The following information is presented for educational purposes only.
Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an
understanding of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to
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organizations by Medical Marijuana Inc. and none should be inferred.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, most common in war veterans, involves
uncontrollable anxiety and flashbacks following a traumatic experience.
Studies have shown marijuana is effective at lessening the emotional
impact of traumatic events and can help patients experience less anxiety
and fear and improve their sleep.
Overview of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental condition that
develops after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Those
suffering from PTSD experience flashbacks, severe anxiety, nightmares,
and uncontrollable thoughts about the event, according to Mayo Clinic.
They often feel stressed and in danger when no real threat exists.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, other symptoms of
PTSD include staying away from places or events that are reminders of
the traumatic experience, feeling numbness or guilt, losing interest in
former enjoyable activities, being easily startled, feeling tense,
having problems sleeping and experiencing angry outbursts.
PTSD is prevalent in military veterans, but can develop following any
type of traumatic event, such as a mugging, kidnapping, car accident
plant crash, physical attack or natural disaster.
Currently, PTSD is commonly treated with psychotherapy efforts that
include exposure therapy, which exposes patients to trauma they
experienced but in a safe way, cognitive restructuring, which helps
patients make sense of the bad memories, and stress inoculation
training, which teaches patients how to reduce their anxiety.
Antidepressant medications are often prescribed to help curtail feelings
of sadness, anger, worry and numbness. These medications can sometimes
have side effects like headache, nausea, sleeplessness or drowsiness,
agitation and sexual problems.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on PTSD
Cannabis has been found to help PTSD patients manage their symptoms
(Walsh, et al., 2016). Two major cannabinoids found in marijuana,
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), influence the bodyís
endocannabinoid system, which plays an essential role in maintaining
emotional homeostasis and in regulating memory consolidation, retrieval
and extension. Cannabinoids found in marijuana activate the cannabinoid
receptors (CB1 and
of the endocannabinoid system, which in turn modulates the release of
neurotransmitter and produces a wide range of effects on the central
nervous system, including an increase in pleasure and the alternation of
memory processes (Betthauser, Piilz, Vollmer, 2015). The cannabinoids
block the continuous retrieval of the traumatic event, thus enhancing
its extension and reducing its associated anxiety (Akirav, 2013) (Trezza
& Campolongo, 2013) (Passie, et al., 2012).
These effects help PTSD patients manage the three core symptoms of the
condition, which include re-experiencing, avoidance and numbing, and
hyperarousal. PTSD patients saw a 75% reduction in PTSD symptoms, as
measured by the Clinical Administered Post-traumatic Scale, when they
were using cannabis compared to when they were not (Greer, Grob &
Military veterans use cannabis for coping purposes, especially those
whose condition causes difficulties in emotional regulation or stress
tolerance (Potter, et al., 2011). An improvement in sleep patterns in
those who suffering from insomnia or nightmares is another primary
motivating factor for cannabis use in PTSD patients (Betthauser, Piilz,
Vollmer, 2015) (Bonn-Miller, Babson & Vandrey, 2014) (Passie, et al.,
2012). The more severe the PTSD symptoms, the more that military
veterans desire to use cannabis to cope (Boden, et al., 2013)
(Bonn-Miller, Vujanovic & Drescher, 2011) (Bonn-Miller, Babson & Vandrey,
2014). Preclinical evidence supports CBD as having considerable
potential as a treatment for PTSD when itís administered acutely as
symptoms arise rather than chronically (Blessing, Steenkamp, Manzanares
& Marmar, 2015).
Thereís evidence to suggest, however, that the benefits of cannabis for
PTSD patients go beyond temporary. Findings support that cannabis has
the potential to dampen the strength and emotional impact of traumatic
memories (Passie, et al., 2012). In addition, administering cannabinoids
shortly after the exposure to an intensely stressful event can help
prevent the development of PTSD-like symptoms (Campos, Ferreira &
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for PTSD
Currently, 20 states have approved medical marijuana specifically for
the treatment of PTSD. These states include: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New
Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island and Washington.
