FRIDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Marijuana may help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new study.
PTSD affects 10 to 30 percent of people who experience a traumatic event, such as a car accident or terror attack. These people continue to suffer stress symptoms for months and even years after the incident.
Israeli researchers conducted a series of experiments in which rats were subjected to stressful experiences, such as receiving electric shocks. The study found that the rats' stress levels could be reduced by giving them a synthetic form of marijuana that has properties similar to that of the natural plant.
Further investigation revealed that the synthetic marijuana prevents increased release of a stress hormone the body releases in response to traumatic situations.
"The results of our research should encourage psychiatric investigation into the use of cannabinoids in post-traumatic stress patients," wrote study author Dr. Irit Akirav of the department of psychology at the University of Haifa.
The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about PTSD.
SOURCE: University of Haifa, news release, Nov. 4, 2009