Exploration of Cannabinoid and PTSD Research: The Mystery of The Mind

Exploration of Cannabinoid and PTSD Research: The Mystery of The Mind

In a significant study published by Cambridge University Press on March 12, 2024, researchers led by Michael T. Lynskey explored the effects of cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) on individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mainly focusing on those who also suffer from comorbid depression. This study, stemming from real-world evidence, shines a light on the potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for a demographic often burdened by the dual challenges of PTSD and depression.
Prevalence of PTSD
The prevalence of PTSD varies significantly across different populations and settings, reflecting the complex interplay of individual vulnerabilities, types of exposure to trauma, and sociocultural factors. Estimates suggest that approximately 3.5% of adults in the United States have PTSD in any given year, with lifetime prevalence rates in the general population hovering around 6.8%. However, these figures can be substantially higher in populations exposed to severe trauma, such as military veterans, first responders, and survivors of abuse or violent crimes, where rates can exceed 30%.
Understanding Symptoms of PTSD
Intrusive thoughts: These are recurrent, unwanted, distressing memories of the traumatic event, flashbacks, or nightmares.
Avoidance: This is the deliberate avoidance of trauma reminders, including places, activities, people, and thoughts or feelings related to the event.
Adverse changes in thinking and mood: Feelings of hopelessness, memory problems, difficulty maintaining close relationships, and diminished interest in activities.
Changes in physical and emotional reactions:
  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability

Current Treatments for PTSD

The treatment of PTSD is multifaceted, involving a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and, sometimes, innovative approaches like technology-assisted interventions. The goal of treatment is not only to reduce symptoms but also to improve overall functioning and coping strategies.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Helps patients understand and change their thoughts about the trauma and its aftermath.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy: Involves gradually exposing patients to trauma reminders to help them process and reduce their fear.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): Focuses on modifying painful negative emotions (such as shame, guilt, etc.) and beliefs (about the self and the world) related to the trauma.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Involves focusing on traumatic memories while engaging in specific eye movements to help process and integrate these memories.


Antidepressants: Particularly SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and SNRIs (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors) are the most commonly prescribed medications for PTSD to help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Sleep Disorder Medications: These may be often prescribed to people to reduce or suppress nightmares in some patients with PTSD.

Other Treatments

Group Therapy: Offers a supportive environment to share experiences and learn coping strategies from others with similar experiences.
Family Therapy: Helps family members understand the patient's condition and provides ways to support their loved ones.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): Focuses on mindfulness meditation to help individuals become more aware of the present moment and less caught up in the traumatic memories.
Technology-assisted interventions: There are many emerging, such as virtual reality (VR), that are currently in use for treating PTSD, especially for combat-related trauma.

A Quick Review of The Study

Researchers utilized THC, known for its psychoactive properties, as it also offers powerful analgesic benefits that may aid in alleviating PTSD symptoms by activating CB1 receptors, which are part of the endogenous endocannabinoid system. This action could help mitigate the severity of nightmares and improve sleep quality, addressing two common challenges faced by individuals with PTSD.
On the other hand, CBD, with its anxiolytic and anti-epileptic properties, may contribute to reducing PTSD's hallmark symptoms, such as heightened anxiety and flashbacks, by possibly enhancing the body's production of endocannabinoids. These naturally occurring compounds play a critical role in maintaining emotional balance and could offer a mechanism through which CBD exerts its beneficial effects.
The research highlights that a staggering 77% of individuals seeking Cannabis or Cannabinoid Medicine protocols for PTSD also met the criteria for depression, underscoring the commonality of this comorbidity. Interestingly, the study found that not only does comorbid depression not impair the effectiveness of Medicinal Cannabis protocols in treating PTSD, but individuals with both conditions showed more significant improvements in PTSD symptomatology after three months of medicinal cannabis treatment compared to those without depression.
This pivotal finding from the study emphasizes the therapeutic potential of CBMPs in managing the intricate interplay between PTSD and depression, providing hope for those who might not have found relief through conventional treatments. The study meticulously utilized tools such as the PTSD Checklist – Civilian Version (PCL-C) and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) to assess symptoms and the prevalence of depression, respectively, offering a robust methodological framework for their analysis.
From the perspective of the Global Cannabinoid Research Center (GCRC), this study is invaluable as it aligns with our ongoing mission to explore and elucidate the complex interactions between cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Understanding the nuanced effects of CBMPs, especially in conditions like PTSD and comorbid depression, is crucial for advancing our knowledge and application of cannabinoid therapy in clinical practice.
The ECS plays a central role in maintaining physiological balance and regulating stress responses, pain, mood, and sleep, among other functions. The effectiveness of Cannabinoid protocols in individuals with PTSD and depression suggests a therapeutic interaction with the ECS that warrants further investigation, particularly in the context of ECS balance control.
It's important to note, as this study and the GCRC's efforts suggest that the journey toward leveraging the full potential of cannabinoids in medicine is ongoing. While the findings are promising, they represent a piece of the giant puzzle in understanding how futuristic and current Cannabinoid medicines can be the most effectively utilized drugs in treatment protocols. These research insights provide a foundation for developing targeted therapies that address the symptoms and the underlying imbalances within the ECS.
As we share this research, it's essential to remember that this information isn't medical advice or treatment guidance. We suggest you get that from your doctor.
This information serves to illuminate the possibilities that lie within the realm of cannabinoid research, encouraging informed discussions and further investigation into how we can harness the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids to improve the quality of life for individuals facing the challenges of PTSD and comorbid depression.
The study by Lynskey et al. represents a significant step forward in our understanding of CBMPs' role in treating complex conditions like PTSD and depression. It reinforces the importance of considering the ECS in developing future treatment strategies and highlights the need for continued research in this dynamic field of medicine.

BJPsych Open, 1(2). p. e62. doi:10.1192/bjo.2024.13
A Clinicians Guide To Cannabinoid Science, Cambridge University Press. Online publication date: October 2020,
Print publication year: 2020 Online ISBN: 9781108583336 DOI:
The British Journal of Psychiatry, 221(5), pp. 676–682. doi:10.1192/bjp.2022.110.
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