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Jul-28-2011 01:32printcomments

PTSD: Adrenaline - the Cause

There are many ways PTSD is created, but solutions are few.


(MOLALLA, Ore.) - Everybody knows that psychological stress of various kinds causes PTSD but the pathophysiologic mechanism seems to be elusive. I have read intensely about this subject for the past 10 years while I was medically taking care of about 1000 PTSD military victims. In that I also have WWII combat-induced PTSD I am more than avidly interested in this subject.

Many PTSD victims have been subject to terror or horror from a single event such as a very bad accident with severe injuries or rape. For the Army and Marines it is the prolonged terror of combat which causes it.

By now almost everybody has head of the “Fight or Flight” response whether it is a face-to-face encounter with a saber-tooth tiger or a combat encounter with someone who has an AK-47 or an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). There are certainly others but you get the idea.

The FIGHT OR FLIGHT response is concurrent with or caused by the body’s release of adrenaline which is epinephrine and nor epinephrine, both from the adrenaline gland.

It is simplistic to say that these substances have an effect on all parts of the body, possibly excluding bone. These responses certainly includes the brain and puts it into overdrive just to survive.

Many references to this subject use the term epinephrine. They are interchangeable.

My thesis in writing this is that because of the Siamese-twin-like association of extreme stress such as combat and adrenaline's action on the brain, that there must be a strong connection.

I have been a Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology for over 50 years and recent research work has produced an epiphany or light bulb over my head. I saw recently on television experiments with rats, their memory processes and its disruption with adrenalin blockers called Beta Blockers which disrupted adrenaline and nor adrenaline mediated memory in the stressed rats.

I must revert back to a bit of fundamental pharmacology. Adrenaline is noted to stimulate the heart and respiration but the chief organ for the release and action is the brain. All other functions come next.

Beta blockers which mainly block adrenaline, ALHPA BLOCKERS, mainly block noradrenaline or norepinephrine.

Betas blockers are used for migraines, CNS mediated tachycardia, anxiety and hyperthyroidism. The latter being another mechanism. Beta blockers of adrenaline are also used for social anxiety disorders and if psychological stress causing PTSD isn’t included here, I will be astonished. To enhance my last statement, beta blockers are used for “stage fright” of musicians, public speakers, actors and dancers. To me these are pitiful stresses as compared to combat stress.

Beta blockers have also been used for PTSD, specifically immediately following a psychologically traumatic event and as a follow-up medication. This seems to correspond to the rat memory experiments mentioned above.

Beta blockers do cause hallucinations, insomnia and nightmares in some people so there seems to be a definite connection with brain function.

I have not read of any extensive studies of beta blockers for PTSD, however the use of anti-depressant drugs and morphine-like drugs have not been successful. It appears that adrenaline blockade may be more successful.

On July 22, 2011 Tom Porpiglia, MS, UMHC, published in a review of PTSD therapy indicating failure of most therapies and introducing a new one called Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT. He compares it to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT, in which PTSD Veterans are exposed to battle sounds and effects which are further traumatizing these victims.

Porpiglia gives no details of his treatment but does profess to a 63% reduction in PTSD symptoms in 6 one-hour sessions. Laboratory tests indicate a significant drop in blood Cortisol, a stress marker.

In my history with about 1000 PTSD Combat Veteran victims, have experienced therapeutic success in every case of the 1000 with Medical Marijuana which most Viet Nam Veterans discovered beneficial while they were there in combat


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More information on the history of Dr. Leveque can be found in his book, General Patton's Dogface Soldier of WWII about his own experiences "from a foxhole".
Order the book by mail by following this link: Dogface Soldier

If you are a World War II history buff, you don't want to miss it.

Watch for more streaming video question and answer segments about medical marijuana with Bonnie King and Dr. Phil Leveque.

Click on this link for other articles and video segments about PTSD and medical marijuana on

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William Klemp September 22, 2011 6:28 am (Pacific time)

I understand that being "in the thick of it" is a very stressful and dangerous situation, but have you studied the rate of PTSD in veterans that worked on a military flightline? I worked on one in the Navy for years and I saw and experienced many ordeals I never imagined or can forget. I have also conversed with several vets that worked military flightlines 20 and 30 years ago that have been diagnosed with PTSD as have I.

Anonymous July 28, 2011 8:00 am (Pacific time)

So why do they wait?  Why don't the government doctors do something!

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