New medication may be able to improve effects of psychological treatment for PTSD

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Summary: Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitors, a form of medication that boosts endocannabinoids, may be helpful in the treatment of PTSD. FAAH inhibition can improve the recall of fear extinction memories. The drugs could also help treat stress and other psychological disorders.

A medication that boosts the body’s own cannabis-like substances, endocannabinoids, shows promise to help the brain un-learn fear memories when these are no longer meaningful. These results, obtained in an early-stage, experimental study on healthy volunteers at Linköping University in Sweden, give hope that a new treatment can be developed for post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. The study has been published in the scientific journal Biological Psychiatry.

“We have used a medication that blocks the way the body breaks down its own cannabis-like substances, or ‘endocannabinoids’. Our study shows that this class of medications, called FAAH inhibitors, may offer a new way to treat PTSD and perhaps also other stress-related psychiatric conditions. The next important step will be to see if this type of medication works in patients, particularly those with PTSD”, says Leah Mayo, senior post-doctoral fellow and lead investigator on the study, which was carried out in the laboratory of Professor Markus Heilig at the Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience, CSAN, Linköping University.

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