Medical Marijuana for PTSD?

Marijuana in all its forms Its forms (harsh, oil, strains, edibles, vape pens) is one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States. Many people who experience who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) especially veterans resort to marijuana their symptoms, which might include paranoia and severe anxiety.
According to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly 2 out of 10 people with PTSD use marijuana. But the question that pre-occupies the minds of many is “is marijuana and PTSD safe combination of marijuana eases or exacerbates symptoms of the disorder?”

PTSD can result from traumatic events such as being in combat or experiencing a life-threatening circumstance such as a natural disaster of any form of assault.  This can lead to lingering memories and difficulty sleeping as well as functioning normally while at work or in school or carrying out daily life activities. Equally, an individual may experience major emotional changes and perceptions of the world, and these symptoms might make it impossible for him/her to maintain a standard quality of life.

Psychotherapy and medication are available for PTSD patients suffering from emotional instability and possibly substance abuse, and marijuana has emerged as another more effective way to help them cope, not forgetting its ability in providing a safer alternative to prescription medication that can have serious side effects. CBD and THC, chemical embedded in marijuana have the capability of treating patients suffering from PTSD by improving the endocannabinoid system’s mediation of essential functions including memory consolidation and retrieval.  Cannabinoids activate CB1 and CB2 receptors located throughout this core system thus prompting the system to produce neurotransmitters that help promote happiness, pleasure, and memory. Cannabinoids equally play a critical role in assisting PTSD cases by preventing the retrieval of the underlying trauma, effectively preventing traumatic memories and nightmares thus helping attain emotional wellbeing. This has made marijuana a popular treatment for PTSD patients, of which many are combat veterans.

A research carried out by NYU Langone Medical Center researchers showed that people suffering from PTSD have much lower levels of a neurotransmitter called anandamide than others. This neurotransmitter is one of the primary endocannabinoids in the body and operates in a similar way to cannabis by stimulating the endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for core functions such as mood, happiness, fear, and anxiety. Primarily, anandamides operate as a natural antidepressant and can also impair memory as well. The CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the body help to switch off traumatic memories so that people can essentially stop paying attention to them. As such, lack of endocannabinoids such as anandamides can also serve to induce symptoms of PTSD such as anxiety and fear

Dr. Alexander Neumeister stated in one of his research works about marijuana once stated “There’s a consensus among clinicians that existing pharmaceutical treatments such as antidepressants simply do not work.  In fact, we are very much aware of the fact that people with PTSD who use marijuana a potent cannabinoid often experience more relief from their symptoms than they do from antidepressants and other psychiatric medications. Thus, there is a very urgent need to develop novel evidence-based treatments for PTSD’’.

A recent research work published in Molecular Psychiatry revealed that treatment using particular compounds found in marijuana may benefit those with PTSD, and that “plant-derived cannabinoids such as marijuana may possess some benefits in individuals with PTSD by helping relieve haunting nightmares and other traumas which are symptoms of PTSD. Another study published on Science Daily also looked at symptom reduction in patients with PTSD. Participants who took medical marijuana reported a decrease in re-experiencing the trauma, less avoidance of situations that reminded them of the trauma, and a decline in hyper-arousal.

There exists also anecdotal evidence that marijuana can treat PSTDs. In an interview with the Trauma and Mental Health Report, Dianna Donnelly, a counselor and patient at the Canadian Cannabis Clinics, shared her experience: she said she is a patient who legally uses cannabis for depression and that cannabis helps mute or lower her negative chatter, which allows for good thoughts and feelings to arise. She also testified that one Veteran, a friend of hers, who recently started using marijuana instead of prescription medication for PTSD, said that with the cannabis, he is now able to feel his emotions, and experience them properly and safely.

Some researchers like Shelley Franklin Medical, the Veteran Program Coordinator for the Canadian Cannabis Clinics, explained that marijuana is not usually used on its own for the treatment of PTSD.  He stated that medical marijuana is used in conjunction with other therapies to treat PSTDs and that medical cannabis strains with the right CBD and THC [psychoactive chemicals in marijuana] levels are assisting veterans with chronic physical pain, as well insomnia and amnesia.

These medical benefits of marijuana are among the countless benefits this plant has. It is still puzzling and how medical marijuana is still not legal in most of the country, and still retains such a negative reputation despite its importance. Hopefully, in the near future, medical science and more researches will continue to prove its benefits in more fields, and make this plant a famous cure for all major kinds of ailments.

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