PTSD marijuana treatment: benefits and risks.

People, who have such serious illness as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suffer from painful manifestations caused by the so-called trigger of those life memories that remind them of the trauma. As a rule, people start to treat this serious condition with traditional medicines after the certain symptoms are already obvious. The researches carried out by scientists in Israel prove a positive effect of substances, contained in marijuana, on PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in humans.

From time to time messages from patients with PTSD about marijuana appear, where they claim that marijuana eases their symptoms. This prompted researchers to explore the possibilities of the human endocannabinoid system for the treatment of PTSD. It turned out, that the use of mechanisms of the endocannabinoid system in the treatment of PTSD is a very promising direction. Especially considering its role in the regulation of sleep, pain relief, and elimination of anxiety and stress symptoms.

Review of the medical literature, devoted to the healing properties of marijuana and PTSD, allowed detecting only two proof of concept study of this problem. In 2009, Canadian researchers have discovered that medicine based on synthetic THC if not eliminates the nightmares completely, then greatly facilitates the condition of patients, suffering from this symptom of PTSD, even if traditional medicines does not work for them.

Another study was published in 2011 by researchers from Israel. The scientific results have demonstrated the ability of synthetic cannabinoid WIN552212-2 to eliminate behavioral and neurological disorders, caused by a stressful situation. Scientists administered to rats a special substance derived from marijuana, – cannabinoids, immediately after the injury, thereby effectively blocking the action of triggers, that reminded of the trauma. Rats that received the appropriate dose had no symptoms of PTSD. On the contrary, in rats without the administration of cannabinoids, researchers observed a violation of memories and increased stress. Unfortunately, the experiments on the use of substances for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder have been carried out so far on the animals only. Most doctors are skeptical about the prospect of experiments on humans, and therefore do not consider marijuana as an effective cure for PTSD. Despite the fact that such experiments are not widely conducted, many psychiatrists say that they sometimes communicate with patients, who were helped with PTSD by marijuana much faster than with other medications.

Dr. Sue Sisley, psychiatrist from Arizona, argues that the post-traumatic stress disorder is very difficult to treat. For people with this diagnosis it is usually prescribed 5 or 6 drugs of different effects and strength, as far as it’s hard to cope with all the horrors and negative memories on the one hand, and with a sense of anxiety and depression on the other, by means of drugs only. Marijuana is able to treat all of these symptoms, she says, and her statements are not unfounded. Actively practicing, she can give examples of many patients who were abandoning many psychotropic drugs, and cured with the help of marijuana only.

PTSD marijuana treatment: benefits and risks.

Like many other mental disorders, PTSD is closely associated with an increased risk of the psychoactive drugs abuse (including marijuana). However, some experts believe, that the patients with post-traumatic stress syndrome are more likely to use marijuana for the purpose of self-treatment in particular, or to deal with the certain symptoms, caused by the psychological trauma.

Despite the visible links between the decrease in the number of PTSD cases and increase in marijuana use in the United States, there has been too little research. It is impossible to determine whether cannabis is an effective cure for PTSD, based on the available data. The most serious obstacles, faced by scientists who study this problem, are the lack of funding and support from the authorities. But, without clinical trials, which would confirm its effectiveness, most doctors are afraid to prescribe the medical marijuana to the PTSD patients.

Image by Torben Hansen (CC BY 2.0)