Recent PTSD Research Advancements Involving Medical Cannabis
Recent research surrounding cannabis as a therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) reveals promising new findings for sufferers and their families. Historically, the most commonly studied medication for treating PTSD has been antidepressants, which may help control symptoms of sadness, worry, anger, and numbness. However, they don’t always work for everyone and come with a long list of potential side effects. Medical marijuana may be an alternative therapy to consider in alleviating symptoms associated with PTSD.
Today, we’re providing an overview of some of the latest research that’s come out in the past year regarding the efficacy of cannabis in PTSD therapy
Frontiers in Psychiatry – Brief Research Report
In this retrospective naturalistic study, researchers followed 14 relatively mature (32-68 years of age), treatment-resistant, chronic combat post-traumatic patients who remained severely symptomatic despite treatment with many lines of conventional treatment prior to receiving medicinal cannabis.
The researchers found that total sleep score, subjective sleep quality, and sleep duration significantly improved (p < 0.01). Total PTSD symptom score and its subdomains (intrusiveness, avoidance, and alertness) showed improvement (p < 0.05). However, there was no improvement in the frequency of nightmares. Read the full research report here.
Subjects showed symptom improvements following the use of cannabis products for their PTSD. The study used patient responses to validated questionnaires to measure changes in sleep quality, anxiety, and PTSD-specific symptoms (intrusions, avoidance, and hyperarousal) over time.
By comparing scores from patients at their baseline to one, three, and six months after initiating medical cannabis use, researchers noted significant improvements across all follow-up periods. Adverse events related to cannabis use were predominantly mild or moderate, with insomnia and fatigue being most commonly reported at 20 incidents each. Read the full paper here.
Paper in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders
In this study, researchers asked 77 licensed medical cannabis patients suffering from PTSD to report each morning on the timing of cannabis use the previous evening and subsequent sleep disturbances during the night. The closer to bedtime a patient used cannabis, the less likely they were to experience nightmares, which they argue may in turn translate to reduced daytime stress.
The authors found those who used products with higher CBD concentrations reported fewer early awakenings and longer sleep. The number of nightly awakenings was not associated with any aspect of cannabis use, though the researchers did find that those who went to bed later reported fewer awakenings. Read the full paper here.
This study from Wayne State University suggests that low doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may help PTSD sufferers with emotional dysregulation, particularly when combined with a cognitive reappraisal therapy. Researchers utilized a double-blind design where a total of 52 subjects randomly received THC or a placebo prior to taking part in a well-established emotion regulation task while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Patients who were given THC reported less negative feelings during cognitive reappraisal tasks in comparison to their counterparts who received a placebo. They also exhibited increased brain activation in parts of the brain that generally show a lack of activity in PTSD patients while doing similar tasks.
“These findings suggest that THC may prove to be a beneficial pharmacological adjunct to cognitive reappraisal therapy in the treatment of PTSD,” the researchers stated. Read the rest of the study here.
Clinical Trial Conducted by Soroka University Medical Center & Cannbit-Tikun Olam, Israeli medical cannabis company
Reported in the Jerusalem Post, a recent clinical trial conducted by Soroka University Medical Center and Israeli medical cannabis company, Cannbit-Tikun Olam, showed promising results, especially for treating PTSD. The study focused on 8,500 male and female Israelis, averaging 54.6 years old, using marijuana strains developed by Cannbit-Tikun Olam.
Notably, patients taking cannabis were able to stop or reduce their dosages of opioids by 52%, anti-psychotics by 36.9%, anti-epileptics by 35.7% and hypnotics and sedatives by 35.3%. Overall, over two-thirds of patients reported at least moderate improvement with no serious side effects, with 90.8% of treated PTSD patients being classified as therapeutic successes after six months.
Reduced government research restrictions continue to expand exciting ways the cannabis plant may be studied and subsequently used as a therapy in PTSD. If you have been diagnosed with PTSD and are considering medical marijuana as a treatment option, contact Duber Medical to make an appointment.
More than 35 states now offer medical marijuana programs – still have questions about how to get started or whether it’s right for your PTSD Treatment? Give us a call at 833.977.2424 and we’ll be happy to help!