Cannabis use has become a hot topic in recent years. Despite the difficulties of formal research, science is finding that the cannabinoids in the plant can provide numerous health benefits. Various studies show that cannabis may help ease symptoms related to chronic pain (such as arthritis), anxiety, stress, insomnia, and more. In addition to the studies, many cannabis users say they feel relief after using it.
The link between cannabis and anxiety relief brings to question the plant’s ability to help with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health condition that can occur after experiencing or seeing a traumatic event. Untreated, the symptoms of PTSD can interfere with a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks. It can affect work, social life, and family relationships. Things once done with ease can be a struggle.
While there are treatments available, some individuals have found that using cannabis for PTSD provides relief. They say it reduces their symptoms and allows them to enjoy life again. Studies are also finding that cannabis may be an effective alternative to conventional methods.
Common Causes of PTSD
A person can develop PTSD after experiencing, witnessing, or learning about an event that involves violence, the threat of harm or death, or actual death. While anyone can develop symptoms, some factors can increase risk, including experiencing trauma early in life or having a job that increases your likelihood of being exposed to traumatic events (military, police, first responders). Having another condition like anxiety or depression may also increase your risk.
Many types of traumatic events can lead to the development of PTSD. They may include:
- Physical or mental abuse in childhood
- Physical or sexual assault
- Combat exposure
- Being threatened with a weapon
- Experiencing or witnessing an accident
- A natural disaster such as a fire, tornado, or earthquake
Symptoms of PTSD vary, but they can all cause problems with an individual’s ability to function in social situations, at work, or at home. They can also interfere with relationships with friends and family.
PTSD symptoms can begin appearing a month after experiencing or seeing a traumatic event. In some cases, they might not appear until years later. They might include intrusive thoughts or memories, mood or behavioral changes, physical or emotional reactions, and avoidance.
Common symptoms of PTSD include:
- Flashbacks (reliving the event)
- Unwanted or recurrent memories
- Feelings of detachment from friends and family
- Losing interest in favorite activities
- Trouble maintaining close relationships
- Trouble sleeping
- Self-destructive behaviors
- Feelings of overwhelming guilt
- Avoiding places or not doing things that remind you of the event
The severity of symptoms can vary. They may occur when you’re feeling stressed in general or when you hear or see something that reminds you of the event. While the causes of PTSD and the symptoms themselves are different from one person to the next, there is a common thread. These symptoms can make it difficult to perform daily activities and live a regular, enjoyable life.
The Cannabis-PTSD Connection
Even with limited research, some evidence points toward cannabis as an effective treatment for reducing and managing PTSD symptoms. A recent study from 2020 found that individuals with PTSD who used cannabis saw greater reductions in their symptoms than those who didn’t use cannabis. Additionally, users were over 2.5 times more likely to recover from PTSD during the study than non-users.
Another study published in The Journal of Affective Disorders looked at data from more than 400 individuals with PTSD before and after cannabis use. The study found that cannabis use appears to reduce the severity of flashbacks, intrusions, irritability, and anxiety all by more than 50%. While researchers noted the effects were only temporary, these results are promising.
A small study conducted between 2004 and 2006 looked at 47 individuals with PTSD-related nightmares. They took nabilone, a cannabinoid receptor stimulant. Following the treatment, 72% of the participants saw a reduction in the severity of their nightmares or stopped having them altogether.
Best Cannabis Products for PTSD Relief
Despite limited research, the available studies and anecdotal evidence show that cannabis may be a beneficial treatment for PTSD. In the state of Florida, a PTSD diagnosis can qualify you for a medical cannabis card.
With the explosion of the Florida cannabis market, those with PTSD looking to use the plant as an alternative treatment have their pick of products. From fresh flowers and vaporizers to tinctures and edibles, you have several options available.
Smoking (whether from a joint, pipe, or bong) and vaping offer the fastest-acting effects and may be best for when you need near-instant relief. Methods such as edibles or capsules, on the other hand, offer the longest-lasting symptom relief. They may prove best for nighttime use to help avoid nightmares.
Tips for Finding and Using Cannabis to Manage PTSD
Florida currently only allows medical cannabis. To get it, you need a doctor’s recommendation. You will also need to obtain your Florida medical cannabis card. You can then take your recommendation to a medical dispensary such as VidaCann and get the products you need for relief. If you’re unsure of where to start, don’t hesitate to ask a budtender at your local shop for some guidance. No matter where you go, make sure you choose a licensed dispensary that sells high-quality, third-party lab-tested products.
When you’re first getting started with cannabis for PTSD, you may have to do a bit of experimentation. Just as there are many different types of products, there are also numerous strains of the plant. What works best for you is ultimately a personal decision, as cannabis use is a unique experience. You may need to try a few to find what provides the best results for you.
No matter what product you choose, remember to start low and go slow. Using this approach, you can dial in your dose without taking in too much THC at once. With a bit of practice, you’ll nail down the best products, strains, and dosages for your needs.
Cannabis for PTSD: Is It Right for You?
There might not be much research yet, but evidence points toward cannabis as an effective method to manage PTSD symptoms. With cannabis, individuals with PTSD may finally be able to get the relief they’ve been looking for without the need for potentially harsh prescription medications. If you’re interested in giving it a try, ask your physician or speak with a medical care professional who has experience with the plant.
If you’ve received a recommendation to use cannabis for PTSD and are looking for high-quality products, VidaCann is here to help. With several dispensaries across the state of Florida (as well as pick-up and delivery options available), you won’t have to go far to get what you need. For more information and to view our products, visit VidaCann today.