Post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental illness which affects approximately 5% of Americans at any given time. PTSD can be caused by any traumatic event. It can be triggered by sexual assault, a car accident, witnessing domestic violence or by living in a state of fear due to war, political unrest or other instability.
However, one of the most common causes of PTSD is military service. This is why PTSD has become synonymous with military veterans. Referred to as “shell shock” in the past, PTSD is fairly well understood today.
However, the current treatments for the condition leave a lot to be desired. Most of the medications prescribed to PSTD patients have sedative-like effects, and those effects provide a pharmacologic rationale for the investigation of other, alternative treatments.
The use of cannabinoids to manage the three core PTSD symptom clusters, reexperiencing, avoidance and numbing, and hyperarousal, is one area of research that is showing real promise.
A literature search identified 11 articles pertaining to cannabis use by military veterans who met standard diagnostic criteria for PTSD.
Data from 4 small studies suggested that cannabinoid use was associated with global improvements in PTSD symptoms or amelioration of specific PTSD symptoms such as insomnia and nightmares.
Large well-designed controlled trials are needed in order to better delineate the potential role of cannabinoids as an adjunct or alternative to conventional approaches to PTSD management.
While further research into cannabinoid treatment effects on PTSD symptoms is required, the evaluated evidence indicates that substantial numbers of military veterans with PTSD use cannabis or derivative products as an experimental home treatment to control PTSD symptoms.
Many of these patients report significant benefits in terms of reduced anxiety and insomnia and improved coping ability. Finally it seems that science is catching up on this anecdotal evidence, and that a cannabinoid-based PTSD treatment is closer that ever.
Here is the full scientific article if you wish to download it.