Depressant or Anti-Depressant? Current Science Behind Marijuana & Mental Health

In the last 20 to 30 years, there has been significant debate around the science behind cannabis and what it does to the human mental state. At high doses, paranoia and anxiousness are not uncommon for the less seasoned smoker, so the ‘common-sense’ approach from opposers of the drug is that it can only make existing conditions work. So where does the scientific perspective rest? I’d like to discuss some very recent research that has been done in the field that reveal some interesting information. As with any studies around the drug, its illegality has hindered keeping a steady and efficient flow of research, but what has surfaced is intriguing to say the very least.

Cannabis Can Prevent The Effects of Stress-Related Depression

Yup. You read it right. The fine people over at The Weed Blog & The Joint Blog posted some findings from the National Institute Of Health earlier in the week that tested the activation of cannabinoid receptors on animal models. They were trying to establish a link between this activation and the prevention of Chronic Mild Stress (CMS) and activity in the brain (I removed complicated words here) that can cause stress-related depression. The results? ““The findings suggest that enhancing cannabinoid signaling could represent a novel approach to the treatment of cognitive deficits that accompany stress-related depression.” In my attempt to describe it more in layman terms – smoking cannabis (which activates cannabinoid receptors in our brain) steps in and reduces in the impact of stress on the brain and decreases the chances of it doing short and long term damage on the mental health of any given individual. This news serves as further evidence for governments and conservatives who believe the drug has no medical value, and could see marijuana rise to the forefront of the anti-depressant movement, which is filled with ridiculous, sometimes under-researched drugs that many users report have little to no positive effects on them.

Cannabis Can Relieve Anxiety

This seems like a bit of a “yeah, duh!” type statement, however many people are inclined to believe quite the contrary. In an older article (August 2013) published on the Weed Blog also, a US study funded by the National Institute Of Health (forerunners in this domain) and conducted by Vanderbilt University scientists, cannabinoids were tested on mice. The study found once again something remarkable in the activation of the cannabinoid receptors – that they can reduce anxious behaviors and unlike some prescription medicines, without any serious side effects. As the researchers mentioned, these findings are only really “scratching the surface” of this field, and it seems there is still much to be learnt about dosage and the finer details of treating anxiety and depression with cannabis.

So there you go, there are, after all, some scientific studies which are challenging common myths around marijuana and mental health. As always, more research needs to be done, and I’m inclined to believe cannabis has a bright future (for recreational and medical purposes) ahead given the social shift in attitudes that is currently taking place. The very fact we have cannabis receptors in our brain to be activated speaks volumes, and these findings are just the beginning of revealing the larger picture of just what exactly this process can do for us. The world of prescription medicine is a shady one, and the abuse of these drugs is becoming a large social and health-related problem in many Western countries. But what if the solution has been here, staring us in the face the whole time? Only time will tell.



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