Marijuana can prevent PTSD symptoms

Cannabinoids (marijuana) administration after experiencing a traumatic event blocks the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-like symptoms in rats, according to a new study conducted at the University of Haifa and published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

“We found that there is a ‘window of opportunity’ during which administering synthetic marijuana helps deal with symptoms simulating PTSD in rats,” said Dr. Irit Akirav of the University of Haifa’s Department of Psychology, who led the study.

In the study, which Dr. Akirav conducted with research student Eti Ganon-Elazar, the researchers set out to examine how administering cannabinoids (synthetic marijuana) affects the development of PTSD-like symptoms in rats, whose physiological reactions to traumatic and stressful events is similar to human reactions.

In the first part of the study, the researchers exposed a group of rats to extreme stress, and observed that the rats did indeed display symptoms resembling PTSD in humans, such as an enhanced startle reflex, impaired extinction learning, and disruption of the negative feedback cycle of the stress-influenced HPA axis.

The rats were then divided into four groups. One was given no marijuana at all; the second was given a marijuana injection two hours after being exposed to a traumatic event; the third group after 24 hours and the fourth group after 48 hours.

A week later, the researchers examined the rats and found that the group that had not been administered marijuana and the group that got the injection 48 hours after experiencing trauma continued to display PTSD symptoms as well as a high level of anxiety.

By contrast, the PTSD symptoms disappeared in the rats that were given marijuana 2 or 24 hours after experiencing trauma, even though these rats had also developed a high level of anxiety.

“This indicates that the marijuana did not erase the experience of the trauma, but that it specifically prevented the development of post-trauma symptoms in the rat model,” said Dr. Akirav, who added that the results suggest there is a particular window of time during which administering marijuana is effective. Because the human life span is significantly longer than that of rats, Dr. Akirav explained, one could assume that this window of time would be longer for humans.

The second stage of the study sought to understand the brain mechanism that is put into operation during the administering of marijuana. To do this, they repeated stage one of the experiment, but after the trauma they injected the synthetic marijuana directly into the amygdala area of the brain, the area known to be responsible for response to trauma. The researchers found that the marijuana blocked development of PTSD symptoms in these cases as well. From this the researchers were able to conclude that the effect of the marijuana is mediated by a CB1 receptor in the amygdala.

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5 thoughts on “Marijuana can prevent PTSD symptoms”

  1. My personal experience with PTSD recovery and marijuana is something I feel compelled to write about. In 2007, I started a therapy program, using advice of my doctor and kept journals through the entire process. Even though PTSD disrupted my entire life and the therapy changed it, this has been the most worthwhile undertaking of my life.

    My memories have a place, my triggers are manageable and anxieties no longer rule my existence. I have moved beyond recovery, acceptance and forgiveness to find a profound gratitude for all of my experiences.

    I have recently signed up with Kickstarter to help me fund this project so that I can focus on finishing this book. I hope that you will have a look and perhaps consider sponsoring.

  2. I dunno. this experiment is really iffy, especially since it has no counter points or effects. Rats are a lot less complex than humans and marijuana affects the animal’s and human’s brain differently. If MJ is injected in the amgydala, the situation can split into many possibilities where the patient may, but is not limited to, fleeing from the memories and blocking it, thus re-emerging later in a PTSD like symptom or fight them by focusing on the anxiety, creating more paranoia or delusions. Marijuana has some many amazing effects but remember, it is not for everyone. Humans are effed up.
    p.s. this is all just a hypothesis and talk. None of this has been tested.

  3. Brilliant, keep going Dr. Akirav, It is so correct your findings this would help thousands of people with PTSD even to sleep through the night is a blessing col ah cavod.

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