can be effectively conducted via the internet. Additionally, we are examining the effects of writing about a traumatic event versus speaking about a traumatic event. A secondary aim of this study is to examine how individuals with PTSD process information by examining eye movements during several tasks in the lab.

Status: Closed (not currently recruiting participants).

Singular and Combined Effects of Transcranial Infrared Laser Stimulation and Exposure Therapy on Pathological Fear: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Summary: Transcranial infrared laser stimulation (TILS) is a novel brain stimulation technology that uses infrared light to improve neuronal metabolism and cognitive function. We tested the clinical efficacy of TILS as (1). a singular treatment, and (2). combined with exposure-based psychotherapy, for reducing pathological fear.

Status: Closed (not actively recruiting).

Enhancing Exposure Therapy for PTSD

Summary: This ongoing treatment study examines whether Exposure Therapy – a widely studied cognitive-behavioral treatment for PTSD – can be made even more effective by introducing new behavioral techniques derived from research in animals and humans that have demonstrated potential for modifying fear reactions to traumatic memories.

Status: Recruitment is currently paused.

Efficacy of an attention guidance VR intervention for social anxiety disorder

Summary: This is a clinical trial examining virtual reality for fear of public speaking. We are investigating a way to augment standard virtual reality exposure therapy with attention guidance.

Status: Not currently recruiting participants.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) for Enhancing Exposure Therapy for Pathological Fear

Summary: tDCS is among several neuro-stimulation techniques currently in development for clinical applications. tDCS produces durable, yet reversible shifts in cortical excitability by passing a weak electrical current through the scalp. Therapeutic effects have been reported for several neuropsychiatric conditions. However, tDCS has not been tested as a treatment of anxiety- and fear-related disorders. In this study, we are testing whether tDCS provides any additional benefit relative to placebo tDCS for enhancing the therapeutic effects of exposure therapy for several forms of specific fears.

Status: Closed (not actively recruiting).

Effects of Safety Behaviors on Distress Tolerance: An Experimental Investigation

Summary: This is a randomized experimental trial which aims to test the effects of engaging in unnecessary safety behaviors on one’s capacity to tolerate distressing physical and emotional feelings. Currently, knowledge is lacking on how safety behaviors impact one’s capacity to tolerate physical and emotional distress. Since both distress tolerance and the use of safety behaviors may interfere with exposure therapy by influencing threat appraisal and interfering with threat disconfirmation processing, understanding safety behaviors on distress tolerance could lead to improvements in the effectiveness of anxiety disorder treatment.

Status: Closed (not actively recruiting).

Enhancing Exposure Treatments for Acrophobia (Fear of Heights)

Summary: This ongoing treatment study examines whether Exposure Therapy – the only form of effective treatment for specific phobias – can be enhanced through the use of behavioral augmentation strategies. These strategies include fading unnecessary protective actions and engaging in fear-antagonistic actions during exposure to heights. This study is a replication and extension of our prior published work, which demonstrated that use of such fear-antagonistic actions can enhance fear reduction and promote generalization of treatment gains to a new context (Wolitzky-Taylor & Telch, 2009).

Status: Closed (not actively recruiting).

Using Nasal Testosterone Spray to Enhance Treatments of Social and Specific Phobias

Summary: Preliminary evidence suggests that testosterone levels are associated with decreased anxiety levels. However, few human studies have examined the effects of administering testosterone on subsequent fear response. This study attempts to determine whether a testosterone nasal spray has the ability to reduce anxiety during a variety of challenges, including public speaking, a spider approach task, and a motion-tracking behavioral avoidance paradigm.

Status: Closed (not actively recruiting).

Spider Phobia Treatment Project

Summary: Spider phobia is a common specific phobia classified within the “animal subtype.” Exposure therapy has been shown to be the most effective treatment for specific phobias. Prior research in our laboratory suggests that having the phobic person perform opposite actions while undergoing therapy increases the success of treatment. An example of an opposite action for someone afraid of heights might be leaning over the railing of a high building with their hands held behind their back. This study will test the relative effectiveness of two types of opposite actions used for enhancing the effectiveness of exposure therapy for fear of spiders.

Status: Closed (Not actively recruiting).

Improving Computerized Treatments for Social Anxiety

Summary: Numerous studies suggest that anxious individuals show biases that cause them to view their environment as overly threatening. Computerized training known as cognitive bias modification (CBM) has shown considerable promise in its ability to alter these biases, but additional research is necessary to optimize the current treatment. This study attempts to augment CBM to obtain a more permanent method for reducing symptoms of social anxiety.

Status: Closed (Not actively recruiting).

360-Degree Video Virtual Reality Public Speaking Study

Summary: Virtual reality exposure for anxiety disorders is a rapidly emerging field. However, most use digitally generated environments. This study uses a virtually reality environment that has been generated using real footage. This study attempts to determine whether completing a public speaking task in a virtual reality environment with live footage will effectively distinguish those high or low in social anxiety.

Status: Closed (Not actively recruiting).

