Marijuana and PTSD by Dr. Raushanah Najeeullah, NMD
A recent study from the journal Neuropsychopharmacology has found that cannabinoids prevent the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in rats exposed to extreme stress. The study examined whether cannabinoid receptor activation could prevent the effects of traumatic stress. In the study scientists divided the rats into four groups. One group got no marijuana, and the other three groups were given the cannabinoid injections at different time intervals after being exposed to extreme stress – one group two hours after the stress, another 24 hours after the stress, and the third 48 hours afterward. They were tested one week later for avoidance; startle response and anxiety levels – all symptoms common in PTSD. The rats who did not receive an injection or received it after 48 hours displayed symptoms of PTSD. The rats who receive injections 2 or 24 hours after stress demonstrated no symptoms of PTSD a week later. This study suggests there may be a window of opportunity for the use of medical marijuana after a stressful event in order to get the full benefits of therapy. It is likely that window would be greater than the 2 or 24 hours for rats considering how much longer the human lifespan is.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder which occurs after a person has experienced a significant traumatic event that involved threat of injury or death. PTSD can affect people of any age or walk of life. This condition is particularly common in veterans of war, sometimes called ‘shell shock’. In the past, soldiers who demonstrated symptoms of PTSD were expected to shake it off and move on with their lives. Luckily today PTSD is recognized as a medical condition warranting attention and care. Other causes of PTSD can be natural disaster, domestic abuse, rape, incarceration, and assault. For example, the attacks on 911 may have triggered PTSD in those who were in the towers as well as those who witnessed the events and those who lost friend and family in the attack.
Symptoms of PTSD fall in 3 categories:
1: Reliving the event to the extent that it affects activities of daily living which include flashbacks to the event, repeated upsetting memories, repeated nightmares and anxiety when in a situation that remind you of the event
2: Avoidance which includes feeling detached, lack of interest in things you normally like to do, and feeling numb
3: Arousal which includes difficulty concentrating, being easily startled or having an exaggerated response to being startled, felling irritable or having outbursts of anger, as well as trouble falling or staying asleep.
Conventional treatment for PTSD involves psychotropic drugs such as anti-anxiety or anti depression medications. Support groups are used also as it helps patients to talk to others with experience similar to their own; this is especially true for veterans of war and bereaved parents.
Naturopathic therapies include mind body medicine techniques such as biofeedback and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming (EMDR). Classical Homeopathy also addresses the mind/body aspect of PTSD and is used successfully in its treatment.
If you believe you or a loved one suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder call us today for a free 15 minute consultation to discuss your treatment options
Ganon-Elazar, Eti; Akirav, Irit; Cannabinoids Prevent the Development of Behavioral and Endocrine Alterations in a Rat Model of Intense StressNeuropsychopharmacology , (14 September 2011) | doi:10.1038/npp.2011.204 http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/npp2011204a.html
Nauert PhD, Rick; Medical Marijuana for PTSDhttp://psychcentral.com/news/2009/11/05/medical-marijuana-for-ptsd/9359.html
Brady, Jeff; Can Marijuana Ease PTSD? A Debate Brews http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126827410
Freeman, Daniel; Marijuana blocks post-traumatic stress? What reefer research sayshttp://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20110070-10391704.html
The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals: Stress Disorders http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric_disorders/anxiety_disorders/stress_disorders.html?qt=post traumatic stress&alt=sh
Medicinenet.com: Definition of Shell Shock http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5474
The society of homeopaths: What is homeopathy? http://www.homeopathy-soh.org/about-homeopathy/what-is-homeopathy/