Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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During the Vietnam War, U.S. soldiers often smoked Southeast Asian cannabis to deal with the horrors of combat. After returning home from the war, many veterans continued to use cannabis to deal with the post-traumatic stress of their experience in Vietnam. Recent studies underscore a strong connection between the endocannabinoid system and how the brain processes traumatic memories. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder is typically triggered by exposure to extreme traumatic stressors, involving the direct experience of death or severe harm, actual or threatened. The response to this stress usually involves an intense experience of terror or helplessness.

The classic symptoms of PTSD include intense recollections of the original event, often in flashbacks or nightmares. PTSD often leads to increased emotional distancing, avoidance, and intense arousal or rage.

Traumatic experiences leading to PTSD symptoms include combat, natural disasters, sexual abuse, traffic accidents, and violent crime. It is estimated that 10 percent of the U.S. population will experience some PTSD symptoms during their lives.

Medical cannabis has proven very effective in treating PTSD symptoms. The amygdala is a small almond-shaped portion of the brain associated with emotional memory and fear conditioning. PTSD changes the structure and function of the amygdala. The endocannabinoid system is associated with the extinction of adverse memories such as those associated with the amygdala. The ability of phytocannabinoids to interfere with memory processing has been demonstrated pretty conclusively and known for decades. A recent brain scanning study indicated that abnormal endocannabinoid signaling in the brain is strongly implicated in PTSD patients.

Molecules to target PTSD

High CBD and THC strains are best supplemented with a generous amount of CBG for their synergistic effects. Pinene should probably be avoided since this terpene may reduce the ability of the cannabinoids to extinguish aversive memories.

Dosing for PTSD

The dosage of THC and CBD needs to be refined and better understood. The effectiveness of medical cannabis to treat PTSD appears to be dose-dependent. Again, relatively moderate doses are probably crucial.

Methods of ingestion

Oral cannabis is excellent for reducing dreaming, including the nightmares that sometimes plague some people with PTSD.