Those who suffer from PTSD and use marijuana have seen a 50% reduction in PTSD-related symptoms such as anxiety, according to a new study from researchers at Washington State University. The researchers found marijuana reduces PTSD symptoms temporarily, but not over a long period of time.
The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, included analysis for 31 months of data reported by 404 PTSD patients before and after they either smoked or vaped cannabis. The patients self-reported using an app. By the end of the study, the patients made 11,797 entries.
The patients tracked PTSD symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, irritability and anxiety before and after inhaling cannabis.
The study found:
- Inhaled cannabis “acutely reduced” PTSD symptoms by more than 50%
- Higher doses led to larger symptom reduction
- The level of dose used to manage anxiety increased over time, indicating patients developed tolerance
- Cannabis did not appear to improve or worsen PTSD symptoms in the long-term, indicating cannabis provided temporary relief from PTSD symptoms
Other Findings From the PTSD Marijuana Study
The study found differences in results based on gender. For example, women in the study reported that they felt a higher reduction of PTSD symptoms than men when it came to flashback severity. Women also reported more sessions than men where cannabis lowered their level of anxiety.
When it came to reducing irritability, marijuana had a positive impact in 97% of cannabis use sessions. Men reported more sessions involving reduction in irritability than women.
Breaking down the results by the symptom type, cannabis reduced PTSD symptoms by the following levels from before to after inhaling marijuana. .
- 67% reduction in irritability
- 62% reduction in severity of intrusive thoughts
- 51% reduction in flashbacks
- 57% reduction in the severity of anxiety
“Taken together, these results provide strong evidence that cannabis can provide temporary relief from symptoms of PTSD, but that the magnitude of these effects varies across individuals,” the researchers wrote.
Marijuana and PTSD Symptoms
The use of marijuana to reduce PTSD symptoms is an issue that has gained prominence in recent years.
Many military veterans suffer from PTSD and have requested that the federal government do more research on the issue. Many states that have made medical marijuana legal have made PTSD an area where patients can use cannabis, according to Westword.
A 2019 study from Canada found that those with PTSD symptoms who use marijuana had a reduction in depression and suicidal thoughts. Researchers noted that many who suffer from PTSD have started to use cannabis in greater numbers to treat their symptoms.
The study on PTSD follows many studies into the use of marijuana for anxiety. A 2020 study found that marijuana may actually stimulate a molecule in the brain that leads to people feeling relief from anxiety. The molecule makes connections between the amygdala and frontal cortex, areas of the brain associated with emotions, memory and empathy.