Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 12-16-2023


There are only 2 FDA-approved treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) despite the overwhelming evidence of the need for safer and more effective treatments. For example, roughly 50% of treatment seeking patients with PTSD experience relief from conventional pharmaceutical medications and only one third experience full remission. The Cannabis plant is a promising novel treatment for PTSD for several reasons. The endocannabinoid system plays a role in stress, emotion, cognition, suicidal phenotypes, fear memory consolidation, retrieval and reconsolidation and extinction. Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the most widely studied phytocannabinoids found in the Cannabis plant, has both anxiolytic and antidepressant qualities. Therefore, the present study examined the effects of full spectrum hemp oil on extinction of stress enhanced fear learning in a rodent model of PTSD. During trauma exposure, rats were assigned to either a control (no-shock) or trauma (shock) group. After the trauma exposure, rats were assigned to either a control (peanut butter) or hemp (hemp oil using a peanut butter vehicle) group and tested for rates of fear extinction. The stress enhanced fear learning procedure produced robust freezing in the trauma group compared to controls. However, in the trauma group there were no significant differences in the rates of freezing when comparing the non-hemp and hemp animals during the 5 extinction trials. These results suggest that full spectrum hemp oil did not have a significant effect on the extinction of stress enhanced fear learning.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Nathan Pentkowski, PhD

Second Committee Member

Jacob Vigil, PhD

Third Committee Member

Benjamin Clark, PhD




Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Cannabis, Stress Enhanced Fear Learning, Cannabidiol, Entourage Effect, Dosing, Medical Cannabis

Document Type


Included in

Psychology Commons