Cannabis as a Treatment for PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. 

For some, PTSD develops right after a dangerous event or a frightening, shocking experience. Additionally, those with a family history of depression or anxiety may be more likely to suffer from PTSD. Abuse, car accidents, and combat are just a few examples of events that may lead to PTSD. 

Researchers are finding new avenues to treat PTSD with the aid of further discoveries in our body’s endocannabinoid system, a biological system regulating mood, brain activity and immune response. Studies have shown that a deficiency in cannabinoids may be a contributing factor to PTSD to which cannabis is a fast-acting supplement that may help replenish these missing cannabinoids to relieve harsh symptoms.

Affecting nearly eight million Americans, symptoms of PTSD include: irritability, trouble sleeping, poor concentration, phobia of people, places and experiences that trigger memories of the trauma. Currently, there are two categories of treatments; therapy and medication. Unfortunately, those that fall into the medication category are joined by a host of side effects.

With roughly 1 in 5 veterans suffering from PTSD, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is sponsoring a medical research study with none other than Dr. Sue Sisley, an Iraqi War veteran who has exclusively used cannabis to treat her PTSD symptoms since 2010.

Dr. Sisley’s PTSD research project represents what many have noted as the “first definitive U.S. research on whether marijuana can help manage veterans PTSD.” (Marijuana.com) The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has also shown interest in recent “helpful” studies that highlight medicinal cannabis as a treatment option. While not permitted to recommend or prescribe the use of cannabis, VA doctors are encouraged to discuss cannabis as an option for treating PTSD, in states where it is legal. However, more clinical trials are needed in order to provide medicinal cannabis access for all veterans.