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Is Cannabis the Answer to America’s Growing PTSD Epidemic?

Lightshade Dispensary Denver - Medical Marijuana for PTSD

Cannabis is an all-natural treatment for an often-overlooked mental illness.

We believe in the power of cannabis to treat physical and mental ailments. From back pain to anxiety, depression to daily stress, the proven benefits of marijuana as a catalyst for improved health and wellness, are undeniable. In a recent blog, we explored the rising tide of mental health issues among Americans and discussed the ways cannabis is being used to treat these issues—with outstanding results.

Mental health issues among Americans, frequently go overlooked and undiagnosed. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, in particular, is all too often ignored. PTSD impacts an estimated 3.6% of adults in the U.S. and up to 20% of combat veterans. PTSD often appears in people who have experienced life-threatening or shocking events like military combat, natural disasters, physical assaults, or other traumatic situations. Those suffering from this debilitating condition often ‘re-live’ these traumatic experiences through flashbacks and extreme anxiety, even when there is no immediate threat. The most common treatment for PTSD is psychotherapy and prescription medications, but a growing body of research shows cannabis is an ideal method of treatment for this unfortunate condition.

recent study published in Molecular Psychology, demonstrates the potential of cannabis to help people suffering from PTSD. Cannabis lowers the occurrence of nightmares and reduces stress and anxiety levels brought on by traumatic experiences. 

“Medical cannabis is used in conjunction with other therapies. Peer support groups are highly supported therapy for patients suffering an Operational Stress Injury (this is another term for PTSD). Medical cannabis strains with the right CBD and THC levels are assisting veterans with chronic physical pain, as well as anxiety and insomnia issues. I believe that medical cannabis will continue to work in conjunction with many other therapies.”—Shelly Franklin, Veteran Program Coordinator, Canadian Cannabis Clinics

Other research shows people who have PTSD are especially likely to benefit from the implementation of a cannabinoid-based plan, as the stress of initial trauma may cause the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to become more receptive to treatment. As there is no medication explicitly manufactured to treat PTSD, these patients are typically prescribed antidepressants. That said, we will soon see cannabis treatments designed to address their exact symptoms, as a doctor-prescribed natural option.

“There’s a consensus among clinicians that existing pharmaceutical treatments such as antidepressants simply do not work. In fact, we know very well that people with PTSD who use marijuana—a potent cannabinoid—often experience more relief from their symptoms than they do from antidepressants and other psychiatric medications.”—Alexander Neumeister, MD, Director, Molecular Imaging Program, Department of Psychiatry and Radiology, NYU School of Medicine

Increased awareness creates better understanding.

Unfortunately, there is still a need to educate people on how cannabis consumption can be successfully used for the treatment of mental health issues. Federal regulations have made it difficult to adequately research and investigate cannabis, drastically impacting the ability of healthcare professionals to understand and recommend the plant to individuals affected by PTSD. Still, minds are beginning to shift—the societal views of cannabis have started to transform, and public pressure is beginning to produce results.

While growing numbers of individuals impacted by PTSD have begun to speak up and seek assistance, the prevalence of social stigmas and a lack of understanding, assures that thousands of men and women, many of whom have served our country—making the ultimate sacrifice—will tragically continue to go undiagnosed.

Education is an essential facet of our mission at Lightshade. Not only do we endeavor to teach customers about our products, but we also strive to educate people about the issues surrounding cannabis. We believe we have to shine a light on the ways marijuana can positively impact the lives of people, not only in the United States but globally.

The impact cannabis has on individuals who have PTSD is nothing short of amazing.