Low Doses Of THC May Help PTSD Patients Handle Their Emotions, Study Finds 

A recent study has found that low doses of THC may benefit PTSD patients with emotional dysregulation, particularly when combined with cognitive reappraisal therapy. 

In the study, PTSD patients recorded fewer negative feelings while carrying out reappraisal tasks after ingesting THC versus those who took a placebo. 

This was also the first study to investigate how the combination of THC and cognitive reappraisal tasks impacts corticolimbic brain activation in people living with PTSD. 

What is PTSD? 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a particular anxiety disorder brought on by distressing events. 

Patients diagnosed with PTSD display many symptoms including anxiety, psychotic episodes, depression, sleeping problems, and complicated therapeutic management. 

There aren’t many options when it comes to treating PTSD, the most common being cognitive behavioral therapy with reappraisal tasks.  

This involves recognising the negative pattern your thoughts have fallen into and finding ways to make the pattern positive. Or, in other words, changing the meaning of a situation that scares you without changing it objectively. 

There are only two drugs that have been approved by international agencies to take alongside cognitive reappraisal therapy to treat PTSD – Sertraline, and Paroxetine. 

But almost half of PTSD sufferers do not experience remission of their symptoms with these treatments. 

The study 

The study, from Wayne State University and published in Neuropharmacology, saw researchers observed 51 participants in a double-blind experimental study. 

Each individual was randomly given a 7.5 mg capsule of THC or a placebo capsule. 

During the peak levels of effects, participants were handed some emotional regulation tasks that involved cognitive reappraisal – meaning they were exposed to triggering images and then given the opportunity to reevaluate their thoughts. 

For the duration of these tasks, patients were also asked about their emotional states while being scanned by an fMRI machine. 

The results 

Authors of the study found that the THC group of patients were able to downregulate their negative emotions during the reappraisal tasks. 

Something that the placebo group was not able to do. 

It also appeared that particular areas of the brain had increased activation after consuming THC, but again not with the placebo. 

The affected areas included the angular gyrus and the greater posterior cingulate cortex. These areas are typically down-regulated amongst PTSD patients. 

In fact, the changes in brain activation were so strong that researchers could easily distinguish between those who ingested THC and those with a placebo. 

The study’s authors commented:  

“Prior research has shown that individuals demonstrate decreased emotional arousal upon re-exposure to negative images that they previously reappraised successfully compared to negative images that they have previously failed to reappraise. 

“THC may prove to be a beneficial pharmacological adjunct to cognitive reappraisal therapy in the treatment of PTSD.” 

So, in short, it was found that THC may not only decrease the negative emotions during cognitive therapy, but it could also bring long-lasting benefits to PTSD patients. 

Future research

While the results of this study are extremely positive, the sample size of participants was still relatively small. 

For that reason, more studies with larger groups of people are needed in order to provide us with more reliable data. 

On the other hand, this is a massive step in the right direction for cannabis and the treatment of PTSD. 

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One Comment on “Low Doses Of THC May Help PTSD Patients Handle Their Emotions, Study Finds ”

  1. I’ve been buying Cannadrops (cannabis oral drops) from MedManUK to help with PTSD, they’re very effective, so completely concur with this article.
    I find the 1:1 ratio (THC:CBD) drops to be most effective.

    Just a few drops under the tongue daily has been quite the life saver.

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