Cannabis and PTSD Clinical Trials Announced

The International Association for Cannabinoid Medicine published a bulletin highlighting the preliminary results from an observational clinical trial studying the effects of Cannabis on post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“According to an observational study by scientists of MaReNa Diagnostic and Consulting Center in Bat-Yam, Israel, presented at the Cannabinoid Conference 2011 in Bonn, Germany, the use of cannabis may improve symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. As a part of their routine consulting work, they assessed the mental condition of 79 adult PTSD patients, who applied to the Ministry of Health in order to obtain a license for the medical use of cannabis. Only part of them (about 50 per cent) got cannabis licenses and constitutes the study group. They were followed for a period of about two years.”

One of the oldest known medical uses for Cannabis is in the treatment of psychiatric disorders, as described in the ancient Ayurvedic texts from India (Russo 2005). This ancient medicinal claim is proving itself true through recent scientific studies. Scientists studying fear conditioning in animals discovered that the CB1 receptor is necessary for the extinction of adverse memories (Marsciano 2002). Researchers studied mice that are genetically bred without the CB1 receptors. These mice without CB1 receptors have an impaired ability to extinguish fear. Scientists have also tried using the drug Rimonbandt, which blocks the CB1 receptor and seen similar results (Lutz 2007).

The CB1 receptor is the most abundant protein in the human protein, and anyone who has activated this receptor with THC can tell you about its effect on memory. This memory impairment associated with Cannabis can be harnessed for medical uses.

The CB1 receptor is part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a natural part of our body and among many things it controls things such as eating, sleeping relaxing, and memory. Conceptually, by adding THC to the brain, the ECS is turned on and begins to do its work. THC from the Cannabis plant and our body’s endocannabinoids may control the extinction of adverse memories by acting through the CB1 receptor. Adverse memories underlie or cause many anxiety disorders such as PTSD. You don’t have to be a veteran to receive relief from Cannabis for a psychiatric disorder. The extinction of adverse memories through the CB1 receptor is emerging as a universal mechanism in the brain.

Despite a vast amount of scientific information on the effect of cannabinoids on memory, the first clinical trial on Cannabis and PTSD is yet to be completed. This clinical trial is an obvious next step that will test the effect of CB1 receptor stimulation on adapting to fear. This is something scientists have not been successful at studying; researchers have only been approved to study the effect of CB1 receptors on anxiety disorders indirectly through genetically altered mice and by blocking the receptor.

Cannabis and cannabinoids may offer a benefit in the treatment of anxiety disorders, such as phobias (fears) or PTSD, and the pain that is often associated with them. The implications of the current scientific data suggest that Cannabis and cannabinoids can treat a wide range of anxiety orders. If you are feeling nervous about the speculation of using Cannabis to treat anxiety disorders, just remember the title from Nature magazine’s 2002 article, “Never Fear, Cannabinoids are Here (Sah, 2002).”


Lutz, B. (2007). The Endocannabinoid System and Extinction Learning. Molecuar Neurobiology, 36:92-101.

Marsciano, G. (2002). The Endogenous Cannabioid System Controls the Extinction of Adverse Memories. Nature, 530-534.

Russo, E. (2005). Cannabis in Inida: ancient lore and modern medicine. In R. Mechoulam, Cannabinoids as Therpeutics.

Birkhäuser Verlag/Switzerland. Sah, P. (2002). Never Fear, Cannabinoids are Here. Nature, 488-489.

Jahan Marcu is currently investigating the pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors. He was working at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute when exciting discoveries were made showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with THC and CBD from the Cannabis plant. The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2009 he received the Billy Martin Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). Jahan is currently the vice-chair the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board at Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Questions?   Contact    [email protected]

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent any University, business or affiliates. While the information provided in this blog is from published scientific studies it is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

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