Therapeutic cannabis would help to provide short-term symptomatic relief for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
However, on the other hand, cannabis is increasingly being used around the world for therapeutic purposes. Prescribed medically, it is believed to help relieve pain associated with cancer and osteoarthritis, and several researchers are currently working to develop drugs based on this plant to treat Parkinson’s disease or to combat antibiotic resistance. What’s more, according to a new American study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, medical cannabis may also be positive for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
To reach this conclusion, researchers at the University of Washington (USA) followed more than 400 people suffering from this disorder. They asked participants to download an application in which they described the manifestations of their syndrome before and after using therapeutic cannabis. Results of the observations: after use, the severity of intrusive thoughts related to the trauma was reduced by 62%, flashbacks by 51%, irritability by 67%, and anxiety by 57%. “All symptoms were reduced by more than 50% immediately after cannabis use”, the authors in their paper therefore praise.
“This may not be an effective long-term remedy”
However, this study has some limitations. Patients self-diagnosed themselves as suffering from PTSD. Besides, there was no placebo group and the beneficial effects did not last over time.
“It may not be an effective long-term remedy because the basic symptoms have been maintained over time and the dose used for anxiety has increased over time, which is indicative of the development of tolerance,” the researchers in the paper note.
It appears that cannabis temporarily masks symptoms, acting as a band-aid, but once the period of intoxication is over, symptoms may reappear,” says Carrie Cutler, who led the study. We need more research looking at the effects of the plant as a whole because that’s what people smoke, not just synthetic cannabinoids. It’s difficult to set up a good placebo control group with the whole plant but we need to do it,” she says.
What is post-traumatic stress disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, which has been known since ancient times, occurs in people who have experienced a situation in which their physical or psychological integrity or that of those around them has been threatened or damaged. Patients report nightmares, flashbacks of traumatic events, anxiety, fear, and hypervigilance. They also report emotional numbness, anger, and violent behavior, as well as drug and alcohol abuse. This permanent sadness and the development of addictive disorders often end up having a negative influence on daily life and their relationship with others.
Left untreated, this chronic condition can last a lifetime. Fortunately, suitable psychiatric care is available. Behavioral and cognitive therapies ( BCT ) as well as eye movement desensitization (EMDR) or hypnosis have proven to be particularly effective in this respect. In addition to medical assistance, environmental support, both family and professional, is essential to help the patient get back on track.