Can Cannabis Benefit PTSD?

 Photo Credit: Getty

Photo Credit: Getty

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that results from some sort of traumatic event. Those who suffer PTSD may experience hyperarousal with insomnia, isolation, flashbacks, avoidance, and anxiety. They also exhibit dissociative behaviors or arousal, and/or emotional or dysphoric symptoms. Because the endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating neurobiological pathways, it is thought that targeting its receptors may benefit those who suffer from PTSD. Additionally, activating the cannabinoid receptors in the prefrontal complex could elicit antidepressant effects. Because the cannabinoids in medical marijuana are able to activate the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannnabinoid system, it is able to provide antidepressant effects which would make the medication useful for mood disorders, suicidal behaviors, and PTSD. A report from New Mexico's Medical Cannabis Program for PTSD found patients experienced reduced frequency, severity of, and even complete cessation of suicidal behaviors.

When the body suffers endocannabinoid deficiency and impaired CB1 signaling, the body has a more difficult time managing fear extinction and forgetting negative memories, making it more prone to anxiety and triggering flashbacks. Cannabis' phytocannabinoids can replenish endocannabinoid deficiency. A Brazilian study found THC can attenuate fear memories, and that a combination of THC and CBD could relieve PTSD symptoms with very minimal side effects. Another pre-clinical study found cannabis influences the nucleus accumbens VTA circuit of the mesolimbic system, which allows it to exhibit positive neuronal and behavioral effects and prevent negative associative memories from forming. An experimental animal study exposed mice to an electric maze, and then found mice treated with CBD were less likely to experience fear and exhibited less stress when nearing this maze. 

This information has been provided by Marijuana Times and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.