1. Alfa

    JERUSALEM - Israeli soldiers traumatised by battle with the Palestinians
    have a new, unconventional weapon to exorcise their nightmares -
    marijuana. Under an experimental program, Delta-9 tetrohydrocannabinol
    (THC), the active ingredient found in the cannabis plant, will be
    administered to 15 soldiers over several months to fight post-traumatic
    stress disorder.

    Raphael Mechoulam, of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the project's
    chief researcher, described the program as a world first. He said the
    chemical could trick the brain into suppressing unwanted memories.

    For soldiers haunted by flashbacks of traumatic battle experiences, he
    said, the drug, administered in liquid form, could be the answer to
    endless sleepless nights.

    "It helps them sleep better, for one thing. These people often wake up
    from nightmares, and experience sweating or hallucinations," he said.

    Doctors already use marijuana to treat nausea in cancer patients,
    appetite loss among AIDS sufferers and neurological disorders such as
    Tourette syndrome, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

    Dr Mechoulam said this was the first use of THC to treat
    post-traumatic stress.

    Israel's army usually frowns on cannabis and soldiers caught smoking
    it can expect to be stripped of their rank or thrown into military
    jail. Special government authorisation was needed for the experiment.


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