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Veterans, PTSD, and Cannabis

Cannabis on the Brain: Hippo my Campus, Memory, and Learning Storage

By: Chris Davis MSW, MA

A rational human being understands the science fact that chemicals effect the brain.  However, many persons are unaware on how to appropriately measure, observe, relate, question, and compare chemical experiences on the body.  Cannabis consumption will elicit immediate/acute, brain activity, effecting residual as well as long-term changes.  The science question is what are the short term, mid-term, and long term effects and affects on humans?  Said in a different way, how does cannabis effect our physical body and how does cannabis affect our mind, as well as, emotions?  Importantly, in order to integrate culture, create new paradigms in reality, create movement groups, organizations, families, engage community members, engage civic leaders, and champion scientists to advocate for freedom in choice and cannabis consumption.  Also known as, the right to self-determination.

All human beings deserve the right to choose their personal health needs, whether coping skills are culturally appropriate to norms, or scientific norms.  Whereby, cannabis effects neurotransmitter activity in the brain, importantly, the hippocampus (Jeger et al. 2007).  American culture require common sense to understand the hippocampus is in full development at 12-15 months of age for humans (Bauer 2014).  In addition, the hippocampus regulates emotional affect and emotional functioning.  Observation reveals cannabis consumption results in reduction in hippocampus brain mass altering memory and eliciting positive emotional functioning for many persons with hippocampus trauma. (Troup et al. 2016).  Importantly, studies reveal individuals with depression are likely to have smaller left hippocampal volume (Bremner et al. 2000). In addition, cannabis consumption increase synapses firing in the pre frontal cortex regulating executive functioning (Troup et al. 2016).  The result upon the body is a decreases in synapses firing in the autonomic nervous system, and reductions in stress hormones.  There is a reduction in stress hormones due to a reduction in hippocampal volume.

Cannabis will often for most persons positively those who have PTSD and engage in a practice of mindfulness and hope.  Accordingly, mindfulness and hope positively effect the brain and the autonomic nervous system, whereby, reduction in stress cortisol levels allow a normalization of the stress response system (Gwinn 2015).  Normalization of the stress response system is critical for thought normalization, correct thinking, positive reframing, thought redirection, and role playing healthy resting states for the mind and body.  Emotionally toxic states create high cortisol levels and leads to an increase in negative thinking.  Triggers in memory effect the hippocampus.  Thus, appropriate interventions requires mitigation of long term emotionally toxic triggers to the hippocampus.

Therefore, research is a requirement to fully understand emotional and event triggers, and mediation of cortisol with cannabis.

We need to study, observe, emotional triggers, brain activity, feelings of self-worth, and administer the Hope Index.  Thus, data monitoring Hope measures prior to cannabis use and post cannabis use will reveal emotional affect.  Long term gathering of data on emotional affect of persons with PTSD who partake in cannabis will reveal internal and external validity on positive emotional and temporal distortion.  However, some individuals will experience non positive effects of cannabis.

The non-positive effects of cannabis will trigger cannabinoid receptors in the hippocampus affecting emotionally processing.  These triggers will often happen in persons with existing hypertension, high blood pressure, perseveration, personality disorders, and previous neural network programming for negative emotional behavior.  In order to determine the likelihood for these emotional triggers the Adverse Childhood Experiences Index is chosen.  The Adverse Childhood Experiences Index has strong internal and external validity for determining long term health challenges and opportunities.

Logically, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Index in conjunction with the Hope Index, will determine predictive validity of cannabis consumption.  The hypothesis, persons with PTSD and or high ACE scores, with mindfulness, will display an increase in hope scores and emotional processing.

Bauer, P. J. (2014). Remembering the times of our lives: Memory in infancy and beyond. Psychology Press.

Gwinn, C. (2015). Cheering for the children: Creating pathways to hope for children exposed to trauma. Wheatmark, Inc..

Jager, G., Van Hell, H. H., De Win, M. M., Kahn, R. S., Van Den Brink, W., Van Ree, J. M., & Ramsey, N. F. (2007). Effects of frequent cannabis use on hippocampal activity during an associative memory task. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 17(4), 289-297.

Troup, L. J., Bastidas, S., Nguyen, M. T., Andrzejewski, J. A., Bowers, M., & Nomi, J. S. (2016). An event-related potential study on the effects of cannabis on emotion processing. PloS one, 11(2), e0149764.