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Treatment of PTSD using Cannabis
Post-traumatic Stress disorder or PTSD is a mental problem that occurs in people who have gone through some traumatic experience. The traumatic experience could be an accident, abuse, assault or any scary episode. The symptoms include insomnia, concentration difficulties, anger or irritability and avoiding people or places. Nearly 8 million Americans are affected by PTSD with the percentage of women more than men. People suffering from PTSD find it difficult to function normally or carry routine activities. They may become socially isolated leading to self-harm. The severity of the problem varies from person to person. People having a family history of depression are more likely to develop PTSD after some traumatic event. PTSD symptoms can occur right after the event or they might even surface after some weeks. The symptoms can last from months to years.
Treatment for PTSD is done through behavioral therapy or through medication. Medication generally helps with the symptoms like sleep problems but do not affect the underlying cause. Another drawback of medication is that they cause various side effects like nausea, dizziness, appetite loss and so on. Behavioral therapy success rate is also not very good especially when applied to military men suffering from PTSD. Continuous efforts are going on to search for an alternative treatment for PTSD that would positively affect the mental as well as physical health of the person. One of the researches that have shown some promise is using Cannabis or medical marijuana for the treatment of PTSD
Cannabis or commonly known as marijuana has two main components. One is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is known for its intoxicating effects. Another compound that is found in large percentage is CBD. CBD is an active cannabinoid that has many medical uses. It is known to provide patients with cancer or epilepsy some relief in dealing with symptoms like nausea, pain and vomiting. Because of many medical uses that CBD provides, many states in USA have legalized its use and it is commonly made available as medical cannabis.
Various studies have been done to find the effect of using cannabis on the mental and physical health of a person. Some studies have even suggested an impressive amount (nearly 75%) of reduction in symptoms. Patients suffering from PTSD reported having lesser nightmares and better quality of sleep when they used cannabis. Some anxiety related symptoms like nausea and vomiting were also reduced. Since human beings have cannabinoid receptors in various parts of their body and brain using cannabis has positive effect on both the physical and mental symptoms.
Though cannabis has been found to be more effective than pharmaceutical drugs it does not come without its side effects (https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/medical-marijuana-and-the-mind). Using cannabis can cause increased appetite, dry mouth, addiction, memory impairment and paranoia. It should be noted that these are common symptoms and not exceptions. Hence it is recommended to use cannabis under medical supervision and with proper dosage. This helps in understanding if the side effects are related to PTSD or cannabis. Accordingly doses can be changed. Self-medication should not be done in any case. .
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