A number of other states will consider allowing medical marijuana to be
used for the treatment of other conditions, including PTSD, with the
recommendation by a physician. These states include: California (any
debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been
recommended by a physician), and Massachusetts (other
conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patientís
D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as
a DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.
Recent Studies on Cannabisí effect on PTSD
PTSD patients saw a 75% reduction in PTSD symptoms, as measured by
the Clinical Administered Post traumatic Scale, when they were using
cannabis compared to when they were not.
PTSD symptom reports of patients evaluated for the New Mexico
Medical Cannabis Program.
Evidence from human studies indicates that CBD found in cannabis has
considerable potential as a treatment for anxiety disorders.
Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.
A review of published evidence finds that cannabinoids help PTSD
patients manage the conditionís three major symptoms
(re-experiencing, avoidance and numbing, hyperarousal) and helps
improve sleep in those PTSD patients suffering from insomnia and
Use and effects of cannabinoids in military veterans with post
traumatic stress disorder.
Akirav, I. (2013). Targeting the endocannabinoid system to treat
haunting traumatic memories. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7,
124. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3776936/.
Betthauser, K., Pilz, J., and Vollmer, LE. (2015, August). Use and
effects of cannabinoids in military veterans with posttraumatic stress
disorder. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 72(15), 1279-84.
Blessing EM., Steenkamp, MM., Manzanares, J., and Marmar, CR. (2015,
September 4). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety
Disorders. Neuotherapeutics, Epub ahead of print. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26341731.
Boden, MT., Babson, KA., Vujanovic, AA., Short, NA., and Bonn-Miller,
MO. (2013, May-June). Post-traumatic stress disorder and cannabis use
characteristics among military veterans with cannabis dependence. The
American Journal on Addictions, 22(3), 277-84.
Bonn-Miller, MO., Babson, KA., and Vandrey, R. (2014, March 1). Using
cannabis to help you sleep: heightened frequency of medical cannabis use
among those with PTSD. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 136, 162-5.
Bonn-Miller, MO, Vujanovic, AA., and Drescher, KD. (2011, September).
Cannabis use among military veterans after residential treatment for
posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychology of Addictive Behavior, 25(3),
Campos, AC., Ferreira, FR., and Guimaraes, FS. (2012, November).
Cannabidiol blocks long-lasting behavioral consequences of predator
threat stress: possible involvement of 5Ht1A receptors. Journal of
Psychiatric Research, 46(11), 1501-10.
Greer, GR., Grob, CS., and Halberstadt, AL. (2014, January-March). PTSD
symptom reports of patients evaluated for the New Mexico Medical
Cannabis Program. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 46(1), 73-7.
Passie, T., Emrich, HM., Karst, M., Brandt, SD. and Halpern, JH. (2012,
July-August). Mitigation of post-traumatic stress symptoms by Cannabis
resin: a review of the clinical and neurobiological evidence, Drug
Testing and Analysis, 4(7-8), 649-59.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (2014, April 15). Mayo Clinic.
Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/basics/definition/con-20022540.
Potter, CM., Vujanovic, AA., Marshall-Verenz, EC., Bernstein, A., and
Bonn-Miller, MO. (2011, April). Posttraumatic stress and marijuana use
coping motives: the mediating role of distress tolerance. Journal of
Anxiety Disorders, 25(3), 437-43.
Trezza, V., and Campolongo, P. (2013, August 9). The endocannabinoid
system as a possible target to treat both the cognitive and emotional
features of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Frontiers in
Behavioral Neuroscience, 7, 100.
Walsh, Z., Gonzalez, R., Crosby, K., S Thiessmen, M., Carroll, C., and
Bonn-Miller, M.O. (2016, October 12). Medical cannabis and mental
health: A guided systematic review. Clinical
Psychology Review, 51, 15-29.
What is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? (n.d.). National
Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml.