We are easy to recover from the normal ups and downs of life. But sometimes in life, such shocking events happen that a person is not able to recover from it fully. The person in such cases is then said to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
Several life situations can trigger the onset of this disorder; it can be a terrible car accident, kidnapping, plane crash or a sexual assault. But PTSD has been seen to be prevalent in particularly war veterans. The prevalence of PTSD in the war veterans can also be understood from the fact that the disorder takes it root in people who witnessed some dangerous situations in their lives.
The most common symptoms of PTSD are experiencing an extreme anxiety as well as flashbacks of that distressing event. Till now no satisfactory cure is present for the disorder but cannabinoids are showing promising results in reducing the symptoms of anxiety, fear and sleep problems.
Post Traumatic Stress disorder in detail
The sufferers of PTSD are so much affected by the traumatic event that they try to stay away from any place or thing which reminds them of that event. This evading habit may not be practical for the patients under various circumstances. Further, the patients may show some deviation from their personality like losing interest in activities that earlier was enjoyable to him/her, also being in the state of constant anxiety, getting easily affected by happenings in the surrounding. It also involves behavioral changes like sudden anger outburst and experiencing sleep troubles. Therefore, PTSD can be seen as a mental condition where without the presence of any real danger a person still associates certain situations and places as something possessing a threat to him.
The treatment of PTSD is not so easy and it involves several methods to provide the patient some relief from the distressing symptoms. Apart from prescribing anti-depressants to deal with the behavioral aspect of the disorder like anger, sadness, feelings of numbness and anxiety; the treatment also includes psychotherapies such as exposure therapy, cognitive restructuring, and stress inoculation training.
Exposure therapy involves exposing the patient to the anxiety-triggering stimuli to slowly increasing degrees to enable the patient to overcome the anxiety related to the source.
Involves restructuring of thinking and elimination of maladaptive thoughts that interfere with normal human behavior.
Stress inoculation training
This helps in the reduction of stress through repeated successful exposure to the stress-inducing situation.
The role of CBD and other cannabinoids in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Like the solution to many such modern diseases cannabis has also been found to show promising results in the treatment of PTSD. The beneficial effect of cannabis can be attributed to the fact that it has compounds which have a similar role to the substances constituting the body’s endocannabinoid system. The two compounds whose role has been particularly beneficial in the treatment are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These two stimulates the functioning of the endocannabinoid system associated with maintaining emotional wellbeing and proper management of our memory system.
The mechanism of working of the cannabinoids is through the CB1 and CB2 receptors which are responsible for the release of the neurotransmitter that has functions in regulating the various functions of the central nervous system. Through these receptors, the cannabinoids can stop the continuous recollection of the memory associated with the traumatic event. This role of cannabinoids is particularly important as it can result in an increase of the effect of cannabinoid in the relaxation of the patient which in turn also reduces the recurrent anxiety. Cannabis was, therefore, seen to reduce three core aspects of PTSD namely recollection of past experience, evasion, and hyperarousal.
Cannabis has become popular among war veterans to enable them to cope with their emotional abnormalities and stress resilience. Further, the intensity of the PTSD symptoms of the military veteran determines the extent to which they use cannabis. Another reason for cannabis to be preferable for PTSD is its beneficial effect on improving the sleep disorder which is another symptom related to the PTSD disorder. PTSD patients have reported that cannabis use has produced a 75% reduction in the symptoms experienced by them.
Further, studies have presented that cannabis can diminish the intensity of the experienced trauma and it is even more helpful when administered acutely, although it doesn’t mean that it only provides temporary relief. Cannabis can have a long-term solution to the problems with PTSD and when administered just after experiencing a traumatic event, it has been seen to prevent the onset of the symptoms of PTSD disorder.
Medical cannabis allowed for PTSD
Several states in the US considering the medical benefits of cannabis have allowed its use. Arizona, Colorado, Arkansas, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, New York Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Washington are the 24 states where medical cannabis use is allowed.
States like California, Massachusetts and Washington D.C. have approved the use of cannabis in medical conditions where the physician has recommended the patient to use it.
Studies revealing the effects of cannabinoids on PTSD
A 75% reduction in the PTSD symptoms were observed as seen by the study on PTSD patients of Cannabinoid program of New Mexico (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24830188)
Another study on the effects of cannabidiol on anxiety disorders shows promising results. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26341731)
A study on military veterans showed the diminishing outcome on three core aspects of PTSD namely: Avoidance, re-experience, and hyperarousal through cannabinoid use. It also was observed to improve sleep disorders associated with PTSD (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26195653)