Post traumatic stress disorder afflicts a surprisingly large section of the U.S. population. According to the National Center for PTSD, the national prevalence for the condition was measured at 6.8 percent by the National Comorbidity Survey Replication conducted between 2001 and 2003.
That number is significantly higher for combat veterans. A survey performed by the RAND Corporation in 2008 revealed that prevalence of PTSD among those who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom was 13.8 percent, twice that of the national average. Additional studies measured prevalence of PTSD among Gulf War Veterans to be just above 10 percent. The disorder is especially common among those who served in Vietnam, with prevalence estimated to be near 30 percent, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs.
The need for effective treatments for the growing population of citizens being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder has led to several new trends in the laboratory, including more studies focusing on the potential for medical marijuana to help cure PTSD sufferers. In addition to demonstrating the effectiveness of cannabis to assist PTSD patients, new research has revealed more about why cannabis is a unique treatment for the disorder.
New research emphasizes the effectiveness of cannabis
Scientists continue to discover new information regarding the medical benefits of marijuana as they collect more data and run new trials, adding to the growing base of scientific evidence in favor of cannabis treatment. For example, a 2014 study published in the Clinical Drug Investigation treated ten patients with 5 mg of 9-THC twice a day as add-on treatment. Recipients saw significant reduction in the severity of their symptoms and the study concluded that orally administered 9-THC was a “safe and tolerable” treatment for PTSD patients.
“Researchers saw global amelioration of insomnia and nightmares, while veterans themselves reported improved coping ability and reduced anxiety as a result of the treatment.”
Similarly, a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy utilized data collected from military veterans who were administered cannabis orally, transdermally or via inhalation. Researchers saw global amelioration of insomnia and nightmares, while veterans themselves reported improved coping ability and reduced anxiety as a result of the treatment.
Promising links discovered connecting endocannabinoids and PTSD symptoms
In the past few years, even research beyond the direct scope of medical marijuana have pointed toward the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment for PTSD. For instance, a 2013 study published in Molecular Psychiatry found that the cannabinoid type 1, one of the two key receptors of the endocannabinoids system and a key component of the brain’s interaction with 9-THC, is also involved in the chemical processes behind post-traumatic stress disorder. When comparing results between test control groups with and without PTSD, those with the disorder saw elevated levels of three biomarkers – OMAR VT, anandamide and cortisol – related to CB1 receptor availability.
These results could provide crucial insight into how medical marijuana can be used to treat chronic pain and variety of disorders. Recent research trends also re-emphasize the need for even more studies regarding cannabis and its potential to improve the quality of life of thousands of patients across the country.