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PTSD Awareness Month: How Medical Marijuana Helps PTSD Sufferers

,PTSD Awareness

Since 2016, the passionate Florida Medical Marijuana Doctors at DocMJ have been assisting Floridians in finding relief with medical cannabis. One of the most common conditions patients in Florida qualify for their medical marijauna card is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

Overall, PTSD affects around 3.5% of the U.S. population, approximately 8 million Americans, in a given year. [1] If you or someone you know are having difficulty living your daily lives because of PTSD symptoms, medical marijuana could help you. Book an appointment at one of our many locations throughout the state and see if you qualify for your medical marijuana card.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. An estimated 70% of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives and up to 20% of these people go on to develop PTSD. [1] At any given time, more than 13 million people have PTSD at any given time and 1 of 13 people in the US will develop it during their lifetime.

Women are about twice as likely to develop PTSD than men, meaning around 1 out of 10 women will get it at some time in their lives. Among men, the group most susceptible to PTSD are veterans of military conflicts. 

Side Effects of PTSD

In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, a person must have all of the following for at least one month: [2]

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom: Flashbacks (reliving the trauma over and over), physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating, bad dreams, and frightening thoughts.
  • At least one avoidance symptom: Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience or avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event.
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms: Being easily startled, feeling tense or “on edge,” having difficulty sleeping, or having angry outbursts.
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms: Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event, negative thoughts about oneself or the world, distorted feelings like guilt or blame, loss of interest in enjoyable activities.

Is Cannabis Effective for Managing PTSD?

While it is difficult to come to the conclusion if cannabis will help with any condition due to the limitations in place from the US Controlled Substance Act, there have been some interesting research developments that suggest it could be effective for managing symptoms of PTSD. 

In 2009, research identified a link between PTSD and depressed lower serum levels of anandamide. This molecule is known as the body’s own natural antidepressant, and when anandamide levels are restricted, the result can include chronic anxiety, impaired fear extinction, aversive memory consolidation and other symptoms of PTSD. Anandamide activates the same brain receptors that are stimulated by the uptake of delta- 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds found in medical marijuana.

Additionally, the hippocampus plays a major role in both short and long-term memory consolidation. These studies link exposure to chronic stress to decreased CB1 receptor binding and expression within the hippocampus. Disruptions to memory consolidation are thought to play a role in symptoms of PTSD such as flashbacks and hyper-vigilance. [3]

Emerging evidence suggests that marijuana may also help reduce the occurrence of nightmares among those suffering from PTSD. While pharmaceutical regimens have shown mixed results for maintaining nightmares, a Canadian clinical trial reported that 72% of patients who received a synthetic cannabinoid known as Nabilone, experienced either a cessation or a significant reduction in nightmares. 

Two more recent studies show promising results as well. One study, from researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, looked at how cannabis use impacts the amygdala response of those dealing with trauma related anxiety, such as PTSD. Using a randomized, double-blind method, the 71 participants were either given a low dose of THC or a placebo. Then they were exposed to threatening stimuli and their amygdala responses were recorded.  Those exposed to THC had lowered threat-related amygdala reactivity. 

The second study, from researchers at Brazil’s Federal University of Parana, tried to see how cannabis affects the intensity of the memories of their trauma. .These researchers conducted a thorough review and found low doses of THC or THC combined with CBD were both able to enhance the extinction rate for challenging memories – and reduce overall anxiety responses. 

Lastly, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found that patients with PTSD experienced a 75-percent decrease in their symptoms upon using medical cannabis. 

How to Get a Florida Medical Marijuana Card

Each state has unique laws regarding what conditions qualify for medical cannabis. In Florida specifically the following are required in order to be eligible for state-approval of medical cannabis use:

  • Be a permanent or seasonal Florida resident
  • Be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition by a qualified physician
  • Be entered into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry
  • Obtain a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card

It is the responsibility of the qualified ordering physician to follow Florida law, diagnose patients with a qualifying medical condition and determine if medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment. The conditions listed below have been approved for medical cannabis use:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to the others listed.
  • A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification.
  • Chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition.

If you are still unsure if you or your loved one will qualify for a Florida Medical Marijuana Card, this survey will tell you if you pre-qualify within minutes. Additionally, DocMJ offers risk-free appointments that you can book online. If you do not qualify per state guidelines you will be issued a full refund at the end of the appointment. 


[2] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5742214/


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