Study Substantiates Benefits Of Cannabinoids For Post Traumatic Stress

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 21, 2013

    Brain imaging research published this month in the journal Molecular Psychiatry provides physiological evidence as to why cannabis may mitigate certain symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

    Post-traumatic stress syndrome is an anxiety disorder that is estimated to impact some eight million Americans annually. Yet, to date, there are no pharmaceutical treatments specifically designed or approved to target symptoms of PTSD.

    Investigators at the New York University School of Medicine and the New York University Langone Medical Center, Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center for the Study of Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury reported that subjects diagnosed with PTSD typically possess elevated quantities of endogenous cannabinoid receptors in regions of the brain associated with fear and anxiety. Investigators also determined that many of these subjects experience a decrease in their natural production of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter, resulting in an imbalanced endocannibinoid regulatory system.

    Researchers speculated that an increase in the body’s production of cannabinoids would likely restore subjects’ natural brain chemistry and psychological balance. They affirmed, “[Our] findings substantiate, at least in part, emerging evidence that … plant-derived cannabinoids such as marijuana may possess some benefits in individuals with PTSD by helping relieve haunting nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD.”

    They concluded: “The data reported herein are the first of which we are aware of to demonstrate the critical role of CB1 (cannabinoid) receptors and endocannabinoids in the etiology of PTSD in humans. As such, they provide a foundation upon which to develop and validate informative biomarkers of PTSD vulnerability, as well as to guide the rational development of the next generation of evidence-based treatments for PTSD.”

    Anecdotal evidence and case study reports have increasingly indicated that cannabis may mitigate traumatic memories and anxiety. However, clinical trial data remains unavailable, in large part because US federal officials have blocked investigators’ efforts to study cannabis in PTSD subjects. In 2011 federal administrators halted efforts by investigators at the University of Arizona to complete an FDA-approved, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the use of cannabis in 50 veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD.

    PTSD is also seldom identified as a qualifying condition in states that allow for the physician authorized use of cannabis therapy. (To date, only New Mexico explicitly cites PTSD as a qualifying condition for cannabis treatment, although a handful of other states, like California, allow doctors the discretion to legally recommend marijuana for post-trauma subjects.) In Oregon, lawmakers in the House are considering Senate-approved legislation, SB 281, that would allow PTSD patients to legally consume cannabis under the state’s nearly 15-year-old medical marijuana program.

    35 responses to “Study Substantiates Benefits Of Cannabinoids For Post Traumatic Stress”

    1. LelianatheBard says:

      Yay! I’ve been waiting for such an article ever since NORML posted news about other studies about cannabis helping PTSD patients, where the researchers had to travel to other countries to study due to America’s DEA-laws about marijuana research. (Where you can only conduct studies on marijuana if it’s to prove the negative effects of it, in the USA? If I’m not mistaken.) I am SO pleased that this was conducted in New York, that is such huge progress.

      I’ve wondered if America’s reason for refusing to acknowledged the multiple studies proving that cannabis helped PTSD in the past is due to the doctors not being in the country. I wonder if this close-to-home study will let the facts be taken into account, finally? It’s wonderful this reasearch was conducted, either way.

    2. Brian says:

      Not to be nit picky, but I think you mean “Brain imagining research” rather than Brian imagining. It’s great to see tangible evidence of a way to help veterans and others afflicted by PTSD.

    3. MBMMamma says:

      While this study may “substantiate” the benefits of cannabinoids for PTSD, there are plenty of other effective treatments out there for it. First, our society is too hung up on finding pills to treat illnesses. But, if that’s what you believe in, there are several FDA approved cannabinoid medications. Second, there is substantial evidence to prove that the negative, long-term side-effects of marijuana do not outweigh the short-term benefits.

      I say legalize marijuana. Regulate it like tobacco/alcohol but it really has no place in the medical field. It’s like telling someone to go get drunk to deal with chronic pain. The risks clearly don’t outweigh the benefits.

    4. Chris in WI says:

      How the hell is conducting science to prove efficacy illegal? Outlaw the truth?! What!?! No science on schedule I substances is illegal as hell!!!

    5. Galileo Galilei says:

      To thwart the advance of medical science is a crime against us all.

    6. Anonymous says:

      These Fuderal adminstrators should be given a ww2 surplus parachute and dumped over the bikini atoll.

    7. warren says:

      These fuderal adminstrators should be given a WW2 surplus parachute and dumped over the bikini atoll.

    8. mallacai says:

      I served aboard HMS Hermes during the Falklands war and have been suffering from PTSD for years, nearly all veterans self medicate whether through alcohol/drugs, I nearly killed myself drinking to try and just numb my feelings but only ended up worse, violence and depression were amongst the biggest problems with alcohol but recently I tried marijuania and it seems to have a beneficiary effect, no depression, no violence, i’ve been on many different medications including mirtazapine and chlorpromazine and the list of side effects are horrendous, I spent almost 6 years virtually comatose as a result of the chlorpromazine and it’s taken me 3 years to get it out of my system, i’m dam sure the side effects of cannabinoids arent anyway near that of pharmaceutical products and as much money should be spent on the study of cannabinoids as pharmaceutical products.

    9. the-latchkeykid says:

      Negative long term side-effects of marijuana? If anyone out there can name one scientifically based proven long term negative side-effect of cannabis besides the abuse of our government oppressing the people of America and establishing laws around the world to do the same to our global citizens. Pigs will fly!! Doesn’t exist and never ever will.

    10. Tommy B says:

      I am a veteran. I have severe PTSD. When i dont consume marijuana i stay in my home for days, avoid family and friends and do little of anything. Its only after i use marijuana that i can be social, have ample energy to exercise, do household chores, and all the things you probably do daily and take for granted.