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Research Reveals How Cannabis Can Treat PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition associated with witnessing or surviving a traumatic event. PTSD impacts approximately 8 million Americans every year. Alarmingly, PTSD symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people face agitation, sleep difficulty, and memory flashbacks, while others experience nightmares, impaired concentration, and more. The chances of developing dependence and habits of substance abuse are fairly high in PTSD patients. However, it has been shown that patients that treat their symptoms by consuming cannabis attained from legal sources tend to show a major reduction in their symptoms when compared to those who do not consume any type of cannabis.

Why Is Cannabis Becoming A Treatment For PTSD?

Unfortunately, many people with PTSD seem to struggle to find relief despite undergoing conventional psychological treatments and using antipsychotic and antidepressant medications. Consequently, many of them are now seeking out better alternatives, such as medical marijuana to cope with their anxiety – even if it is still considered somewhat “unconventional” by some.

A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders states that “cannabis plays a significant role in curtailing  the symptoms of PTSD patients by reducing the severity of  traumatic thoughts up to 62%, irritation up to 67%, memory flashbacks up to 51%, and anxiety up to 57%. However, the outcomes may exist temporarily and don’t possess a long-term impact.”

There is evidence, however, that undermines the statement that medical marijuana may not have any long-term impacts that help with PTSD, as mentioned in the above quote. The University of Colorado, John Hopkins University, and Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine conducted a thorough research study together, where they onboarded around 150 participants struggling with PTSD and divided them into two different groups. One group contained patients consuming state-licensed cannabis, (specifically, THC dominant flower), and the second group contained patients that did not treat symptoms with cannabis consumption. The researchers studied both these groups every three months for an entire year and their research concluded that, “Patients consuming cannabis showcased a two times better rate of improvement in their PTSD symptoms in comparison to those who were not consuming the plant”. 

How Does Cannabis Help People With PTSD?

Although the evidence seems limited, patients with PTSD tend to have higher hopes associated with medical marijuana at large. PTSD patients believe that cannabis consumption helps them fight insomnia, flashbacks, agitation, nightmares, self-destructive emotions, hypervigilance, and detachment better than conventional medications and treatments. In some cases, these conditions have even led to suicidal thoughts among patients. However, those using cannabis have continuously reported progress towards betterment and lessening of the frequency of symptoms.

Cannabis Consumption May Have Access to the Amygdala 

A study undertaken recently states: “Cannabinoids may have a constructive role in treating PTSD. Because they have access to the different parts of the human brain, including the amygdala, cannabinoids are likely to calm the minds of PTSD patients against fears associated with their trauma. And thus, CBD may prove to be a promising treatment for PTSD.” If you are thinking about incorporating cannabis in your treatment process for PTSD, it is advised that you consult a medical marijuana doctor in Florida before doing so. Any MMJ Health doctor will be able to offer expert advice and guidance.

Although the above studies have stated that cannabis consumption can be used to reduce anxiety and fight other symptoms of PTSD, none of them have yet shed light on how the amygdala responds to cannabis consumption. 

Researchers from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, tried studying amygdala responses in three different groups to uncover this phenomenon. The first group comprised participants with PTSD, the second had participants with a minor trauma history, and the third group had people with no history of trauma.

Applying a random, double-blind procedure, 71 patients were given a low-dose of THC, and later, they were exposed to a fearful impulse. How their amygdala response was affected was recorded and some of the outcomes were surprising! Nearly all participants displayed lowered signs of fear. Therefore, THC wasn’t just helpful for people with PTSD, but it also decreased the fear response of those having a little or null history of trauma.

The researchers of this study concluded that, THC has the potential to modulate fear response within individuals with PTSD.” They further added that, “it may prove to be extremely beneficial when used in psychological treatments and therapies.”

Cannabis May Act As a Catalyst for Extinction Learning 

Another study conducted at Brazil’s Federal University of Parana has helped outline an excellent anxiety treatment method. This cannabis based method to treat PTSD symptoms was first introduced by R. Andrew Sewell, an associate psychiatry professor at Yale. 

Through this study, Professor Sewell aimed to explain how extinction learning can contribute to the resolution of trauma. Moreover, extinction learning is self-regulatory for most people, but those with PTSD might require help with cannabis consumption. Be it indica, sativa, or hybrid – all forms of cannabis can help resolve PTSD symptoms, as per expert Florida medical marijuana doctors.

Thanks to Sewell’s efforts, this study dug deeper and arrived at a positive outcome. Researchers involved in the process conducted a thorough analysis of available literature and concluded that medical marijuana could help those with PTSD symptoms. 

“Low-doses of THC alone or combined with other cannabinoids (CBD) can stimulate the overall rate of extinction for traumatic memories that patients with PTSD have to face,” said the authors of the study. They further added, “The evidence present at the moment suggests that both PTSD patients and non-PTSD patients stated that cannabis consumption did in fact help in suppressing anxiety without any negative outcomes when they kept the dosage controlled.”

Final Thoughts 

In a nutshell, the above-stated studies explain how and why cannabis consumption is largely becoming a PTSD treatment. Some studies have also played a crucial part in proving that medical marijuana may be more effective in treating patients with PTSD by conducting the research and finding significant evidence. There are still some aspects which require more research, as well as studies focused on the correlation between cannabis consumption and PTSD treatment.If you’re a patient with PTSD and need professional advice pertaining to treating your symptoms with cannabis, you can always get in touch with a qualified medical marijuana doctor at MMJ Health by submitting your responses to our patient qualification test. This simple survey will help determine whether you are eligible for treatment using medical marijuana based on your answers and is the first step to getting your Florida medical marijuana card issued.