Veterans Can Get All Of These TOXIC Prescription Drugs To Treat PTSD, But Not “CANNABIS”.

Veterans Can Get All Of These TOXIC Prescription Drugs To Treat PTSD, But Not “CANNABIS”.

Around the nation, thousands of veterans and active-duty military personnel are waging their own personal battles against post-traumatic stress disorder. Typically triggered by a horrific incident either witnessed or experienced by the person, PTSD comes with a debilitating set of physical and psychological symptoms.

Many service members are hesitant to seek professional help due to the social stigma surrounding mental illness. Those who do are often dosed with an ever-expanding list of prescription drugs, which, paired with therapy, are frequently the first course of action against certain ailments stemming from PTSD.

“It’s a daunting list,” Dr. Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist in Phoenix, told The Huffington Post about the staggering number of medications available for PTSD.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs’ national formulary, a catalog of drugs and supplies commonly prescribed by VA doctors overall, contains more than 1,500 items, ranging from gauze pads to many of the medications listed below. Yet it is not comprehensive. VA doctors can prescribe non-formulary drugs to treat PTSD if they feel that previous treatment regimens have been ineffective or harmful. While these medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, that doesn’t mean their specific use as a treatment for PTSD — and particularly combat-related PTSD — is fully understood. Doctors often rely on trial and error to figure out what works for an individual patient.

“When I show this list to our military veterans, they were completely nauseated because they have frequently been the target of so many of these medication trials,” Sisley said.

Many of the medications used to treat serious PTSD symptoms such as anxiety, depression, flashbacks and insomnia come with risky side effects, especially when combined with one another. One of the most dangerous is an increase in suicidal thinking.

There is another drug not prescribed by any VA doctor anywhere. Yet some veterans with PTSD say it has helped them tremendously, even reducing their reliance on prescription medications. The drug is marijuana. While it’s not entirely harmless, it is known to be far more benign than many potent pharmaceuticals already approved for use.

But the government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug with no medical value and explicitly prohibits VA doctors from recommending marijuana to their patients, even in states that have reformed their marijuana laws. Some doctors are now arguing that the federal ban on pot is blocking veterans with PTSD from a valuable treatment option.

During a recent interview on NBC’s “Dateline,” U.S. Army veteran Matt Kahl, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, said the VA had prescribed a wide assortment of drugs to treat his PTSD. Kahl said the drugs made him feel like a “zombie,” and 10 months after returning from duty, he attempted suicide. A short time later he began to self-medicate with marijuana.

Kahl, who now lives in Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana, told “Dateline” that he was able to eliminate many of those prescription drugs once he began using cannabis.

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Roughly 20 percent of military veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from PTSD and depression, according to a 2012 VA report. A study published earlier this year found that the suicide rate among those veterans suffering from PTSD is 50 percent higher than the national average.

Some preliminary research has suggested that marijuana may help alleviate some of the primary symptoms of PTSD, including anxiety, flashbacks and depression.

Dr. Deborah Gilman, a recently retired physician who spent 22 years working for the VA, told HuffPost that she sees significant promise for marijuana as a treatment for PTSD.

“The most common symptoms that vets turn to conventional meds for are sleep problems, nightmares, chronic anxiety, intrusive memories (‘flashbacks’), chronic anxiety including social situations and other places, irritability, depressed mood and pain. Pain can be related to combat wounds or not,” she said in an email. “In my opinion, all of them could be benefitted to some degree by various properties in marijuana. Marijuana is useful for pain as well as for psychiatric problems.”

In an open letter to Congress earlier this year, Gilman urged congressional lawmakers to approve a measure that would give veterans easier access to the plant, both for PTSD and other medical conditions. She argued that marijuana poses a significantly decreased risk of dependence as well as fewer side effects than traditional medications. Cannabis may also be effective at reducing patients’ reliance on narcotic painkillers and, in some cases, may be able to replace them altogether, Gilman said.

