Synthetic Marijuana Proposed for PTSD
> 11/9/2009 6:15:39 PM

Israeli researchers have raised the sure-to-be-controversial possibility that marijuana, or elements derived from it, could serve as part of a successful PTSD treatment plan.
Students at the University of Haifa experimented on rats using synthetic marijuana: the rats were placed in a two-sided cage and received electric shocks when they crossed the cage's midway point. A select group of traumatized rats were then elevated on a small platform, heightening their stress levels. A third group served as the study's prime variable, their brains injected with a man-made version of marijuana's active chemical tetrahydrocannabinol directly after the initial shock.

The group of rats that were doubly traumatized but did not receive the injections spent more time in recovery by a large margin, refusing to re-enter the shock area and demonstrating, through their continued anxiety, the ability of THC to minimize stress. In a further variation on the experiment, researchers injected the rats at different times within the procedure and found that the THC reduced stress symptoms no matter when it was administered. The rats who ingested the synthetic cannabinoids were simply better equipped to process and overcome their traumas.

No one has proposed cannabinoids as a stand-alone PTSD remedy, and all related treatment plans require some degree of personal or cognitive behavioral therapy to gently guide the subject toward a more positive state of mind. But this isn't the first we've heard of cannabinoids as a PTSD treatment: despite an unfortunate lack of formal studies, personal testimonials by PTSD veterans who found marijuana (real or synthetic) to be more effective than traditional antidepressants may be easily found on the web. They've even inspired a very specific advocacy group.

It's crucial that this debate occur in as objective an environment as possible. If marijuana use is equated with the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, this proposed treatment model looks dubious indeed. Reports of stressed war vets who return to their homes only to drown their troubles in alcohol and self-harm understandably leave some resistant to the idea of treating chronic anxieties with what is still considered by many to be a recreational drug.

Because marijuana remains a tightly controlled substance, it will probably not be available for PTSD treatment on a large scale anytime soon (at least not for those living outside the state of California). But recent legislative changes make clear that a progressively larger share of Americans now accepts the concept of marijuana and its derivatives as legitimate medicines. If it works for cancer patients, it may well prove effective for those suffering through chronic trauma, and doctors may sidestep controversy by prescribing the drug in its synthetic form. One can hardly make moral judgements on a treatment that works. At the very least, we shouldn't allow our past experiences and legal precedents to prevent the consideration of a potentially helpful medicine.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy