Expert: Cannabis Therapy Can Help Disrupt the Cycle for Patients with PTSD

To recognize National PTSD Awareness Month in June, Pharmacy Times interviewed Jordan Tishler, MD, on how medical cannabis can be used to treat PTSD among veterans and the general public.

To recognize National PTSD Awareness Month in June, Pharmacy Times interviewed Jordan Tishler, MD, president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists, faculty at Harvard Medical School, and a cannabis specialist at inhaleMD, on how medical cannabis can be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans and the general public.

During the discussion, Tishler explained what PTSD is and how it can impact the daily life of people living with the disorder.

Additionally, Tishler addressed how, although PTSD is commonly associated with veterans, the disorder is by no means exclusively present in this population. PTSD can affect a wide swath of individuals outside of the veteran population as well.

“PTSD is only the latest historical term for the kind of psychological damage that we see from wartime events, and as a result there's a lot of awareness of PTSD in the veteran population, and a fair bit of research into veteran PTSD, as well as cannabis use in the veteran PTSD population,” Tishler said. “But certainly, it is not the only population that is affected. We certainly see PTSD develop in rape survivors, for example, and people who've had traumatic or abusive childhoods.”

In light of the broad impact of PTSD on the lives of people suffering from the disorder, Tishler highlighted the importance of developing multiple treatment options in order to increase the likelihood of positive patient outcomes.

“I think any illness that is disruptive to people's lives is important, and PTSD is certainly disruptive,” Tishler said. “There are a number of treatments from the pharmacologic side of things, as well as psychological, like cognitive behavioral therapy, all of which have a place in treating this particular kind of illness. And for many people, these can be successful, but the success rate isn't as good as we would like it to be.”

Tishler noted that cannabis is capable of adding to the arsenal of treatments that can help to interrupt the cycle that people with the disorder often experience, which can include being triggered by internal or external events as they arise.

“This constellation of symptoms, whether it's the hyper vigilance or awakening from dreams, those sorts of things cannabis sort of blocks and the effects are rather broad,” Tishler said.

Tishler also addressed how cannabis can specifically help to treat patients with PTSD neurologically and some best practices around developing a treatment plan that incorporates cannabis therapy for a patient with PTSD.