Shortly thereafter, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to a broader military spending bill that would allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients in states that have already legalized the drug for medical use. While the vote was symbolic — and in fact the first time the Senate had ever voted positively on marijuana reform legislation — both the measure and the bill to which it was attached now face a number of hurdles before becoming law.

Not everyone is as enthusiastic as Sisley and Gilman about the potential for marijuana to treat PTSD. Even they aren’t touting it as a miracle drug (though Sisley claims to have seen patients replace their psychiatric medications with marijuana alone, arguably a near-miracle). But the doctors can’t help but notice that while the VA continues to hand out powerful prescription drugs that don’t necessarily help and can harm the patient, marijuana remains a non-starter. Considering the growing anecdotal evidence from veterans who have treated their PTSD with marijuana, they say that’s no longer acceptable.

Here’s a list of prescription drugs that veterans may be prescribed to treat various PTSD-related symptoms. It’s long, but by no means all-inclusive.


Antidepressants interact with the body and brain chemistry in a variety of ways and can treat a number of conditions. For people with PTSD, these drugs are primarily prescribed to combat the effects of major depressive disorder. They are also often prescribed for anxiety disorders and chronic pain.

Depending on which chemical compounds the medications contain, antidepressants can be classified in several categories, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). While most of these are considered relatively safe, they have been associated with a range of side effects, such as insomnia, weight gain, loss of sexual drive and, most concerning, an increased risk of suicidal thinking. In 2007, the FDA asked makers of the popular medications to strengthen suicide-related warnings on their labels to include young adults, as well as warnings about the possibility of actually worsening depression.

Antidepressants prescribed for PTSD include:

Amitriptyline (sold under brand names Elavil, Endep, Levate, others)
Amoxapine (Asendis, Defanyl, Demolox, others)
Bupropion or bupropion hydrochloride (Wellbutrin)
Citalopram (Celexa, Cipramil)
Clomipramine (Anafranil, Clofranil)
Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
Desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane)
Doxepin (Deptran, Sinequan)
Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
Escitalopram (Lexapro, Cipralex)
Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, others)
Flurazepam (Dalmane, Dalmadorm)
Fluvoxamine (Faverin, Fevarin, others)
Imipramine (Tofranil)
Maprotiline (Deprilept, Ludiomil, Psymion)
Mirtazapine (Avanza, Mirtaz, Zispin, others)
Nortriptyline (Sensoval, Aventyl, Norpress, others)
Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
Phenelzine (Nardil, Nardelzine)
Protriptyline (Vivactil)
Sertraline (Zoloft, Lustral)
Trazodone (Oleptro, Trialodine)
Trimipramine (Surmontil, Rhotrimine, Stangyl)
Venlafaxine (Effexor)
Vilazodone (Viibryd)
Vortioxetine (Brintellix)

Bottles of antidepressant pills are shown in 2004. (Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Anti-anxiety drugs

These psychoactive drugs, also called anxiolytics, are designed to treat a range of anxiety disorders experienced by veterans with PTSD. The most commonly prescribed are benzodiazepines, which apart from treating anxiety are also used for their sedative, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties. A 2013 report found that almost one-third of veterans being treated for PTSD were prescribed benzodiazepines, despite VA guidelines advising against their use for the condition.

Regular use of benzodiazepines — which include such brand-name drugs as Xanax, Klonopin and Restoril — has been linked to side effects including sexual dysfunction, lost cognition and behavior problems. And studies suggest that chronic users may develop a tolerance, even dependence and addiction. Outside their prescription use, benzodiazepines are recreationally used and abused.

Plus, cessation of benzodiazepine use has been linked to a host of withdrawal symptoms, ranging from comparatively minor issues like insomnia, gastrointestinal problems and spasms, to much more severe symptoms like depersonalization, depression, seizures, psychosis and suicidal behavior.

