The use of cannabis and cannabinoids likely mitigates symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a review of clinical and preclinical evidence published online in July in the scientific journal Drug Testing and Analysis.
An international team of investigators from Germany, the US, and the United Kingdom reported that cannabis use “dramatically reduced” PTSD symptoms in a single 19-year-old male patient, and noted: “In the case report presented in this review, the patient displayed a grave pathology involving anxiety, dissociation and heavy flashbacks as a consequence of PTSD. … The patient stated that he found cannabis more useful than lorazepam. … It is evident from the case history that the patient experienced reduced stress, less involvement with flashbacks and a significant decrease of anxiety.”
Authors also cited “accumulating clinical and preclinical evidence that cannabinoids may mitigate some major symptoms associated with PTSD.”
They concluded: “Cannabis may dampen the strength or emotional impact of traumatic memories through synergistic mechanisms that might make it easier for people with PTSD to rest or sleep and to feel less anxious and less involved with flashback memories. … Evidence is increasingly accumulating that cannabinoids might play a role in fear extinction and anti-depressive effects. It is concluded that further studies are warranted in order to evaluate the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in PTSD.”
Last year, administrators at the US Dept. of Health and Human Services/National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) blocked investigators at the U of Arizona at Phoenix from conducting an FDA-approved, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the use of cannabis in 50 patients with PTSD.
Under federal law, any clinical trial evaluations involving cannabis must receive NIDA approval because the agency is the only source of legal cannabis for FDA-approved research purposes. In 2010, a spokesperson for the agency told the New York Times, “[O]ur focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use. We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”
“Mitigation of post-traumatic stress symptoms by Cannabis resin: A review of the clinical and neurobiological evidence,” appears online in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis.