Use of Medicinal Cannabis and Synthetic Cannabinoids in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): a systematic review

Laura Orsolini, Stefania Chiappini, Umberto Volpe, Domenico De Berardis, Roberto Latini, Gabriele Duccio Papanti, John Corkery

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
815 Downloads (Pure)


Background and Objectives: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common psychiatric disorder resulting from a traumatic event, is manifested through hyperarousal, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and sleep disturbances. Despite several therapeutic approaches being available, both pharmacological and psychological, recently a growing interest has developed in using cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids stems from their consideration as more efficient and better tolerated alternatives for the treatment of this condition. The present paper aims to evaluate the clinical and therapeutic potentials of medical cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids in treating PTSD patients. Methods: A systematic electronic search was performed, including all papers published up to May 2019, using the following keywords (((cannabis[Title/Abstract]) OR (synthetic cannabinoids [Title/Abstract])) AND ((PTSD[Title/Abstract]) OR (Posttraumatic stress disorder[Title/Abstract]))) for the topics ‘Cannabis’, ‘Synthetic Cannabinoids’, ‘PTSD’, and MESH terms, on the PubMed, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science online databases. For data gathering purposes, PRISMA guidelines were followed. Results were organized into two groups, considering cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids as different therapeutic approaches for PTSD. Results: Present data show that cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids, both acting on the endocannabinoids system, may have a potential therapeutic use for improving PTSD symptoms, e.g., reducing anxiety, modulating memory-related processes, and improving sleep. Conclusions: Even though the current literature suggests that cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids may have a role in the treatment of PTSD, there is currently limited evidence regarding their safety and efficacy. Therefore, additional research is needed in order to better understand the effectiveness and therapeutic usage of these drug classes and monitor their safety.
Original languageEnglish
Article number525
Number of pages14
Issue number9
Early online date23 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2019


  • CBD
  • Cannabinoids
  • Cannabis
  • Endocannabinoid system
  • PTSD
  • Synthetic cannabinoids
  • Trauma


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