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For Our Veterans: How Cannabinoids Soothe PTSD Symptoms

More than five million people are suffering from some form of PTSD. Symptoms vary and can include depression, severe anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares and more.

Research is pointing to cannabis as a strong weapon in the treatment of PTSD. A study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, showed that administering synthetic or man-made cannabinoids (compounds of cannabis) to rats that suffered traumatic events, prevented the behavioral and physiological symptoms of PTSD. These compounds signaled the part of the brain most associated with the collection of traumatic memories and events.

The experiment involved introducing rats to trauma, by the means of electric shock. After the shock, some of the rats were given the synthetic cannabinoid compound while others remained untouched to compare the effects.

Days following the exposure (or lack thereof) to the cannabinoids, the rats were exposed to reminders of their trauma; the rats were reminded that they were electrically shocked. Lastly, the rats experience an extinction procedure that mirrors an exposure therapy, which is supposed to help cope with post-trauma symptoms.

Once the experiment concluded, researches found that the rats exposed to the synthetic cannabinoids did not show PTSD symptoms after they were exposed to the trauma reminders. And as you can guess, the rats that did not receive the synthetic cannabinoids experienced PTSD symptoms including: changes in pain sensitivity, heightened startle response and slower brain activity.

The treated rats were also better off than a group of rats that suffered trauma, but were given the SSRI antidepressant sertaline (Zoloft), which has been used to treat PTSD. In other words, the compounds found in marijuana were still the more promising treatment than what’s currently available in the market.

Researches of this study concluded that the brain’s response to trauma essentially changes when administered cannabinoids-the good kind of change that those suffering from PTSD can seriously benefit from.


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