Does Cannabis Help with PTSD?

When the topic of medicating with cannabis comes up, one question that’s often asked is, “does cannabis help with mental health?”

So, before we address the topic of cannabis and PTSD let’s explore the question, how does cannabis affect your mental health?

Cannabis and Mental Health

Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) has conducted a number of studies on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. One study examined the impact of  cannabis on cognitive performance over a two-year period.

This study found that those who used cannabis to treat anxiety and other medical conditions showed significantly improved cognitive performance, reduced clinical symptoms, and reduced anxiety. They also showed a reduction in the use of medications like mood stabilizers and antidepressants.1

Does Cannabis Provide Mental Health Benefits?

A team of American and Canadian researchers conducted a review of science back in 2016 to explore potential cannabis mental health benefits. Their findings were published in Clinical Psychology Review and showed that cannabis could be beneficial for those dealing with depression, social anxiety, and PTSD.

Although their findings indicated that medicating with cannabis could lead to unfavorable side effects for those dealing with bipolar disorder, the results of the study suggest that cannabis could be beneficial for those battling addiction.2

Potential Replacement for Opioid Medications

In a TIME magazine article, the study’s author, Professor Jack Walsh of the University of British Columbia, said, “This is a substance that has potential use for mental health … . If people use cannabis as a replacement for opioid medications, or to get off of opioids or cut back, we could see some pretty dramatic public health benefits.”2

So now that we have a better understanding of the potential of cannabis in the treatment of mental health issues, let’s consider the question, “can cannabis help with PTSD?”

Does Cannabis Help with PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can occur after someone has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event like a serious injury, a natural disaster, or war.

Following the traumatic event, certain triggers can bring back memories of the trauma and cause a person to experience symptoms that can include:

  • Disturbing thoughts and nightmares
  • Anxiety, sadness, and depression
  • Feelings of detachment

PTSD affects about 3.5% of adults in the U.S. and it’s estimated that one out of eleven people will will be diagnosed with PTSD during their lifetime.3

Depending on the severity of the traumatic event, PTSD can last for months or years.

For some, the symptoms of PTSD can subside after some time has passed following the traumatic event. Others are able to work through their PTSD with the help of friends and family. Some will need professional treatment that can include speaking to a therapist, medication, or a combination of both.

Research on Cannabis as Treatment for PTSD

Up until recently, there had been little research on the therapeutic potential of cannabis in the treatment of PTSD. And although more research needs to be done, early results look promising for those looking to cannabis for help with their PTSD.

In September of 2020, a research paper published in The Journal of Affective Disorders indicated that inhaled cannabis was effective in reducing PTSD symptoms by more than 50%.

Although the study revealed that cannabis can provide temporary relief from the symptoms associated with PTSD, it also noted it may not be an effective long-term remedy by itself. 

The study also highlighted emerging evidence that the endocannabinoid system may represent a viable target for treating PTSD.4  Click here to learn more about the endocannabinoid system, and how it could be the key to unlocking your body’s natural healing powers.

THC in the Treatment of PTSD Symptoms

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a non-profit organization committed to raising awareness of psychedelic substances and their potential in the treatment of mental health issues. 

MAPS conducted a study in December of 2020 that compared participants diagnosed with PTSD who used medicinal cannabis that was prescribed to them, with those who had PTSD but did not use cannabis to treat their symptoms. 

After this one-year study that included 150 participants, it was determined that those who medicated with cannabis reported significant improvement of their symptoms. It also found that those who medicated with cannabis were two and a half times more likely to recover from PTSD than those who did not medicate with cannabis.5

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies built on this previous study by conducting the first, FDA regulated study on smoked cannabis as a potential treatment option for veterans diagnosed with PTSD.

The aim of the study was to compare the therapeutic potential of different ratios of THC and CBD in the treatment of PTSD. 

Do Different Amounts of THC and CBD Make a Difference?

As you know, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis that provides the high sensation. CBD (cannabidiol) is another active compound in cannabis but unlike THC, CBD does not have psychoactive properties.

The results of the MAPS 2021 study were published in the peer-reviewed journal, PLOS One.  The study showed improvement in the symptoms of participants who smoked cannabis blends with a 9% THC concentration. It also showed improvements in samples containing 11% CBD and samples containing 8% of both THC and CBD.6

The lead author of the study, Dr. Marcel O. Bonn-Miller, said “This study served as the first randomized placebo-controlled trial comparing the therapeutic potential of varying ratios of the therapeutic potential of varying ratios of THC and CBD for treating symptoms of PTSD. The next step in the study will involve larger, randomized placebo-controlled trials to determine the minimally effective doses of THC needed to safely treat individuals suffering from PTSD.”6

Research Reinforces What Those with PTSD Have Already Known

Although more research needs to be conducted, it is promising to see that research is reinforcing what many who deal with PTSD have already known – cannabis may help to provide relief from PTSD symptoms.

CBD and THC are just two of more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis. Click here to learn about their potential health benefits – and how medicating with the right mix of both can lead to an enhanced cannabis experience. 

The Best Way to Medicate with Cannabis Is Different for All

Let Bloom Medicinals Help to Determine the Way That’s Best for You 

Everyone’s experience with medicinal cannabis will vary. Instead of focusing on which strain you should medicate with, it’s important to strike the right balance of cannabinoids and terpenes that work best with your endocannabinoid system. Doing so may help to unlock your body’s natural healing power. 

As part of our commitment to cannabis education, Bloom Medicinals would like to offer you the opportunity to schedule a free consultation. During this one-on-one consultation, our patient care specialists will get to know you, your qualifying conditions, medications, dietary restrictions, activity level, and any specific effects you’re seeking, or looking to avoid. By doing so, we can help to identify the consumption methods and forms of cannabis that are best for you!

Take the first step toward a better quality of life by calling to schedule your free consultation at a Bloom Medicinals dispensary near you!