Cannabis: Washington State University Study Demonstrates That Cannabis Reduces Severity Of PSTD Symptoms Temporarily
: According to a recent research led by Assistant Professor Dr Carrie Cuttle from the department of Psychology at Washington State University.
Individuals suffering from post-traumatic distress disorder (PSTD) report that cannabis reduces the severity of their symptoms by more than half, at least in the short term.
Dr Cuttler and the rest of the researchers analyzed data of more than 400 individuals who tracked changes in their PTSD symptoms before and after cannabis use with Strainprint, an app developed to help users learn what types of medical cannabis work best for their symptoms. The group collectively used the app more than 11,000 times over a 31-month period.
The research showed that cannabis reduced the severity of intrusions, returning thoughts of a traumatic event, by about 62%; flashbacks by 51%, irritability by 67%, and anxiety by 57%.
However the symptom reductions were not permanent.
The study findings were published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032720306364?via%3Dihub#!
Dr Cuttler told Thailand Medical News, "The research suggests that cannabis does reduce symptoms of PTSD acutely, but it might not have longer term beneficial effects on the underlying condition. Working with this model, it seems that cannabis will temporarily mask symptoms, acting as a bit of a band aid, but once the period of intoxication wears off, the symptoms can return."
Post-traumatic distress disorder or PTSD is a disorder affecting people recovering from traumatic events and impacts women at about twice the rate as men with a 9.7% to 3.6% lifetime prevalence, respectively.
Though counseling and therapy is recommended as the primary treatment, there is growing evidence that many individuals with PTSD are self-medicating with cannabis.
Dr Cuttler added, "A lot of individuals with PTSD do seem to turn to cannabis, but the literature on its efficacy for managing symptoms is a little sparse."
The study findings provide some insight into the effectiveness of cannabis on PTSD symptoms, but as the authors note, it is limited by reliance on a self-selected sample of people who self-identify as having PTSD. Also, it is not possible to compare the symptom reductions experienced by cannabis users to a control group using a placebo.
Although some placebo-controlled clinical trials have been done with nabilone, a synthetic form of THC, few have examined the effects of the whole cannabis plant on PTSD.
In the research, Dr Cuttler and the rest of the researchers looked at a variety of variables but found no difference in the effect of cannabis with differing levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), two of the most studied constituents of cannabis.
Interestingly the study findings imply that it is some combination of THC, CBD and perhaps some of the many other parts of the cannabis plant that create the therapeutic effect.
Cannabis has many molecules that can create a biological effect, including up to 120 cannabinoids, 250 terpenes and around 50 flavonoids.
Dr Cutter added, “More studies are needed that look at whole plant cannabis because this is what individuals are using much more than the synthetic cannabinoids. It is difficult to do good placebo-controlled trials with whole plant cannabis, but they are still really needed."
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