New York, NY: Future research targeting cannabinoids and their receptors may lead to evidence-based treatments for patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to clinical trial data published in May in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
Investigators at the New York University School of Medicine reported that subjects diagnosed with PTSD typically possess elevated quantities of endogenous cannabinoid receptors in regions of the brain associated with fear and anxiety. Investigators also determined that many of these subjects experience a decrease in their natural production of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter, resulting in an imbalanced endocannibinoid regulatory system.
Researchers speculated that an increase in the body's production of cannabinoids would likely restore subjects' natural brain chemistry and psychological balance. They affirmed, "[Our] findings substantiate, at least in part, emerging evidence that … plant-derived cannabinoids such as marijuana may possess some benefits in individuals with PTSD by helping relieve haunting nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD."
Authors concluded: "The data reported herein are the first of which we are aware of to demonstrate the critical role of CB1 (cannabinoid) receptors and endocannabinoids in the etiology of PTSD in humans. As such, they provide a foundation upon which to develop and validate informative biomarkers of PTSD vulnerability, as well as to guide the rational development of the next generation of evidence-based treatments for PTSD."
In Oregon, House lawmakers are anticipated to vote imminently on legislation, Senate Bill 281, to expand the state's medical cannabis program to include patients with post-traumatic stress.
Anecdotal evidence and case study reports have increasingly indicated that cannabis may mitigate traumatic memories and anxiety. However, clinical trial data remains unavailable, in large part because federal officials have blocked investigators' efforts to study cannabis in PTSD subjects. In 2011 federal administrators halted efforts by investigators at the University of Arizona to complete an FDA-approved, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the use of cannabis in 50 veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Full text of the study, "Elevated brain cannabinoid CB1 receptor availability in post-traumatic stress disorder: a positron emission tomography study," appears in Molecular Psychiatry.