Category Archives for Post Traumatic Stress

Cannabinoids: A New PTSD Treatment Paradigm

The PTSD treatment paradigm, currently reliant on a spectrum of medications, has been increasingly challenged for the dependence it facilitates and its artificial approach to healing a complex, integrated system. Emerging from this has been a cry for increased research on holistic alternatives, namely cannabis and/or CBD use. Legal complications have tied up the field for a while but new research should be emerging soon as a Phase 2 study on the safety and efficacy of smoked marijuana for PTSD symptoms in US veterans is completed. cannabinoids

 

In the meantime, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine recently published the first study investigating the clinical effects of CBD for people with PTSD. It does need to be supported by randomized, controlled studies, as it was performed on a small sample of 11 patients who were also exposed to psychiatric medications and psychotherapy at the same time, but it is an optimistic opening for this field of research.

 

Over the course of 8 weeks, the study participants took CBD orally (either in pills or a liquid spray) once or twice a day. They completed the PTSD checklist (PCL-5) at the beginning of the study and again after 4 weeks and 8 weeks. The PCL-5 assesses symptom severity on a scale of 0 to 4, which allowed the researchers to study both the overall impact as well as the effect on specific symptoms.cannabinoids

 

The average baseline score for the participants was 51.82, which then dropped to 40.73 after 4 weeks and 37.14 after 8 weeks, showing an overall decrease in the severity of symptoms. Of the 11 participants, 10 experienced a decrease in their score by the fourth week, with an average of a 21% drop. While 3 of the 11 participants experienced increases in their symptom severity (an average increase of 8 points) from weeks 4 to 8, 10 of the 11 still experienced an overall decrease from the baseline, with an average of a 28% drop.

 

One of the symptoms most impacted by the study was sleep. Of the participants who responded to the question assessing “repeated, disturbing dreams of the stressful experience” with a score of 3 or higher, 50% reported an improvement in their nightmares. In all participants, 38% remarked improvement in the quality of their sleep. Other symptoms for which participants expressed benefits were anxiety, focus, and mood.

 

While more clinical studies are necessary to investigate the intricate effects of different types, dosages, frequencies, and conditions of cannabis usage on PTSD symptoms, this research sits on a strong foundation of theory. In fact, we are beginning to understand that there are innate systems in the body designed to respond to compounds found in cannabis as well as to regulate symptoms associated with PTSD.

 

The connection between PTSD symptoms and the effects of cannabis seems to be based on the compound anandamide – the “bliss molecule”. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid, meaning that it is produced internally (“endo”) and stimulates a system of cannabinoid receptors in the body. These receptors, along with the cannabinoids that stimulate them, comprise the endocannabinoid system, which maintains homeostasis through regulating appetite, immunity, memory, mood, motor control, pain, reward, fertility, and temperature regulation. Interestingly enough, there are compounds in cannabis with similar structures that can also trigger cannabinoid receptors in the body. THC, responsible for the “high” associated with cannabis, activates the same receptors as anandamide.

 

As we currently understand it, there are two cannabinoid receptors in the body – CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain and central nervous system and mediate emotional learning, stress adaption, and fear extinction. These receptors are understimulated in those with PTSD, for their signaling “deactivates traumatic memories and endows us with the gift of forgetting”.  cannabinoids

 

The use of phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD to stimulate CB1 receptors shows promise in balancing the endocannabinoid system and restoring its ability to regulate fear, anxiety, and joy. By allowing the system to have breaks from the constant stress it finds itself in when experiencing PTSD symptoms, cannabis use can reeducate the body to respond to stress as it does to acute stress. While endocannabinoids are broken down under chronic stress, under acute stress they are actually released to allow for return to baseline stress levels. What this means in terms of concrete response to symptoms, only the clinical trials will tell us, but there is reason to believe that cannabis users will become better equipped to respond to the stressors and symptoms that come with PTSD. cannabinoids

 

Although alternative treatments like CBD and medical marijuana still need conclusive evidence, our current approach to PTSD treatment has also yet to show any meaningful, consistent impact. In fact, PTSD United has shown that “in the past year alone the number of diagnosed cases in the military jumped 50%”. Many movements have emerged to raise awareness and funding for the cause, but, as organizational theorist Kenichi Ohmae recognized, “rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.” The structure toward which this increasing energy is being devoted must be willing to evolve. We must seek new methods, challenge our current understanding, and form a more nuanced approach to treatment that includes a variety of techniques and is responsive to individuals and their unique needs. We will never know what could be achieved unless we open our minds and try it.

