Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that is caused by a traumatic event which can lead to various symptoms such as severe anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares.

  • What is PTSD?
  • PTSD & cannabinoids
  • Text references, literature discussion
    & clinical trials

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that is caused by a traumatic event which can lead to various symptoms such as severe anxiety, flashbacks, and nightmares. These symptoms may interfere with many aspects of life.1 

The occurrence of PTSD symptoms can vary greatly between people. The symptoms sometimes start very quickly after the traumatic event (within four weeks) but in other cases, they may not appear until years after a traumatic experience. However, when the symptoms do appear, they may interfere with daily activities, social interaction, and work. In general, PTSD symptoms can be categorized  into four distinct types:1

  • Intrusive memories
    Examples: flashbacks e.g. reliving the traumatic event, nightmares, unwanted and distressing memories
  • Avoidance
    Examples: Avoid any places, people, activities that resemble the traumatic event and/or avoid thinking or discussing the event
  • Negative changes in thinking and mood
    Examples: Negative thoughts regarding yourself, other people, the world, and the future
  • Changes in physical and emotional reactions
    Examples: Difficulty sleeping, concentrating, being easily frightened, constant guard for danger, and self-destructive behavior

Currently, the exact cause of PTSD is not known, however, experienced or witnessed traumatic events such as military service, abuse (violence, sexual, etc.), assault, accidents, and threats can trigger the disorder. People can also be likely to develop PTSD due to genetics (family history, anxiety, depression, or temperament) or how the brain regulates chemicals/hormones in the body.1

  • Cannabinoids
  • Cannabinoid receptors
  • Endocannabinoids

  • CBD
  • THC
  • CB1
  • 5-HT1A
  • PPARα
  • Anandamide
  • 2AG
  • PEA
  • OEA
  • Terpenes
  • Strains
  • Enzymes
  • Metabolites



  • FAAH


The connection between PTSD
& cannabinoids

Ptsd brain scan

Clinical research proposes that the cannabinoids THC and CBD may be beneficial in the treatment of PTSD patients as they may help improve their symptoms.2

In addition, preliminary studies in humans propose that cannabinoids may help reduce and improve several PTSD symptoms such as sleep quality, nightmares, hyperarousal, and prevent the development of PTSD if cannabinoids are administered shortly after a traumatic event.3

Note: If you have any further information relevant to the connection between PTSD and cannabinoids, or find any of the information inaccurate, outdated or incomplete please contact us here.

Text references, literature discussion
& clinical trials

  • Text references
  • Literature discussion
  • Clinical trials

There is a connection between cannabis use and PTSD, suggesting that this may be used as a coping strategy for PTSD (Bonn-Miller, Babson, Vujanovic, & Feldner, 2010; Bonn-Miller, Vujanovic, Feldner, Bernstein, & Zvolensky, 2007; Bujarski et al., 2012; Cougle, Bonn-Miller, Vujanovic, Zvolensky, & Hawkins, 2011; Kevorkian et al., 2015).

In rats, extinction of fear memories was facilitated by CBD, THC and synthetic cannabinoids (Bitencourt, Pamplona, & Takahashi, 2008; Campos, Ferreira, & Guimarães, 2012; Do Monte, Souza, Bitencourt, Kroon, & Takahashi, 2013; Lemos, Resstel, & Guimarães, 2010; Levin et al., 2012; Morena et al., 2018; Resstel, Joca, Moreira, Corrêa, & Guimarães, 2006; Stern et al., 2015).

CBD has demonstrated to produce a positive effect on sleep processes, suggesting that this can be beneficial when targeting sleep disorders connected to PTSD (Chagas et al., 2013; Hsiao, Yi, Li, & Chang, 2012).

In a pilot study, PTSD-related nightmares and other symptoms severity were reduced by THC in patients with PTSD (Roitman, Mechoulam, Cooper-Kazaz, & Shalev, 2014).

In a retrospective study of 80 patients with PTSD, PTSD-related symptoms were reduced by cannabis (Greer, Grob, & Halberstadt, 2014).

Clinical trials

Fear extinction was shown to be facilitated by CBD and THC, proposing that cannabinoids may contribute to preventing the recovery of fear (Das et al., 2013; Rabinak et al., 2013). In one open clinical trial, significant relief of PTSD symptoms was provided by cannabis in most patients.


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