Anti-anxiety drugs prescribed for PTSD include:

Alprazolam (Xanax)
Buspirone (Buspar)
Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
Clonazepam (Klonopin)
Diazepam (Valium)
Estazolam (ProSom, Eurodin)
Hydroxyzine (many names)
Lorazepam (Ativan, Orfidal)
Midazolam (Dormicum, Hypnovel, Versed)
Oxazepam (Serax, many others)
Temazepam (Restoril)
Triazolam (Halcion, Trilam, others)

Pills of the benzodiazepine Xanax on a table.


These drugs are used primarily for the treatment of the psychotic symptoms, such as intense nightmares, intrusive thoughts, emotional reactivity and hyperarousal, that some veterans with PTSD may experience. There are two primary types of antipsychotics — typical (or first-generation) and atypical (or second-generation) — both of which function by blocking the brain’s dopamine receptors. Some atypical antipsychotics have also been prescribed to treat major depressive disorder.

Antipsychotic medications have been linked to a number of side effects, including headaches, dizziness, lethargy and weight gain. More significant complications like tremors and movement disorders — such as parkinsonism, a syndrome accompanied by debilitating muscular rigidity and loss of mobility, and tardive dyskinesia, a disorder often accompanied by uncontrollable facial tics and other movements — have been more commonly associated with earlier typical antipsychotics.

In April 2010, AstraZeneca, the maker of Seroquel, agreed to pay $520 million to settle federal claims that it had minimized risks and pitched the medication for off-label uses, including to treat insomnia. The drug was removed from the VA’s approved formulary list in 2012 after being linked to a number of questionable deaths and other health concerns. In 2013, however, the Army began evaluating how it could be fit back into approved treatment.

Antipsychotic drugs prescribed for PTSD include:

Aripiprazole (Abilify)
Asenapine (Saphris)
Fluphenazine (Prolixin, Modecate)
Haloperidol (Haldol, others)
Iloperidone (Fanapt)
Loxapine (Loxapac, Loxitane)
Lurasidone (Latuda)
Olanzapine, sometimes in combination with fluoxetine (Zyprexa, Zypadhera, or Symbyax)
Perphenazine (Trilafon)
Pimozide (Orap)
Prochlorperazine (Compazine, Phenotil, more)
Quetiapine (Seroquel)
Risperidone (Risperdal)
Thiothixene (Navane)
Ziprasidone (Geodon, Zeldox, Zipwell)

Several bottles of prescription medications including Seroquel sit on the kitchen table at the home of Iraq war veteran Andrew White, who died in his sleep in 2008 while taking a regimen of powerful drugs to treat PTSD. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)

Mood stabilizers

The term “mood stabilizer” refers to a broad set of psychiatric drugs that includes some atypical antipsychotics as well as the anticonvulsant agents listed below. These drugs are often prescribed for the mood swings or coexistent bipolar spectrum disorders that some veterans with PTSD experience. Doctors may also opt for anticonvulsant mood-stabilizing treatment if antidepressants have proven ineffective for a patient.

Mood stabilizers have been connected to a variety of more minor side effects, including dizziness, weight gain and vomiting, as well as more serious symptoms, such as an increased suicide risk.

Mood stabilizing drugs prescribed for PTSD include the following anticonvulsants, as well as some atypical antipsychotics listed above:

Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol, others)
Divalproex sodium (Depakote)
Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)
Valproic acid (Depakene, Valproate)

Lamotrigine is a generic anticonvulsant prescribed in the treatment of clinical depression. Its most prominent side effect is a skin rash, which affects 5 to 10 percent of patients. On rare occasions, these skin conditions can develop into life-threatening reactions, including drug-induced hypersensitivity syndrome, Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis.

