Cannabidiol and PTSD

Studies and peer-reviewed research into the effects of CBD and PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

 

Reductions in circulating endocannabinoid levels in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder following exposure to the world trade center attacks  

From the abstract:

 Endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling has been identified as a modulator of adaptation to stress, and is integral to basal and stress-induced glucocorticoid regulation. Furthermore, interactions between eCBs and glucocorticoids have been shown to be necessary for the regulation of emotional memories, suggesting that eCB function may relate to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To examine this, plasma eCBs were measured in a sample (n=46) drawn from a population-based cohort selected for physical proximity to the World Trade Center (WTC) at the time of the 9/11 attacks. Participants received a structured diagnostic interview and were grouped according to whether they met diagnostic criteria for PTSD (no PTSD, n=22; lifetime diagnosis of PTSD=24). eCB content (2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide (AEA)) and cortisol were measured from 8 a.m. plasma samples. Circulating 2-AG content was significantly reduced among individuals meeting diagnostic criteria for PTSD. The effect of reduced 2-AG content in PTSD remained significant after controlling for the stress of exposure to the WTC collapse, gender, depression and alcohol abuse. There were no significant group differences for AEA or cortisol levels; however, across the whole sample AEA levels positively correlated with circulating cortisol, and AEA levels exhibited a negative relationship with the degree of intrusive symptoms within the PTSD sample. This report shows that PTSD is associated with a reduction in circulating levels of the eCB 2-AG. Given the role of 2-AG in the regulation of the stress response, these data support the hypothesis that deficient eCB signaling may be a component of the glucocorticoid dysregulation associated with PTSD. The negative association between AEA levels and intrusive symptoms is consistent with animal data indicating that reductions in AEA promote retention of aversive emotional memories. Future work will aim to replicate these findings and extend their relevance to clinical pathophysiology, as well as to neuroendocrine and molecular markers of PTSD.

 

Enhancing cannabinoid neurotransmission augments the extinction of conditioned fear  

From the abstract:

The endogenous cannabinoid (eCB) system represents a major therapeutic target for the treatment of a variety of anxiety-related disorders. A recent study has demonstrated that pharmacologic or genetic disruption of CB1-receptor-mediated neurotransmission decreases the extinction of conditioned fear in mice. Here, we examined whether CB1 blockade would similarly disrupt extinction in rats, using fear-potentiated startle as a measure of conditioned fear. We also examined whether pharmacologic enhancement of CB1 activation would lead to enhancements in extinction. Our results indicate that systemic administration of the CB1 antagonist rimonabant (SR141716A) prior to extinction training led to significant, dose-dependent decreases in extinction. While the administration of the CB1 agonist WIN 55,212-2 did not appear to affect extinction, administration of AM404, an inhibitor of eCB breakdown and reuptake, led to dose-dependent enhancements in extinction. In addition to showing decreased fear 1 and 24 h after extinction training, AM404-treated animals showed decreased shock-induced reinstatement of fear. Control experiments demonstrated that the effects of AM404 could not be attributed to alterations in the expression of conditioned fear, locomotion, shock reactivity, or baseline startle, as these parameters seemed unchanged by AM404. Furthermore, coadministration of rimonabant with AM404 blocked this enhancement of extinction, suggesting that AM404 was acting to increase CB1 receptor activation during extinction training. These results demonstrate that the eCB system can be modulated to enhance emotional learning, and suggest that eCB modulators may be therapeutically useful as adjuncts for exposure-based psychotherapies such as those used to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other anxiety disorders.

