Marijuana Found to be a Powerful Drug for Easing PTSD
Marijuana has been found to be therapeutic for those suffering from PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is a type of severe anxiety disorder following a traumatic event. The most common association with PTSD is war veterans who witnessed atrocities in the battle field, but PTSD can afflict those who suffer any sort of trauma such as rape, witnessing a murder or suicide, and bystanders to violence of any kind. What defines PTSD is not the type of trauma that occurred, but rather the resulting symptoms.
Currently, the drugs available for treating PTSD are highly addictive. War veterans, the population most commonly treated with anti-PTSD drugs, are facing increasingly high rates of substance abuse and addiction.
More and more vets are turning to Cannabis to treat their crippling symptoms without the awful side effects of addictive medications.
An Israeli research team, including Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the discoverer of endogenous cannabinoid anandamide, found that Δ9-THC is successful in easing symptoms of Post-traumatic stress disorder when orally administered. This is likely because PTSD patients are found to have a decreased level of anandamides, an endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter, and phyto-genic cannabinoids help restore the natural balance. PTSD patients treated with Δ9-THC found an increase in sleep quality, a decrease in nightmares, and a decrease in overall symptom severity.
More and more states are adding PTSD as qualifying condition for medical marijuana. Among them Michigan, Nevada, Connecticut, California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Oregon.
Israel’s Haifa University has had great success with using synthetic marijuana to preventing the onset of PTSD following a traumatic event. “The findings of our study suggest that the connectivity within the brain’s fear circuit changes following trauma, and the administration of cannabinoids (synthetic marijuana) prevents this change from happening,” the researchers at Haifa’s Department of Psychology said in a press release.
Israel is a hothouse of marijuana research because of lenient policy. There are no restrictions on marijuana research in Israel as there are in the United States. But PTSD also receives special attention at Israeli research centers because of its relevance to Israeli life. Nearly 9% of Israelis suffer from PTSD, many of them combat soldiers or civilians exposed to terror attacks and rocket barrages.
Those who suffer from PTSD often experience in influx of symptoms due to “trauma reminders”. A trauma reminder is something that simulates the original traumatic event. For example, someone who was present at a shooting or bombing, may react strongly to a sudden loud noise. The Haifa study found that in rats, inserting cannabinoids into the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex discontinued the effect of trauma reminders. In other words, PTSD victims are spared the painful psychological replay of the original traumatic event when hearing or seeing a trigger of the event. The relevance of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex is their role in creating and storing traumatic memories. More human research is needed, but this likely constitutes a preventative therapy for those who have just been through a traumatic event.