• Bailey Porras

A Look at Cannabinoid Treatments for Veterans With PTSD


It’s no surprise that PTSD patients can stand to benefit from medical marijuana. When people think of PTSD, they may immediately think of veterans, or PTSD caused by the traumatic events of war.


The Wayne State University School of Medicine received $12.5 million (from the Cannabis Regulatory Agency) to study how marijuana can help veterans who have PTSD.


The university plans on conducting two controlled clinical trials in order to gain a better understanding on the subject.


What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychiatric condition that can arise when a person experiences any type of traumatic event. Some of the most common examples of traumatic events may include war, a rape or robbery, or a natural disaster.


PTSD does not affect only the person involved in the distressing event, but it can actually affect a person who is just witnessing the event as well. PTSD has come about as a result of witnessing a robbery or murder, for instance.


You may have heard some people refer to PTSD as “shell shock” or “combat fatigue” when speaking of the traumatic events that occurred during World War I and II. Many PTSD patients in the United States are, in fact, war veterans.


Studies show that about 3.5% of US adults are known to suffer from PTSD, and about 1 in 11 people will be diagnosed with the disorder at some point in their lives. Anyone can develop PTSD, but women are typically more prone to it for reasons unknown.


Symptoms

Patients with PTSD are known to show a wide variety of symptoms, and the severity can vary considerably depending on the person and traumatic event they encountered. According to psychiatry.org, here are the four main categories of symptoms for PTSD:


  1. Intrusion: Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.

  2. Avoidance: Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects and situations that may trigger distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.

  3. Alterations in cognition and mood: Inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event, negative thoughts and feelings leading to ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); distorted thoughts about the cause or consequences of the event leading to wrongly blaming self or other; ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; feeling detached or estranged from others; or being unable to experience positive emotions (a void of happiness or satisfaction).

  4. Alterations in arousal and reactivity: Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being overly watchful of one's surroundings in a suspecting way; being easily startled; or having problems concentrating or sleeping.


Wayne School Studies

A study done by students at Wayne State is called Cannabinoid Adjunct to Prolonged Exposure and Recovery.


The study proposed that modest doses of THC could help PTSD patients with emotion regulation, especially when combined with cognitive reappraisal therapy. Compared to those given a placebo, PTSD patients in the study who were actually given THC had much fewer negative feelings when going through basic cognitive reappraisal tasks.


Cognitive reappraisal is the process in which patients try to rethink the source of their anger in a new light. It is a very common treatment for people with PTSD.


The brains of the THC users in the study also showed considerably more activity in regions that are usually less active in PTSD patients.


The Experiment

Students at the University conducted a study using 51 volunteers. Each of these people were given either a placebo or 7.5mg of THC.


During the peak of their “high”, or non-high, participants performed cognitive reappraisal tasks and were asked to reflect on specific experiences brought about by being shown triggering images that brought back memories about these events. They were also evaluated based on their emotional state.


The study reported that the patients who took doses of THC showed boosted brain activity compared to the study’s placebo group who were not given THC. This is a significant conclusion, because reductions in brain activity have been linked to PTSD for many years.


In conclusion, THC could improve the long-term outcomes of PTSD therapies such as cognitive reappraisal by assisting patients in reevaluating images that trigger stress.


Try THC for PTSD Today

PTSD is one of the state-determined qualifying conditions that make patients eligible for a medical marijuana card. If you would like to give cannabis a try to help with PTSD symptoms, or any qualifying condition, we can help you with that!


Schedule an evaluation online today and we’ll make an appointment for you with one of our knowledgeable, compassionate doctors.


 

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