Medical marijuana helping veterans win the battle over PTSD

How Medical Marijuana Can Help Veterans Win Their Battle Over PTSD

Three Ways Medical Cannabis Can Potentially Aid in Alleviating the Symptoms of PTSD.

Somewhere in our lives, most of us have had nurses, doctors, or other people in the healthcare system who we didn’t click with, or we felt had empathy for the situation we were facing. In fact, for many years dissociation was considered the best policy, as it was believed that emotional attachments could cloud empirical judgment and too much affect or emotion may interfere with performance or clinical decision-making.

I have always completely disagreed with this idea. I 100% believe that all treatments work best when there is trust between the patient and physician. To provide proper care for someone, I believe you must first authentically care about them and their future.

While working my way through college, I trained and worked as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic. Although we weren’t in a warzone (although it seemed like it sometimes), we EMTs experienced some horrific stuff that is hard to forget. In addition to combat veterans, PTSD is also very prevalent in first responders, police, firefighters and EMT/Paramedic, rape or assault survivors. In my career, I have seen hundreds of veterans affected with Post-traumatic stress (formerly called Post- traumatic stress disorder- the name has changed over the years but means the same thing- soldier’s heart, shell shock, battle fatigue, combat stress reaction, war neurosis are some other names for it) and seen significant positive results from my patients. Often, veterans don’t get any help or not the right kind of help and end up killing themselves. 

The statistics clearly show that the current healthcare system is dealing with a huge crisis. Although, the number “22” is often touted as the total number of Veterans who commit suicide a day, the total number is much more complex and tragically, higher. (You can read the most accurate modern data about veteran suicide by clicking here )

So, what is the right help?

I believe that all medical issues are an interconnected constellation instead of one specific item you are addressing. This is why I consider myself a Holistic Physician- I believe in the wellness of the whole person. While PTSD is often seen as a mental health condition, there are direct and indirect physical symptoms that accompany it. While traditional treatment methods such as therapy and medication have been effective for many, the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis in alleviating PTSD is what I consider one of the best solutions.  Through various peer-reviewed and approved research* and the much more important personal patient testimonials I have experienced it is evident to me that medical cannabis offers a strong alternative or complementary approach to managing PTSD symptoms.

*Research Proof linked below

Mixed Methods Study of the Potential Therapeutic Benefits from Medical Cannabis for Patients in Florida

Luque JS, Okere AN, Reyes-Ortiz CA, Williams PM. Mixed methods study of the potential therapeutic benefits from medical cannabis for patients in Florida. Complement Ther Med. 2021 Mar;57:102669. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102669. Epub 2021 Jan 15. PMID: 33460744; PMCID: PMC8053674.

Three Ways Medical Cannabis Can Potentially Aid in Alleviating the Symptoms of PTSD.

  1. Regulation of Emotional Responses:

One of the hallmark symptoms of PTSD is the inability to regulate emotional responses to triggers associated with the traumatic event. Medical cannabis, particularly strains with high levels of CBD (Cannabidiol) and lower levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), has shown numerous results in reducing the intensity of emotional responses. CBD, known for its anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) and calming properties, can help individuals achieve a more balanced emotional state, reducing the severity of anxiety and panic attacks triggered by traumatic memories. By modulating the endocannabinoid system, medical cannabis can potentially regulate the fear response, enabling individuals to confront and process traumatic memories more effectively.

  • Improvement in Sleep Patterns:

Sleep disturbances are a common feature of PTSD, with many individuals experiencing nightmares, insomnia, and disrupted sleep patterns. Medical cannabis has demonstrated its potential in promoting better sleep quality and quantity, thus offering relief to individuals suffering from PTSD-related sleep disturbances. Certain cannabis strains, especially those with higher levels of the sedative cannabinoid CBN (cannabinol), have been found to facilitate a deeper and more restful sleep. By promoting relaxation and reducing the frequency of nightmares, medical cannabis can contribute to an overall improvement in the quality of life for individuals grappling with PTSD.

  • Mitigation of Hypervigilance:

Hypervigilance is one of the core symptoms of PTSD that can lead to heightened levels of stress, irritability, and an exaggerated startle response. I have heard horror stories from one of my friends, Dr. Robert Urban, who was a Marine Combat veteran about people he served with always thinking they were about to be attacked and patrolling in the kitchen in the safety of their home. Medical cannabis, with its ability to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, has shown potential in mitigating these symptoms by promoting relaxation and reducing the overall arousal of the nervous system. By enhancing the release of neurotransmitters associated with relaxation and reducing the activity of stress-related neurotransmitters, cannabis can help individuals achieve a calmer and more stable emotional state, thereby reducing the impact of hyperarousal and hypervigilance on daily functioning.

While the potential benefits of medical cannabis for alleviating PTSD symptoms are promising, it is essential to emphasize the importance of consulting healthcare professionals experienced in cannabinoid therapy. Individual responses to medical cannabis can vary, and a tailored approach is crucial to ensure the safe and effective use of cannabis as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for PTSD. Further research and clinical trials are necessary to fully elucidate the therapeutic mechanisms of medical cannabis and its potential role in the management of PTSD. Nonetheless, the growing body of evidence suggests that medical cannabis could offer hope and healing to individuals navigating the challenges of living with PTSD.

I have seen patient’s  health, sleep, relationship, happiness  and overall quality of life increase substantially through the help of medical cannabis. I care about these brave men and women who sacrificed so much and who make up such an important thread of the fabric of our society. If you are having issues with PTSD, please contact me to get help to find the peace and support you deserve.

Dr. Joseph “Joe” Rosado