Posted June 9, 2016 by Ljubica Kostovic

How Cannabis Can Help You Manage Your PTSD

 

growwise_graphic_blog01_06-08-2016_hires-01As with any chronic condition, living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can pose great challenges to our health, wellbeing, and ability to function in our daily lives. It can limit our ability to cope with life’s ups and downs and can lead to numerous related conditions and symptoms. Medical cannabis may have the potential to help those suffering from PTSD better manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

PTSD is a condition which can result from an experience of a traumatic event. It is typically marked by a variety of symptoms including, but not limited to, recurrent and intrusive recalling of the traumatic event, persistent avoidance of its reminders, sleep disturbances, hyper vigilance and dysphoria.

What these terms often translate to is an inability to get through the day without flashbacks; a serious case of insomnia and night terrors; a wide spectrum of anxiety and mood disorders; a variety of phobias; obsessive Compulsive Disorder; feeling numb.

PTSD is a complex condition which can have highly disruptive effects on our lives. It is often best managed through a multi-modal approach which includes pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments. One of the biggest challenges faced by patients is determining the right pharmacological regimen which maximizes therapeutic effects while minimizing side effects and addiction potential. The limited effectiveness and high addiction potential of many of the current pharmacological options may be the reason why many patients diagnosed with chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder already self-medicate with cannabis.

Cannabis has great potential to alleviate a number of conditions and symptoms. The cannabinoids found in cannabis have been shown to have a profound impact on our body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is one of the systems involved in pain processing and amygdala regulation, among other things.

For managing symptoms of PTSD, understanding the potential impact of cannabis on our amygdala is crucial. Our amygdala is responsible for fear processing, anxiety, and emotional learning. It also has a high concentration of CB1 receptors to which cannabinoids found in cannabis can bind and produce therapeutic effects.

By attaching to the CB1 receptors found in the amygdala, cannabis has the potential to reduce anxiety,  manage flashbacks, diminish hyperarousal and promote sleep. In addition, cannabis may also be helpful for letting go of painful memories and inducing calming and relaxing states.

The anxiolytic properties of cannabis can help reduce anxiety, promote relaxation and well-being and significantly improve quality of sleep. As a result of the effects of cannabinoids on amygdala function, many patients find that they are less likely to experience night terrors and night sweats, flashbacks and report a general improvement in mood and functioning.

 

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