CANNABIS and POST TRAUMA
My children and I spent many years going to counseling and working through pain due to a four year nightmare we lived through with a very unhealthy individual. Years later, a man unexpectedly asked me to marry him and my immediate reaction was a loud and resounding "NO!" He was not insulted, instead asking, "What did someone do to you to make you react that way?" Well, I suppose my explosive reaction could have been be a bit of PTSD. Maybe that's why I've stayed single all these years. LOL. But I'm not really joking... I figure that gentleman must have been familiar with PTSD. Hmmmm, wonder if he was an ex-soldier, ex-prisoner, or had parents who badly mistreated him.
It has been easier for me being the grownup, but I have regretfully watched the kids suffer into adulthood, Post Trauma coloring every aspect of their lives: Nightmares, intimacy problems, unresolved fears, unreasonable suspicions... They've all handled it differently, some seeking counseling, some not. It's been a long road, but, with a lot of work, pain and prayers, each of them are slowly getting it under control. We sometimes wonder if the person who caused it all has resolved things in himself.
During in my later work with prisoners of America's pre- and post- drug war prisons and my study on PTSD in soldiers after battle, I was amazed to find that the two suffer the same exact symptoms as my children did.
I once corresponded with a young man after his release from prison. He walked the streets for weeks to find a minimum wage dishwasher's position. He was grateful to have even that job: His probation officer was riding him mercilessly, he needed to pay bills and it is very difficult for a released person to get any kind of job. On his second day at work, someone in the kitchen dropped a stack of pots and pans. The crash froze the ex-prisoner in his tracks. Sweat began to pour, he began shaking, and then ran from the job site never to return. He explained, "I thought I was back in the prison - I couldn't see the restaurant, I SAW the prison kitchen like I was there. I could smell it, hear it, see it." That was what soldiers call "shellshock", and what we now know is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Although never officially diagnosed, my grandfather used to have it after the war he fought in... We couldn't have fireworks or even balloons around him. If there was a loud pop or bang, he'd dive under the table or behind the couch and crouch trembling and sweating in fear. He'd be so embarrassed when it passed that he'd seem angry. He couldn't help his reaction. Back then people didn't even recognize PTSD as a disease that should be treated. He was just a 'shellshocked' old soldier.
War and prisons without rehabilitation are just as traumatic and unhealthy for human beings as the rape and victimization of women and children.
There is a particularly important section on PTSD and Cannabis in the book, "Benefits of Marijuana" by Joan Bello.
"With severe emotional trauma, the brain region called the amyglia becomes destabilized. Its function of filtering out past horrible memories does not work. The person keeps reliving the horror over and over again. Amazingly, fortunately and definitely, Marijuana Therapy restores balance to the amyglia. Within this part of the brain, there are many cannabinoid receptors which can be restarted through the cannabinoid compounds (like THC) in marijuana. For some reason, with the shock of the horrific event, the natural brain cannabinoids become ineffective – or are not produced in sufficient quantity – or maybe the receptors themselves become dysfunctional. So far the scientists do not have that answer. But it is proven that the (cannabis/marijuana) plant cannabinoids restore the functioning of the amyglia!!!!! which then can do its job of filtering out the emotions of the past horrific event." ~Joan Bello, author 'Benefits of Marijuana'
There is so much available evidence that Cannabis does indeed help in the treatment of PTSD that it is pure and shameful neglect of duty for the political types not to step up to the plate to correct this, the most ignorant and harmful of prohibitions. The law that continues to demonize Cannabis and punish its users is the epitome of a bad law: If it hurts good people, it is a bad law. Period!
With so many soldiers and prisoners returning to our society with PTSD; with so many children suffering from abuse; with so many women being raped, it is utterly imperative that this knowledge be shared. For the sake of society as a whole, shouldn't we utilize EVERY possible treatment to help ALL damaged human beings? An immediate change in the prohibitive laws against Cannabis will greatly benefit all of society. Kay Lee
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that follows a terrifying event. Often, people with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to. PTSD, once referred to as shell shock, was first brought to public attention by war veterans, but it can result from any number of traumatic incidents. These include kidnapping, serious accidents such as car or train wrecks, natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes, violent attacks such as a mugging, rape, or torture, or being held captive. The event that triggers it may be something that threatened the person's life or the life of someone close to him or her. Post trauma is alike for soldiers, prisoners, and crime victims. Cannabis could speed healing.
PTSD can occur at any age as it is dependent upon the experience of a traumatic event. Such events include:
Violent Criminal Attacks
Life threatening natural disasters
Harsh prison Environment
Apparently existing treatments for Post-Trauma are not all that exciting:
Value of Most Post-Traumatic Stress Treatments 'Uncertain'
THURSDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors have little quality evidence to rely on when deciding how best to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in returning U.S. veterans, a new government... Read more
United Press International - Pot like chemical helps beat fear
Natural molecules that act like the primary active ingredient in marijuana apparently play a key part in helping the brain wipe away fearful memories, perhaps averting undue anxiety and panic attacks, researchers report. Study by Beat Lutz of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany Detailed in the British journal Nature.
