Is a Pre-Existing Endocannabinoid Deficiency linked to PTSD in Ohio?
In Ohio, in order to be eligible for a medical marijuana recommendation you must first be diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions. The conditions can range from physical to mental and cover a wide variety of illness and disease, but we will be focusing on PTSD. In this article, we will look into what PTSD is and how the endocannabinoid system may play a bigger role in it than you might think.
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What is PTSD?
PTSD is a mental disorder that can be triggered by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. It can cause a variety of symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety in those who suffer from it. Generally, those that witness such events can get better with time and self-care, those who experience PTSD however, have symptoms that can last months to years and may even get worse .
Those with PTSD are also at a higher risk for developing other related conditions. These can include acute stress disorder, adjustment disorder, anxiety disorders, reactive attachment disorder, and disinhibited social engagement disorder. Those with PTSD may also experience depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and are at risk for higher rates of substance abuse .
The treatment for PTSD is complex as well, and can take many forms depending on the person. Several different forms of therapy and combinations of medications may be used to get symptoms under control. Research shows that cognitive processing therapy, exposure therapy, and group therapy are especially effective. Generally, people with PTSD have also found help in improving the related conditions that may come with PTSD. For example, successfully treating anxiety and depression can help improve PTSD symptoms. It is also recommended to take part in calming alternative treatment regimens outside of therapy, such as meditation and yoga .
How is the Endocannabinoid System Related to PTSD?
Recently, it has been found that the endocannabinoid system may contain certain “biomarkers” for those with PTSD. To explain this, it is first important to know what a biomarker is. To start, biomarkers have become a hugely influential finding both in clinical practice and research. The is that there are “objective indications of [the] medical state observed from outside the patient”. Essentially, it means that there are signs of a condition or disease that we can measure. This is of huge importance, especially for mental disorders, as they can help physicians and therapists determine the best course of action for that particular patient. For example, two PTSD patients can get the same therapy and medication, but only one responds to it. With biomarkers, we may find the inner workings of one patient to be more receptive to a different medication, improving their care.
PTSD and the endocannabinoid system have actually been linked in the past as well, along with depression and other disorders . It was found that the synthesis of a chemical called allopregnanolone was lower in people with PTSD and when allopregnanolone levels rose, symptoms were alleviated . It was shown that the synthesis of this chemical was at least partly modulated by the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system was also shown to help regulate other components of PTSD, such fear response .
One of the complexities of PTSD is due to its neurological nature. We have been able to accurately diagnose PTSD for quite some time, but have yet to find a universally accepted biological cause. The leading idea is that, rather than one part of the brain behaving abnormally, it’s several parts working in tandem causing the problem.
Since the link between PTSD and the endocannabinoid system was discovered, researchers have been looking into possible therapeutic uses. Some studies have found success treating recent trauma with cannabinoids, stating that their results “strongly suggest that exogenous cannabinoids administered in proximity to trauma exposure could prevent the development of PTSD-like symptoms” in animal models .
Continuing from this, other studies have looked into how cannabinoid therapy can help those who already have PTSD. One such group used Nabilone, a synthetic form of THC, to help PTSD patients lower the number of nightmares they experienced. The experiment was a success, finding that 34 out of 47 patients had either a cessation or significant reduction in the number of nightmares experienced . Another study found that by adding THC to existing medications, they had improved sleep quality, reduced nightmares, and reduced hyperarousal.
Even beyond PTSD itself and into other mental disorders, the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoids themselves have been found to have strong effects. Considering the severity of PTSD’s related conditions, cannabinoid therapy opens exciting possibilities. Studies have shown marijuana to be effective in anxiety reduction, relieving depression, and as a sleep aid for many people.
PTSD is a devastating disorder that can have far-reaching implications in a person’s life. It has been found that the endocannabinoid system does play a role in the disorder, and a deficiency in a chemical regulated by the system may be an important marker for those susceptible. Luckily, research also suggests that there are ways to overcome the disorder, such as therapy and certain medications. It is also suggested that future medicine may make use of the endocannabinoid system and marijuana to reduce or fight some of the symptoms associated with the condition.
With over 25 years of specialty training in Internal Medicine, as well as fellowship training in Functional and Sexual medicine, Dr. Maginso added Plant Medicine (Medical Marijuana) to her niche practice as of 2017. She is licensed in the State of Florida and attended the University of the East (UERM) in Quezon City, Philippines as well as the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, NJ.
She joined DocMJ in 2019 to align with a known group of compassionate physicians that empower their patients to be better versions of themselves. Her favorite hashtag is #powerpassionperformance, using the combination of optimized bioidentical hormones, medical marijuana, plasma therapies, and sexual wellness.
She is an author, speaker and community advocate for Medical Marijuana, Sexual Health, and the empowerment of mature women.