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J Dual Diagn. 2019 Sep 3:1-20. doi: 10.1080/15504263.2019.1652380. [Epub ahead of print]

The Effectiveness of Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A Systematic Review.

Author information

1
Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, University College London , London , United Kingdom.
2
Translational Psychiatry Research Group, Research Department of Mental Health Neuroscience, Division of Psychiatry, Faculty of Brain Sciences, University College London , London , United Kingdom.
3
NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, University College Hospital , London , United Kingdom.
4
Neuroscience of Addiction (NofA) Lab, Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam , Amsterdam , The Netherlands.
5
The Traumatic Stress Clinic, St Pancras Hospital, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust , London , UK.

Abstract

Objectives: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a potentially debilitating mental health problem. There has been a recent surge of interest regarding the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of PTSD. We therefore sought to systematically review and assess the quality of the clinical evidence of the effectiveness of cannabinoids for the treatment of PTSD. Method: We included all studies published until December 2018 where a patient has had PTSD diagnosed and had been prescribed or were using a cannabinoid for the purpose of reducing PTSD symptoms. Our primary outcome measure was the reduction in PTSD symptoms using a validated instrument. In the absence of randomized controlled trials, we included the next best available levels of evidence including observational and retrospective studies and case reports. We assessed risk of bias and quality using validated tools appropriate for the study design. Results: We included 10 studies in this review, of which only one study was a pilot randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover clinical trial. Every identified study had medium to high risk of bias and was of low quality. We found that cannabinoids may decrease PTSD symptomology, in particular sleep disturbances and nightmares. Conclusions: Most studies to date are small and of low quality, with significant limitations to the study designs precluding any clinical recommendations about its use in routine clinical practice. Evidence that cannabinoids may help reduce global PTSD symptoms, sleep disturbances, and nightmares indicates that future well-controlled, randomized, double-blind clinical trials are highly warranted. PROSPERO registration number: 121646.

KEYWORDS:

CBD; Cannabis; THC; nabilone; posttraumatic stress disorder; treatments

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