Is Cannabis An Effective Treatment For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Are you or someone you know struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, better known as PTSD? If so, you are not alone, as there are currently about 44.5 million people with PTSD.

This mental health condition is often related to life-threatening events. Individuals who have witnessed or experienced such events will have trouble sleeping, upsetting memories and anxiety. When these symptoms last for several points, it typically points to PTSD.

Treatment With Prescription Drugs

The most common treatment for PTSD is prescription drugs, such as antidepressants. However, some physicians will recommend a treatment that includes a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy. While some PTSD victims will find relief in these treatments, many do not.

In fact, some people have reported worsening symptoms, such as behavior and mood changes, panic attacks and aggressive, impulsive behavior. All of these are side effects of antidepressants. Other side effects of antidepressants include:

  • Halos, tunnel and blurred vision
  • Chest tightness and difficulty breathing
  • Convulsions (seizures)
  • Rigid muscles
  • Low sodium levels
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Confusion

The fear of experiencing these side effects has discouraged some PTSD sufferers from seeking medical treatment. Fortunately, there is a safer alternative known as cannabis, which has not been linked to long-term health problems.

weed for PTSD

How Safe Is Cannabis?

Some states have already taken the steps to legalize marijuana for specific medical purposes. And, one of these purposes is treating PTSD. With that said, there is still the question of its safety hanging in the air. Even though cannabis contains nearly 60 chemicals, it has not been linked to lung cancer. However, a 2013 study published in the journal Cancer Causes & Control revealed that heavy cannabis use may increase an individual’s risk for developing lung cancer. But, again there is no scientific evidence that cannabis causes lung cancer.

Cannabis is not recommended for teenagers, because it is believed that it can damage the developing brain. With that said, cannabis is the drug of choice for most teenagers. This is probably because the drug is accessible in most areas and does not have withdrawal symptoms.

THC – Psychoactive Compound In Cannabis

The psychoactive compound known as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was discovered by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, Ph.D. Mehoulam, an Israeli scientist, went on to discover the endocannabinoid system located in the brain, as well as anandamide, an endogenous neurotransmitter.

Mehoulam began his research by testing mice with traumatic brain injuries. His goal was to determine how the mice’s cannabinoid system was effected by electric shock. It was revealed that the cannabinoid system would never forget the experience.

Mehoulam’s research has led him to believe that cannabis could help patients with PTSD, by decreasing their association between past traumatic experiences and stimuli, such as stress and extremely loud noises.

PTSD

Corrects Endocannabinoid Deficiencies

Most people with PTSD suffer from severe anxiety and fear, which is related to the situations they have experienced in the past. This learned fear has been linked to PTSD and other anxiety pathologies. When someone with PTSD is exposed to something that reminds them of their painful past experiences, they will immediately experience high levels of stress and adrenaline, resulting in a fight or flight response.

Studies have shown that CB-1 receptors in the brain have the ability to transmit signals that can deactivate traumatic memories. Since PTSD suffers have a deficiency in endocannabinoid, it is believed that the cannabinoids found in cannabis can help correct that deficiency.

How Cannabis Can Help PTSD Sufferers?

Cannabis also contains a non-psychoactive compound known as Cannabidiol, better known as CBD. Many in the medical community describe CBD as “one of the most remarkable compounds of cannabis.” Its medicinal properties can provide relief for PTSD and other anxiety-related disorders, according to a 2017 study.

Some experts believe that CBD can help patients with PTSD control their learned fears better. It is also believed that CBD can interrupt memory reconsolidation and reduce fear expression.

Not only are members of the medical community and veterans with PTSD calling out for the legalization of cannabis, but also politicians are getting involved. These individuals hope to one day see cannabis accessible to everyone with PTSD and other anxiety disorders without a prescription.

Is Cannabis More Than A Coping Drug?

Reports show that some people do not believe that cannabis is more than a “coping” drug. However, this is far from the truth, because studies have shown that cannabis could be an effective treatment for PTSD and other anxiety-related disorders.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs nearly 31 percent of Vietnam veterans have been afflicted with PTSD, 10 percent of Gulf War veterans have also been diagnosed with PTSD and 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans.

While research is popping up new PTSD treatments, such as D-cycloserine. According to Dr. Barbara Rothbaum, the antibiotic D-cycloserine, affects how PTSD suffers experience fear. It does this by reducing fear, resulting in a healthier response. However, D-cycloserine has side effects that cause concern among veterans.

Some of these side effects include nightmares, depression, thoughts of suicide, confusion, convulsions, skin rashes, numbness in the feet and hands.

Fortunately, all of these side effects can be avoided when utilizing cannabis, which is why its popularity rating is increasing at an alarming rate throughout the world.

THC For PTSD

Co-founder of Veterans Cannabis Group, Lynette Shaw, speaks out about the link between PTSD, THC and CBD. Shaw has always made it her goal to help educate and support all veterans with or without PTSD. Shaw was the first individual to open a medical dispensary in California. Since she opened the dispensary, Shaw has served veterans with phantom pain, insomnia, anxiety and fear, all of which are symptoms related to their war history.

Now, when it comes to treating PTSD with THC, many medical experts believe that it is not the best option. Because of its psychoactive properties, THC is not the preferred cannabis cannabinoid. In fact, it produces psychoactive effects, while CBD counteracts them. Another reason why THC is not the preferred cannabis treatment for PTSD is because it increases the risk of schizophrenia, which is often diagnosed in veterans.

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