A new study published in the Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics found that those enrolled on the UK Medical Cannabis Registry with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experienced an improvement in PTSD-specific symptoms, general health-related quality of life, sleep, and anxiety outcomes at up to 6-months follow up.
This research from the UK Medical Cannabis Registry, run by Sapphire Medical Clinics, reviewed 162 patients with PTSD, representing the largest analysis of its kind in the UK. The average age of patients was 37 and 40% were women. Participants experienced these changes in PTSD-specific symptoms as early as 1 month after enrolment. In addition to observing positive changes in patient health-related quality of life, the study also collected data on adverse events finding that 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 that further research on who the most appropriate candidates are for medical cannabis therapy. 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.
This research builds on the comprehensive research that has been published from the UK Medical Cannabis Registry in 2022, including 5 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 this month in the Annual Awards from the Japanese Society of Neuropsychopharmacology due to its impact.
PTSD is a debilitating condition defined by over 1 month of symptoms following trauma exposure causing significant distress or functional impairment and is thought to affect between 5-10% of the population during their lifetimes. However, there is a lack of available treatment options available for patients as trauma-focused talking therapies are difficult to access, whilst currently available medications, such as anti-depressants have been suggested as being inappropriate for those seeking long-term symptom improvement. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic this is of increasing importance due to the higher prevalence of PTSD, particularly in healthcare professionals and those who had COVID-19.
The results from this study are really promising with respect to medical cannabis, however the authors are quick to caution that further research is needed in the form of randomised controlled trials before this medication will become available on the NHS.
Simon Erridge, Head of Research and Access at Sapphire Clinics comments; “These results amongst PTSD patients are really promising, but such data does not provide gold standard proof. 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.”