Sleep aids

Sedative-hypnotic medications designed to help induce sleep include a variety of drugs listed in previous categories, such as some anxiolytics and particularly benzodiazepines, as well as antipsychotics. There are also other drugs that are prescribed specifically to veterans with PTSD to help with insomnia or other sleeping issues, like nightmares. Among these sleep aids are a newer class of Z-drugs, like Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata, which are largely thought to be safer than benzodiazepines.

Z-drugs and other non-benzodiazepine hypnotics come with their own list of potential side effects, including dizziness, gastrointestinal problems and prolonged drowsiness, as well as less common, though more concerning, effects like parasomnias — activities like sleepwalking or sleep-eating. Concerns have also been raised that these drugs may be habit-forming.

Sleep aids prescribed for PTSD include the following, as well as a number of drugs listed above:

Butabarbital (Butisol)
Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
Prazosin hydrochloride (Minipress, Vasoflex, others)
Ramelteon (Rozerem)
Zaleplon (Sonata)
Zolpidem (Ambien)

Alarms have been raised over Ambien’s list of side effects such as aggressive behavior, confusion, hallucinations and possible worsening of depression.

21 health benefits of cannabis

21 health benefits of cannabis


Originally titled: 21 health benefits of marijuana


Despite the fact that the Drug Enforcement Agency categorizes marijuana as a schedule I drug, one that has no accepted medical use, a majority of Americans have thought medical pot should be legal since the late 1990s — and a majority now support recreational legalization as well.

Washington D.C. and 23 states have legalized medical marijuana (that number is 35 states if we count laws with very limited access).

Even the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse lists medical uses for cannabis.

But even though researchers have identified some fascinating potential benefits of medical marijuana so far, it’s something that’s still hard to study, making conclusive results tough to come by. The schedule I classification means it’s hard for researchers to get their hands on pot grown to the exacting standards that are necessary for medical research, even in states where it’s legal. Plus, no researcher can even try to make an FDA-approved cannabis product while it has that DEA classification, which removes some motivation to study the plant.

More research would identify health benefits more clearly and would also help clarify potential dangers — like with any psychoactive substance, there are risks associated with abuse, including dependency and emotional issues. And many doctors want to understand marijuana’s effects better before deciding whether to recommend it or not.

With that caveat about research in mind, here are 21 of the medical benefits — or potential benefits — of marijuana.

1. Weed can be used to treat Glaucoma.

Marijuana use can be used to treat and prevent the eye disease glaucoma, which increases pressure in the eyeball, damaging the optic nerve and causing loss of vision.

Marijuana decreases the pressure inside the eye, according to the National Eye Institute: “Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma.”

These effects of the drug may slow the progression of the disease, preventing blindness.

2. It may help reverse the carcinogenic effects of tobacco and improve lung health.

There’s a fair amount of evidence that marijuana does no harm to the lungs, unless you also smoke tobacco, and one study published in Journal of the American Medical Association found that marijuana not only doesn’t impair lung function, it may even increase lung capacity.

Researchers looking for risk factors of heart disease tested the lung function of 5,115 young adults over the course of 20 years. Tobacco smokers lost lung function over time, but pot users actually showed an increase in lung capacity.

It’s possible that the increased lung capacity may be due to taking a deep breaths while inhaling the drug and not from a therapeutic chemical in the drug.

Those smokers only toked up a few times a month, but a more recent survey of people who smoked pot daily for up to 20 years found no evidence that smoking pot harmed their lungs.

  1. It can help control epileptic seizures.

Marijuana use can prevent epileptic seizures in rats, a 2003 study showed.

Robert J. DeLorenzo, of Virginia Commonwealth University, gave marijuana extract and synthetic marijuana to epileptic rats. The drugs rid the rats of the seizures for about 10 hours. Cannabinoids like the active ingredients in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as THC), control seizures by binding to the brain cells responsible for controlling excitability and regulating relaxation.

The findings were published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

4. It also decreases the symptoms of a severe seizure disorder known as Dravet’s Syndrome.

During the research for his documentary “Weed,” Sanjay Gupta interviewed the Figi family, who treats their 5-year-old daughter using a medical marijuana strain high in cannabidiol and low in THC.

