JAN 14, 2020 03:18 PM PST

New Links Between Cannabis, Anxiety, and Stress

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

A delicate balance of signaling in the endocannabinoid system could be responsible for anxiety symptoms as a result of stress. At least for mice. A new study indicates that 2-AG produced in the brain activates the same receptors that marijuana does, and 2-AG signaling is a vital component in determining mental health.

2-AG is a cannabinoid produced inside the body (endocannabinoid). 2-AG and another endocannabinoid, anandamide, are the two most studied cannabinoids of their kind. Endocannabinoids as well as phytocannabinoids, which are produced by plants like cannabis, play a functional role in the endocannabinoid system by activating cannabinoid receptors in the body.

The basis of the new study is a connection built by 2-AG between the amygdala and the frontal cortex of the brain. This connection produces anxiety symptoms, and it is known to be stronger in people with anxiety, says corresponding author Sachin Patel, MD, PhD.

When the connection is broken, it cannot produce anxiety symptoms. But in the new study, researchers observed the broken connection mending itself temporarily after mice were exposed to acute stress. With the connection in tact, anxiety symptoms occurred.

“As people or animals are exposed to stress and get more anxious, these two brain areas glue together, and their activity grows stronger together," Patel explained.

The 2-AG-directed amygdala-frontal cortex connection grows stronger with genetic manipulations and disrupted endocannabinoid signaling, resulting in unprovoked anxiety symptoms. This relationship strengthens the idea that cannabinoid signaling balance is crucial.

“Understanding what's causing that compromise, what causes the signaling system to return after a few days, and many other questions about the molecular mechanisms by which this is happening are things we're interested in following up on," Patel explained.

This new understanding of the mental health implications of endocannabinoid signaling could help explain why marijuana use is perceived as a remedy for stress and anxiety. Additionally, it is plausible that scientists could harness the effect of 2-AG and develop new pharmaceutical therapeutics for mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

Sources: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Neuron, Journal of Biological Chemistry

 
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JAN 17, 2020
Microbiology
JAN 17, 2020
Cannabidiol has a Powerful Antimicrobial Effect
Cannabis plants produce at least sixty different cannabinoid compounds, which have different effects....
JAN 17, 2020
Health & Medicine
JAN 17, 2020
Research Finds that Cannabis Could Affect Fertility
Evidence suggests that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant activates a complex network of receptors throughout th...
JAN 17, 2020
Health & Medicine
JAN 17, 2020
Gene Linked To Cannabis Abuse
Research shows that there may be a specific gene associated with a higher risk of cannabis abuse. The same gene is responsible for the so-called nicotine r...
JAN 17, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
JAN 17, 2020
Arthritis Foundation Gives Cautious Thumbs Up for CBD Use
After a national survey in July confirmed that the vast majority of arthritis patients were either interested in using CBD for symptom relief or already us...
JAN 17, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
JAN 17, 2020
Masters in Cannabis Open for Enrollment!
If you’ve been waiting to study medical cannabis sciences at the college level, your time has come. A pharmaceutical studies program leading to an MS...
JAN 17, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
JAN 17, 2020
Can You Use Medical Marijuana on your Dog?
Marijuana is now legal in 33 states across the US, with more likely to follow in coming months. Yet, although its use as a medical supplement is becoming m...
Loading Comments...