 

Modulation of Fear Memory by Dietary Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids via Cannabinoid Receptors  

From the abstract:

Although the underlying mechanism remains unknown, several studies have suggested benefits of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) for patients with anxiety disorders. Elevated fear is thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of particular anxiety disorders. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether the dietary n-3 to n-6 PUFA (3:6) ratio influences fear memory. For this purpose, the effects of various dietary 3:6 ratios on fear memory were examined in mice using contextual fear conditioning, and the effects of these diets on central synaptic transmission were examined to elucidate the mechanism of action of PUFA. We found that fear memory correlated negatively with dietary, serum, and brain 3:6 ratios in mice. The low fear memory in mice fed a high 3:6 ratio diet was increased by the cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonist rimonabant, reaching a level seen in mice fed a low 3:6 ratio diet. The agonist sensitivity of CB1 receptor was enhanced in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA) of mice fed a high 3:6 ratio diet, compared with that of mice fed a low 3:6 ratio diet. Similar enhancement was induced by pharmacological expulsion of cholesterol in the neuronal membrane of brain slices from mice fed a low 3:6 ratio diet. CB1 receptor-mediated short-term synaptic plasticity was facilitated in pyramidal neurons of the BLA in mice fed a high 3:6 ratio diet. These results suggest that the ratio of n-3 to n-6 PUFA is a factor regulating fear memory via cannabinoid CB1 receptors.

 

CBD blocks long-lasting behavioral consequences of predator threat stress: Possible involvement of 5HT1A receptors  

From the abstract:

 Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an incapacitating syndrome that follows a traumatic experience. Predator exposure promotes long-lasting anxiogenic effect in rodents, an effect related to symptoms found in PTSD patients. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychotomimetic component of Cannabis sativa with anxiolytic effects. The present study investigated the anti-anxiety actions of CBD administration in a model of PTSD. Male Wistar rats exposed to a predator (cat) received, 1 h later, singled or repeated i.p. administration of vehicle or CBD. Seven days after the stress animals were submitted to the elevated plus maze. To investigate the involvement of 5HT1A receptors in CBD effects animals were pre-treated with WAY100635, a 5HT1A receptor antagonist. To explore possible neurobiological mechanisms involved in these effects, 5HT1A receptor mRNA and BDNF protein expression were measured in the hippocampus, frontal cortex, amygdaloid complex and dorsal periaqueductal gray. Repeated administration of CBD prevented long-lasting anxiogenic effects promoted by a single predator exposure. Pretreatment with WAY100635 attenuated CBD effects. Seven days after predator exposure 5HT1A mRNA expression was up regulated in the frontal cortex and hippocampus. CBD and paroxetine failed to prevent this effect. No change in BDNF expression was found. In conclusion, predator exposure promotes long-lasting up-regulation of 5HT1A receptor gene expression in the hippocampus and frontal cortex. Repeated CBD administration prevents the long-lasting anxiogenic effects observed after predator exposure probably by facilitating 5HT1A receptors neurotransmission. Our results suggest that CBD has beneficial potential for PTSD treatment and that 5HT1A receptors could be a therapeutic target in this disorder.

 

Stress switches cannabinoid type-1 (CB1) receptor-dependent plasticity from LTD to LTP in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis 

From the abstract:

The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) exerts a coordinated modulation of the psychoneuroendocrine responses to stress. However, how acute stress impacts on BNST in vivo plasticity is a crucial question that still remains unanswered. Here, neurons from the anterior portion of the BNST (aBNST) were recorded in vivo during and after stimulation of their medial prefrontal cortical (mPFC) afferents. In C57BL/6N mice, a 1 h restraint stress induced a switch from long-term depression (LTD) to long-term potentiation (LTP) in the aBNST after a 10 Hz mPFC stimulation. This switch was independent from glucocorticoid receptor stimulation. Because the endocannabinoid system regulates aBNST activity, we next examined the role of cannabinoid type-1 receptors (CB1-Rs) in these changes. Mutant mice lacking CB1-Rs (CB1(-/-) mice) displayed a marked deficit in the ability to develop plasticity under control and stress conditions, compared with their wild-type littermates (CB1(+/+) mice). This difference was not accounted for by genetic differences in stress sensitivity, as revealed by Fos immunohistochemistry analyses. Local blockade of CB1-Rs in the aBNST and the use of mutant mice bearing a selective deletion of CB1-Rs in cortical glutamatergic neurons indicated that stress-elicited LTP involved CB1-Rs located on aBNST excitatory terminals. These results show that acute stress reverts LTD into LTP in the aBNST and that the endocannabinoid system plays a key role therein.

 

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