In a 3-week pilot study involving 10 patients with severe PTSD, oral doses of THC led to significant improvement across a number of measures, including sleep and hyperarousal symptoms. THC is the main ingredient in cannabis and is responsible for the high.
The findings were published June 17 in the journal Clinical Drug Investigation.
“This is the first report of the use of orally absorbable Δ9-THC as add-on treatment in patients with chronic PTSD,” wrote the researchers.
“The results show good tolerance and safety, reduction of PTSD hyperarousal symptoms, improved sleep quality and reduced frequency of nightmares.”
Patients received an oil-based preparation containing 5mg of THC twice per day. The treatment was given as an add-on to their current pharmaceutical regimen. On average, patients were taking 4 different medications at the time of the study.
Reported side effects were minor and included dry mouth, headache and tremor.
Recent evidence suggests cannabinoids may enhance the ability to overcome traumatic memories. What’s more, cannabinoids are known to affect sleep in various ways, including a decrease in REM sleep — the sleep phase during which nightmares occur. Anecdotal reports also suggest marijuana may be of benefit.
As such, many believe that marijuana holds promise in the development of new and more effective PTSD treatments. But researchers say there is still not enough clinical evidence to be sure.
“The results support further studies regarding the therapeutic effect of Δ9-THC in chronic and acute PTSD,” the authors conclude.