Medical Cannabis as a Form of Treatment for PTSD Symptoms

Medical Cannabis research is leading many scientist and researchers to the conclusion that there may eventually be applications for its use in treating many different neurological and psychiatric conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. One area where research has proven to be most promising is the benefits of using medical cannabis as a form of treatment or therapy for individuals suffering from PTSD.

Although truthfully this shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the exceptional results that have been demonstrated in lab settings which clearly showcased the neuroprotective effects of the endocannabinoid system in mice that have had traumatic injuries to the brain.

However, the most promising discovery with specific implications for personnel that suffer from PTSD revolves around the notion that the cannabinoid system is integrally related to memory or more specifically to memory extinction, which is the standard and safe process of removing associations from harmful stimuli. Laboratory tests have shown that mice, when administered an electric shock after a specific stimuli (such as a certain noise) will at some point forget about the irritating shock after the noise appears by itself for a few days.  However, mice without their cannabinoid systems were unable to forget and continued to displays symptoms of being shocked at the sound of the noise even when no shock was present.

neuroprotective effects

This discovery has direct implications for individuals that suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome symptoms (conditions where outside stimuli such as loud noises or stress remind them of their initial trauma even when that trauma has long since pasted).

Now, let’s take minute and examine the data in support of the general use of medical cannabis for PTSD symptoms where most of the studies conducted have shown that the administration of exogenous cannabinoids (vaporizing therapeutic cannabis for example), may not be the most reliable nor effective means of utilizing the endocannabinoid system to treat anxiety and aversive memories such as those formed in PTSD.

It turns out, for a more reliable and effective treatment for PTSD symptoms, that restricting the endocannabinoid breakdown through FAAH inhibition is the most promising discovered so far within the eCB system. Other eCB target receptors include the two primary receptors (CB1/CB2), the vanilloid receptors, eCB reuptake and eCB production receptors.

OK, enough of the super geeky and scientific data, what about real world applications?  With that in mind, Kadmus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has begun expressing a serious interest in marketing a new FAAH inhibitor they have developed, currently code-named KDS-4103. KDS-4103 appears to have a lot of potential from a pharmacological perspective.  After all, it invokes or creates an analgesic, anxiolitic, and anti-depressant effect but in a manner that disassociates itself with the cannabis-like effect that THC can create.  In fact, in lab studies, animals were able to easily distinguish between treatments involving THC and treatments utilizing KDS-4103.  In essence, it did not produce or induce the high that is traditionally associated with medical cannabis.  The perfect medication for treating PTSD?  Possibly, but more studies will need to be conducted before it can be deemed better in terms of helping individuals with PTSD when it comes to dealing with their symptoms.

medical cannabis research

But what exactly does all of this mean to someone that suffers from PTSD and wants/needs to find some form of relief from their destructive symptoms? Well, the evidence shows that the use of medical cannabis for therapeutic purposes does provide a drastic and considerable improvement in the quality of life for the person suffering from this ailment as well as indirectly for their family and friends.

With that said, at the moment we are not truly taking full advantage of the eCB system as a form of treatment and therapy for PTSD.  In fact, it looks as if for the moment, we are mostly using cannabis and THC to treat PTSD in order to provide symptomological relief for the sufferer.  Of course, there is nothing abhorrently wrong with utilizing it purely symptomological relief.  Honestly, that’s very similar to taking aspirin for a headache, a diuretic as a method to relieve or control high blood pressure, opiates to alleviate severe pain, or olanzapine for rapid-cycling mania.

In fact, here at Operation Compassionate Care, we know that the potential is there to do so much more than just treating symptoms of PTSD via activation of the cannabinoid receptors.  Unfortunately, until further testing can be conducted (which is now being approved by the governing powers that be), symptomological treatments are all we have for more generalized anxiety and depression disorders.

Treatment for PTSD Symptoms

Recommendations for the Proper Use of Medical Cannabis as a Treatment for PTSD Symptoms

Because we are not doctors and cannot prescribe an actual treatment per say please note that the information we provide is merely a recommendation as part of our ongoing efforts to educate people on the helpful benefits of incorporating medical cannabis as part of their PTSD treatment and therapy plans.

As part of a possible treatment plan geared towards ensuring the best possible results from the use of medicinal cannabis to help alleviate the symptoms associated with a PTSD diagnosis, it would include using low to moderate doses with as stable a blood level as possible for general anxiety and depression symptoms. Oral cannabis produces more stable blood levels and when administered prior to going to bed should produce the best results for improving sleep patterns. If the intended outcome is to suppress or attempt the extinction of the response to PTSD triggers than small to moderate doses of cannabis vapors should be administered shortly before planned exposure to the trigger event or stimuli.  Multiple treatments will produce better results than a single session. If for some reason the cannabis appears to trigger or increase the symptoms of aversion, fear, or aversive memories than the dosage should be lowered.  If by some chance the symptoms have not been relieved, improved or subsided then discontinue use of cannabis a form of therapy treatment for the PTSD symptoms.

In light of all evidence currently available, it is striking that the FDA refuses to investigate cannabinoids for the treatment of anxiety disorders like PTSD yet they have approved studies of MDMA, the club drug Ecstasy, for the treatment of PTSD (Doblin, 2002).  Honestly, with the lives of so many veterans suffering from PTSD at stake, it is high time that the scientific community and governmental policy makers take a strong look at medical cannabis as a viable and reliable form of treatment for individuals that suffer from PTSD.

Knowing that this article contains many references to scientific terms and the endocannabinoid system we felt that it was important to provide a link to a source providing more in-depth information on that topic.  If you would like more information in regards to the endocannabinoid system than please reference the link provided below.