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How medical cannabis has helped military families dealing with PTSD


“I only wish medical cannabis was available before two GI bleeds and an addiction to opiates. I was surprised to note medical cannabis reduced my Percocet use by half almost immediately! Apollo has helped me along the whole journey & my quality of life has improved exponentially.” Michael B. Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces & Apollo Patient

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A traumatic event can change the way we see and interact with the world around us. This is because our brain’s main goal is to protect us, and after a traumatic event, may begin to overreact to certain stimuli in order to prevent experiencing that traumatic event again. Post-traumatic stress disorder is just this, a psychological response to intense traumatic events, especially those that are life-threatening. A traumatic event is different for every person and does not mean those in the military can only experience them overseas or in a combat zone; significant accidents, natural disasters, sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, and witnessing a death can all be potentially traumatic experiences.

Traumatic stress is a completely normal human reaction but can last anywhere from a few months to the rest of that person’s life. Luckily, increased awareness and community support over the last 20 years have helped increase the tools and resources available to help those minimize and reduce unwanted symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, depression, anger, stress, and more.
How does PTSD affect the family members of those diagnosed?

While PTSD can take a large toll on the individual, what is often unseen is the impact it can have on family members and day-to-day home life. For many, it can be difficult to understand what a partner, parent, sibling, or child is going through, and why they display and experience symptoms of PTSD.

One common sign of PTSD is the inability to feel and express emotions which can leave family and friends feeling pushed away. This often has a snowball effect, causing those with PTSD to feel unwanted or unloved. Other common symptoms that can put a stressor on home life include sleep issues (irritability), concentration, mood swings, anger, and a lack of interest in participating in activities.

Many of those diagnosed with PTSD are prescribed a multitude of varying pharmaceuticals, which can leave many feeling like a “zombie” and not themselves; further preventing the individual from connecting and interacting with their family and friends.

Since 2001, medical cannabis has been legal in Canada and has increasingly been recognized by doctors, researchers, Veteran Affairs Canada (VAC), and Health Canada as a success in helping treat and manage symptoms of PTSD.

Medical Cannabis, CBD, and PTSD

Cannabinoids such as CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC(Tetrahydrocannabinol) act on our naturally occurring endocannabinoid system – a series of receptors that exist throughout our entire body, head to toe. The endocannabinoid system helps manage a myriad of bodily functions, including: pain response, inflammation, hunger, mood, and more.

Over the past decade, the discussion around the use of medical cannabis for PTSD has changed from anecdotal to research-backed results.

Oftentimes, people think of having to smoke cannabis in order to benefit from it, but that is no longer true as a wide variety of options are available, including: soft gels, oils, topical creams, Health-Canada-approved vaporizers, edibles, and more.

Research and Symptom Relief

Various research studies over the last few years have found not just one, but multiple contributing factors as to how medical cannabis helps alleviate unwanted PTSD symptoms. A reduction in anxiety, better sleep, reduced nightmares, and even reduced fear in triggering situations are all positive results found through clinical research. Researchers from multiple American universities came together for one 2022 study and found that PTSD sufferers who used cannabis were nearly 3 times more likely to recover from PTSD.

Recent studies have begun looking into the biological reasons why cannabis can so effectively manage PTSD symptoms and found that cannabis can help reduce activity in the amygdala (the part of the brain associated with fear responses to threats). Medical cannabis, THC specifically, has also been proven to reliably reduce the frequency and intensity of post-traumatic nightmares.

Medical Cannabis Clinics

Just like any other medication, medical guidance is crucial to finding success and maximizing one’s symptom relief when using medical cannabis. In many instances, veterans and civilians alike are able to reduce one, if not multiple other medications that cause unwanted side effects.

Recognized as a viable treatment option, medical cannabis treatment is fully funded for veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) through Veterans Affairs Canada for those with qualifying conditions.

Apollo Cannabis Clinics offer CAF veterans:

    • Free appointments and support, 7 days a week
    • Ongoing medical guidance from a team of healthcare professionals, including: general practitioners and specialists (Psychiatrists, Pain Specialists, etc.)
    • A personalized dosing plan guided by a dedicated Veteran Care team
    • Product selection assistance
    • Assistance with obtaining full coverage from Veterans Affairs Canada, including: the management of logistics, direct billing, and paperwork on your behalf

What we’ve seen in clinic at Apollo

Oftentimes we hear a resounding ‘thank you’ not only from our patients but from their spouses who have “gotten their partner back”.

Having been prescribing medical cannabis in Canada since 2014, we have helped and heard from thousands of patients and veterans. We also have conducted our own research studies around the use of medical cannabis for both chronic pain and PTSD, finding overwhelmingly positive results.

How does it work?

Looking to make patients feel as comfortable and supported as possible, Apollo’s Veteran Care Team offers a free and fully encompassing A-Z service. Upon booking a free virtual/telephone appointment, you will consult with a healthcare practitioner and receive a personalized education and treatment plan. From there, you will receive full assistance with obtaining VAC coverage for your medication. Your medication will then be delivered directly and discreetly to your residence. Should you ever have any questions or need assistance, Apollo’s dedicated Veteran Care team is available by phone and email 7 days a week.

If you or someone you know could benefit from speaking with a medical cannabis healthcare specialist, feel free to visit Apollocannabis.ca or call 1-877-560-9195 to learn more.

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Canadian Military Family Magazine