Study Finds Cannabis Could Reduce PTSD Symptoms

A recent study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggests that medical cannabis could significantly reduce PTSD symptoms such as severe depression and suicidal states.

Full story after the jump.

Research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggests that “cannabis use may contribute to reducing the association between post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depressive and suicidal states,” according to a Newsweek outline of the study.

The research used data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey on Mental Health which involved 24,089 people aged 15 and older. Of the respondents, 420 of the participants had been diagnosed with PTSD. Of the PTSD patients who took part in the research, 106 – or 28.2 percent – said they had used cannabis in the past year, versus 11.2 percent of participants without the diagnosis.

Respondents with PTSD who didn’t use cannabis were about seven times more likely to have experienced depression and 4.7 times more likely to think about suicide compared to people who didn’t have PTSD or use cannabis.

Stephanie Lake, a research assistant at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use and PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia who led the study, called the research “the first time that results from a nationally representative survey have shown the potential benefits of treating the disorder with cannabis.”

“We know that with limited treatment options for PTSD, many patients have taken to medicating with cannabis to alleviate their symptoms,” she said in the report.

“We’re only just beginning to understand what the therapeutic potential of cannabis may be for a variety of health conditions. These findings are promising, and merit further study in order to fully understand the benefits of cannabis for people living with PTSD.” – M-J Milloy, UBC professor of cannabis science and study co-author, in a statement, via Newsweek

In June, the Minnesota Department of Health reported that 70 percent of PTSD patients enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program said their symptoms were reduced when using cannabis, compared to just 4 percent who said they received little benefit from cannabis for their PTSD symptoms. Another study published in June in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse found two-thirds of California military veterans were using cannabis to treat chronic pain, anxiety, PTSD, depression, and insomnia instead of prescription medication.

The study found 63 percent of respondents indicated they used cannabis to replace “any substance,” while 47 percent said they had replaced prescription medications with cannabis. Another 30 percent replaced alcohol with cannabis and 24 percent said they had replaced tobacco with cannabis. Another 12 percent of veterans said they used cannabis as a replacement for other illicit drugs.

In all, 23 states include PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis use.

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