A new study e-published ahead of print by Neuropsychopharmacology, the official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, has determined that cannabinoids can help treat, or even prevent, the effects of PTSD.
Scientists from the Department of Psychology of the University of Haifa in Israel examined rat models suffering from shock-induced PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). The rats were each given an injection of either a cannabinoid receptor agonist (a substance that mimics the effects of cannabis) or a control placebo 2 hours after the shock.
After a week the scientists examined the rats and found that the initial shock coupled with situational reminders of the trauma caused lasting alterations in emotional processing in the rats, as well as impaired extinction of the traumatic event (lasting fear), enhanced latency to startle, impaired plasticity in the hippocmapal-accumbens pathway and altered expression of CB1 receptors and glucocorticoid receptors in multiple areas of the brain (CA1, basolateral amygdala and the prefrontal cortex).
Results for the rats that had been given the cannabinoid agonist showed that the agonist prevented the effects the shock had on emotional processing, extinction, plasticity and startle response – and corrected abnormalities in the CA1 and prefrontal cortext areas of the brain.
Post traumatic stress disorder affects roughly 7.7 million adults in the U.S., and symptoms can range from insomnia, depression and anxiety to flashbacks, self-destructive behavior and even suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
The results of this study, which have also been published by the National Institute of Health, can be found by clicking here.