This is the report of an open label clinical trial to evaluate the effects of nabilone, an endocannabinoid receptor agonist, on treatment-resistant nightmares in patients diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Methods: Charts of 47 patients diagnosed with PTSD and having continuing nightmares in spite of conventional antidepressants and hypnotics were reviewed after adjunctive treatment with nabilone was initiated. These patients had been referred to a psychiatric specialist outpatient clinic between 2004 and 2006. The majority of patients (72%) receiving nabilone experienced either cessation of nightmares or a significant reduction in nightmare intensity. Subjective improvement in sleep time, the quality of sleep, and the reduction of daytime flashbacks and nightsweats were also noted by some patients. The results of this study indicate the potential benefits of nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, in patients with PTSD experiencing poor control of nightmares with standard pharmacotherapy. This is the first report of the use of nabilone (Cesamet; Valeant Canada, Ltd., Montreal, Canada) for the management of treatment-resistant nightmares in PTSD.