One of the more well-known and transformative properties of medical marijuana is its ability to combat stress and anxiety; more than that, it can be a game changer for those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Some policymakers argue that veterans abuse the drug and they focus on its addictive properties, but as more states move to legalize medical marijuana, more doctors are starting to realize its incredible transformative powers.

First, it’s important to understand what PTSD looks like and how it affects patients. You may know someone suffering from PTSD- according to the National Center for PTSD, seven to eight of every 100 people will develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress in their lifetimes. It is especially common among veterans, with statistics showing that one in five soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan will develop it.

There will always be a barrier to fully understanding the illness unless you suffer from it yourself, as it’s impossible to enter another person’s mind. However, doctors describe the disorder as an anxiety condition characterized by re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyper-arousal and triggered by traumatic experiences such as war or sexual assault. Changes in brain chemistry occur at the time of the trauma and cause the condition to persist. Those suffering from severe PTSD live in a state of constant anxiety where even simple tasks like walking through a crowd can become overwhelming.

Currently, there are no medications designed specifically to treat PTSD. Traditional treatment methods include a heavy combination of sedatives, antidepressants, and anxiety medication that comes with its own set of side effects. For those suffering from the condition, it is easy to fall into despair and feel that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The answer lies in medical cannabis research and the ability of cannabinoids to play a therapeutic role in the body’s endocannabinoid system.

Research has shown that PTSD causes an endocannabinoid deficiency where the body does not produce enough endocannabinoids to fill receptor sites and, as a result, they get no relief from their haunting thoughts and memories. Scientists have determined that the right dose of cannabis replenishes missing endocannabinoids with those found naturally in the plant, bringing patients relief from their symptoms.

Medical marijuana as a treatment for PTSD is still in the early stages of development, as researchers are still exploring the relationship between CBD and THC, and the proper dose of each to subscribe to patients to ensure that they receive the therapeutic treatment they seek and results do not backfire. In the meantime, if you suffer from PTSD, talk with your doctor to determine if cannabis is the right treatment for you.