Medical cannabis can help reduce symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, and stress in PTSD patients, according to a new study published in the Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics journal.
A team of British researchers conducted this new study to investigate the use of cannabis as a treatment for common PTSD symptoms. Using data from the UK Medical Cannabis Registry, which keeps track of patients who have received prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines, the researchers identified 162 patients who had been diagnosed with PTSD.
Each subject used either medical cannabis extracts or high-THC flower to treat their symptoms. On average, the patients consumed a median dose of 5mg of CBD along with 145mg of THC. The researchers tracked each subjects' progress in three different assessments conducted one, three, and six months after the patients started their cannabis treatment. During these assessments, researchers used standard clinical tools to track subjects' health-related quality of life (HRQoL).
The researchers found that subjects showed significant improvements in sleep quality, anxiety, and other PTSD symptoms throughout all three assessments. Researchers also kept track of any adverse side effects that patients experienced while using cannabis. Only 33 of the 162 patients reported experiencing negative side effects, typically insomnia and fatigue. These adverse effects were all graded as mild to moderate in severity, however.
“Associated improvements in HRQoL were observed in patients who initiated CBMP [cannabis-based medicinal products] therapy,” the study authors concluded. “Adverse events analysis suggests acceptability and safety up to 6 months.”
The study sheds some positive light on the murky field of research involving cannabis and PTSD. Five years ago, researchers from the US Department of Veterans Affairs released a study concluding that medical pot had absolutely no effect on PTSD symptoms. VA officials have used this research as an excuse to continue denying medical marijuana to veterans, even though many US states allow doctors to recommend medical pot to treat anyone with PTSD.
Last year, another massive study also failed to find evidence that cannabis could help veterans with PTSD. The study’s authors believe that this important research was actually compromised by the super low-quality schwag that federal authorities forced them to use, though. But other independent studies have shown far more promising results. A Canadian study found that PTSD patients who did not use cannabis were 70% more likely to be depressed and 66% more likely to think about suicide than patients who used medical pot.
The present study suggests that cannabis may indeed be able to help treat PTSD, but the observational nature of the research precludes researchers from announcing a definitive cause-effect relationship. The study authors believe that their findings are strong enough to “inform randomized placebo-controlled trials, required to confirm causality and determine optimal dosing,” however.
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