When the body does not produce enough of the anxiety regulator anandamide, PTSD is more likely to develop. Cannabinoids in marijuana bind to the same receptors in the brain as anandamide. One study found that PTSD symptoms can be reduced by up to 75 percent with the use of medical marijuana.
Post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety condition afflicting more than 7 million people in the United States. While war veterans are likely candidates to develop PTSD, any person who experiences a highly stressful, traumatic, life-threatening or otherwise catastrophic event may develop this psychologically crippling condition. Up to 20 percent of military men and women returning from combat in Iraq or Afghanistan are estimated to be suffering from PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD fall into three categories: re-experiencing, avoidance and hyperarousal (flashbacks, social isolation and insomnia). Suicidal thoughts are also common. Sadly, a report from the Department of Veterans Affairsin 2014 stated that an average of 22 American veterans take their own lives every day after returning home from service. Nearly all of these veterans suffer from PTSD or have traumatic brain injuries.
Real Life Stories
When Matt Kahl returned from active duty in Afghanistan in 2009, he had all the classic symptoms of PTSD — flashbacks, hypervigilance, sleeplessness, alcohol abuse, social isolation — and the prescribed painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and sleep medications he was taking weren’t helping. By 2013, he had already attempted suicide twice and was on the brink of kidney and liver failure, when he decided to try medical marijuana. “Almost instantaneously, I recognized it could help,” he says. “It was the first time I was able to relax.”
Medical marijuana can treat the entire spectrum of PTSD symptoms, reducing the need for pharmaceutical prescriptions, according to Dr. Sisley, a PTSD expert and researcher.