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New UK data holds hope for cannabis and PTSD

Patients experienced an improvement in symptoms and quality of life when prescribed cannabis.

Real-world data from the UK shows patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experienced an improvement in symptoms and quality of life when prescribed cannabis.
The new study published in the Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics found that patients enrolled on the UK Medical Cannabis Registry experienced an improvement in PTSD-specific symptoms, general health-related quality of life, sleep, and anxiety outcomes at a six month follow-up.

PTSD is a debilitating condition defined by over one month of symptoms following trauma exposure causing significant distress or functional impairment, and is thought to affect between five to 10% of the population during their lifetime.

There is currently a lack of available treatment options for patients as trauma-focused talking therapies are difficult to access, whilst currently available medications, such as antidepressants have been suggested as being inappropriate for those seeking long-term symptom improvement.

This is of increasing importance due to the higher prevalence of PTSD following the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly among healthcare professionals.

This research from the UK Medical Cannabis Registry, which is run by Sapphire Medical Clinics, reviewed 162 patients with PTSD, representing what is said to be the largest analysis of its kind in the UK.

The average age of the patients was 37 and 40% were women.

Participants experienced changes in PTSD-specific symptoms as early as one month after their enrolment on the registry.

In addition to observing positive changes in patient health-related quality of life, the study also collected data on adverse events. According to the data, only 20% of participants experienced an adverse event during the studied period. However, those that did experience adverse events tended to experience multiple adverse events, indicating further research is needed on who the most appropriate candidates are for medical cannabis therapy, say the authors.

Informing future cannabis research
This builds on the comprehensive research that has been published from the UK Medical Cannabis Registry over the course of 2022, including five previous publications on chronic pain, anxiety, and autism spectrum disorder. The programme of research, which has been approved by the Health Research Authority, has also been recognised for its impact in the Annual Awards from the Japanese Society of Neuropsychopharmacology.

It is hoped that these findings may help inform randomised placebo-controlled trials with the aim of confirming these promising effects whilst informing current clinical practice.

“These results amongst PTSD patients are really promising, but such data does not provide gold standard proof,” commented Simon Erridge, head of research and access at Sapphire Clinics.

“There is a lack of clinical trial evidence available that informs us all objectively. These findings present a significant step forward for research in this area, although they form only the first step in a longer and more rigorous process of evaluation. We are hopeful that our research is appropriately positioned to help move the needle towards performing these trials and moving one step forward to assessing if this is an appropriate treatment for PTSD.”


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