There are at least two major active chemicals in marijuana that researchers think have medicinal applications (there are up to 79 known active compounds). Those two are cannabidiol (CBD) — which seems to impact the brain mostly without a high— and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which has pain relieving (and other) properties.

The Figi family’s daughter, Charlotte, has Dravet Syndrome, which causes seizures and severe developmental delays.

According to the film, the drug has decreased her seizures from 300 a week to just one every seven days. Forty other children in the state are using the same strain of marijuana (which is high in CBD and low in THC) to treat their seizures — and it seems to be working.

The doctors who recommended this treatment say that the cannabidiol in the plant interacts with the brain cells to quiet the excessive activity in the brain that causes these seizures.

As Gutpa notes, a Florida hospital that specializes in the disorder, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Drug Enforcement agency don’t endorse marijuana as a treatment for Dravet or other seizure disorders.

  1. A chemical found in marijuana stops cancer cells from spreading in the lab.

CBD may also help prevent cancer from spreading, researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco reported in 2007.

Cannabidiol stops cancer by turning off a gene called Id-1, the study, published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, found. Cancer cells make more copies of this gene than non-cancerous cells, and it helps them spread through the body.

The researchers studied breast cancer cells in the lab that had high expression levels of Id-1 and treated them with cannabidiol. After treatment the cells had decreased Id-1 expression and were less aggressive spreaders. But beware: these are studies on cancer cells in the lab, not on cancer patients.

Other very preliminary studies on aggressive brain tumors in mice or cell cultures have shown that THC and CBD can slow or shrink tumors at the right dose, which is a great reason to do more research into figuring out that dose.

One 2014 study found that marijuana can significantly show the growth of the type of brain tumor associated with 80% of malignant brain cancer in people.

In “WEED,” Gupta also mentioned a few studies in the U.S., Spain, and Israel that suggest the compounds in cannabis could even kill cancer cells.

6. It may decrease anxiety.

Medical marijuana users claim the drug helps relieve pain and suppress nausea — the two main reasons it’s often used to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy.

In 2010, researchers at Harvard Medical School suggested that that some of the drug’s benefits may actually be from reduced anxiety, which would improve the smoker’s mood and act as a sedative in low doses.

Beware, though, higher doses can increase anxiety and make you paranoid.

7. THC may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Marijuana may be able to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a study led by Kim Janda of the Scripps Research Institute suggests.

The 2006 study, published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, found that THC, the active chemical in marijuana, slows the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that makes them. These plaques seem to be what kill brain cells and potentially cause Alzheimer’s.

A synthetic mixture of CBD and THC seem to preserve memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study suggested that in population-based studies, a THC-based prescription drug called dronabinol was able to reduce behavioral disturbances in dementia patients.

8. The drug eases the pain of multiple sclerosis.

Marijuana may ease painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis, a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in May suggests.

Jody Corey-Bloom studied 30 multiple sclerosis patients with painful contractions in their muscles. These patients didn’t respond to other treatments, but after smoking marijuana for a few days they reported that they were in less pain.

The THC in the pot binds to receptors in the nerves and muscles to relieve pain. Other studies suggest that the chemical also helps control the muscle spasms.

9. Other types of muscle spasms could be helped too.

Other types of muscle spasms respond to marijuana as well. Gupta also found a teenager named Chaz who was using medical marijuana to treat diaphragm spasms that were untreatable by other, prescribed and very strong, medications.

His condition is called myoclonus diaphragmatic flutter (also known as Leeuwenhoek’s Disease) and causes non stop spasming in the abdominal muscles which are not only painful, but interfere with breathing and speaking.

Smoking marijuana was able to calm the attacks almost immediately, at least it seemed to in this patient.

