Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder characterized by severe emotional and physical reactions related to an earlier trauma. These can include episodes in which flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety impair the sufferer and cause significant distress. Symptoms can include everything from insomnia, aggression, to self harm, suicide and beyond. PTSD is commonly associated with veterans of war and victims of abuse. There are more than 3 million cases of PTSD reported annually in the United States alone.

Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while, but they don’t have PTSD — with time and good self-care, they usually get better. But if the symptoms get worse or last for months or even years and interfere with your functioning, you may have PTSD.

The most common pharmaceutical prescriptions for PTSD are:

Prozac – Prozac affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression, panic, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms.
Common Prozac side effects may include:

sleep problems (insomnia), strange dreams
headache, dizziness, vision changes
tremors or shaking, feeling anxious or nervous
pain, weakness, yawning, tired feeling
upset stomach, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
dry mouth, sweating, hot flashes
changes in weight or appetite
stuffy nose, sinus pain, sore throat, flu symptoms or
decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm
suicidal thoughts
Zoloft – Zoloft (sertraline) is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Sertraline affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression, panic, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, feeling like you might pass out;
agitation, hallucinations, fever, overactive reflexes, tremors;
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, feeling unsteady, loss of coordination; or
headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, fainting, seizure, shallow breathing or breathing that stops.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Zoloft: skin rash or hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.
Paxil – Paxil (paroxetine) is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Paroxetine affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced.
Common Paxil side effects may include:

vision changes;
weakness, drowsiness, dizziness;
sweating, anxiety, shaking;
sleep problems (insomnia);
loss of appetite, constipation;
dry mouth, yawning; or
decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Paxil: skin rash or hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.
Xanax – Xanax (alprazolam) belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. It works by slowing down the movement of chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced. This results in a reduction in nervous tension (anxiety).
Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

depressed mood, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself, unusual risk-taking behavior, decreased inhibitions, no fear of danger;
confusion, hyperactivity, agitation, hostility, hallucinations;
feeling like you might pass out;
urinating less than usual or not at all;
chest pain, pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest;
uncontrolled muscle movements, tremor, seizure (convulsions); or
jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
These drugs come with severe and wide ranging side effects. Psychological and psychiatric treatment is often necessary to manage the disorder.

Cannabis with various potency profiles of the cannabinoid THC are the most well-documented in being effective in combating PTSD. Most patients prefer indica dominant strains for their more calming and soothing effects, but a variety of strains have been reported by patients as successful.

Difference between CBD and THC in Medical Marijuana

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. It acts much like the cannabinoid chemicals made naturally by the body, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Cannabinoid receptors are concentrated in certain areas of the brain associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception. THC attaches to these receptors and activates them and affects a person’s memory, pleasure, movements, thinking, concentration, coordination, and sensory and time perception, according to NIDA.

THC is one of many compounds found in the resin secreted by glands of the marijuana plant. More of these glands are found around the reproductive organs of the plant than on any other area of the plant. Other compounds unique to marijuana, called cannabinoids, are present in this resin. One cannabinoid, CBD is nonpsychoactive, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and actually blocks the high associated with THC.

Cannabidiol or CBD, is the cannabis compound that has significant medical benefits, but does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC. CBD does not cause a high, unlike THC. The reason why CBD is non-psychoactive is due to its lack of affinity for CB1 receptors. CB1 receptors are found in high concentrations in the brain, and are the pathways responsible for the psychoactive effects of THC.

CBD and THC levels tend to vary between different strains and varieties of cannabis. By using selective breeding techniques, we have managed to create varieties with high levels of CBD and THC.

Cannabinoids work best together. For example, CBD can actually help mitigate the effects of THC thus reducing the odds of a panic attack.

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Haifa in Israel were able to prevent rats from developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by treating them with the active compounds in marijuana, or cannabinoids.

Led by Dr. Irit Akirav from the Department of Psychology, the team used rats because of their similarity to humans in responding to trauma.

People with PTSD — a severe type of anxiety disorder — suffer from symptoms that can be set off by common triggers, also known as trauma reminders.

While PTSD is usually treated after symptoms appear, the team found that dosing rats with cannabinoids following a traumatic event could make them immune to future triggers.

In other words, cannabis made the effects of trauma reminders ‘disappear’ – Dr. Akirav
The treated rats showed no symptoms of PTSD. But rats that were left untreated did, including impairments in memory extinction, changes in pain sensation and increased panic behavior.

Interestingly, the researchers found that the treatment worked by rewiring circuits of the brain involved with trauma.