BBC NEWS | Health | 'Natural' cannabis manages memory
Cannabis-like chemicals in the brain play a key role in erasing nasty memories, a study has found. Researchers, Doctors at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany have found that cannabinoids, produced naturally in the brain, help to manage fear. The study may explain why some people with mental illness turn to cannabis.
Israel To Test THC For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Disjointed.org - Israeli army okays trial use of marijuana
Israel to soothe trauma with marijuana
Written by Corinne Heller
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli soldiers traumatised by battle with the Palestinians have a new, unconventional weapon to exorcise their nightmares -- marijuana.
Under an experimental programme, Delta-9 tetrohydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient found in the cannabis plant, will be administered to 15 soldiers over the next several months in an effort to fight post-traumatic stress disorder.
Raphael Mechoulam of Jerusalem's Hebrew University, the chief researcher behind a project he described as a world-first, said the chemical could trick the brain into suppressing unwanted memories.
For soldiers haunted by flashbacks of trauatic battle experiences, he said, the drug, administered in liquid form, could be the answer to hundreds of sleepless nights.
"It helps them sleep better, for one thing. These people often wake up from nightmares, and experience sweating or hallucinations," Mechoulam told Reuters.
The army said civilian and military committees had approved the experiment.
Millions of people, mainly war veterans, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychiatric condition that can develop after experiencing life-threatening events.
Doctors already use so-called medical marijuana to treat nausea among cancer patients, appetite loss among AIDS sufferers and neurological disorders such as Tourette's Syndrome, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
However, Mechoulam said this is the first time THC would be used to treat post-traumatic stress.
Some of the soldiers slated to take part in the experiment came down with the disorder after experiences confronting a Palestinian uprising which began in 2000. Others are veterans of past Israeli-Arab wars.
Symptoms can be eased by painkillers and psychological treatment but THC could speed up the process, or at least reduce the number of traumatic episodes, said Mechoulam. He was among a group of researchers that first isolated THC in 1964.
"If given two or three times a day, it lasts about six hours at a time," Mechoulam said at his office in the university's School of Pharmacy.
The effects of THC on stress were first discovered by Germany's Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in 2002. Scientists tested it on mice and found THC lessened their fear of electric shocks, because it suppressed their memory of them.
Israel's army usually frowns on cannabis and soldiers caught smoking it can expect to be stripped of their ranks or thrown into military jail. Special government authorisation was needed for the experiment.
"A medical permit is needed for what is called 'compassionate use' of marijuana, which means it's used to treat illnesses ... when nothing else seems to work," Mechoulam said.
Smoking marijuana, as an estimated eight percent of Israelis aged 18-40 do, does not act as a medicine on its own, he said.
"The drug is only approved for medical use, and its active curing ingredient, THC, must be isolated and used in medical treatment," he said.
Instead of smoking the drug, soldiers will drink THC dissolved in olive oil.
"We prefer to give it under the tongue rather than through a pill because it's more effective. I hope (the drug) will help at least part of the time, so they can sleep better more often," Mechoulam said.
If successful, the treatment could be tried elsewhere.
The U.S. National Centre for Mental Health says that 30 percent of Americans who spent time in war zones have experienced the disorder, dubbed "shell shock" by veterans of World War One.
Surveys conducted by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington in 2003 found that nearly a fifth of U.S. soldiers returning from the war in Iraq may suffer from the disorder.
A million Vietnam War veterans are believed to have developed it as well.
A New York Academy of Medicine poll found that levels of post-traumatic stress disorder doubled among New York City residents a few weeks after the September 11 attacks.
ISRAEL IDF TO TREAT SHELL SHOCK WITH CANNABIS /MARIJUANA
The IDF will soon begin using cannabis to treat soldiers suffering from combat stress, the military said Wednesday.
An army statement said the military medical corps and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem would begin treating victims of post-traumatic stress -commonly known as shell shock - with THC, the active ingredient in the cannabis plant. It said the treatment would begin on an experimental basis. "The use of THC as part of the treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder was approved by military and civilian committees relevant to the subject, the statement said.
An IDF spokesman said treatment would be given to both conscript soldiers and reservists.
Since September 2000, the Israeli military has been conducting day to day operations against the Palestinian terror infrastructure in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
During that time many soldiers have been treated for combat stress following service at military checkpoints and in military operations. The IDF continues to ban the use of all drugs on a leisure basis, including cannabis derivatives marijuana and hashish.
Pubdate: Thu, 05 Aug 2004
Source: Jerusalem Post (Israel)
Copyright: 2004 The Jerusalem Post
Author: Associated Press
There's much more evidence that PTSD can be effectively treated using cannabis as medicine. Check it out.
The late great Dr Tod Mikuriya quoted Cannabis vs PTSD
Reduced need for pharmaceuticals