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Cannabis Superior to Antidepressant at Treating Trauma in Rats

Cannabis Superior to Antidepressant at Treating Trauma in Rats

September 11, 2014 • Contributed by Zawn Villines, Correspondent

The effects of trauma can last a lifetime. People who survive traumatic events such as rape, abuse, war, and natural disasters may experience intrusive memories known as flashbacks, as well as fear, depression, avoidance, and mood swings. Some people who have experienced trauma have symptoms that warrant a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress (PTSD). According to a new study on rats with symptoms of trauma similar to those of humans, trauma victims may benefit from a chemical in marijuana.

Can Cannabinoids Affect Symptoms of Trauma?
For the study, researchers “traumatized” rats by shocking them, then exposed them to a stimulus that reminded them of the trauma three and five days later. In humans who experience PTSD, reminders such as loud noise or graphic violence—sometimes called triggers—can result in a flashback to the traumatic memory. Some rats were then injected with cannabinoids from synthetic marijuana. Cannabinoids are chemicals secreted by the flowers in marijuana, and medical marijuana advocates argue that these chemicals are the source of the apparent benefits of the drug. Another group of rats were injected with Sertraline, an antidepressant that is sometimes used to treat PTSD.

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