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New Hope for PTSD Sufferers

 

There may be new hope for patients who suffer from a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). New research done at New York University Langone Medical Center suggests the development of a pharmaceutical treatment effective for PTSD is possible. This may help to shift the treatment protocol for PTSD patients

In the first study of its kind, brain imaging power was harnessed to highlight the connection between the number of cannabinoid receptors in the brain and PTSD. Also known as CB1 receptors, they are activated in the brain when a person uses cannabis. Once activated, impaired memory and reduced anxiety may occur.

Up until this point several treatment modalities have been developed to treat patients with PTSD. However, this is the first pharmaceutical treatment yet developed. Other treatments, such as psychotherapeutic and cognitive behavioral therapy treatments, are sometime unavailable to patients.

There are many medications that are frequently prescribed for PTSD sufferers, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. This class of medication is typically effective in patients with depression. Like other classes of medications used to treat conditions other than those they were initially developed to treat, these drugs are generally considered ineffective in treating PTSD.

Nearly 8 million Americans per-year experience clinical PTSD. The life-debilitating condition plagues patients with intense nightmares, emotional instability, and vivid flashbacks. They often re-live traumatic events, such as a car wreck or war tragedy. These dangerous or painful life events are what cause PTSD, and many of the PTSD sufferers are men and women in the military who have served in the war in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Over the last 10 years, Alexander Neumeister and his team from NYU have researched the impact of PTSD on the brain. They have discovered that the disorder, which is essentially an anxiety disorder, is the result of exposure to severe trauma and alters how the brain functions. Bearing that in mind, the team of researchers examined CB1 receptors due to a common trend among PTSD sufferers: marijuana use.

Many patients end up resorting to the drug in what may be an attempt to self-medicate and cope with their plight. The drug does help to temporarily relieve them of their incapacitating episodes. In fact, many patients reported that smoking pot is more effective for them than any other legal medication. This led researchers to study the manipulation of CB1 receptors and how this may have a beneficial impact on trauma sufferers.

Endogenous cannabinoids are present in every human brain. They act like cannabis, binding to CB1 receptors to help extinguish traumatic memories. Studies conducted on animals have revealed that increasing cannabinoids in the brain helps the creatures to forget painful events and create new memories. Researchers thought this may be relevant to the quest of treating PTSD.

In order to try this hypothesis, research teams performed positron emission tomography (PET) imaging technology on the brains of 60 volunteer subjects who had been divided into three groups. The study revealed what the teams expected. Individuals with PTSD had higher levels of CB1 receptors in areas of the brain associated with fear and anxiety.

As a result of this research, a new medication is being developed that will target these receptors and promote the restoration of a normal balance of this chemical in the brains of those with PTSD. It is hoped that, at long last, peace of mind will come to the millions of people in the throes of this horrific disorder.

 

Source:

Grush, Loren. “Marijuana-like Compound Could Lead to First-ever Medication for PTSD.” FoxNews.com. FOX News Network, 14 May 2013. Web. 17 May 2013.

 

 

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Written by

Kevin Giles is a product of Santa Cruz, CA – the stoner capitol of the world. A born again Christian, Kevin loves his Lord Jesus and believes that his purpose in life is determined by God. He first entered drug recovery at the age of 19, suffering from an addiction to marijuana. He is a recent graduate of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, where he earned his Master’s degree in Christian Ministry. Passionate about God’s Word, he aspires to become a pastor or missionary. Kevin has also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Monterey Bay. His interests include traveling, movies, golf, fitness and reading. He also enjoys being outdoors as well as spending time with friends and family. Kevin’s faith, education and life experience give him a unique perspective on addiction, recovery and spirituality.

Filed under: Conditions and Disorders, Mental Illness, Research, Treatment · Tags: cannaboid, CB1 receptors, endogenous cannabinoids, post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD

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