PTSD and Cannabis

April 26, 2023

It’s a fact—trauma is all around us. Maybe it’s always been the case, but the 24-hour news cycle lives in the palm of our hands, making it seem even more relevant and real. 

With trauma comes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, and we want to explore how cannabis might help people with the condition.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a serious and sometimes debilitating condition that affects people both mentally and physically. Psychologically, it manifests in a number of issues, including flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, irritability, jumpiness, anger outbursts and difficulty focusing. 

While PTSD is primarily a mental health condition, the stress surrounding it may cause physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches and chronic pain. 

PTSD is one of 20+ conditions that qualify for a Michigan Medical Marijuana card. 

About Trauma

Trauma can occur as a single incident or repeated incidents that deeply affect a person. Trauma can be physical or emotional and includes things like child or spousal abuse, neglect in childhood, violence, sexual assault, accidents, the death of a loved one and natural or man-made disasters like mass shootings or other violence. 

Everyone experiences trauma differently, and what is traumatic for one person may not be traumatic for another. Additionally, trauma can occur at any age and most people are vulnerable to it regardless of gender. It is estimated that 15-30 percent of Vietnam-era veterans suffer from service-related trauma and veterans have long used cannabis to help with PTSD symptoms.

The likelihood of developing PTSD can depend on a range of factors, such as the nature of the traumatic event, a person’s level of exposure to the trauma,  personal resilience and coping ability, and pre-existing mental health conditions. 

PTSD is commonly treated with behavioral, cognitive or group therapy and sometimes medication like anti-depressants. Cannabis has been shown to have potential benefits for individuals with PTSD, and we’d like to uncover some of the science behind how cannabis may help. 

How Cannabis Works with PTSD

Within our bodies, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) helps regulate emotional responses, moods and memory. The ECS is named after the plant that led to its discovery, cannabis, which contains compounds called cannabinoids that interact with the system.

Studies suggest that individuals with PTSD may have an imbalance in their ECS and consuming cannabis may help to bring the system to normal and help with symptoms.

Primarily, cannabis has sedative properties that are known to help to alleviate the most common symptoms of PTSD—anxiety, insomnia and hyperarousal. The calming effect of cannabis helps people function better during the day, taking the edge off of anxiety and anger, and is known to help people sleep better at night. It is important to note that the effects of cannabis vary depending on the individual, the strain of cannabis consumed, the method of consumption, and the amount consumed. We’re not medical experts, we can recommend products to try that may help alleviate your PTSD symptoms. 

While more research is needed on the efficacy of cannabis and PTSD, many veterans report that cannabis is one of the most easily accessible and helpful remedies for the illness. At Pharmhouse Wellness, we have both high-quality medical and adult-use cannabis products for your consideration.