The findings add to a growing body of evidence, the researchers note, suggesting marijuana can not only help manage symptoms of PTSD but also prevent symptoms from developing early on.

Anecdotal reports by patients with PTSD indicate effective strains include sativas Jack Herer, Sour Diesel and Durban Poison, hybrids Girl Scout Cookies, Headband and Pineapple Express, and indicas Granddaddy Purple, Blue Cheese and Purple Kush.



Considering the fact that 20 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States, there is a clear need for a new form of treatment for people who suffer from PTSD. As Dr. Sue Sisley, the psychiatrist who is leading the first randomized, controlled trial of the ability for cannabis to treat post-traumatic stress syndrome states, “I eventually started to see that a lot of these veterans were not responding to conventional medications, and then I began seeing a lot of deaths in my practice…these were people who had already been through the gauntlet of medications and nothing had helped.”

As Dr. Sisley explains, the traditional anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications given to people with PTSD often end up causing more harm than help. Many veterans and others who have tried marijuana are actually able to slowly ween themselves off of the harsh mix of medications that they take on a daily basis.


The science behind why marijuana could help ease the effects of PTSD is actually very simple. One of the main symptoms of PTSD is an endocannabinoid deficiency. In people with PTSD, the body does not produce enough endocannabinoids to sufficiently fill cannabinoid receptors. Marijuana counteracts the symptoms of endocannabinoid deficiency by introducing cannabinoids from outside of the body that act as a replacement for the decreased production of cannabinoids in the body.

While there is overwhelming scientific and anecdotal evidence proving the efficacy of marijuana in treating post-traumatic stress syndrome, many people still don’t have access to it. For residents of Colorado however, that is changing.


Colorado lawmakers recently passed a bill making Colorado one of about 16 states which consider PTSD an eligible condition for treatment with medical marijuana. This huge step forward will finally allow Colorado citizens who suffer from PTSD to access the medicine they deem best fit to treat their condition. Hopefully more of the 29 states with established legal medical marijuana programs will consider the needs of veterans and others who have to live with PTSD and establish it as an accepted condition.While Colorado and other states are pushing forward by making PTSD an eligible condition for medical marijuana use, there are still many restrictions in place making it hard or even impossible for people to access the medicine they need. The fight must continue until everyone with PTSD has the chance to treat their condition with the safest and most effective medicine possible.



The Government Is Going to Let Vets With PTSD Smoke Pot for the First Time – The federal government has given the green light to researchers who are ready to begin testing marijuana as a treatment for war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, as first reported by The study parameters were approved by the Department of Health and Human Services in March 2014 but held up by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, which had until Wednesday balked at supplying the drug for clinical trials.

As many as 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans experience PTSD, up from a high-end estimate of 12% after the first Gulf War, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs. An estimated 15% of Vietnam vets have been diagnosed, a disproportionate number coming from minority groups who, the VA says, served in combat zones more often than whites.

Addressing a serious issue: Recent studies show have found that a staggering 22 veterans commit suicide every day. The suicide rate among those returning from the most recent wars is roughly 50% higher than in their civilian peers, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Early plans call for the study to be conducted in Maryland and Arizona, where lead researcher Dr. Suzanne Sisley is working despite being dismissed from her job at the University of Arizona because of concerns about statewide prohibition laws, according to the Military Times. Colorado, which legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes in 2000 and for recreational use in a 2012, provided Sisley with a $2 million grant to continue her studies, the Times reports.

The Times says the 76 veterans set to participate will either smoke or ingest with a vaporizer about one gram daily, then provide weekly updates to researchers. They will use three kinds of marijuana and a placebo strain, according to

NIDA’s decision to sign off on the trials, which are expected to gain final Drug Enforcement Administration approval in the coming weeks, has received support from internal review boards at the University of Pennsylvania and the Copernicus Independent Review Board of North Carolina. MAPS expects Johns Hopkins University to submit its backing soon, spokesman Brad Burge told

Changing the dynamic: The study results could change the game on Capitol Hill, where Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) are co-sponsoring a bill, called the Veterans Equal Access Act, that would allow VA physicians to recommend medical marijuana to veterans with PTSD. Federal law currently prohibits those doctors from simply suggesting cannabis as a potential treatment.

“Our antiquated drug laws must catch up with the real suffering of so many of our veterans,” Rohrabacher said during a joint news conference to introduce the bill in November. “This is now a moral cause and a matter of supreme urgency.”

Now, after years of dragging its feet and tying up scientific exploration in red tape, the federal government is finally beginning the process of offering affected veterans a chance to reclaim a better life.



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