Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric health condition triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. PTSD is linked to surviving or witnessing a traumatic life event that affects around one in 10 Canadians at some point in their lives. PTSD can cause flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Thus, these symptoms can increase the risk of substance abuse and dependence, depression and suicide. Although Cannabis becomes a popular treatment for PTSD, there’s concern over its efficiency as prescriptions are based on inadequate evidence.

depressed girl sitting on the ground

Further research is recommended into this area considering that Cannabinoids are taken with utmost care and through clinical prescription. According to Dr. Chandni Hidocha, who is the head of the UCL clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, people are increasingly using cannabinoids to treat PTSD. As per Dr. Hidocha, military veterans are among the group that’s increasingly self-medicating by choosing cannabis to treat PTSD. Moreover, he said it was surprising that there’s no adequate evidence that supports the efficacy of cannabis as a treatment for PTSD, yet most people are using it to treat the very same.

Cannabinoids, the active ingredients of cannabis, which include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), may be helpful at treating PTSD as they can change how the brain processes memories. The cannabinoids act on the brain’s in-built endocannabinoid system which also regulates other brain functions that are affected by PTSD.

The researchers say there are still many unanswered questions about the safety and efficacy of cannabis-based medications for PTSD, and potential long-term effects such as addiction or a risk of psychosis.

A promising New Signal

People with PTSD are more likely to experience depression and suicidal ideation. However, some research suggested that these indicators of mental health were improved when they were engaging in lower-risk cannabis use.

The existing evidence shows promise, however, as some studies showed that cannabis products appeared to reduce PTSD symptoms such as insomnia and nightmares.

Future research that utilizes high-quality randomized control trials is necessary to establish a causal link between cannabis use and the promise it may hold to mitigate PTSD-related symptoms.