We can still remember that great scene in Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” movie where the stressed-out grunts dance in their tent while passing around a bamboo pipe. The association of marijuana with the U.S. military dates back to the Vietnam War where it was a good, ready solace for the terrified and tired soldiers in the field.
The diagnostic term “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD) refers to a series of psychiatric symptoms secondary to an unusually stressful/traumatic emotional event, a common occurrence in the military. The fifth edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual” (DSM) has these criteria categories:
- Criteria A: the person was exposed to death, threatened death of threatened serious injury or sexual violence by direct or indirect ways.
- Criteria B: the traumatic event is consistently experienced.
- Criteria C: avoidance of trauma-related stimulation after the trauma.
- Criteria D: frequent thoughts or feelings that began or worsened after the trauma.
- Criteria E: trauma related arousal and activity that began or worsened after the trauma.
- Criteria F: symptoms last greater than one month.
- Criteria G: creates distress or functional impairment.
- Criteria H: symptoms are not due to medications, drug abuse or medical illness.
The PTSD complex can include the syndromes of Depersonalization (observers consider that the individual is dreaming) and Derealization (the individual feels things that do not have an external stimuli) Exposure to high explosive blasts account for a considerable number of PTSD cases, for which physicians must always suspect and rule out structural brain changes before using the PTSD label as a primary psychiatric – not physical disorder.
In PTSD there is an endocannabinoid deficiency, as the body does not produce enough to fill all the brain receptor sites; by replenishing them, the CB-1 signals deactivate the traumatic memories, avoiding the impaired fear extinction, aversive memory consolidation and chronic anxiety of PTSD. Cannabis can produce acute anxiety reactions and panic attacks, especially in individuals not used to THC. Is it an adjuvant cause or a needed relief?
A paper by the “National Center for PTSD” said that the effects of cannabis use vary according to the concentration and potency of the cannabinoids. “The concentration of THC in the marijuana plant can range in strength from less than 1% to 30% based upon strain and cultivation methods…Cannabis extract products, such as waxes and oils, have been produced and sold in which the concentration of THC can be as high as 90%.” Even though the prolonged use of Cannabis may reduce the worst symptoms of PTSD, it can produce a steady physiological tolerance and eventually drug addiction.
We will continue this discussion in an upcoming second part of this article.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.