10. It lessens side effects from treating hepatitis C and increases treatment effectiveness.

Treatment for hepatitis C infection is harsh — negative side effects include fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and depression — and lasts for months. Many people aren’t able to finish their treatment course because of the side effects.

But, pot to the rescue: A 2006 study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that 86% of patients using marijuana successfully completed their Hep C therapy, while only 29% of non-smokers completed their treatment, possibly because the marijuana helps lessens the treatments side effects.

Marijuana also seems to improve the treatment’s effectiveness: 54% of hep C patients smoking marijuana got their viral levels low and kept them low, in comparison to only 8% of nonsmokers.

11. Marijuana treats inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s disease.

Patients with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis could benefit from marijuana use, studies suggest.

University of Nottingham researchers found in 2010 that chemicals in marijuana, including THC and cannabidiol, interact with cells in the body that play an important role in gut function and immune responses. The study was published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

THC-like compounds made by the body increase the permeability of the intestines, allowing bacteria in. The plant-derived cannabinoids in marijuana block these body-cannabinoids, preventing this permeability and making the intestinal cells bond together tighter.

One study in Israel showed that smoking a joint significantly reduced Crohn’s disease symptoms in 10 out of 11 patients compared to a placebo and without side effects.

That’s a small study, but other research has shown similar effects. Even more research finds that people with Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel disorders use cannabis to help deal with their symptoms, even if there are questions about how much marijuana can or can’t help.

12. It relieves arthritis discomfort.

Marijuana alleviates pain, reduces inflammation, and promotes sleep, which may help relieve pain and discomfort for people with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers announced in 2011.

Medical marijuana is also being used to treat the autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, which is when the body starts attacking itself for some unknown reason.

Both THC and CBD have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be how cannabis helps deal with symptoms of Lupus and arthritis. The rest of the positive impact of the marijuana is probably from the effects on pain and nausea.

Researchers from rheumatology units at several hospitals gave their patients Sativex, a cannabinoid-based pain-relieving medicine. After a two-week period, people on Sativex had a significant reduction in pain and improved sleep quality compared to placebo users.

A note of caution, though, a recent study in Arthritis Care & Research suggests there isn’t enough evidence to back up the use of marijuana for these kinds of diseases, mostly because there aren’t comprehensive studies on the side effects and little regulation of dosage and consistency in the chemical make up of medical marijuana.

13. It keeps you skinny and helps your metabolism.

A study published in the American Journal Of Medicine on April 15 of 2013 suggested that pot smokers are skinnier than the average person and have healthier metabolism and reaction to sugars, even though they do end up eating more calories.

The study analyzed data from more than 4,500 adult Americans — 579 of whom were current marijuana smokers, meaning they had smoked in the last month. About 2,000 had used marijuana in the past, while another 2,000 had never used the drug.

They studied their body’s response to eating sugars: their levels of the hormone insulin and their blood sugar levels while they hadn’t eaten in nine hours, and after eating sugar.

Not only were the pot users skinnier, but their body had a healthier response to sugar.

14. While not really a health benefit, marijuana spurs creativity in the brain.

Contrary to stoner stereotypes, marijuana usage has actually been shown to have some positive mental effects, particularly in terms of increasing creativity. Even though people’s short-term memories tend to function worse when high, people get better at tests requiring them to come up with new ideas.

One study tested participants on their ability to come up with different words related to a concept, and found that using cannabis allowed people to come up with a greater range of related concepts, seeming “to make the brain better at detecting those remote associations that lead to radically new ideas,” according to Wired.

Other researchers have found that some participants improve their “verbal fluency,” their ability to come up with different words, while using marijuana.

Part of this increased creative ability may come from the release of dopamine in the brain, lessening inhibitions and allowing people to feel more relaxed, giving the brain the ability to perceive things differently.

15. Pot soothes tremors for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Recent research from Israel shows that smoking marijuana significantly reduces pain and tremors and improves sleep for Parkinson’s disease patients. Particularly impressive was the improved fine motor skills among patients.

