We already paid attention to the pain issue in our article “Against Pain Together With MMJ”, but PTSD deserves a separate article in our blog, as it’s far more complicated than just a physical pain…
Our life is full of different stressful events, often unpleasant and emotionally painful, and our brain records all the happening to us, but it is also composed to defend our organism to avoid further harm. We may experience trouble sleeping, or get back to bad memories, fill upset and distressed after experiencing some sort of stress. But with a course of time all emotional disturbances and worries are dulled, and a person gets back to usual life.
WHAT IS PTSD?
If you have been suffering from anxiety, emotional disturbances more than four weeks after a traumatic event, you may have a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Citing the definition of this unfortunately rather common disorder from the official website of U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, “PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault”.
Physicians identify 4 main symptoms of PTSD:
- reliving or re-experiencing the event. You may have bad memories or nightmares. Or experience flashbacks, going through the same situation;
- avoiding talking, thinking of an event, or even people, places, situations that could remind you of it.
- mood or thought changes. A person stops being interested in previous activities he or she used to enjoy, may feel guilty or ashamed because of the trauma towards himself or herself.
- arousal symptoms. A person becomes more alert, cautious, even paranoid, vulnerable to a quick change of mood, easily becomes irritated, angry. And to escape from these emotions, people do some untypical for them actions, usually take to alcohol, drugs etc.
As PTSD is more a mental disorder, the basic treatment remains psychotherapy. Its main technique is a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is aimed at understanding of the reasons, why the trauma influenced a person this way and consequently to help people change their attitude towards it.
And of course medications are on the way to overcome the disorder. The medications used to treat PTSD are based on the stimulation serotonin level in the brain. We hope, that almost everyone heard that serotonin is a chemical responsible for mood, that’s why it’s so important while speaking about PTSD. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are antidepressants that are designed to relieve moderate depression symptoms. SSRIs have a wide range of side effects, including dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, headaches and sexual problems.
Along with the above mentioned medications different anti-anxiety medicines also work for PTSD. But the major side-effect is that patients become addictive to them. The longer a person takes medicine, the more of the drug they need to get the same results.
A sure thing, when nothing can help, people are likely to use the natural wonder, which is unfortunately considered by mere mortals, illegal, even enrolled on the list of Schedule I controlled substances, – medical marijuana.
MMJ IN TREATING PTSD
Published in November 2016 Canadian research showed how cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive marijuana component, works with the serotonin system. This interaction helps to block negative memories, and this is a cornerstone of why MMJ is preferably used against PTSD rather than psychiatric medications.
CBD can facilitate the extinction of learned fears. It could be extremely helpful for PTSD patients to decrease fear expression and thus get rid of long-term negative memories.
A Brazilian research of 2015 shows that THC is even more powerful in suppressing negative memories than CBD. And based on these and many more studies we dare to suggest, that a combined powers of CBD and THC could really be miraculous for treating psychological disorders with minimal side-effects. Actually, the union of CBD and THC is represented – guess, where? – the medical marijuana plant!
The majority of US states consider PTSD as a qualified medical condition to be treated with medical marijuana. On November, 11, 2017 in honor of Veterans Day New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a package of bills officially allowing medicinal marijuana to be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition. Medical marijuana is a need not only for veterans, but also for police officers, firefighters, survivors of war actions, victims of sexual assault. But as the amount of research conducted to find out how PTSD is influenced by medical cannabis is rather scanty, and the data are still controversial and not favourable for MMJ, many states are still rather hesitating on the issue.
It’s known that CBD component of medical cannabis is the promising one, and its synthetic derivatives can be widely used in the future. But still the right strain, dosage and many more peculiarities for the proper usage are not stated for sure.
However, the zealous advocates for using medical marijuana in treating PTSD are veterans, those who have come through the horrors of battlefields, and know themselves how extremely hard is to continue fighting but now with the more terrible enemies – memories.
By the way our service MMJHerb honours the contribution of the veterans to the prosperity of our country and eager to provide a 50% discount on all services to veterans.
In 2016, the American Legion petitioned the government to relax federal restrictions on marijuana. Veterans require to reschedule medical marijuana, remove it from the list of Schedule 1 narcotics and “to license privately-funded medical marijuana production operations in the United States to enable safe and efficient cannabis drug development research”.
The results of the survey released in November 2017 by the American Legion show, that 82 percent of veterans are in favor of cannabis as a federally legal medical treatment.
And finally a breakthrough happened. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a trial investigating cannabis as a treatment for PTSD in 2017. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), that is conducting this one of a kind, large-scale research, aims at “the creation of a plant-based marijuana medicine to alleviate the symptoms of the millions of people diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the United States alone”. Moreover, it also would try to determine “whether four different combinations of plant-based cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) can assist in decreasing the overall cost of treatment and provide a substantially improved cost/benefit ratio for both users and society”.
One more legit hope for medical cannabis advocates is the Section 732 of the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act creates a new regulatory structure that would allow the Pentagon to sign off on unapproved devices and drugs for emergency use on military personnel and others in harm's way.
Simply saying, it could allow the Pentagon to decide whether some banned by FDA medications or substances could be used for military use. And we may also wish and expect, that medical marijuana could also be consumed for medical purposes by soldiers in battlefields and veterans to combat their PTSD.
MMJ AND SEXUAL ASSAULT-RELATED PTSD
PTSD is almost every time associated with veterans, but sexually assaulted suffer from the disorder quite frequently too and it’s not surprising, as an American is sexually assaulted about every minute and a half. Of course, the most typical victims are women, and usually it’s so humiliating, that they do not say about it to anyone, keep it to themselves, and all the horrors and disgust result in constant fear, terrible flashbacks, that with a course of time becomes unbearable to withstand.
Some try to use over-the-counter psychiatric medications, some just become isolated from the society, some try alternative medicine. And usually the most harmless way out is medical cannabis.
As a result of the trauma, our HPA (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal) axis, an essential part of the endocrine system, is dysregulated. The role of HPA axis is to release stress hormones, consequently, as they are not let off, hormones levels are increased in our body, exposing our body and our mind in particular to experience mental and emotional depressive disorders. Yet, in 2002 there was a study on animal models at John Hopkins University, that showed, that CBD administration regulates the level of cortisol – a main stress hormone.
Of course, the major proof of MMJ efficacy, as it’s still under Federal Law, remains evidence and testimonials of sexual assault victims. One of these stories was published at MaryJane.com, where Rebecca, a code name for all women raped, narrates a story how cannabis helped her in managing the extreme paranoid feelings.
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