Cannabis has a long-lasting effect against trauma symptoms and inflammation
At the Forum of Neuroscience, which is currently taking place in Berlin, a new study was presented that underlines the effectiveness of cannabis against anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders and some types of inflammation. In animal models, the scientists were able to show that the increased content of natural cannabinoids in the brain can reduce trauma symptoms and at the same time correct cognitive dysfunctions. These effects are even retained in the long term.
The research team around Dr. Patrizia Campolongo from the University of Sapienza in Rome presented the results of his current study at the Forum of Neuroscience in Berlin. The scientists were able to demonstrate in animal models that naturally occurring cannabis-like compounds in the brain play a crucial role in some mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders and some types of chronic inflammatory diseases such as ulcerative colitis. Medicinal cannabis was able to achieve a positive and long-lasting effect in these diseases in the animal model.
Self medication for stress
Like Dr. Campolongo reports that people with trauma-related stress syndromes in particular tend to self-medicate with cannabis. The changed legal situation regarding cannabis in numerous countries also increases the public interest in therapeutic applications.
Rats show positive effects from cannabis
In experiments with rats suffering from PTSD, the scientists found that medicinal cannabis increases the levels of natural cannabis-like compounds in the brain. This has led to the symptoms of trauma being reduced. At the same time, the research team was able to document how cannabinoids in the brain compensate for cognitive malfunctions - with a long-lasting effect.
Cannabis medications are not comparable to street marijuana
“These drugs work in much more targeted areas of the brain than street cannabis and stop the re-upset of anxiety symptoms up to three months after treatment,” reports Dr. Campolongo in a press release on the study results. If the same effect occurred in humans, it could even last for several years. With current treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, symptoms would often reappear in patients shortly after the end of therapy.
Clinical trials required
Dr. Campolongo believes that synthetic medications that affect the level of natural cannabinoids can both reduce anxiety symptoms and interrupt the cycle by which sufferers relive the trauma. "These artificial cannabis compounds are very specific and therefore have a lower risk of side effects," reports the expert. Clinical studies are now needed to investigate whether the knowledge gained from the animals can also be transferred to humans.
Cannabis for chronic inflammation
The research team is supported by the studies of Dr. Matthew Hill from the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary in Canada. His work in animal models has shown that the natural cannabis-like molecules in the brain can reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis. The anxiety states that often occur in combination could also be alleviated in this way. “We don't know the mechanism by which these conditions are linked,” explains Hill. He suspects that the effect is related to the brain's endocannabinoid system. (vb)