What Marijuana Has to Do With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Despite being prohibited, many medical experts and doctors deem cannabis to be a self-medicated drug that is particularly beneficial for individuals suffering from anxiety disorders such as PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder).
There’s uncontested evidence that cannabis and PTSD and go arm in arm. That’s why many governments are funding studies which examine the relationship between medical marijuana and PTSD. While many indicate the prevalence of medical marijuana abuse in patients with PTSD, some emerging studies have a different approach to this problem, exploring whether cannabis can effectively treat PTSD?
What are the Causes and Symptoms of PTSD?
It’s estimated that 7 to 8 out of 100 people in the U.S.develop some symptoms related to posttraumatic stress. With an estimated 9.4% of the population suffering from some form of PTSD, Canada is one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to this disorder.
Posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD is an anxiety condition that can occur after experiencing a traumatic event. The most common causes include sexual assault, military combat, and traffic collision. However, it can also be caused by other threats and disturbing episodes on a person’s life.
Patients with PTSD face a variety of “fight-or-flight symptoms” that are either debilitating or infuriating. They range from hypervigilance to insomnia. Thus, the symptoms of PTSD may include:
- Dreams referring the traumatic event (night terrors)
- Reliving the event while being awake (re-experiencing symptoms)
- Negative changes in feelings and/or beliefs
- Avoiding situations that trigger bad memories of an event
- Feeling keyed up (hyperarousal)
- Mental or physical distress
- Trauma-related cues
These symptoms can last for a few months after the traumatic event. Over time, this anxiety condition may trigger the certain changes in brain chemistry, when stress hormones and adrenaline are hyper responsive.
Young children with PTSD usually don’t show distress like adults, but they express their feelings and memories through the game. People suffering from this health disorder are at a higher risk for deliberate self-harm and suicide.
How Cannabis Can Struggle PTSD
It is well known that cannabis acts as a mighty painkiller drug in some painful diseases. But, that is not the only thing this powerful green herb can do. It can also serve as a powerful remedy in the fight against posttraumatic stress disorder. Two cannabis compounds are responsible for the curative effect of cannabis – CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Aside from reducing the “runaway” fear response in patients with PTSD, cannabis has proven to have other benefits, too. Similar to conventional psychiatric treatments and remedies, taking cannabidiol right before a therapy session can make patients calmer. This way it enables patients to better respond to a therapy.
A certain research conducted by MAPS (the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) has revealed that those suffering from PTSD have much lower levels of anandamide in comparison with people without symptoms of this disease. Anandamide is a naturally-occurring derivative of the arachidonic acid, which is also one of the endogenous cannabinoid compounds. So, we can consider this compound our inner cannabis. It is capable of triggering the same receptors in our body that can be activated by other marijuana components, such as THC among others. If only one PTSD pillar miss, the body halts producing sufficient endocannabinoids in order to replace receptor sites. This is where the marijuana and cannabinoids come in! These compounds play a healing role by filling up the missing endocannabinoids in the body.
To date, no medication can fully repair the damage caused by posttraumatic stress disorder. Yet, cannabis can provide a great respite to PTSD patients when nothing else works. Unfortunately, the marijuana-related therapies are continually disputed by government organizations. However, one thing is encouraging. Education about medicinal properties of cannabis spreads worldwide!