 

“If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.” – Thomas Jefferson

 

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.

 

Alex Brooks, Psychology Intern

Makin Wellness

Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania

Medical marijuana was legalized in the state of Pennsylvania in 2016. Patients with serious medical conditions may now receive safe and effective treatment through the state’s Medical Marijuana Program. To get medical marijuana there are four basic steps. medical marijuana

First, register for the program through the Medical Marijuana Registry. Second, get certified from a physician, showing that you suffer from one of the qualifying conditions. Third, pay for a medical marijuana ID card. And fourth, find an approved dispensary to receive medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. medical marijuana

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Cancer (including remission therapy)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Damage to nervous tissues of central nervous system with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, and associated neuropathies.
  • Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intractable seizures
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neuropathies
  • Opiod use disorder in which conventional therapeutic interventions are ineffective or contraindicated.
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Terminal illness

Renewing Registration

Prior to your patient certification and ID card expiring, you will receive and email 60 days in advance. Renewing your registration involves a few simple steps. First, you will need to submit your renewal online. Then, you will receive an email .verification with steps to follow. Finally, you will get a patient certification through any registered practitioner and your card will then be mailed to you.

Medical Marijuana Approved Forms

  • Topical forms, including ointments, creams, and gel
  • Tincture
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Oil
  • A medically appropriate form administered by vaporization or nebulization, including dry leaf/plant form

Forms of medical marijuana are different for each patients individual needs. A physician and pharmacist can assist in choosing what is best for your condition.

Makin Wellness offers a holistic approach to wellness through medical marijuana assisted treatment for PTSD, professional counseling, nutritional counseling, aromatherapy, and other natural treatment options. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!

For additional information regarding Pennsylvania’a Medical Marijuana Program, please refer to :

Department of Health

medical marijuana

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assited treatment and relationship counseling.

Disclaimer:

Getting an evaluation at Makin Wellness does not guarantee you will have or be diagnosed with PTSD or Opioid Use Disorder . We are able to provide ongoing treatment in all of our offices and via telepsych.   For those struggling with Opiate Use Disorder, you may qualify if conventional therapeutic interventions are contraindicated or ineffective, or for which adjunctive therapy is indicated in combination with primary therapeutic interventions. We are not certifying physicians for medical marijuana in the State of PA.  We are able to evaluate, diagnose and provide treatment for mental health and addiction conditions.  If you fit criteria for PTSD or Opioid Use Disorder , you would still need to see a certifying physician after the evaluation in order to get your medical marijuana card. Cannabis is still considered illegal under federal law. Please refer to the Pennsylvania Department of Health  or contact us if you have any additional questions.

Herbal Remedies for Cognitive Function

Cognitive decline and neurocognitive disorders may be the result of aging, head injury, or other medical conditions. Alzheimer’s and dementia have been associated with high cholesterol, inflammation, hypertension, high body mass index, and diabetes.

Anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have also been reported as risk factors of dementia and cognitive decline. The hippocampus (the memory center of the brain) can shrink from high blood pressure. And since higher blood pressure is linked to cognitive decline, taking measures to eat well and reduce stress is essential.

Poor nutrition, head injuries, and vitamin B12 deficiency may also cause memory and other cognitive issues. Foods such as grapes, blueberries, and beets support brain cell connection and function. Spinach, broccoli, and other cruceferous vegetables are beneficial for reducing inflammation and improved arterial function.

Stress-reducing activities, adequate sleep, and exercise are all necessary in preventing cognitive decline. In today’s busy world, it can at times be difficult to find the time to get all the nutrients and exercise our bodies need. Simple herbal remedies and supplementation can be a helpful aid.

