Sage Neuroscience Center Nurse Practitioner Brian A. Krumm says that there’s sound neurobiological evidence indicating that cannabinoids such as CBD reduce stress and can be used in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He notes that the state of New Mexico currently allows the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of PTSD, and that the group of patients for which it has been prescribed is extensive.
He observes that the DEA remains adamant in its stance against cannabis as a medicine and that cannabinoids remain in Schedule 1 making research progress extremely difficult, if not impossible. However, in a landmark court case, the Supreme Court upheld the right of medical practitioners to prescribe cannabis when it is deemed appropriate.
PTSD affects many in the US. Cannabis could help.
18% of US women and 10% of men suffer from PTSD, making it the fourth most common psychiatric disorder in the US. In populations that have been involved in military conflicts, the rate of PTSD increases to 40% of the population. 22% of suicides involve military veterans, and theses suicides can be attributed to PTSD.
In his recent report, Krumm explains the neurological basis for the belief that cannabis can help PTSD sufferers by stimulating cannabinoid receptors and activating neurological pathways that appear to ameliorate stress. In simple terms, cannabinoids such as CBD reduce stress by helping to take the edge off traumatic memories.
Changes to the endocannabinoid system found in people who suffer from clinical depression seem to confirm that cannabinoids affect our coping mechanisms and the way we deal with stressful situations.
A selection of our products
Drug cocktails or cannabis?
Because PTSD is associated with a wide range of symptoms, several psychiatric drugs, each with its own side effects, are commonly prescribed. However, according to reports from military veterans, cannabinoids such as CBD reduce stress providing relief across the spectrum of symptoms.
Apart from having to use a cocktail of pharmaceuticals, many veterans self-medicate, often turning to alcohol abuse to ‘forget’ the traumatic events that have taken place, but since alcohol is a depressant, it cannot offer relief and may even aggravate symptoms. Krumm observes that when medical cannabis is prescribed, veterans with alcohol abuse problems report a reduction in alcohol consumption.
CBD inhibits psychoactive effects of THC
The paper then explores the two best-know cannabinoids, THC and CBD. THC is believed to aggravate psychosis while non-psychoactive CBD combats the effects of THC and has no potential to promote the onset of psychosis. Krumm says that CBD reduces stress, but adds that gaining access to high-CBD strains of cannabis is often difficult in the US.
As for dosages, he believes that it would be difficult to recommend a specific cannabinoid combination and concentration that would be effective for all patients, and suggests that the right dosage would have to be determined on an individual, trial-and-error basis.
Psychiatric nursing academic calls for further research
Krumm concludes that the current Schedule 1 status of cannabis is not sustainable and that it hinders research progress. In his opinion, two important steps have to be taken. Firstly, the re-scheduling of cannabis to make research possible, and then the research that will be needed to determine a scientific basis for the use of cannabinoids as a treatment for PTSD.