How Does Cannabis Treat PTSD?

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is an anxiety condition caused by disturbing events—whether it’s military combat or sexual assault—that results in psychological trauma. Symptoms include recurrent re-experiencing of the trauma, sleeping issues, anger, irritability, blackouts, poor concentration, as well as phobia of people, places, and experiences which remind the sufferer of the trauma.

According to the U.S. National Center for PTSD, seven to eight out of every 100 people develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress. While anyone can develop PTSD, the condition affects women much more than men.

Many medications for treating PTSD offer temporary relief at best and come with adverse side effects. Additionally, medications most commonly prescribed to help those suffering from PTSD don’t effectively treat the entire condition.

How Cannabis Can Help Treat PTSD

Although there are no specialized, effective medications available for PTSD patients, several studies have been conducted in order to understand how cannabis can treat the condition.

For instance, according to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), researchers discovered that people with PTSD had lower levels of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid compound, compared to those who did not show signs of PTSD. Scientists have found CB-1 receptors signal the deactivation of traumatic memories.

Simply put, those suffering from PTSD have an endocannabinoid deficiency, where the body stops producing enough endocannabinoids to fill receptor sites. In theory, cannabinoids from cannabis can fill the void left by a lack of endocannabinoids.

Cannabidiol (CBD) research published last year revealed a potential for treating anxiety-related disorders with marijuana. CBD is the main non-psychoactive component of cannabis, which has all medicinal properties without the “high” found in THC.

Exposure therapy is one way PTSD patients have been coping with learned fear, which is performed by exposing someone to stimuli that trigger their traumatic memory in a safe environment. The purpose is to desensitize the patient to the trigger—a process known as “extinction.”

CBD has been found to enhance extinction, which could help PTSD patients hinder learned fears. Furthermore, CBD can also decrease fear expression and disrupt memory reconsolidation.

Medical Marijuana for PTSD

The way the main psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabinoids impact memory can be beneficial to PTSD patients. However, the damage caused by PTSD cannot be fully healed by any medication, but for some, cannabis provides respite when nothing else can. If you are suffering from PTSD, it is advised to first consult a medical professional before treating symptoms with cannabis.

For more information, contact New Jersey Alternative Medicine to learn how our treatment plans can help today.