PTSD and Medical Marijuana
How can Medical Cannabis help with the symptoms of PTSD?
What is PTSD?
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is an anxiety class condition caused by repeated, distressing episodes.
There are three classes of symptoms characterized by PTSD:
- hyper-arousal (In non-medical terms, these are referred to as flashbacks, social isolation, and insomnia).
At the initial time of the traumatic event, there are surges of adrenaline and stress hormones, which make us hyper-responsive, thus changing our brain chemistry. PTSD is experienced by many individuals with varying backgrounds and pasts, but predominantly by veterans of the armed forces, survivors of sexual assault, and refugees fleeing extremely dangerous circumstances.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
To be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the patient must be experiencing symptoms for a minimum of one month. The symptoms of PTSD are characterized by reliving or re-experiencing traumatic events through distressing and repeated recollections of the event taking place, emotional numbness and avoidance of specific places/people, and increased arousal, resulting in difficulty sleeping/concentrating. Patients also exhibit behaviours indicative of irritability and anger.
How can medical cannabis help with PTSD?
Medical cannabis can help with PTSD by reducing the many symptoms associated with it.
Cannabis can allow for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms such as difficulty concentrating and depression to diminish, and can also provide relief from symptoms of insomnia. Because the THC in cannabis is so effective for sleep, many PTSD sufferers report improved quality of sleep when taking THC. The anti stress properties of certain types of cannabis can reduce the daytime stress and anxiety associated with socializing and confronting possible triggers.
“Researchers found that people with PTSD had lower levels of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid compound, compared to those who did not show signs of PTSD,” Lee wrote, “Innate to all mammals, anandamide (our inner cannabis, so to speak) triggers the same receptors that are activated by THC and other components of the marijuana plant.”
This means that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can, in some forms, be related to an endocannibanoid deficiency- this is why using cannabis is found to be therapeutic in treating PTSD. By replenishing these missing endocannabinoids, we can provide symptom management and reduction for the patient.
Recommended cannabis strains for medication
To treat the depression and inability to concentrate/focus, sativa strains can be used, which act as anti-depressants by providing cognitive stimulation.The properties of this particular strain have also been proven to treat ADD like symptoms, such as the inability to focus. The indica strains with high THC levels would be very effective in promoting regular and deeper sleep. Because indica strains can be sedating, they can assist patients with relaxing throughout the day as needed, if they are feeling triggered. In terms of daytime use, patients can rely on high CBD strains to reduce overall anxiety and stress, without the cognitive involvement of THC.