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Treatments for PTSD using cannabis (and CBD) oil

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Medical Cannabis and PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD, is most commonly thought of by veterans. While PTSD is more common among the military than other branches, it isn’t something that only vets suffer from.

Millions of Australians have PTSD. To develop PTSD, an individual must have experienced a traumatic event. Research shows about 12% to 25% of Australians experience PTSD. An additional 25% are exposed to traumatic situations. PTSD is more common for women and can develop at any time.

This mental disorder is often difficult to diagnose and treat. Individuals suffering from it have difficulties living every day. Therapy can be used in conjunction with prescription medications to treat PTSD.

Many people suffering with PTSD experience adverse side effects. While some people may experience relief from symptoms, others may find it difficult to connect with them. Patients might also resort to self-medication methods such as drinking or using the medication to seek further relief.

For decades, PTSD sufferers have claimed that cannabis has helped relieve symptoms. Over the past decade, there has been a lot more research into cannabis and PTSD.

There are many comorbidities to PTSD, including anxiety or depression. Cannabis can also be prescribed to treat insomnia and stress . Dr MattyMoore discusses traditional treatments to treat PTSD and the side effects of marijuana for PTSD.

What is PTSD exactly?

According to the DSM-5 (a reference manual for mental health conditions), PTSD refers to a debilitating stressor induced depression that results in brain changes due to exposure to a life-threatening event or traumatic experience. Inability to resist fear can result from brain changes.

Individuals with PTSD experience fearful and anxious feelings in both identical situations as the original trauma, as well in completely different scenarios. This triggers the brain to reexperience the original trauma. This can trigger anxiety, panic and fear in the patient again and it can have a detrimental effect on their health and well-being.

What are some signs and symptoms of PTSD

PTSD is often manifested as anxiety, but in a more intense form. The focus of PTSD is usually on a specific memory/traumatic event.

Sleep disturbances, sleepiness, anxiety, hyperarousal, and memories can be caused by memory loss, anxiety, hyperarousal, or memories. In order to protect the patient, symptoms often manifest quickly and can trigger fear or anger. Often, the patient isn’t aware of the cause or trigger of the emotions.

These emotional and psychological attacks can result in an individual feeling uncomfortable being around other people or participating in normal activities. Quality of life often suffers from PTSD and other comorbidities like depression, anxiety, or insomnia.

When is it appropriate for someone to seek help with PTSD?

PTSD symptoms may include distressing memories and dreams, as well as hyperarousal or hyper anxiety.

You should see your doctor immediately if you notice any of the symptoms or pains that are affecting your quality and life.

How does PTSD get diagnosed?

The DSM-5 framework, checklist and checklist are used to diagnose PTSD.

The following are some of the criteria to diagnose PTSD

  • A Stressor Exposure to a distressing, traumatic event
  • Intrusion symptoms — The traumatic experience is repeatedly re-experienced somehow
  • Avoidance
  • Negative alterations and mood are negative thoughts or emotions that occurred or worsened in the aftermath of trauma.
  • Reactivity and arousal changes – trauma-related hyperarousal/reactivity, which began or became worse after the trauma

These symptoms must have been present over a month, creating distress or functional impairment. They can’t be explained or caused by any medication, substance use or other illness.

Can cannabis be used to treat PTSD

Yes, it is true in many cases. Anecdotal evidence and observational studies have shown that both CBD and THC may be beneficial in relieving PTSD symptoms.

Research has shown that our bodies have an Endocannabinoid system, which aids in the regulation of mood, anxiety, as well as the extinction of fear learning. The endocannabinoid is a system that uses cannabinoids in order to regulate and balance emotions.

Anandamide, an internal cannabinoid (endocannabinoids) in our bodies that causes PTSD, is a legitimate cause. Anandamide can also be known as the happiness molecule, because it can increase positive emotions. Anandamide can be stimulated using external cannabinoids. The cannabis cannabinoids can trigger the same receptors. It can reduce anxiety, fear, and depression, as well as provide relief from excessive stimulation and intrusive memory.

Can CBD or CBD Oil Treat PTSD?

CBD oil and CBD are able to help some symptoms associated with PTSD. CBD oil is not psychoactive and can help reduce anxiety, disrupt fear memories, improve REM sleep, and more. CBD interacts indirectly via the CB2, dopamine or serotonin receptors.

CBD doesn’t cause an increase in serotonin or dopamine. CBD acts as a regulator to help your body use chemicals more efficiently, or reduce chemicals down faster. CBD has been shown to interact with certain brain pleasure areas, including the one that stimulates andamide. Scientists believe it helps regulate serotonin as well as dopamine.

