Marijuana may help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new study.
PTSD affects 10% to 30% of people who experience a traumatic event, such as a car accident or terror attack. These people continue to suffer stress symptoms for months and even years after the incident.
Israeli researchers conducted a series of experiments in which rats were subjected to stressful experiences, such as receiving electric shocks. The study found that the rats' stress levels could be reduced by giving them a synthetic form of marijuana that has properties similar to that of the natural plant.
Further investigation revealed that the synthetic marijuana prevents increased release of a stress hormone the body releases in response to traumatic situations.
"The results of our research should encourage psychiatric investigation into the use of cannabinoids in post-traumatic stress patients," wrote study author Dr Irit Akirav of the department of psychology at the University of Haifa.
The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. - (HealthDay News, November 2009)