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I Have PTSD: Which Medical Marijuana Strain Do I Need?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a disorder that affects certain people who have experienced a highly traumatic event. Being involved in warfare, extreme violence, or a road accident, or being the victim of child abuse, sexual assault, terrorism, or other threats to life can result in a person experiencing PTSD. It is also an affliction that can be treated with the use of medical marijuana.

Approximately 7.7 million Americans suffer from PTSD, and 11-30% of soldiers returning from combat in Iraq or Afghanistan have the condition. The main symptoms of this brutal condition are flashbacks, chronic anxiety, depression, insomnia and nightmares. Sufferers respond to innocuous events and cues in the external (and their internal) world with an acute panic response, because they remind them of the initial trauma they experienced.

There is a wealth of evidence demonstrating the benefits of medical marijuana for individuals suffering from PTSD. By aiding in something called memory extinction, marijuana can help reduce the association between innocuous stimuli in the present and traumatic events from the past. It also calms the body and mind, reduces stress, and aids sleep.

PTSD can affect people of all ages and backgrounds.

There are plenty of studies to back up marijuana’s effectiveness in treating PTSD. A University of Haifa study from 2014 showed that rats that were exposed to trauma, who received a synthetic cannabinoid within 24 hours, did not exhibit PTSD symptoms, however rats that were not treated with the cannabinoid did develop symptoms. This study led to an understanding of the neurological characteristics of the behavioral effects of PTSD. In traumatized subjects there was an increase in brain receptors associated with emotional processing. Cannabis was shown to decrease the numbers of these specific receptors in the areas of the brain that imprinted traumatic memories.

A study by Dr. George R. Greer MD in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2014 showed that participants with PTSD reported, on average, a 75% reduction in major PTSD symptoms while using medical marijuana. Dr. Greer reported, “Many PTSD patients report symptom reduction with cannabis, and a clinical trial needs to be done to see what proportion and what kind of PTSD patients benefit, with either cannabis or the main active ingredients of cannabis.”

As well as evidence from studies, there is also a wealth of anecdotal evidence self-reported by sufferers of PTSD who say that their lives would be unbearable if it wasn’t for the positive impact that medical marijuana has on their debilitating condition.

There is no doubt that medical marijuana is a very effective treatment for PTSD, but not all weed strains are equally effective. Here is a list of seven hybrid strains that people have reported work particularly well in combating PTSD.

Medical marijuana can help sufferers of PTSD.

Blue Dream is widely available with a California medical marijuana card . It is a mildly high-THC hybrid, and offers very reliable relief from PTSD. The sativa-dominant strain has an energizing and buoyant effect. It contains a nice dose of indica which produces a warm feeling of physical relaxation also. The herb is not very strong, so you can go about your business, feeling clear headed and fully functional while enjoying its PTSD-busting effects.

Grand Daddy Purple is a very pleasant indica-dominant hybrid that produces feelings of happiness, positivity and relaxation. It is often used by cannabis card holders who suffer from depression, and is widely regarded as an excellent strain for treating PTSD.

Stress Killer this is a high-CBD strain created by Royal Queen Seeds and easily available to people with a California medical marijuana card . It has quite low levels of THC, and is ideal for people who enjoy a mild but very manageable psychoactive effect. It will produce a light, sedative high and is ideal for relieving the anxiety that comes with PTSD.

A very popular indica-dominant strain that is famously good for pain and stress relief is Blueberry Kush . This is a big favorite with California marijuana card holders. It puts the body into a very relaxed state, and is widely availed of by PTSD sufferers.

Northern Lights is a massively popular indica-dominant strain that is used extensively by people with cannabis cards who suffer with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. It brings on a mellow high and is a fantastic sleep aid. It takes hold fast and knocks you out hard. Northern Lights and heavy machinery are not happy (or safe) bedfellows!

Even more of an insomnia-wrecker is Master Kush . This is a firm favorite of people who are cursed with chronic and extreme insomnia. It is a very strong strain that is not for first time smokers. You should be an experienced 420 card user before you use this powerful strain! It will knock you out hard and fast, producing a super-mellow high and ultra-relaxed body. Don’t bother getting munch, you won’t be needing it! Oh and make sure you are seated somewhere nice and comfortable when you smoke this awesome strain, because you probably won’t be moving very far for the foreseeable future!

Pineapple Express is a relatively mild sativa-dominant hybrid strain with a THC content of about 20%. The effects are pleasantly relaxing. It provokes a warm, happy feeling, and is eminently usable for during the day. Many PTSD sufferers have enjoyed the effects that this pleasant strain has given them.

