Post-Traumatic Stress

Treating PTSD with Medical Marijuana

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), more simply known as post-traumatic stress (PTS), is a psychological condition that may develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event.

Most individuals who experience traumatic events have brief periods of adjustment and coping difficulties, but with time and good self-care, they typically recover. However, if an individual does not recover from trauma or experience chronic stress that lasts for several months after a traumatic event, they may develop PTSD.

The Difference Between PTS and PTSD

PTS is often categorized as a more mild form of PTSD, which may typically be resolved within a month of the incident. In contrast, individuals who develop PTSD may suffer from a range of symptoms that last for long periods and make it challenging to maintain a normal quality of life.

Recently, there has been a push to drop the word disorder from the name of PTSD due to the negative connotation that surrounds the term. That being said, PTSD and PTS are often used interchangeably

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Symptoms of PTSD

While each case of PTSD is unique, there are some common symptoms that individuals with PTSD may experience. These include:

  • Extreme anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares or flashbacks of the event
  • Lack of focus
  • Memory problems
  • Anger or irritability
  • Avoidance of people, places, or things associated with the trauma

Those who have PTSD may find that their symptoms impact them on a daily basis, interfering with their social lives, relationships, and ability to function normally. Thankfully, medical marijuana has become an increasingly popular treatment option for reducing many of the symptoms associated with PTSD.

What Is Complex Post Traumatic Stress?

Complex PTSD is similar to PTSD but with additional symptoms. Those who have been diagnosed with complex PTSD may experience symptoms such as:

What Causes PTSD?

According to the National Health Service, PTSD typically develops after someone experiences or witnesses an exceptionally traumatic event. These events may include:

  • Physical assault
  • Childhood abuse or trauma
  • War combat
  • Sexual abuse or assault
  • Workplace accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Significant accidents

What Is Complex Post Traumatic Stress?

Complex PTSD is similar to PTSD but with additional symptoms. Those who have been diagnosed with complex PTSD may experience symptoms such as:

How Medical Marijuana May Help Treat PTSD

While research is still limited on the topic, PTSD patients have reported that medical marijuana has significantly eased some of the symptoms associated with PTSD, especially anxiety and insomnia.

Medical marijuana works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of receptors located throughout your brain, central nervous system, and peripheral organs. The endocannabinoid system plays a part in two of the biggest PTSD factors: memory building and stress response. There are two types of cannabinoid receptors in your body's endocannabinoid system: CB1 and CB2

The CB1 receptor in your brain is responsible for what is known as extinction learning. This means that humans are able to replace old memories with new ones. By masking these memories, cannabis is able to eliminate the panicked response that comes when reliving memories that trigger PTSD.

Treating Anxiety With Medical Marijuana

Those who suffer from severe anxiety due to PTSD may find that medical marijuana is a helpful treatment option. Research shows that an impaired endocannabinoid system could lead to an anxiety disorder such as PTSD.

Thankfully, medical marijuana may help restore balance to the endocannabinoid system, reducing anxiety and stress.

Using Medical Marijuana To Improve Sleep

Having trouble sleeping may be one of the most debilitating symptoms of PTSD. Those who often struggle with sleep suffer from depression and anxiety, which may make the symptoms of PTSD even worse.

Medical marijuana is known to help those who have insomnia by inducing sleep and relaxation. When you are well-rested, you may better manage panic and anxiety attacks.

Studies Between Medical Cannabis and PTSD

Recent studies have been conducted on the link between medical marijuana and PTSD. Researchers at Wayne State University have shown that medical cannabis can limit amygdala activity. 

The amygdala is the portion of your brain that controls fear and responds to frightful or triggering stimuli. By limiting the activity in the amygdala, medical marijuana may make it easier for PTSD patients to manage their fear response.

Another study conducted by the Federal University of Parana in Brazil has shown that medical marijuana can help PTSD patients replace negative memories with new, positive ones. This is known as extinction learning and is essential for those suffering from PTSD.

How Medical Cannabis Works

Medical marijuana is used to treat various conditions such as ALS, glaucoma, and PTSD. Cannabis works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of receptors located throughout your brain and body. Medical marijuana contains two main cannabinoids that interact with these receptors: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

These two compounds interact with the natural compounds found in your body and provide you with several therapeutic effects and benefits, such as:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved sleep
  • Eased pain and inflammation
  • Reduced stress
  • A boost in mood and overall well-being

Suggested Strains and Terpenes for PTSD

When using medical marijuana to treat PTSD, it is important to note that not all cannabis strains and products are created equal. Different strains can offer different effects, so it is essential to do your research beforehand. Some suggested cannabis strains for PTSD include:

OG Kush

This hybrid strain is known for providing a sense of relaxation and reducing anxiety. OG Kush has a high THC content and is perfect for those who need a little extra help in managing their PTSD symptoms. With a pine aroma and earthy taste, OG Kush is a popular choice for many medical marijuana patients.

Pineapple Express

This Sativa-dominant strain often leaves users feeling energetic and happy. Pineapple Express is known to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, making it a top choice for those who have PTSD. This tropical strain has a bright citrus and pineapple aroma with an earthy pine taste.

Blue Dream

Blue dream offers full-body relaxation and cerebral stimulation, perfect for those who need help managing chronic pain and stress. With a sweet berry aroma and taste, Blue Dream is a popular choice for many PTSD patients.

Jack Herer

This popular Sativa-dominant strain reduces stress, depression, and anxiety. Jack Herer offers a clear-headed high perfect for those who need to stay focused and productive throughout the day. With a spicy pine flavor, Jack Herer is ideal for many PTSD patients.

Best Terpenes for PTSD

In addition to choosing the right cannabis strain, it is also important to select products that contain terpenes that have been shown to be effective for treating PTSD. Terpenes are compounds found in cannabis that provide the plant with its unique smell and flavor. They may also offer a variety of therapeutic benefits. Some suggested terpenes for PTSD include:


This citrus-scented terpene is known for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. If you are looking for a strain to help you lower your PTSD symptoms and improve your mood, look for a strain or product that contains limonene.


This terpene is found in many Indica strains and is known for its sedative effects. 

Myrcene may be helpful for those who have PTSD-related insomnia and may also offer relief from pain and inflammation. Strains high in myrcene often give off an earthy, musky aroma.


This spice-scented terpene is found in many strains of cannabis and is known for its anti-inflammatory and anxiety-reducing effects. Caryophyllene may treat both the physical and psychological symptoms of PTSD. If you are having difficulty falling asleep or suffer from chronic pain, look for a strain high in caryophyllene.

Side Effects of Cannabis for PTSD

As with other medications, consulting with your medical cannabis doctor about delivery methods, dosages, and the right strain of marijuana for you is critical in treating PTSD.  Like most medications, cannabis may cause some side effects, though these are typically mild and well-tolerated. The side effects of medical marijuana include:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fatigue

If you are experiencing any of the above side effects, consult with your medical marijuana physician immediately. Furthermore, medical marijuana may alter the effects of other medications, so let your doctor know if you are currently taking any other prescriptions

Treating PTSD With Medical Marijuana in Florida

Medical Marijuana may be able to help those who have PTSD manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. With the proper dosage and strain, medical marijuana may be able to help you get your life back. 

If you have been diagnosed with PTSD in Florida and are interested in how medical marijuana may be able to help you, take our qualification survey and schedule an appointment today!

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