Does Weed Help With PTSD?
Does weed help with PTSD? Post-traumatic stress disorder is a significant mental health condition caused by intense physical or emotional trauma. Although fear is a natural human response to a dangerous situation, intense situations can sometimes trigger uncontrollable thoughts and emotions that interfere with a person’s quality of life.
Traditionally, psychiatric care and therapy have been used as effective tools for treating PTSD. But as new research suggests, medicinal marijuana may also help people cope with the debilitating symptoms of the condition.
How Does Weed Help PTSD?
PTSD can cause intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, memory problems, insomnia, emotional outbursts, and self-destructive behaviors. These negative changes in a person’s thinking and mood can significantly impact their career and relationships. PTSD can also complicate how they interact with the world.
Some medical studies suggest weed may be an effective treatment option for those suffering from the life-altering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. Cannabinoids present in cannabis plants may help reduce activity in the amygdala, an area of the brain responsible for producing fear responses to perceived threats. Cannabinoids in marijuana also bind to CB1 receptors, easing the stress and anxiety associated with the mental health condition.
Other studies suggest that low doses of THC can also reduce overall anxiety and stress, helping to dampen the traumatic memories and thoughts triggered by certain situations. Reducing a person’s response to fearful and threatening stimuli by using weed could decrease the severity of a person’s PTSD symptoms.
Some of the most debilitating symptoms of PTSD are nightmares and insomnia. A separate medical study finds that those diagnosed with PTSD may benefit from consuming medicinal cannabis to improve sleep quality and duration. Cannabis may also help decrease nightmares in some patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Considerations to Keep in Mind with THC and CBD Levels
Individuals diagnosed with PTSD should work with a healthcare provider or mental health expert to manage the symptoms of their condition. While cannabis can help alleviate some of the disorder’s most intrusive effects, it can exacerbate other problems associated with PTSD.
Those with PTSD or people who experience daytime delusions or paranoia may want to avoid strains with high THC concentrations. Weed strains high in THC can potentially trigger heightened mania and paranoia. CBD-dominant weed strains, on the other hand, might help decrease anxiety. They also promote relaxation and may combat PTSD-related insomnia.
A mental health professional can evaluate a patient’s symptoms and review the trauma that triggered the PTSD to help an individual find the right medicinal cannabis strain to meet their unique needs.
PTSD and Sleep
Nightmares and insomnia are hallmarks of a PTSD diagnosis. Those with the mental health condition often report having trouble falling and staying asleep. Many also suffer from nightmares and relive traumatic experiences in their dreams. Research shows that CBD-forward weed strains can help relax those with symptoms of PTSD, easing them into a more restful state of mind. CBD can also improve the quality of a PTSD sufferer’s overall sleep.
Is Indica or Sativa Better for PTSD?
Indica plants and Indica-dominant hybrid weed strains have higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC. Sativa plants and sativa-forward hybrid strains have higher THC levels and lower CDB levels. Which strain is best for treating PTSD? Indica is typically better for PTSD patients because CBD helps ease stress and anxiety and promotes relaxation and sleep. However, it can make some people feel lethargic.
Sativa-dominant plants offer mental clarity and boost energy. However, the high levels of THC can be potentially hazardous to some patients with PTSD, triggering paranoia and increasing stress and anxiety.
Some people find that hybrid weed strains give them the best of both worlds. Indica-dominant strains give individuals the therapeutic benefits they seek, while the underlying sativa elements combat lethargy and improve mood.
Ways to Consume Cannabis for PTSD
There are many different ways to consume cannabis for PTSD. Some people prefer smoking or vaping their favorite strain. Inhaling cannabis allows a person to reap the therapeutic benefits of the substance within minutes, with the effects lasting anywhere from two to four hours.
Some people prefer to consume edibles in edible form. While the effects take longer to hit – usually an hour or two – they are often more intense and long-lasting, often around four hours but sometimes up to six, depending on the strain and the amount consumed.
People with PTSD may find weed edibles, like gummies, easier and more discreet to consume. Dosing with edibles tends to be more straightforward as well.
Flower Strains, Edibles, Carts, Concentrates
No matter how you prefer to consume therapeutic weed, there is a product for you. When searching for a flower strain, look for indica or indica-dominant hybrids. These plants tend to provide PTSD patients with the best outcomes. Cartridges, or carts, are also available for those who prefer to vape cannabis instead of smoking it.
Edibles are also a popular choice for those with PTSD. They are discreet and come in various formulations and flavors. Precise labeling and dosing information also means getting the amount of CBD or THC needed to manage their condition more easily.
Microdosing concentrates may also be a good option for those with PTSD. This method allows a person to ingest small amounts of the product, allowing them to experience the benefits of the substance while avoiding some of the psychoactive effects.
Do I Need a Medical Marijuana Card to Get Weed for PTSD in Washington, D.C.
Medicinal marijuana has been available to qualifying patients in Washington, D.C., since 2010. However, the passage of the Medical Cannabis Amendment Act now allows patients 21 and older to self-certify that they require cannabis to treat their qualifying medical condition without needing a doctor’s recommendation. Residents can submit a form to the Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration with the personal information and practitioner recommendation. If the district approves the application, the individual receives a physical card in the mail allowing them to purchase cannabis at a Washington. D.C. dispensary.
If you are considering using weed to help manage your PTSD, it is always wise to consult with your physician or a mental health professional first.
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