Best Brain Boosting Herbs and Supplements

Aromatherapy – a 2009 study was done with Alzheimer’s patients, consistently administering rosemary and lemon essential oils in the morning, and lavender and orange in the evening. The oils showed a positive effect on psychological and behavioral symptoms, as well as improved cognitive function. Rosemary oil has clinically shown to improve cognition and memory. Melissa oil has also been used in patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia to aid in anxiety and insomnia. cognitive function

Sage – Sage has been identified as one of several herbs that may aid Alzheimer’s patients. A study published in 2003 in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior indicated sage to possess memory boosting properties. Sage can be added to chicken, soups, or taken in tea form.

Turmeric – Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests it may prevent break down of nerve cells in the brain boost overall brain function.

B Vitamins – In a study of elderly men and women, it was found that a B-complex supplement prevented decline in participants ability to plan, prioritize, and organize. Those taking B-complex with Omega-3 supplements had the best results. Taking a high potency supplement is best.

Ginkgo – Two recent medical journals confirmed extracts of Ginkgo biloba can improve cognitive function and memory in people with dementia.

MMJ and CBD oil – Medical marijuana and CBD oil have shown to be beneficial in patients with alzheimer’s and dementia, improving cognitive function, symptoms of aggression, improving sleep, and other physical and emotional benefits. cognitive function

Makin Wellness offers a holistic approach to wellness with holistic treatment options including stress relief techniques, aromatherapy, supplementation, and nutritional counseling. Contact us today for a free consultation!

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assited treatment and relationship counseling.

Disclaimer:

Getting an evaluation at Makin Wellness does not guarantee you will have or be diagnosed with PTSD or Opioid Use Disorder . We are able to provide ongoing treatment in all of our offices and via telepsych.   For those struggling with Opiate Use Disorder, you may qualify if conventional therapeutic interventions are contraindicated or ineffective, or for which adjunctive therapy is indicated in combination with primary therapeutic interventions. We are not certifying physicians for medical marijuana in the State of PA.  We are able to evaluate, diagnose and provide treatment for mental health and addiction conditions.  If you fit criteria for PTSD or Opioid Use Disorder , you would still need to see a certifying physician after the evaluation in order to get your medical marijuana card. Cannabis is still considered illegal under federal law. Please refer to the Pennsylvania Department of Health  or contact us if you have any additional questions.

Gardening for the Mind

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” – Audrey Hepburn

Spending time in nature is like a gift that keeps on giving. Whether in your own backyard, or visiting a local public garden, you’re sure to experience nature’s countless benefits to the mind and body. The healing power of nature has proven to aid in mental health, reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

The warmth of the sunlight, the fresh smell of plants and flowers, and a gentle breeze, all provide a sensory experience that brings us back in tune with our minds and bodies. We feel grounded and part of something larger than ourselves.

Gardening provides a unique therapeutic experience in its positive affect on the brain. The physical activity of gardening boosts neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, helping reduce anxiety and depression. Spending time in green spaces has shown to be a healing aid in attention deficit disorders, grief, and even chronic illness. Nature offers a hope, giving new perspective through the anticipation of change and growth. gardening

Sunlight exposure stimulates serotonin, which is responsible for regulating mood, memory, and impulse control. Simply taking a walk outside may reduce levels of depression and fatigue, boost mood, and improve self-esteem.

The Science of Gardening

May gardening, or “horticultural therapy,” be a good option for mental health interventions? Grounding techniques are used as a way to detach from emotional pain by becoming more in tune with the senses. Doctors and therapists have noted how gardening promotes both a grounding and sensory experience, encouraging mindfulness, and helping to reduce stress by decreasing cortisol levels (the hormone released when under stress). gardening

Scientists proved the positive affects of gardening on our state of mind in a 2016 study, comparing gardeners to non-gardeners. Outcomes of those who had their own garden or helped in community gardens showed these results:

  • Less anxiety
  • Reduced depression
  • Increased quality of life
  • Improved sense of community

Another study showed positive effects of soil bacteria and the brain. Mice who were inoculated with soil bacteria had an increase in serotonin (the happy hormone). With the brain and gut being in constant communication, the state of our gut microbiome is largely related to the state of our mental health. In short, spending a little time in the dirt (with its beneficial bacteria), may positively impact our state of mind!