Medical marijuana is legal in Israel for multiple conditions, and a lot of research into the medical uses of cannabis is done there, supported by the Israeli government.

16. Marijuana helps veterans suffering from PTSD.

The Colorado Department of Public Health recently awarded $2 million to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS is one of the biggest proponents of marijuana research) to study marijuana’s potential as part of treatment for people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Marijuana is approved to treat PTSD in some states already — in New Mexico, PTSD is the number one reason for people to get a license for medical marijuana.

Naturally occurring cannabinoids, similar to THC, help regulate the system that causes fear and anxiety in the body and brain.

But there are still questions about the safety of using marijuana while suffering from PTSD, which this study will hopefully help answer.

17. Marijuana protects the brain after a stroke.

Research from the University of Nottingham shows that marijuana may help protect the brain from damage caused by stroke, by reducing the size of the area affected by the stroke — at least in rats, mice, and monkeys.

This isn’t the only research that has shown neuroprotective effects from cannabis. Some research shows that the plant may help protect the brain after other traumatic events, like concussions.

18. It might protect the brain from concussions and trauma.

There is some evidence that marijuana can help heal the brain after a concussion or other traumatic injury. A recent study in the journal Cerebral Cortex showed that in mice, marijuana lessened the bruising of the brain and helped with healing mechanisms after a traumatic injury.

Harvard professor emeritus of psychiatry and marijuana advocate Lester Grinspoon recently wrote an open letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, saying the NFL should stop testing players for marijuana, and that the league should start funding research into the plant’s ability to protect the brain.

“Already, many doctors and researchers believe that marijuana has incredibly powerful neuroprotective properties, an understanding based on both laboratory and clinical data,” he writes.

Goodell recently said that he’d consider permitting athletes to use marijuana if medical research shows that it’s an effective neuroprotective agent.

19. It can help eliminate nightmares.

This is a complicated one, because it involves effects that can be both positive and negative. Marijuana disturbs sleep cycles by interrupting the later stages of REM sleep. In the long run, this could be a problem for frequent users.

However, for people suffering from serious nightmares, especially those associated with PTSD, this can be helpful. Nightmares and other dreams occur during those same stages of sleep. By interrupting REM sleep, many of those dreams may not occur. Research into using a synthetic cannabinoid, like THC, but not the same, showed a significant decrease in the number of nightmares in patients with PTSD.

Additionally, even if frequent use can be bad for sleep, marijuana may be a better sleep aid than some other substances that people use. Some of those, including medication and alcohol, may potentially have even worse effects on sleep, though more research is needed on the topic.

20. Weed reduces some of the awful pain and nausea from chemo, and stimulates appetite.

One of the most well-known medical uses of marijuana is for people going through chemotherapy.

Cancer patients being treated with chemo suffer from painful nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. This can cause additional health complications.

Marijuana can help reduce these side effects, alleviating pain, decreasing nausea, and stimulating the appetite. There are also multiple FDA-approved cannabinoid drugs that use THC, the main active chemical in marijuana, for the same purposes.

21. Marijuana can help people trying to cut back on drinking.

Marijuana is safer than alcohol. That’s not to say it’s completely risk free, but it’s much less addictive and doesn’t cause nearly as much physical damage.

Disorders like alcoholism involve disruptions in the endocannabinoid system. Because of that, some people think cannabis might help patients struggling with those disorders.

Research in Harm Reduction Journal shows that some people use marijuana as a less harmful substitute for alcohol, prescription drugs, and other illegal drugs. Some of the most common reasons for patients to make that substitution are the less adverse side effects from marijuana and the fact that it is less likely to cause withdrawal problems.

Some people do become psychologically dependent on marijuana, and this doesn’t mean that it’s a cure for substance abuse problems. But, from a harm-reduction standpoint, it can help.

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