PTSD Support Options

Preventing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

According to one researcher, “PTSD may be one of the most preventable of the psychiatric disorders.”1 Getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reduce symptoms and improve function. Data on human PTSD support a protective role for adequate glucocorticoid levels at time of trauma. High dose hydrocortisone immediately after trauma may alter the trajectory of PTSD.2, 3

Researchers have been exploring drug-assisted psychotherapy using 3,4,-methylenedioxmethamphetamine (MDMA) as a treatment for PTSD. Although there are dangers in its recreational use, with medical and specialised psychotherapeutic supervision, MDMA appears to help the recall (and release) of traumatic memories without the patient feeling overwhelmed by the negative affect that usually accompanies such memories.10

Complementary Care

The good news is that the brain has plasticity, meaning that it has the capability of growing new neurons to regain or create new neural pathways. PTSD is usually treatable. Ways to promote healing include therapy, regular exercise, a healthy diet, doing a form of meditation or yoga daily, and seeking out support groups and healthy relationships.

Also, targeted supplementation can promote neurogenesis which promote regeneration of new nerve brain cells, and well as helping to reduce inflammation, apoptosis (cell death), increase cognitive ability, neutralize free radicals, and promote overall brain and body health. There are nutrients and essential oils as well for helping promote a good night’s sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, promote healthy circulation, and reduce blood pressure.

Innovative Therapies

A number of innovative therapies are being explored. These include music therapy,11 mindfulness-based treatments12, and yoga.13


There is a complex relationship between diet, stress, and behavior. Some researchers feel that PTSD is a metabolic disorder in disguise.4

Stress acts through the brain to both affect eating and exercise behaviors and stress-related psychiatric disorders including PTSD which can lead to changes in metabolism and metabolic syndrome (MetS). There are links between unhealthy eating, PTSD/depression and the brain. Unhealthy eating can result in diets high in saturated fat (fatty food ingestion) that can affect mood as well as leakiness of the intestinal wall, which can lead to changes in the gut microbiome which modulate obesity, MetS and metabolism, as well as feeding back on the brain to influence mood.5

Diet is helpful for some of the symptoms of PTSD.

  • Depression. Extensive research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids, (found in fatty fish like salmon and sardines, reduces the symptoms of depression. Deficiencies of B12 and/or folate are linked to depression. Inflammatory-increasing diets are linked to depression.6
  • Anxiety. Diet quality, consumption of fiber and omega-3s, and possibly addition of probiotics for better gut health improves anxiety.7
  • Sleep. Diets high in carbohydrates, and foods containing tryptophan (an amino acid found in milk, turkey and chicken, oats, nuts and seeds, etc), melatonin, and phytonutrients (in fruits and vegetables), are linked to better sleep.8
  • Cognitive ability. See the information on diet and nutrients to improve brain health and cognition. For example, consumption of omega-e fatty acids, antioxidants (such as vitamins C and zinc), B vitamins, and magnesium can enhance neurocognitive function.9


While there is no direct PTSD research for the following supplemental nutrients, they may be helpful for specific types of support. See the prevention section for more information.

  • Neurogenesis support: Acetyl-l-carnitine, astaxanthin, curcumin, omega-e fatty acids, and phosphatidylserine.
  • Improve Cognition: Astaxanthin, ashwagandha, curcumin, ginseng, green tea, n-acetylcysteine, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphatidylserine, PQQ, and vitamin E.
  • Reduce Brain Inflammation: Apigenin, ashwagandha, astaxanthin, baicalein, CoQ10, curcumin, garlic, ginseng, green tea, omega-3, 6, 7 essential fatty acids, pycnogenol, reishi mushrooms, resveratrol, sage, SAM-e, vinpocetine, and zeaxanthin.
  • Reduce Depression: 5-HTP, baicalein, ginger, ginseng, goji berry, n-acetylcysteine, olive leaf extract, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphatidylserine, sage, SAM-e, tryptophan, and vitamin B12.
  • Support Brain Plasticity: Blueberries, DHA, fisetin, ginseng, goji berry, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and resveratrol.

Essential Oils

Essential oils may also be very helpful.

  • Improve Sleep: Lemon balm, turmeric, and ylang ylang.
  • Reduce anxiety, agitation, mild depression, and stress: Bergamot, clary sage, lavender, lemon Balm, frankincense, melissa, spearmint, spike lavender, and tea tree lemon.
  • Digestion Issues including a loss of appetite and constipation: Ginger, peppermint, and yarrow. Improve Cognitive Function: Rosemary and saffron.

Next: Prevention for Brain Health


Note: additional sources of the above information are available in our guide to brain care, Natural Brain Care, or upon request.

1. Duncan LE, Ratanatharathorn A, Aiello AE, et al. (20180. Largest GWAS of PTSD (N=20 070) yields genetic overlap with schizophrenia and sex differences in heritability. Mol Psychiatry. 2018;23(3):666-673.
2. Zohar J, Yahalom H, Kozlovsky N, Cwikel-Hamzany S, Matar MA, et al. (2011). High dose hydrocortisone immediately after trauma may alter trajectory of PTSD: interplay between clinical and animal studies. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. Nov; 21(11):796-809.
3. Schelling G, Roozendaal B, De Quervain DJ. (2004). Can posttraumatic stress disorder be prevented with glucocorticoids? Ann N Y Acad Sci. Dec; 1032():158-66.
4. Michopoulos V, Vester A, Neigh G. (2016). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Metabolic Disorder in Disguise? Exp Neurol. Oct;284(Pt B):220-229.
5. Bremner JD, Moazzami K, Wittbrodt MT, Nye JA, Lima BB, et al. (2020). Diet, Stress and Mental Health. Nutrients. Aug;12(8):2428.
6. Ibid. Bremner. (2020).
7. Taylor AM, Holscher HD. (2020). A review of dietary and microbial connections to depression, anxiety, and stress. Nutr Neurosci. Mar;23(3):237-250.
8. Binks H, Vincent GE, Gupta C, Irwin C, Khalesi S. (2020). Effects of Diet on Sleep: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. Mar 27;12(4):936.
9. Du J, Zhu M, Bao H, Li B, Dong Y. (2016). The Role of Nutrients in Protecting Mitochondrial Function and Neurotransmitter Signaling: Implications for the Treatment of Depression, PTSD, and Suicidal Behaviors. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. Nov 17;56(15):2560-2578.
10. Sessa B. (2017). MDMA and PTSD treatment: "PTSD: From novel pathophysiology to innovative therapeutics." Neurosci Lett. May 10;649:176-180.
11. Beck BD, Lund ST, Sogaard U, Simonsen E, Tellier TC, et al. (2018). Music therapy versus treatment as usual for refugees diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. May 30;19(1):301.
12. Boyd JE, Lanius RA, McKinnon MC. (2018). Mindfulness-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder: a review of the treatment literature and neurobiological evidence. J Psychiatry Neurosci. Jan;43(1):7-25.
13. van der Kolk BA, Stone L, West J, Rhodes A, et al. (2014). Yoga as an adjunctive treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. Jun;75(6):e559-65.