The Endocannabinoid System and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Genetic susceptibility to posttraumatic stress disorder: analyses of the oxytocin receptor, retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor A and cannabinoid receptor 1 genes

In summary

A recent study has found that the dysregulation of cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) does not increase the likelihood of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Researchers analyzed genetics to determine if there was any correlation between single nucleotide polymorphisms within the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene, the RAR-related orphan receptor A (RORA) gene, and the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) gene and PTSD. It was found that only a genetic variance concerning OXTR was correlated with an increased likelihood of developing PTSD when exposed to shocking traumatic events. Further research may allow for the development of targeted therapies to better prevent PTSD in those at high risk of developing the disorder like soldiers sent out for active duty. 

Although the dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system was not found to be correlated with an increased likelihood of developing PTSD cannabis is sometimes recommended to treat PTSD. Cannabis can be relaxing for many users and minimize the feelings of anxiety for those suffering from any psychiatric disorder characterized by anxiety but it is important to note that some cannabinoids can exacerbate anxiety. Specifically, tetrahydrocannabinol (THCO, the most abundant psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis plants, can cause some people’s anxiety to worsen, highlighting the importance of developing a standard screening technique to warn those away from THC and towards a non-psychoactive cannabinoid to manage their symptoms, such as cannabidiol (CBD). 

The study is available for review or download here

View more studies like this in the CED Foundation Archive 

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Benjamin Caplan, MDThe Endocannabinoid System and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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