PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) syndrome got the nickname battle fatigue or shell shock when first discovered among war veterans. It manifests after witnessing terrifying and trauma-inducing incidents where they experience severe threats to life or physical harm. Adults who experienced abuse as children or have continuously been in dangerous situations stand a high chance of PTSD.
Approximately 3.6% of American adults (5.2 million) experience PTSD in a year. Approximately 7.8 million will develop it at a point in their adult lives. Thousands of people who find medication ineffective or dangerous have turned to medical marijuana for relief.
Symptoms of PTSD
PTSD comes with various symptoms such as
- Low self-esteem
- Dissociative amnesia
- Suicidal tendencies
Medical Marijuana For PTSD
Medical marijuana is legal in most U.S states. Federal law prohibits the use of Cannabis but allows it if it has less than 0.3% THC. Out of the hundreds of chemicals in a marijuana plant (cannabinoids), THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol) are the most significant ones used in medical marijuana.
THC causes high when people smoke marijuana. However, medical Cannabis has low THC amounts and higher CBD levels, which means you can’t get high from medical marijuana. Instead, medical marijuana is effective for people with PTSD. It minimizes the symptoms because CBD counters effects such as anxiety triggered by THC.
Most PTSD patients use medical marijuana as a supplement to ongoing therapy. Since Cannabis comes in different strains, specific strains are helpful for PTSD symptoms. Some, like Indica, have a calming effect, while the Sativa strain has an energizing impact that improves your moods.
Each PTSD case differs with the individual. Some of the symptoms that medical marijuana helps with include:
One of the most common PTSD symptoms is nightmares that lead to insomnia. According to a study in 2008, acute cannabis use facilitates sleeping. The patient can rest and get to Stage 4 sleep and experience a reduction of REM sleep.
REM sleep is the dream stage, so medical marijuana allows you to skip the dream stage and enter into a deep sleep that means uninterrupted sleep. When you are more rested, your brain instantly processes anxiety and panic. Indica strains are best for insomnia for their calming effect.
· Stress and Anxiety
PTSD induces a lot of anxiety and stress. Medical marijuana induces relaxation, and people who take low doses of THC show higher signs of reduced anxiety and fear in triggering situations.
A study by researchers in the Brazil Federal University of Parana explored how Cannabis could help in reducing the intensity of their traumatic memories.
For some people who experience trauma, the worries go away after about six months because of the learning process of extinction. New memories form and override the older memories. For instance, an Iraqi War Veteran who gets attacked with explosives under a bridge gets terrified each time he goes near bridges.
For most people, months of passing under the same bridge with no trauma make them feel bridges are not as dangerous. As old memories become extinct, new ones accumulate. The old traumatic memories still linger, but they do not trigger fear when near a bridge.
For people with PTSD, extinction learning does not occur. The traumatic feelings attached to old traumatic experiences continue to cause issues.
Medical marijuana is legal by state law but illegal by federal law unless its THC levels are under 0.3%. Most people who have PTSD are survivors of traumatic experiences such as war veterans, child abuse survivors, etc. Medical marijuana helps to overcome insomnia, stress, anxiety, and other symptoms of PTSD.
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