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Suffering trauma can have effects that last well beyond the traumatic event itself. Post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric ailment that affects nearly 8% of Americans. People from all walks of life can experience PTSD, as evidenced by the more than five million Americans between the ages of 18–54 suffering from the disorder today. Traumatic events such as car accidents, violent assaults, war, natural disasters and more can all cause PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD is characterized by stress reactions that follow a traumatic event and persist longer than three months. These stress reactions can cause great agony and disrupt a person’s entire way of life if gone untreated. According to the National Center for PTSD, these reactions typically manifest as three types of symptoms:

  • Reliving the event: Recollecting the event includes nightmares and/or abrupt flashbacks to memories of the event. Flashbacks are almost always spurred by a trigger—something heard, smelled or seen that reminds a PTSD sufferer of the trauma they experienced.
  • Avoiding situations reminiscent of the event: People suffering from PTSD often go to extreme lengths to avoid stress reactions, including rearranging their entire life to avoid circumstances reminiscent of the traumatic event. If the event happened in their home, they might move. If it happened in a car, they may stop driving. If it happened while walking on the street, they might not leave their home altogether. People suffering from PTSD also often steer clear of loud noises, crowded places and sleep to avoid nightmares.
  • Negative changes in beliefs and feelings: PTSD can go so far as to make a person alter their beliefs and feelings. People who were once socially active may begin to isolate themselves from friends and family. In some of the most extreme cases, PTSD patients can become paranoid and distrustful of the world at large and all of the people in it.

Top 5 Cannabis Strains for Treating Symptoms of PTSD

Because PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that involves many of the symptoms that cannabis has proven to be effective in managing, medical marijuana’s popularity as a PTSD treatment is on the rise. Although much more research must be done, a handful of strains have been successful in managing anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, nightmares and other debilitating symptoms that come with PTSD.

1. Blue Dream

Blue Dream is one of the most popular cannabis strains in legal marijuana states across the country. Luckily, its popularity also makes it one of the most widely available strains out there. It’s a perfectly balanced hybrid strain known for its euphoric and long-lasting high that’s both welcoming enough for cannabis newcomers and pleasant enough for even the most experienced consumers.

For those dealing with PTSD, Blue Dream’s euphoric and mellow high is known for having a positive effect on mood, especially for those with anxiety and depression. Blue Dream is a good marijuana strain to choose for managing symptoms of PTSD during the day.

2. Harlequin

Harlequin is a specialty cannabis strain bred for its consistently high cannabidiol (CBD) content. Unlike many high-CBD marijuana strains, Harlequin still has a decent amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), with a CBD to THC ratio of 5:2 in almost every Harlequin plant. This ratio is ideal for those living with PTSD because the high CBD content can have mood-stabilizing effects, while the THC can help fend off the nightmares that often terrorize PTSD sufferers. Harlequin is a great strain for medicating during the day or night.

3. Headband

Headband is an indica-dominant hybrid rich in THC (around 20%) that manifests in a strong mind and body high. Its potent THC level is good for relaxing the mind and can help those suffering from PTSD to skip the stage of sleep where most dreams and nightmares occur, and sail into deep sleep instead.

Headband is probably best used in the late afternoon or before bed. Keep in mind that many say the effects of this strain can take up to 20 minutes to fully appear.

4. Durban Poison

Durban Poison is a high-energy cannabis sativa strain known for its clear-headed and productive high. Durban Poison has been reported to help with social anxiety, energizing people who would usually feel burdened by social interactions. Sometimes PTSD can cause people to withdraw from social situations and friendships in general, and Durban Poison could be a natural way of treating that symptom.

When consuming Durban Poison, keep it mind that it’s a pure sativa strain. An increased heart rate is likely, which some cannabis consumers may not enjoy. When a high dose is introduced to a cannabis newbie or someone not used to consuming sativa strains, Durban Poison can even cause paranoia. And since paranoia is already something that PTSD patients can suffer from, exacerbating the problem isn’t productive. If you’re going to try this marijuana strain, take it slow at the beginning and work your way up to a higher dose over time.

5. ACDC

ACDC is a high-CBD marijuana strain ideal for use during the day when focus, calm and productivity are needed. Originating from the popular marijuana strain Cannatonic, ACDC has a 20:1 CBD to THC ratio. This ratio allows the strain to impart increased productivity and relaxation of the mind and body—all without causing the dramatic effects a high-THC cannabis strain might bring on.

ACDC is an excellent place to start for those PTSD sufferers who are new to marijuana. And for those who are experienced with cannabis. but may be having trouble staying focused at home, work or school due to a traumatic event, ACDC is an ideal daytime medical marijuana option.

If you have experience using cannabis to treat PTSD symptoms, we’d love to hear what works for you in the comments below.

If you’re new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 post. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation; it’s easy, private and 100% online.

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People from all walks of life can experience PTSD, as evidenced by the five million-plus Americans between the ages of 18–54 suffering from the disorder today. Here are five marijuana strains that have been shown to ease the symptoms of PTSD: ACDC, Harlequin, Durban Poison, Headband, Blue Dream.