Can Marijuana Cure PTSD?
Currently over 5 million people have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Roughly 30 percent of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from symptoms of PTSD, according to United States Veterans Administration report on PTSD which was published in 2012.
PTSD symptoms include flashbacks, memory problems and self-destructive behavior, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In a new study, researchers have found that the use of cannabinoids, which repress neurotransmitters, can prevent the changes in the brain associated with trauma, reports The Huffington Post.
For the study, the researchers had rats experience a traumatic event, in this case electric shock.
Following the trauma, they injected the rats with a synthetic cannabinoid similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
After periods of three and five days, the rats were exposed to an event that brought back memories of the trauma. Then, the rats had therapy to cope with the symptoms.
Following this series of events, the researchers found that the rats did not experience the symptoms associated with PTSD.
For the control group, rats not given the synthetic cannabinoid did experience PTSD symptoms. The rats given the synthetic cannabinoid also behaved better than rats given the antidepressant Zoloft.
The researchers also discovered the molecular mechanisms for PTSD symptoms.
They found that the rats that were exposed to trauma had greater activity in two brain receptors linked to emotions.
For the rats injected with the synthetic cannabinoid, it prevented the increased activity in these two receptors in areas of the brain linked to forming memories, the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.
While synthetic cannabinoids had positive results with rats, the next step would be to test synthetic cannabinoids and marijuana in human trials to test their efficacy as a potential treatment for PTSD.
The research was published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.