The Link Connecting Marijuana and Serotonin - Part 2

Photo Credit: BrainsRusDC (https://bit.ly/3086XCG)

Photo Credit: BrainsRusDC (https://bit.ly/3086XCG)

In our previous post we established the link between Marijuana and serotonin. Now, let’s see what this means in relation to its effects on the body. Researchers suspect the relationship between marijuana and serotonin is what makes it responsible for elevating mood, and benefiting anxiety and depression. Serotonin is an important regulator of mood, emotion, and stress, and when its levels are insufficient, it could cause mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.

One study from 2016 found a drug similar to CBD blocked enzymes that break down endocannabinoids in mice, which resulted in an antidepressant effect. When the mice received a chemical that blocks serotonin, these effects went away, suggesting CBD’s effects on mood may be linked to the serotonergic system. Back in 2006, when the cannabinoid receptor blocker rimonabant was introduced into the market to combat obesity, it was found that these blockers also unintentionally blocked serotonin, thereby causing depression and anxiety in those who took the medication. A study from 2015 also found genetically altered mice who did not have CB1 receptors in their serotonin neurons exhibited increased anxiety. Lastly, a 2011 study found heightened levels of natural cannabinoids increased the efficacy of antidepressants, and that blocking CB1 receptors prevented the antidepressants from working at all.

This concludes our posts on the relationship between serotonin and cannabis, and what this means for us. This information has been provided by Leaf Science and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

The Link Connecting Marijuana and Serotonin - Part 1

Photo Credit: BrainsRusDC (https://bit.ly/3086XCG)

Photo Credit: BrainsRusDC (https://bit.ly/3086XCG)

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter able to regulate various functions like mood, emotion, appetite, and sleep, and it is found within the brain, GI tract, and blood platelets. It may be closely linked to the endocannabinoid system, which may explain why cannabis is able to benefit those suffering from anxiety and depression. Studies have shown cannabinoids can increase the activity levels of serotonin neurons, and cannabis increases the release of serotonin. In 2007, one study found 20% of the serotonin neurons in mice contained cannabinoid receptors, and endocannabinoids like anandamide were found in areas of the brain where serotonin is usually found. Another study from 2004 found THC increased serotonin levels in mice. Additionally, when their CB1 receptors were blocked, serotonin levels decreased. CBD could also indirectly activate serotonin receptors, and researchers suspect many of CBD’s therapeutic effects, like its ability to benefit anxiety, depression, epilepsy, and provide neuroprotection, pain relief, and nausea relief, could be linked to its activation of a subtype of serotonin receptor.

So now that we know the different ways cannabis interacts with serotonin, what does this mean for its effects on the body? You’ll found out in our next post! This information has been provided by Leaf Science and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Why Marijuana Compounds Could Eventually Replace Anti-Anxiety Meds

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

A recent study has found medical marijuana effectively reduces stress, and implicated the medication may be safer in reducing anxiety than traditional anxiety medications. In the study, researchers measured levels of stress by tracking the amounts of cortisol, a “stress hormone,” in participants’ saliva. Participants were divided into two groups, those who used marijuana daily and those who abstained from use, and the results remained consistent throughout the study. Regular marijuana users had a reduced response to acute stress. Study co-author and clinical assistant of psychology Carrie Cuttler explains, “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effects of acute stress on salivary cortisol levels in chronic cannabis users compared to non-users…. While we are not at a point where we are comfortable saying whether this muted stress response is a good thing or a bad thing, our work is an important first step in investigating potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis at a time when its use is spreading faster than ever before.”

These findings support previous research that determined compounds in marijuana like CBD can enhance the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that holds back anxiety and counterbalances the effects of excitatory brain chemical. This mimics the effects of anti-anxiety medications like Benzodiazepines, but with fewer risks and side effects. Future research is left to be desired, but these early findings are hopeful, suggesting marijuana may offer anxiety and stress relief without resulting in dependency or producing severe or even fatal side effects.

This information has been provided by Forbes and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

How Cannabidiol (CBD) Works for Treating Anxiety

Photo Credit: Leafly

Photo Credit: Leafly

Various animal studies and human experimental, clinical, and epidemiological studies suggest CBD has powerful anti-anxiety properties, and when administered acutely, it seems both safe and well-tolerated. This suggests the cannabinoid could be helpful for the treatment of panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and mild to moderate depression. Many pharmaceutical medications known as SSRIs work to target serotonin receptors to reduce anxiety and depression. Like SSRIs, CBD may be able to support signaling through serotonin receptors, and in one animal study, Spanish researchers found CBD enhanced 5-HT1A (a subtype of serotonin receptor) transmission ad affected serotonin faster than SSRIs.

Brain scans of those who suffer from depression or anxiety often show a smaller hippocampus, which is an area of the brain known for its role in memory formation and cognition. Treatments of depression are often associated with neurogenesis within the hippocampus. One animal study found consistent administration of CBD promoted neurogenesis in the hippocampus, suggesting it may help treat anxiety and depression. in a small double-blind study, Brazilian researchers found patients afflicted with generalized social anxiety reported significant decreases in anxiety after CBD consumption. These claims were validated through the support of brain scans that showed cerebral blood flow patters consistent with anti-anxiety effects. Another small study found patients with social anxiety disorders reported less anxiety while performing public speaking tests after the use of CBD. These findings were supported by indicators relating to heart rate and blood pressure.

This information has been provided by Leafly and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Study: Medical Cannabis Patients Report Decreased Use of Opioids, Anti-Anxiety Medicines

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

New self-reported data published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reveals patients who have access to medical marijuana decrease their use of opioids, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and other medications. Investigators out of five states looked at the medical history of 1,500 patient-members of state-licensed dispensaries in the northeast and found 77% of respondents reduced their use of opioids after beginning cannabis therapy. Many respondents also decreased their use of anti-anxiety medications (72%), migraine-related medications (67%), sleep aids (65%), and anti-depressants (38%). Additionally, 42% of respondents reduced their use of alcohol. The findings of this study support the findings of previous studies regarding the effects of cannabis on opioids and other prescription medications.

This information has been provided by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.