Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD for short, is a mental disorder in a person who undergoes a severe traumatic experience which may or may not involve physical harm. Events that occur in war, vehicular accidents, injuries, domestic violence, rape, the death of a loved one and so on can all potentially cause PTSD in an individual. The disorder can cause chronic and inexplicable fear, feelings of helplessness, anxiety, insomnia, nervousness, uncontrollable anger, and even crippling guilt. The disorder makes it difficult for those who suffer from PTSD from living a normal life and can persist for months, years, and even the lifespan of some individuals.
While there are numerous psychological therapies out there, along with various medications available to those diagnosed with PTSD, there is no known effective cure, and oftentimes the particulars of PTSD as a mental disorder is so specific to the individual that it can be difficult to diagnose and properly treat.
Using Cannabis to Treat PTSD
Cannabis is a complex medicinal plant that may actually be used to treat a variety of debilitating symptoms caused by a surprisingly large number of ailments. Its usefulness as a non-lethal medicine (you cannot die from an overdose of cannabis) cannot be overstated and its versatility in terms of how it can be consumed and as to how it can be useful for so many illnesses is something to be excited about. However, it is important to remember that consulting with your primary care physician should be your first priority when considering incorporating cannabis into one’s medical regiment and that cannabis is to be used as an adjunct therapy and not a replacement. It is also your responsibility to communicate with your doctor as to how your use of cannabis has affected your health and of your progress with utilizing medical cannabis.
With that said, much of the current research surrounding cannabis as a potential treatment for PTSD has been focused on the usefulness of Cannabidiol (CBD) - recent lab tests with animal models, individual case studies, and even statewide surveys in New Mexico showcase that this specific cannabinoid is vastly helpful to those utilizing it as a treatment for fear, traumatic memories, anxiety, and even helping with troubled and restless sleep.
Overall, many exciting studies have shown that Cannabis may be quite useful for treating individuals suffering from PTSD for the following reasons: relieving anxiety; enhancing one’s mood to combat depression; helping to manage possible nausea associated with “episodes”; preventing possible psychosis; and significantly aiding with sleep.
STATES THAT HAVE APPROVED MEDICAL CANNABIS FOR PTSD
Currently, 24 states have approved medical cannabis specifically for the treatment of PTSD. These states include: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.
A number of other states will consider allowing medical cannabis to be used for the treatment of other conditions, including PTSD, with the recommendation by a physician. These states include: California (any debilitating illness where the medical use of cannabis has been recommended by a physician), and Massachusetts (other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician).
In Washington D.C., any condition can be approved for medical cannabis as long as a DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.
RECENT STUDIES ON CANNABIS’ EFFECT ON PTSD
PTSD patients saw a 75% reduction in PTSD symptoms, as measured by the Clinical Administered Post traumatic Scale, when they were using cannabis compared to when they were not.
PTSD symptom reports of patients evaluated for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program.
Evidence from human studies indicates that CBD found in cannabis has considerable potential as a treatment for anxiety disorders.
Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.
A review of published evidence finds that cannabinoids help PTSD patients manage the condition’s three major symptoms (re-experiencing, avoidance and numbing, hyperarousal) and helps improve sleep in those PTSD patients suffering from insomnia and nightmares.
Use and effects of cannabinoids in military veterans with post traumatic stress disorder.
Beneficial Cannabinoids and Terpenoids for Treating PTSD
The cannabis plant offers a plethora of therapeutic benefits and contains cannabinoids and terpenoid compounds that are useful for a variety of ailments. Once again, many of the current studies surrounding cannabinoids and PTSD are focused on CBD, but do remember that the other possible compounds in cannabis do possess other beneficial properties. The following list denotes which cannabinoids and terpenoids work synergistically with each other for possible therapeutic benefit in treating the symptoms of PTSD.
Americans For Safe Access Condition-based Booklets
These booklets summarize the history of medical cannabis and the recent research used to treat a variety of conditions, including Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Pain, Arthritis, Gastro-Intestinal Disorders, Movement Disorders, HIV/AIDS, and conditions related to Aging. (About Americans For Safe Access)
A Patient's Guide to Medical Cannabis
This guide for patients who use medical marijuana (cannabis) covers everything you need to know. Created by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a non-profit advocacy organization, this publication will help individuals who are using or considering cannabis treatments to better educate themselves, their families and their physicians. ASA has been developing information resources about medical marijuana (cannabis) for patients, their families, doctors, and elected officials for over a decade.
Veterans of military service have a disproportionately high rate of certain debilitating medical conditions as compared to the general population. Some of those conditions may result from injury or exposures to toxins, but not all.
Article: "How to Qualify for Medical Cannabis in New Mexico"
Understanding medical cannabis.Elemental Wellness Center, 2014 Jul.
PTSD symptom reports of patients evaluated for the New Mexico medical cannabis program.Greer, George, et al.
Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 2014 Mar 14, 46(1): 73-77.
Targeting the endocannabinoid system to treat haunting traumatic memories.Akirav, Irit
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 2013 Sep, 7: 124-132.
Elevated brain cannabinoid CB1 receptor availability in post-traumatic stress disorder: a positron emission tomography study.Neumeister, Alexander, et al.
Molecular Psychiatry, 2013 Sep, 18(9): 1034-1040.
Cannabidiol enhances consolidation of explicit fear extinction in humans.Das, Ravi K, et al.<
Psychopharmacology, 2013 Apr, 226(4): 781-792.
The endocannabinoid system as a possible target to treat both the cognitive and emotional features of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).Trezza, Viviana, et al.
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 2013 Aug 9, (online article).
The endocannabinoid system provides an avenue for evidence-based treatment development for PTSD.Neumeister, Alexander
Depression and Anxiety, 2013 Feb, 30(2): 93-96.
Medical marijuana for the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder: an evidence review.Campos-Outcalt, et al.
The University of Arizona: Mel And Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, 2012, (online article).
Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders.Campos, Alline Cristina, et al.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 2012 Dec 5, 367(1607): 3364-3378.
On disruption of fear memory by reconsolidation blockade: evidence from cannabidiol treatment.Stern, Cristina A J, et al.
Neuropsychopharmacology, 2012 Aug, 37(9): 2132-2142.
Mitigation of post-traumatic stress symptoms by cannabis resin: a review of the clinical and neurobiological evidence.Passie, Torsten, et al.
Drug Testing and Analysis, 2012 June 26, 4(7-8): 649-659.
Cannabinoids prevent the development of behavioral and endocrine alterations in a rat model of intense stress.Ganon-Elazar, Eti, et al.
Neuropsychopharmacology, 2011 Sep 14, 37: 456-466.
Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report.Crippa, Jose Alexandre, et al.
Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2011 Jan, 25(1): 121-130.
The effects of intra-hippocampal cannabinoid implants on memory, plus-maze anxiety and contextual fear conditioning - implications for post traumatic stress disorderSoproni, Krisztina
FENS, 2006, 3.
Enhancing cannabinoid neurotransmission augments the extinction of conditioned fear.JP, Chhatwal, et al.
Neuropsychopharmacology, 2004 Dec 22, 30: 516-524.