Multiple studies have shown that the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in cannabis can help with symptoms associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A recent study from Wayne State University produced the same results. It showed that with the addition of THC, those with PTSD showed improvements in emotional dysregulation, especially when combined with cognitive reappraisal therapy. Emotional dysregulation is a term used to describe an emotional response that is poorly regulated and does not fall within the traditionally accepted range of emotional reaction. The study, published in Neuropharmacology, found that those with PTSD reported fewer negative feelings during cognitive reappraisal tasks when they were using THC than with a placebo.
In addition, researchers found that those using THC had increased brain activation in areas of the brain that are usually less active than those with PTSD performing these same kinds of tasks. The changes revealed were strong enough to reduce the neurobiological discrepancies found between those with and without PTSD and could account for the improved emotional regulation being reported by subjects of the study.
As mentioned before this isn’t the first study to suggest cannabis may help those with PTSD. Previous studies have found that THC may be able to reduce PTSD symptoms, reduce stress and anxiety in stressful situations, reduce treat-related reactivity in the amygdala, and reduce cortisol, which is a chemical marker of stress. However, this is the first study of its kind to measure how THC impacts corticolimbic brain activation during cognitive reappraisal tasks for individuals with PTSD. The corticolimbic system (prefrontal cortices, amygdala, and hippocampus) integrates emotion with cognition and produces a behavioral output that is flexible based on environmental circumstances. This study, and others conducted previously, indicate that by using THC in the treatment of PTSD, patients can better regulate their response to stress and their behavioral response to triggers impacting their condition.
A federal study conducted by The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a San Jose, Calif.-based, nonprofit founded in 1986 to raise awareness and understanding of psychedelic substances, found that veterans diagnosed with PTSD showed improvement in their symptoms when using THC. The placebo-controlled, double-blind study was published in PLOS ONE in March of 2021 and used a cannabis blend with nine percent THC for their subjects.
While research is ongoing, studies like these are producing data that is encouraging to those suffering from conditions like PTSD. The Veterans Association estimates that 11 to 20 percent of recent veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are living with PTSD.
Though still federally illegal and also illegal to possess on any federal property, doctors in the VA system are permitted under agency guidelines to discuss cannabis with patients, but they are currently forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to authorize it. If you’re ready to add medical marijuana to your treatment plan for PTSD, please contact The Healing Clinics to get started on your legal, healing journey!