One of the most common medical conditions that cannabis can treat effectively is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The plant is so successful in addressing a plethora of symptoms associated with the illness, such as insomnia, irritability and social anxiety, that the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) formally approved a controlled clinical trial to unlock its true potential for over eight million military reps and ordinary citizens currently battling with the disorder.
Most PTSD studies focus on veterans affected by combat-related stress and anxiety, because such groups are the most affected by the condition. However, this does not mean that other individuals are less likely to encounter PTSD-related trauma in their lives. By definition, the prevalent anxiety disorder can stem from a wide range of experiences – from natural disasters and child abuse to sexual assault and physical injuries.
Based on this broad umbrella of experiences, outside of the military, PTSD sufferers could consist of children, women, professionals, athletes and even the elderly.
PTSD in Non-veterans
According to a Brown University study, ordinary citizens suffering from PTSD receive significantly less attention, care and treatment from medical institutions, compared to military groups. The main issue with not getting adequate treatment for PTSD is the possibility of developing long-term problems during the progression of the condition. For example, extreme social isolation and suicidal tendencies are difficult to treat, because in some cases, the patient needs to be placed under observation, which can be both expensive to facilitate and time consuming.
“A major finding of the authors’ search for nonmilitary service providers is that there is no centralized listing of PTSD providers, treatment programs, and support programs at the state or local level and limited listings at the federal level,”
explained the authors of the study.
For non-veterans, access to medical cannabis could be very helpful in curbing the crippling effects of PTSD. In fact, the plant is capable of addressing all four types of PTSD symptoms that researchers use to classify the condition: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognition and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity.
Endocannabinoid Deficiency and PTSD
To understand how cannabis helps PTSD sufferers, we turn to a timely report published by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). The research organization was able to link the disorder with endocannabinoid deficiency, a condition wherein one’s body is unable to produce sufficient amounts of endocannabinoids. Cannabis is capable of replenishing such compounds in patients diagnosed with PTSD, resulting in instant relief from painful memories and reinforced personal coping mechanisms.
For addressing self-esteem issues related to PTSD, cannabis with an even ratio of THC and CBD is known to be effective. Lastly, vaping or smoking, as opposed to edibles and topical ointments, is highly preferred by patients seeking immediate relief from PTSD symptoms.
“The best PTSD treatment model we have can be found within the VA. Kids have PTSD. Women have PTSD. It’s not just a disease of veterans, although they are a very important and poignant cohort of people who have it,”
said lead author Dr. Judith Bentkover, professor in the Brown University School of Public Health.
This post was originally published on April 17, 2017, it was updated on October 5, 2017.