According to a study carried out at the Learning and Memory Lab in the University of Haifa’s Department of Psychology, the use of cannabinoids (marijuana) could assist in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder patients.
The study, which was carried out by research student Eti Ganon-Elazar under the supervision of Dr. Irit Akirav, was published in the prestigious Journal of Neuroscience.
In most cases, the result of experiencing a traumatic event is the appearance of psychological and medical symptoms that affect different functions, but which pass. However, some people experiencing a traumatic event develop post-traumatic stress disorder, in which they continue to suffer stress symptoms for months and even years after the traumatic event. These individuals are frequently exposed to additional stress that hinders the patient’s overcoming the trauma.
The study was aimed for evaluating the efficiency of cannabinoids as a medical treatment for coping with post-traumatic stress. A synthetic form of marijuana, which has similar properties to the natural plant, was used by the researchers who also selected a rat model that presents similar physiological responses to stress to that of humans.
Hormonal changes in the course of the experiment were also examined by Dr. Akirav and Ganon-Elazar. It was found that synthetic marijuana prevents increased release of the stress hormone that the body produces in response to stress.
The study results show that cannabinoids could play an important role in stress-related disorders. “The results of our research should encourage psychiatric investigation into the use of cannabinoids in post-traumatic stress patients,” according to Dr. Akirav.
University of Haifa