by Seshata on 05/04/2013 | Uncategorized

Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Up to 8.2% of Americans and 9.2 of Canadians suffer from PTSD, and estimates of the global prevalence rate vary wildly, from 1.3% to 37.4% . Many sufferers of PTSD report significant relief from their symptoms when consuming cannabis, and recently there have been several shocking reports of U.S. veterans and other affected individuals given harsh custodial sentences as a result. Clearly, further work is needed to ensure that these individuals are able to medicate as needed.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe psychiatric condition which can render sufferers incapable of enjoying a normal lifestyle. As the name suggests, the condition is a direct result of experiencing earlier trauma, and symptoms include flashbacks of the traumatic event, avoidance of associated triggers, anxiety, depression, anger and hyper vigilance.

Global Prevalence of PTSD

Up to 8.2% of Americans and 9.2 of Canadians suffer from PTSD, and estimates of the global prevalence rate vary wildly, from 1.3% to 37.4%[1]. Many sufferers of PTSD report significant relief from their symptoms when consuming cannabis, and recently there have been several shocking reports of U.S. veterans and other affected individuals given harsh custodial sentences as a result. Clearly, further work is needed to ensure that these individuals are able to medicate as needed.

Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - 1 - PTSD is often associated with the trauma of combat, but may be a result of any traumatic event
PTSD is often associated with the trauma of combat, but may be a result of any traumatic event.

Not every individual that experiences a traumatic event will go on to develop PTSD. One study determined that 17%[2] of Iraq veterans would go on to develop PTSD, generalised anxiety disorder or depression, another that around 25%[3] of children exposed to trauma will go on to develop PTSD. Another concluded that monozygotic (identical) twins[4] have a greater risk of developing PTSD after combat trauma if their twin also suffers from the disorder, pointing to a genetic predisposition.

PTSD and substance dependence

Sufferers of PTSD, in common with many other psychiatric disorders, are more likely[5] to be dependent on substances such as alcohol, cannabis and cocaine. Therefore, whether cannabis can be truly seen as a treatment for PTSD remains in question, as affected individuals may seek solace in such substances whether or not they are truly an effective medication.
Although there has been significant research into substance use among those suffering from PTSD, studies relating to the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment are relatively sparse. Up until relatively recently, the consensus among the medical community generally was that PTSD was a contributing factor[6] in cannabis use disorders, and little investigation was undertaken into the brain mechanisms by which such disorders develop.

The role of the endocannabinoid system in PTSD

Understanding of the complexities of the endocannabinoid system has increased in recent years, and the role that it may have to play in regulating the symptoms of PTSD and similar disorders has come into focus. An article[7] published in 2012 noted that stress-tolerant individuals exposed to acute stress in the form of a parabolic flight experiment experienced significantly-increased endocannabinoid (EC) concentration in the plasma, whereas non-stress-tolerant individuals experienced no increase.
However, these individuals were healthy, and not suffering from any chronic stress condition. PTSD (and other chronic stress) sufferers, on the other hand, showed consistently elevated levels of EC concentration compared with non-sufferers, even in ordinary, non-stressful situations. This implies that the EC system plays a definite role in the stress response, but the exact mechanism is still unclear.

Genetic phenotype of CB receptors could increase predisposition to PTSD

Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - 2 - Areas of the brain affected by PTSD
Areas of the brain affected by PTSD include the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, both regions with a significant concentration of CB receptors.

It was also noted that patients who had undergone cardiac surgery experienced more intense symptoms of PTSD post-surgery if they carried a single-nucleotide polymorphism (a variation affecting just one of the nucleotide bases, A, C, T or G) of the CB2 receptor gene.
An article[8] published this year describes the role of the CB1 receptor in the experience and memory of stressful events: normal EC signalling through the receptor assists in extinction of fear, and impaired signalling is associated with a failure to eradicate memories of trauma, as well as chronic anxiety and depression (in animal subjects).
The article also noted that existing medications for PTSD have been implemented “opportunistically” when their benefits were discovered, and that such medications had usually been originally designed for other conditions. Often, such drugs are of limited effectiveness and may harbour serious side-effects.

THC and Nabilone as possible treatment options

Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - 3 - The synthetic THC analogue nabilone has been demonstrated to be effective against PTSD-related nightmares
The synthetic THC analogue nabilone has been demonstrated to be effective against PTSD-related nightmares.

