New research from Ontario, Canada has uncovered some interesting finds about how cannabis helps those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. These recent advancements help explain why so many veterans in the USA have abandoned their psychiatric medications and switched to cannabis.
Over the years, doctors have slowly begun to realize that psychiatric drugs commonly prescribed for conditions such as anxiety or depression provide little relief to individuals affected by post-traumatic stress disorder. Having taken notice of the astounding numbers of patients finding relief by switching to pot, psychiatrists and neuroscientists have attempted to explain how cannabis might help PTSD.
This latest research has uncovered that cannabidiol, CBD, a non-psychoactive component found in many strains of cannabis, interacts with the serotonin system in a certain area of the brain in a way that disrupts the formation of negative associative memories.
The study involved an experiment that used rats to measure how well they associated a painful sensation with a certain odor. Administering CBD directly into the rats’ brains during the painful sensation prevented them from associating the pain with the smell. Other rats without CBD got afraid of a potential electric shock and froze when they smelled the odor.
Previous research from Brazil has shown that THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the stuff that gets you high, is even more potent than CBD at disrupting contextual fear memory reconsolidation. Their experiment also showed that CBD and THC administered together could potentially provide relief for PTSD with minimal psychological side effects.
According to another researcher, those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder may actually have an imbalance in their endocannabinoid system, a relatively undetailed part of the body that has important implications in digestion, metabolism, mood and memory.
New York University showed how people suffering from PTSD actually have lower levels of endocannabinoids in their body, and in turn have more cannabinoid receptors to compensate. Given that the author of the study measured CB1 receptors and anandamide levels in humans with PTSD, not in rats like in the afore-mentioned research, it’s only a matter of time before the medical community begins to understand and accept the fact that many patients self-medicate with cannabis instead of pharmaceuticals.
While cannabis-based drugs for the treatment of PTSD will need to wait more time for clinical trials in order to obtain FDA approval. Even without the FDA, the mounting evidence that simple cannabis is enough for treatment will hopefully convince doctors and psychiatrists to quietly recommend cannabis for PTSD.