PTSD is a condition that can make daily life difficult. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs notes that nearly 2 out of 10 PTSD sufferers use marijuana. But is marijuana safe for PTSD patients? Many people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) usually consider cannabis to reduce symptoms such as paranoia and severe anxiety.
Medical cannabis is a qualifying condition for PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in many US states. There’s also growing research into the effectiveness of cannabis on PTSD sufferers.
The research into cannabis for PTSD is still in its early stages. Many PTSD sufferers acknowledge that cannabis helps to relieve some symptoms such as anxiety and sleep disturbances. Since cannabis interacts with body receptors that regulate memory, recent research studies focus on how medical cannabis could help the brain “overwrite” traumatic memories.
How cannabis works on PTSD
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) controls several bodily functions such as sleep, pain, and appetite. The human body generates its cannabinoids, which regulate and activate different body functions.
Endocannabinoids result from the human body and transmitters to cannabinoid receptors. Since the ECS plays regulates both stress response and memory building — two major factors in PTSD — this is sufficient proof that marijuana could help people with the condition. Additionally, researchers have discovered that the nonfunctioning of the endocannabinoid system after a stress-inducing event may be due to patients developing anxiety disorders and PTSD.
Consuming cannabis can boost the functioning of the ECS. Marijuana can also effectively help users get a good night’s sleep, which is useful for PTSD patients.
Medical studies on cannabis and PTSD
Since cannabis is illegal at the federal level, research is prohibited to some extent. However, there is a growing body of work that suggests how medical marijuana is useful for PTSD sufferers.
A 2015 meta-review showed how many military veterans with PTSD use cannabis or derivative products to control PTSD symptoms. Most of the patients who used cannabis for PTSD reported benefits such as reduced anxiety and insomnia and improved coping ability.
According to a 2017 article, the areas of the brain that deal with stress-induced behavioral consequences are regulated by endocannabinoids which makes them potential therapeutic targets for cannabinoid drugs.
According to a 2016 article, “the outcome of the current clinical and preclinical data shows that cannabinoid agents may be therapeutically beneficial for PTSD.”
According to a 2014 study performed in New Mexico, it was discovered that cannabis could reduce PTSD symptoms in some patients. The study found a high reduction in CAPS (Clinician Administered Posttraumatic Scale) symptom scores in patients who used cannabis for treatment.
Another 2014 study found that those using cannabis experienced significant improvements in general symptom severity, sleep quality, rate of nightmares, and PTSD hyperarousal symptoms.
Keep in mind that cannabis may also trigger anxiety and paranoia in some users. However, this can be prevented by reducing the dosage of cannabis or micro-dosing.
PTSD is amongst the qualifying condition for medical marijuana in many states. This would significantly reduce the rate of PTSD in many individuals including veterans. If you consider using cannabis for PTSD consult a licensed doctor to get a recommendation.