May 212013
 May 21, 2013

cannabinol cannabis marijuana ptsd post traumatic stress disorderBy Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

Brain imaging research published this month in the journal Molecular Psychiatry provides physiological evidence as to why cannabis may mitigate certain symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Post-traumatic stress syndrome is an anxiety disorder that is estimated to impact some eight million Americans annually. Yet, to date, there are no pharmaceutical treatments specifically designed or approved to target symptoms of PTSD.

Investigators at the New York University School of Medicine and the New York University Langone Medical Center, Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center for the Study of Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury reported that subjects diagnosed with PTSD typically possess elevated quantities of endogenous cannabinoid receptors in regions of the brain associated with fear and anxiety. Investigators also determined that many of these subjects experience a decrease in their natural production of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter, resulting in an imbalanced endocannibinoid regulatory system.

Researchers speculated that an increase in the body’s production of cannabinoids would likely restore subjects’ natural brain chemistry and psychological balance. They affirmed, “[Our] findings substantiate, at least in part, emerging evidence that … plant-derived cannabinoids such as marijuana may possess some benefits in individuals with PTSD by helping relieve haunting nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD.”

They concluded: “The data reported herein are the first of which we are aware of to demonstrate the critical role of CB1 (cannabinoid) receptors and endocannabinoids in the etiology of PTSD in humans. As such, they provide a foundation upon which to develop and validate informative biomarkers of PTSD vulnerability, as well as to guide the rational development of the next generation of evidence-based treatments for PTSD.”

Anecdotal evidence and case study reports have increasingly indicated that cannabis may mitigate traumatic memories and anxiety. However, clinical trial data remains unavailable, in large part because US federal officials have blocked investigators’ efforts to study cannabis in PTSD subjects. In 2011 federal administrators halted efforts by investigators at the University of Arizona to complete an FDA-approved, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the use of cannabis in 50 veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD.

PTSD is also seldom identified as a qualifying condition in states that allow for the physician authorized use of cannabis therapy. (To date, only New Mexico explicitly cites PTSD as a qualifying condition for cannabis treatment, although a handful of other states, like California, allow doctors the discretion to legally recommend marijuana for post-trauma subjects.) In Oregon, lawmakers in the House are considering Senate-approved legislation, SB 281, that would allow PTSD patients to legally consume cannabis under the state’s nearly 15-year-old medical marijuana program.

Source: NORMLmake a donation

About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • Ryan

    As a vet and marijuana smoker, I can back this up. Only thing that works for me.

    • Cyrus Palmer

      I can as well. It’s changed my life. I had trouble adjusting after my deployment until I found marijuana.

  • J

    I’m a 100% disabled PTSD Veteran, I have been smoking since I got out due to the flashbacks and I tried not smoking at night for three weeks as an experiment with the dr. but my symptoms increased and he advised that I take ambien. I got bottles of that crap, I will stick with my green.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steven.ingram.501 Steven Ingram

    I had a TBI in 01.Had a 1% chance in a 6 month coma.KIND makes me human and with out it I would be in some trouble. I believe,I really don’t know, but what I do know is that my cousin. A lawyer in New York, thinks it makes me a better person.Sucks for me.I have too stay stoned.Thank you Lord,Jesus Thank you mama

  • T

    As an Afghanistan vet I can say that marijuana helps me tremendously, I’m a much better person when I am on it.

  • Gary Williams

    Here is my story at Faces of PTSD: http://facesofptsd.org/

  • jacobatz

    self retired paramedic of 12 years, marijuana and mindfulness meditation, is what has made me a successful father and citizen in my community, peace light love.

  • Kev Thomas

    like countless other i too am a cannabis user, and i will say only this….. i am an irrational,irritable,violent fucknugget when i take prescription meds for my imbalance, yet this seems to be an acceptable side effect of the pharmaceuticals. yet i can goto prison for growing my own cure. this world needs a change. Peace & love all round :)