Attention, Learning, Memory, and Stress

Summary: Attention biases and fear conditioning have been separately evaluated in the context of PTSD. The current study uses several attention bias paradigms with eye tracking to examine the intersection of the attentional processes underpinning symptoms of PTSD and we explore how these processes change throughout fear conditioning.

Status: Closed (Not actively recruiting).

Re-consolidation Update and Compound Extinction in Enhancing Treatment for Arachnophobia and Ophidophobia

Summary: Fear retrieval and deepened extinction have been shown to boost the efficacy of fear attenuation in animal models of exposure therapy. This study provides an initial examination of whether these two strategies (alone, and in combination) enhance the efficacy of exposure therapy for fear of spiders or snakes.

Status: Closed (Not actively recruiting).

A Longitudinal Analysis of Changes in Trauma Narratives during Exposure Therapy for PTSD

Status: Closed (Not actively recruiting).

The Effects of Emotional Acceptance and Suppression upon Emotional Processing in Exposure Therapy for Claustrophobia

Summary: This completed project examined the effects of emotional acceptance and suppression of claustrophobic fear during exposure therapy. Follow-up analyses are in progress and aim to test the effects of fear expectancies, fear activation, and fear prediction error on change in appraisals of threat (e.g., entrapment and suffocation concerns) across repeated trials of exposure to a claustrophobic chamber.

Status: Closed (Not actively recruiting).

A Prospective Risk Assessment of PTSD and Other Indices of Psychological Dysfunction Among Soldiers Deployed in Iraq

Summary: The Texas Combat PTSD Risk Project is a prospective proof-of-concept risk study in which soldiers with no prior war-zone deployments underwent a full day of pre-deployment risk assessments comprised of structured diagnostic interviews, psychological questionnaires, brain imaging, genetic, hormone, cognitive, and stress-challenge measures. During their deployment to Iraq, soldiers completed monthly web-based assessments of deployment-related stressors and PTSD, anxiety, and depression symptoms. Previous r eports from this project project have revealed markers of stress-reactivity across genetic (e.g., Disner et al., 2013; Telch et al., 2015), attentional (Beevers et al., 2011a), and behavioral systems (Telch et al., 2012) that predict subsequent relations between war-zone stressors and the emergence of stress-related psychopathology in-theater. Current reports under review or in preparation extend these findings in demonstrating emotion regulation tendencies and hormone profiles that also confer risk for in-theater psychopathology in response to war-zone stressors.

Status: Project completed (Not actively recruiting).

Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Safety Behaviors on the Efficacy of Exposure Therapy

Summary: This study will provide a systematic review of the literature and meta-analytic statistics to evaluate the impact of safety behavior availability and use on the efficacy of exposure therapy.

Status: In progress.

Distress Tolerance Intervention

Summary: Distress tolerance (DT) is a potential risk factor for a variety of psychopathologies. However, no intervention studies specifically targeting the improvement of DT in non-clinical populations have been conducted. This study examines whether a novel intervention improves both behavioral and self-reported DT among non-clinical participants.

Status: Will being actively recruiting participants in September 2015

Cannabidiol and Prolonged Exposure

The trial will include a randomized control trial to evaluate the efficacy of using Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, as an adjunctive to Prolonged Exposure therapy (PE). The trial will compare PE + CBD to PE + placebo in a sample of 136 military Veterans with PTSD at the VA San Diego Medical Center. The study represents the logical and innovative next step for augmenting existing treatments and developing novel pharmacotherapy for PTSD. Findings from the proposed RCT will inform clinical practice and policy by investigating whether administration of CBD in the context of PE therapy will improve treatment outcomes for military Veterans with PTSD.

Official Title

Cannabidiol as an Adjunctive to Prolonged Exposure for the Treatment of PTSD


Prolonged exposure therapy (PE) is among the most efficacious treatments for PTSD and is designated as a VA/DoD frontline treatment. However, PE does not always lead to clinically meaningful symptom reductions in Veterans with PTSD. Successful PE treatment relies on extinction learning, which is often impaired in patients with PTSD. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating phytocannabinoid. Administration of specific phytocannabinoids, like CBD, increase extinction learning in patients with PTSD, and could increase the speed and effectiveness of PE therapy. CBD also modulates 5-HT1A, which may directly improve hyperarousal/insomnia symptoms, and improve engagement and retention in treatment. Given these findings, adjunctive administration of CBD+PE could improve response rates to PE and reduce the number of sessions of PE needed to reach clinically meaningful change. The proposed study is designed to test the efficacy of using CBD in conjunction with PE for the treatment of PTSD in US Military Veterans. A randomized, controlled, double-blind study will compare Veterans who receive PE+CBD to PE+placebo. Participants will include 136 male and female Veterans from all service eras with PTSD. The primary hypothesis is that PE+CBD will reduce PTSD symptoms to a greater degree than PE+placebo.


PTSD cannabidiol CBD Veterans Prolonged Exposure Prolonged Exposure + Cannabidiol