Natural Remedies for PTSD [Therapist-Approved]

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Written by:Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD

Published On: March 30, 2022

Medically reviewed by: Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, MSW

Reviewed On: March 30, 2022

Updated On: July 14, 2023


Past trauma (even childhood trauma) can still impact one’s life years after it happened. Psychologists and therapists typically use a combination of talk therapy and medication to treat the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, just because that’s the norm. doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Each PTSD patient’s PTSD recovery journey is different. Some people are leery of taking PTSD medications because of the known adverse side effects they might be associated with. That’s why more and more people today are looking for natural remedies for PTSD to help them better cope with and navigate their symptoms.

You might wonder, “How to treat PTSD naturally?” Read on as we explore 10 ways to treat PTSD without medication. While you can’t entirely heal from PTSD naturally, these tips and techniques can help decrease the frequency and severity of symptoms. Though you might not be 100% free from your PTSD symptoms, the ideas here might be able to help you.

“There are many widely effective treatments for PTSD. If you have found that your trauma symptoms are impacting your functioning, it may be time to seek therapy and find an approach that works best for your needs.”

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), BCD, C-DBT Ashley Ertel

Can PTSD Be Cured Without Medication?

Looking for ways to treat PTSD without medication? The first, perhaps most important, thing to note is that post-traumatic stress disorder isn’t a condition that can be “cured,” per se. However, with effective coping strategies, therapy, and the natural techniques we’re discussing today, you’ll be more capable of anticipating and managing your PTSD symptoms in a way that’ll allow you to take back control over your life.

10 Ways to Heal from PTSD Naturally

Recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder is a process that takes both time and work. You’ll need a good support system — it can be family, friends, or a therapist (or, ideally, all 3). Having someone to talk to can help you overcome difficult times, especially if you’re trying to heal from trauma.

Self-care is also incredibly important, whether you live with PTSD or not. There are several healthy lifestyle changes you can implement, beginning today, that will help you love yourself more, so you can begin your recovery.

Beyond these two tips, experiment with any of the following best natural remedies for PTSD. It’s likely you’ll discover a combination of several of them can help you live happily.

#1: Develop a meditation practice

Monks have practiced mindfulness meditation for thousands of years. Meditation is known to help manage emotions and maintain a calm state of being. It teaches you to pay attention to how you’re breathing and what you’re thinking.

Being more aware of yourself will help you live in a more relaxed way, eventually learning to recognize PTSD symptoms as they develop. Studies show that meditation, along with other alternative practices such as hypnotherapy, acupuncture, and visualization, can all be beneficial in treating PTSD.

“One of my favorite things to encourage my clients to do while they journey through their own healing process is to start a meditation practice. The emotional and neurological benefits of learning how to create your own calm is so therapeutic! A meditation practice can be adapted to your own specific needs, and there is no single “right” way to do it.”

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), BCD, C-DBT Ashley Ertel

#2: Engage in daily physical activity

Exercise has myriad benefits for managing stress, improving immunity, and feeling confident about yourself. Research shows that regularly exercising can bring peace, calm, and positive change when it comes to PTSD. If exercising every day is too difficult, then just commit to doing it as often as you can. Exercise is a stress buster that can naturally ease the burden of PTSD symptoms.

#3: Eat a balanced, healthy diet

The foods you eat can either reduce or increase your stress levels. Food matters when it comes to coping with PTSD symptoms. Consider adding various colors of fruits and vegetables to your daily diet. Phytonutrients (plant nutrients) have amazing health properties and can help you maintain whole-body health while significantly reducing stress.

Research establishes that diet can have a direct impact on your mood and stress-related mental health conditions (such as PTSD and depression).

#4: Drink enough water

After breath, water is life. Your body has more than three trillion cells, and every single one of them requires adequate hydration. Dehydrated cells lead to poorly performing tissues and organs. Your brain is largely responsible for controlling emotions, and it’s roughly 3/4 water. Ensuring proper hydration every day will go a long way toward helping you better manage your PTSD symptoms while also enhancing total body health.

According to studies, inadequate water consumption is linked to depression and anxiety, both of which are common PTSD symptoms.

#5: Be mindful of your caffeine intake

While caffeine is known to have certain health benefits, it can also cause anxiety and exacerbate PTSD symptoms. Be aware of your intake of coffee, tea, energy drinks, and other substances that are likely to contribute to anxiety. Less caffeine in your system can help you stay calm and composed, even if you feel the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder settling in on you.

#6: Write down your thoughts in a daily journal

This can be useful when you experience PTSD from emotional abuse. Keeping track of your thoughts in a daily journal can help you process and manage painful events that might be triggering PTSD symptoms. Writing down what you’re feeling, and then reviewing it periodically, can be a particularly effective way to increase your mindfulness and remain in control of your emotions.

According to research, the therapeutic effects of writing can reduce symptoms and distress while promoting psychological well-being. Journaling can be used as a standalone treatment, or it can be extremely effective when used in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches to treating PTSD, like therapy.

#7: Turn off the television & stop scrolling

Many TV shows, especially 24-hour news coverage, are filled with stories that can increase stress and anxiety. Consider spending less time in front of the television and on social media. You may find it more relaxing and beneficial to read a book, enjoy nature, take a long bath, or listen to your favorite music. Some research even suggests that just finding violent or disturbing news or information on social media can cause you to experience similar symptoms as PTSD.

#8: Limit your use of alcohol and drugs

People with PTSD may be inclined to use alcohol or illicit drugs to help them manage or mask their symptoms. However, these substances only numb you temporarily. If you want to get a handle on your PTSD symptoms long-term, limit your intake of drugs and alcohol.

Risk comes into play here, as studies show that more than 2 out of 10 veterans who are living with PTSD also have a substance use disorder (SUD). In fact, nearly 1 out of every 3 veterans who seek help for their SUD also have PTSD.

#9: Get restful sleep

Getting proper sleep is important for physical and mental health. If you struggle to unwind and get into sleep mode, try preparing your bedroom before bedtime. You might find that diffusing essential oils like chamomile or lavender, turning on a fan or other white noise, setting the thermostat to a cool temperature around 65 degrees, or meditating can all help guide your brain toward a full night of peaceful sleep.

#10: Connect with others

PTSD can be tricky because it can make you want to isolate yourself from others. The energy you need to muster to actively engage in social settings or friendships can feel overwhelming or downright daunting. Staying connected to others, though, can help you get the support you need to heal and move forward with your life. Even connecting with a loved one is a good start to your PTSD recovery journey.

When to Seek PTSD Treatment

Any trauma survivor would tell you that healing from PTSD naturally takes dedication and endurance. As you’ve seen here, there are many widely effective natural ways to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. If you’ve found that your trauma symptoms are impacting your functioning, it may be time to seek therapy, confirm a diagnosis using a PTSD test, and find an approach out of all the treatment options that works best for your needs.

See References

Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD

Ashley Ertel, LCSW, is a Nationally Board Certified Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has over a decade of experience specializing in trauma and depression, working primarily with first responders, military personnel, and veterans, and sexual assault survivors.

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