Gardening also provides a feeling satisfaction through cultivating and preparing our own food. This gives a rewarding sense of accomplishment and connection to the world around us.

Try visiting a local Pittsburgh garden, or start your own and experience the healing power of nature! Phipps Conservatory offers gardening classes and its partnered with Grow Pittsburgh, which offers gardening resources and workshops. In the words of William Shakespeare, “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” gardening

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assited treatment and relationship counseling.

 

 

 

 

PTSD – Common Symptoms & Holistic Treatment Options

Post traumatic stress disorder affects mental health, causing symptoms such as anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and uncontrollable thoughts about a traumatizing event.

Many people who have experienced a traumatic event often can have temporary difficulty coping and adjusting, but are able to recover with the time and self-care.  If symptoms worsen, lasting months or even years, and interfere with daily activities – this may be an indication of PTSD.

Syptoms of PTSD are grouped into types including avoidance, intrusive memories, changes in emotional reactions, and negative changes in thinking or mood. Let’s consider each of these:

Avoidance

  •  avoiding thinking or talking about the event
  •  avoiding people, places, and activities reminding you of the traumatic event

Intrusive Memories 

  •  flashbacks – reliving event as if it were happening all over again
  •  dream/nightmares about the event
  •  recurring memories of the traumatic event – even when trying to not think about the event
  •  experiencing severe emotional distress, or physical reactions to things reminding you of the rtaumatic event

Changes in Emotional Reactions 

  •  overwhelming guilt/shame
  •  jumpiness – easily frightened or startled
  •  sleep disturbances
  •  difficulty concentrating
  •  defensive – on guard for danger
  •  irritability
  •  angry outbursts
  •  aggressive behaviors
  •  self-destructive behaviors (substance abuse/reckless driving)

Negative Changes in Thinking/Mood 

  •  negative thoughts about self and others
  •  lack of interest in activities
  •  difficulty maintaining relationships with others
  •  memory problems
  •  feeling hopeless of future
  •  emotional numbness – feeling detached

To be diagnosed with PTSD, one must experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  •  reliving the event
  •  upsetting dreams/nightmares
  •  experience of flashbacks
  •  emotional distress related to the event

Holistic Treatment Options 

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT can be used to help turn BLUE thoughts into true thoughts, helping one move in a more positive thought process.
  • Tapping (EFT) – Emotional Thought Field Therapy is a technique used to help with negative emotions. A trained professional can help you through this technique and it can even be done at home.
  • Deep Breathing – Diaphramatic breathing is a technique used to help calm the mind and body.
  • MMJ Assisted Therapy – Medical marijuana or CBD oil can be used to help reduce the symptoms associated with PTSD.
  • Exercise/Time in Nature – Spending time outdoors helps reset and recharge the mind and body to promote a positive mindset.
  • Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils – Essential oils have long been used to promote a calming effect and overall wellness.

Contact us today at Makin Wellness for a free consultation and begin your wellness journey today! 

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assited treatment and relationship counseling.

Disclaimer:

Getting an evaluation at Makin Wellness does not guarantee you will have or be diagnosed with PTSD or Opioid Use Disorder . We are able to provide ongoing treatment in all of our offices and via telepsych.   For those struggling with Opiate Use Disorder, you may qualify if conventional therapeutic interventions are contraindicated or ineffective, or for which adjunctive therapy is indicated in combination with primary therapeutic interventions. We are not certifying physicians for medical marijuana in the State of PA.  We are able to evaluate, diagnose and provide treatment for mental health and addiction conditions.  If you fit criteria for PTSD or Opioid Use Disorder , you would still need to see a certifying physician after the evaluation in order to get your medical marijuana card. Cannabis is still considered illegal under federal law. Please refer to the Pennsylvania Department of Health  or contact us if you have any additional questions.

Laura Stewart, BA, CHN Makin Wellness

Laura Stewart, BA, CHN Makin Wellness