Can THC be used for PTSD treatment?

Yes, THC may be used to treat symptoms such as PTSD. Anandamide (endocannabinoid), is an internal cannabis cannabinoid that sends signals throughout the brain. It’s also known for being the “bliss molecule”. Anandamide can affect areas of your brain that are responsible for concentration, coordination as well as memory, pleasure, and many other things.

THC has the same chemical structure as Anandamide so it can be used to produce similar chemical results to Anandamide. THC can affect the cannabinoid-receptors and regulate memory retrieval. This can help lower anxiety, reduce stress, improve sleep, and decrease emotional and physical responses to flashback memories.

Is there any side effects to cannabis or PTSD medication?

There are no side effect for cannabis and PTSD. However, there could be potential side affects.

THC is great for improving sleep and reducing anxiety. However too much THC can make it difficult to sleep well and increase anxiety. Dry mouth, altered cognition, dizziness, and fatigue are some of the side effects.

Side effects of CBD can be mild, although they are usually well-tolerated. CBD has been linked to the following side effects:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Drowsiness
  • Abnormal liver-function results

Other side effects have been identified include

  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Low appetite
  • Weight loss

Most symptoms of CBD can be relieved once you have determined the correct dosage.

What kind is recommended for PTSD treatment?

Every patient is unique and there is no specific cannabis medication prescribed for PTSD patients. Dr MattyMoore said that however, there is no specific cannabis medication for PTSD patients.

He reiterated the fact THC can be used to decrease PTSD symptoms and have a positive affect on sleep.

Dr Matty says that he would recommend starting with cannabis oil to treat his condition. It has a long duration of effect and provides lasting relief. The oil is also easy to adjust up and well tolerated.

He also suggested that mucosal or flower sprays can be added to patients suffering from anxiety or trauma-reliving episodes. These two methods work faster than oil but last for a shorter amount of time.

Do you think cannabis will be able to relieve PTSD symptoms?

Maybe. The answer isn’t clear because everyone uses cannabis differently and some people don’t like it. Dr MattyMoore said that a key principle in any medical management plan is to use less cannabis if you are getting relief.

A doctor who has experience with cannabis medicine can help you move to cannabinoid medicinal and titrate off any other traditional medications. Some patients may be able to tolerate this, while others will not. These are conversations your doctor should always be available and willing to have.

Is there a normal dosage of cannabis for treating PTSD.

No. Because every patient is unique due to their individual experiences and physiology, there is no one like them.

For all medical marijuana treatment, it is important to start low and take things slow. The goal is for cannabis to be as effective as possible with very few side effects.

Patients who are not cannabis-aware or have never consumed cannabis before are more likely to be prescribed CBD products with very low CBD levels. If you are used to using cannabinoids, you may require more medication. Patients who are familiar with cannabis use may choose to take CBD and THC medication in a higher dose.

Dr Matty Moon starts all PTSD patients using a CBD-only product. “The difference with cannabis naive patients is that I start at a lower dosage.”

What are the classic treatments for PTSD

Traditional treatment of PTSD involves both therapy as well as pharmacological remedies.

Therapy

Therapy options include Trauma Focussed Clinical Behavioural Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing and Exposure Therapy.

TFCBT can be described as a variant on CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy). This helps patients cope with trauma by changing their thinking and actions. EMDR aids individuals in processing trauma. Individuals think about beliefs, images, and feelings while the therapist guides them from one side to another. EMDR seems to be a popular treatment. While it doesn’t have much scientific support, researchers believe that it connects both the left- and right-brains, allowing patients to put their trauma behind them.

ET is a form or extinction, in which the patient is repeatedly exposed trauma-related stimuli to foster tolerance without fear.

Each one of these may be very effective. However, patient engagement, participation and follow through are important as with any treatment.

Pharmacological therapies

First-line pharmacological treatments include antidepressants like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). These medications impact serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved in anxiety and the depression) and noradrenaline (as well as other neurotransmitters).

Monoamine oxide inhibitors (MAOIs), Tricyclic Antidepressantsss (TCAs), atypical and antipsychotics as well as anticonvulsants and benzoodiazepines (Valium and Tamazapam) are third-line and second-line treatments.

Many of the treatments available to veterans may not prove effective. Research that was done in 2006 showed war veterans to be more resistant than other patients to pharmacotherapy.

What are some side effects to traditional PTSD treatments?

There are very few side effect reports for any of these therapies. Each patient may have a different experience and the treatments may not work for them. It is the side effects that can be caused when you use pharmacological therapies.

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