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Is Medicinal Cannabis an Effective Treatment for PTSD?

How effective is medicinal cannabis for PTSD?

Medical Cannabis products are increasingly being touted for their many medical benefits.

As their use becomes more acceptable across the globe, researchers are exploring the various ways in which they can offer relief to people who suffer from health problems including chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, and many more.

If you or someone you know suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), read on to learn more about how cannabis could help.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a complex and severe mental illness characterized by high levels of anxiety which occur periodically or constantly after a traumatic event.

Though it is commonly associated with military veterans, it can happen to anyone as a result of any type of trauma, including accidents, assaults, natural disasters, and childhood trauma.

Like many mental illnesses, PTSD shows up in different ways for different people. But common symptoms include:

  • Social impairment
  • Avoidance of things or people associated with the event 
  • Mood swings (e.g, anxiety, depression, anger)
  • Chronic pain
  • Overwhelming feelings of grief and/or shame
  • Recurring nightmares and flashbacks about the event
  • Suicidal behaviour 
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Emotional numbness and withdrawal
  • Headaches
  • Sleep problems
  • Physical symptoms related to anxiety (eg: high blood pressure) 

When these symptoms affect our ability to carry out daily functioning, make people lose sight of self-care, and impact relationships in our lives, they should seek out medical help immediately.

Alcohol and drug dependency are often co-occurring disorders alongside PTSD, and suicide or attempted suicide is sadly common.

For more information on PTSD and its symptoms, visit the CMHA website.

PTSD Treatment Options

Medical care including psychiatric support is essential for helping individuals cope with and, with time, hopefully, alleviate such symptoms.

CMHA recommends that people suffering from PTSD first approach their family doctor. From there, a PTSD sufferer can be referred to a specialist experienced with PTSD.

Treatments might be one or a combination of:

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
  • Support groups
  • Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication
  • Therapy and/or medication for comorbidities (associated conditions)

Medicinal marijuana for PTSD may also be an effective complementary therapy.

PTSD Treatment and Medicinal Cannabis

While pharmaceutical medications can play a role in the treatment of PTSD, they often come with undesirable side effects and in a worst-case scenario, can be addictive.

Because of these risks, some PTSD sufferers are turning to medicinal cannabis to help treat symptoms like anxiety and sleep disturbance.

A growing chorus of veterans and first responders use medicinal marijuana for PTSD.

While the evidence is far from conclusive and some studies are not supportive in their findings, most clinical studies are encouraging about medicinal cannabis in the treatment of PTSD.

Many consume medicinal cannabis for PTSD by smoking marijuana flowers (dried marijuana plant leaves).

But smoking marijuana, like cigarettes, can lead to lung damage, and people with asthma or other respiratory problems should be particularly cautious.

How Effective is Medicinal Marijuana for PTSD

You Don’t Need to Smoke Marijuana to Find Relief from PTSD Symptoms

If you want to try medicinal cannabis for PTSD but don’t want to smoke marijuana, we have some good news. 

The two active components in medical cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are both useful in combating the symptoms such as flashbacks, anxiety, and sleeplessness.

Both of these are available in liquid formats, mainly capsules and tinctures.

Through genetic engineering, the amount of THC in flowers has greatly increased but is still nowhere close to the concentration of THC in distillate, which is typically almost 100%.

As such, only a small amount of oil is required to get the desired dose.

Capsules and tinctures make it easy to measure and manage the amount of THC being consumed. This is the opposite of smoking flowers where the amount of THC varies from plant to plant and among the various strains.

THC oils will still get you high and impair cognitive and motor functions, and in some people can exacerbate feelings such as paranoia and anxiety.

So if you are not familiar with THC-based marijuana products, you will want to be very careful with dosing…or you can try CBD.

CBD has no known side effects and will not get you high. It has shown tremendous promise in the treatment of arthritis and other pain-related conditions.

Studies on the effectiveness of CBD in treating PTSD are inconclusive. Nevertheless, there seem to be strong indications it might be as effective as THC.

We recommend starting with a small dose to gauge its initial effects, then slowly increasing the dose until you find the amount that gives optimum relief.

More information on dosing can be found here.

Hope for PTSD Sufferers

Living with PTSD will remain a challenge requiring an ongoing treatment plan. Medicinal cannabis offers hope as a complementary therapy.

Lune Wellness specializes in medicinal cannabis oils and tinctures, both THC and CBD, as well as blended formulations.

Learn more about our line of quality products here.

If you have comments or questions about this blog or about our products, please contact us at support@lunewellness.ca. We’re always eager to help.