Cannabis and the Endocannabinoid System Effectively Helps Manage PTSD in Many Ways
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as defined, is a psychological reaction that occurs after experiencing a highly stressing event outside the range of normal human experience, and may be helped with recreational marijuana or medical marijuana. For example, imagine fireworks, something many of us love. The sounds, the sight, and smell are all part of an enjoyable experience. Now, try to trade places, imagine your very own reaction to when you are startled or scared and replace that feeling of joy with that scared, overwhelming feeling of terror all because the fireworks remind you of the event. A trigger that causes overwhelming anxiety, fear and flashbacks even though the event that caused your PTSD, has long passed.
More than an Estimated 8 Million People Live With PTSD Daily
This is all too real for over eight million Americans annually, who are actively living with this condition. A mental health condition that continues to grow by large volumes each year and it’s not a condition that is just affecting our veterans; this is affecting our civilians as well. According to Dr. Neumeister, MD, who is the director of molecular imaging program in the Department of Psychiatry and Radiology at NYU School of Medicine states ” There’s not a single pharmacological treatment out there that has been developed specifically for PTSD, that’s a problem” Dr. Neumester’s research is the first to demonstrate through brain imaging that those with PTSD have markedly lower concentrations of at least one neurotransmitter – an endocannabinoid known as Anandamide. (Center, 2013)
The Start of Cannabinoid Research
Anandamide, the first endogenous cannabinoid, found by Dr. Mechoulam’s laboratory in 1992, was what lead to the start of better understand PTSD and treatment options or lack thereof at the moment. In 1995, another endocannabinoid was discovered called 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG). These were the initial discoveries of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids and related enzymes that make up the endocannabinoid system that we know today. This system seems to be essential in most physiological systems. The endocannabinoid system relates directly to the essentials of life such as relaxing, eating, sleeping and forgetting.
The Ever Important Endocannabinoid System Role in Helping PTSD
The endocannabinoid system, which was accidently discovered when scientists were searching for answers about cannabis and how one herb could help so many conditions. How could cannabis be safe yet have such profound effects, a question that had researchers scratching their heads until the discovery of the unknown physiologic system, a central component of our health and healing. This was literally the link between mind and body.
Receptors That are Perceptive
This discovery lead to more research that showed endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the entire body, including the brain. Focus narrowed down to the CB1 and CB2 receptors that played different roles in the body. CB1, is highly present in the nervous system, connective tissues, glands, and organs. In the brain, CB1 receptors play roles in memory, mood, sleep, appetite, and pain sensation. The second receptor, CB2, is found primarily in the immune system and its associated structures within the body. In the brain, CB2’s role is to reduce inflammation brought on by the body and conditions. It is believed that inflammation is an immune response and is also thought to be a cause of many diseases and conditions. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are found in the same tissues, each receptor is just linked to a different action. The cannabinoids in each tissue may have different tasks, but they do all line up to meet at one common goal, homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuation in the external environment.
The Essential Building Blocks of Life
Cannabinoids promote homeostasis at every single developmental moment in life. This process keeps normal cells alive allowing them to go through the synthesis, degradation, and recycling of the cell products, but it also has a built-in defense that actually has a deadly effect on malignant cells, causing them to consume themselves into a cellular suicide. Not only does it kill harmful cells but it will leave alone the healthy ones and even start to reproduce them. The endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are in every pathway and intersection throughout the entire body and brain, which allows for ultimate communication and coordination of cell activity.
Cannabis and PSTD
With the complexity of the endocannabinoid system and the profound effects cannabinoids have on our body and minds, shows us the first real look, understanding, and chance for treatment of PTSD. Up until recently cannabis was thought to have no medical valve in the treatment of PTSD, but with the findings of the endocannabinoid system and CB1 receptor, that fact has been disproven. Through their research, scientists have found that cannabinoids directly affect the CB1 receptor, the one known for memory, mood control and pain. Those with PTSD will have lower levels of anandamide, and endogenous cannabinoid compound. Through the use of THC and CBD, this allows the low levels to be replenished and fill the receptor sites. By being able to replenish these receptors, researchers believe they can help ease PTSD patients of their memories.
Research is Solid and Backs the Facts
With all this proof, research and data one would think this should be a no-brainer solution to treating those with PTSD, with cannabis. Through the right strains, cannabinoids and dosage, many could live a normal life with relief from the memories. Some may argue that we are just “doping” up those with PTSD still but in actuality one of the most helpful cannabinoids is CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. With the knowledge that we have, it’s sad to see that many states are not allowing legal medical marijuana access. Instead of helping take care of those in need, those with a mental health condition, and those who fought for our freedom; that the states would rather be part of the problem instead of the solution. PTSD treatment is experiencing that same problem as marijuana legalization; its lack of recognition is leaving many in need suffering. We have a known treatment, the only one so far, so why don’t we want to offer it those with PTSD.