The author concluded that while use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) could provide temporary cessation of symptoms, but that long-term use would lead to impairment of CB1 receptor signalling, causing an increase in the severity of anxiety, irritability and sleep disturbance in PTSD sufferes.
A study[9] in 2009 investigated the effectiveness of nabilone, a synthetic form of THC, as an adjunctive treatment for PTSD. An adjunctive therapy is one that is prescribed in addition to a primary medication, in this case antidepressants and hypnotics. This study found that 72% of patients experienced cessation or reduction in nightmares, improvement in sleep time and quality, and a reduction of daytime flashbacks.
Although the results of this study are promising, the small sample size of just 47 individuals means that further research must be done to determine the effectiveness of nabilone. As interest in use of cannabinoids as treatment for PTSD is increasing so rapidly, we are likely to see the results of further research in the near future.
Furthermore, despite ongoing controversy surrounding the effectiveness of medical cannabis as a treatment for PTSD, the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board recently[10] recommended keeping PTSD on the list of qualifiers allowing prospective cannabis users to take prescriptions.

[1] Van Ameringen M, Mancini C, Patterson B, Boyle MH. (2008). Post-traumatic stress disorder in Canada. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics. 14(3), 171-81.

[2] Anderson KC, Insel TR. (2006). The Promise of Extinction Research for the Prevention and Treatment of Anxiety Disorders. Biol Psychiatry. 60(4), 319–321.

[3] McCloskey LA, Walker M.(2000). Posttraumatic Stress in Children Exposed to Family Violence and Single-Event Trauma. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 39(1), 108–115.

[4] Koenen KC et al. (2003). Co-twin control study of relationships among combat exposure, combat-related PTSD, and other mental disorders. Journal of Traumatic Stress. 16(5), 433–438.

[5] Bonin MF et al. (2000). Drinking away the hurt: the nature and prevalence of PTSD in substance abuse patients attending a community-based treatment program. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. 31(1), 55–66.

[6] Cornelius et al. (2010). PTSD contributes to teen and young adult cannabis use disorders. Addictive Behaviors. 35(2), 91–94.

[7] Schelling G. (2012). Endocannabinoids in stressed humans. European Journal of Psychotraumatology. 3, 1-1

[8] Neumeister A. (2012). The endocannabinoid system provides an avenue for evidence-based treatment development for ptsd. Depression and Anxiety. 30(2), 93–96.

[9] Fraser GA. (2009). The Use of a Synthetic Cannabinoid in the Management of Treatment-Resistant Nightmares in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics. 15(1), 84–88.

[10] Peters J. (2012). Medical Cannabis Advisory Board Recommends Keeping PTSD As Medical Marijuana Qualifier (Santa Fe Reporter)

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richard johnson

intresting info & good work Seshata please keep me posted with anything more you descover on your journey
regards
Richard

06/04/2013

Karl Quagliato

Posttraumatic stress disorder is classified as an anxiety disorder; the characteristic symptoms are not present before exposure to the violently traumatic event. Typically the individual with PTSD persistently avoids all thoughts, emotions and discussion of the stressor event and may experience amnesia for it. However, the event is commonly relived by the individual through intrusive, recurrent recollections, flashbacks and nightmares.^"

02/07/2013

Human

I've had extream PTSD for 10 years and the only thing that help me with angsiety, irritability, sleep and anger is bush pot. My wife even encourages me. After a smoke I, my personality changes back to normal - the person I used to be before the accident. I'm a mature professional (No I don't smoke or condone smoking weed at work) adult and pot does defiantly helps me and my family.
The only thing holding this back,, is the do gooders. Who thing they know everything cause they have a degree or what not. But really (from experience) they don't know much at all. People are spose to help each other...whoops that was wounder land. No people just like seeing people suffer to make them selves feel great about them selfs, (YES ITS MOST OF Us 99.98%) And if people of thoughs types, only build them selfs up over disadvantage people. The human race is defiantly backwards........................when you think about it,,, this has been mostly humans way of exsistance. So much for getting better with age. Or we could just over populate the world. That way no ONE really,,,,,really,,,truly gives a shit.....!

04/08/2013

Rio

i love to this product man

23/10/2014

Adib

Seshata the article you have written about PTSD it's really very informative, surely it will help sufferings to know about PTSD. Domestic violence, substance abuse and unemployment, suggested to some military doctors, combat commanders and researchers that conventional treatments aren't always enough. We need something unique & spiritual like Trivedi Effect to prevent PTSD.

19/12/2014

Patrick Hilliard

The article states that THC alone (or synthetic THC Nabilone) only provides temporary relief due to build up blocking the CB1 receptor. However, if you use whole plant products, the other cannabinoids, especially CBD, naturally counteract this effect and balance out. Whole plant use can provide sustained, long-term relief. The bottom line is that the endocannabinoid system regulates and balances out many bodily systems, and you need this plant to keep it healthy and functioning properly.

09/10/2015

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